Pilates may have gotten the reputation of being a girly workout, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, and if you look around, you’ll see that some of the manliest men incorporate Pilates into their workouts on a regular basis, either as their primary method of strength training or to complement their regular weight training.
Professional football franchises like the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers have added Pilates to their training programs. Pilates can improve flexibility, balance and strength. It encourages a “mind-body connection,” which makes it imperative that the student use imagery and concentration to ensure the movements are initiating from the right place. Understanding the movement in relation to the body also helps to prevent injury, which is crucial for professional athletes. As Joseph Pilates said of his Pilates method “…it [the Reformer] resists your movements in just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it. That way you can concentrate on movement. You must always do it slowly and smoothly. Then your whole body is in it.”
In addition, Pilates emphasizes elongating the muscles and creating space between the joints, while simultaneously building stability. Increased range of motion also helps prevent injury and promotes career longevity. Especially for those in highly mobile positions, Pilates can facilitate more efficient movement on the field. In an interview with Pilates Style, Martellus Bennett, former Chicago Bears tight end, noted that the demands of his position took a toll on his body, especially his joints and lower back. Bennett was convinced of Pilates’ benefits after one session and practiced up to five times a week while he was playing football. He said, “I can lift 500 pounds, but in a Pilates session, there’s always some different type of motion that’s hard for me to do. That’s what is so great about it.”
Football is one of today’s most challenging sports, and if its professionals see the benefits of Pilates in their performance, it is definitely a good work out for everyone!