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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Pilates is for Men Too

Apr 11, 2011 10:18PM

Think Pilates is for pretzel-bodied ballerinas in leotards? Before rejecting this classic exercise regimen in favor of the free weights, consider this. This total body strengthening and conditioning training can be the cornerstone of a fitness program and an edge for those participating in sporting seasons. Joseph Hubertus Pilates (1888 – 1967) originally invented his exercises for men. A boxer, gymnast and martial arts specialist himself, Pilates left his native Germany in 1912 to further his boxing career in England. Interned in a POW camp as a German national at the outbreak of World War I, Pilates began devising his exercises while working in the camp’s infirmary. He returned to Germany after the War and started training the Hamburg Military Police. In 1925 he was invited to train the New Germany Army but, unhappy with the political climate, he left for the United States.

Pilates’ first studio in New York was in a building that housed dance studios and rehearsal spaces. Before long, the likes of George Balanchine and Martha Graham were sending their injury-ridden dancers to “Uncle Joe” to be fixed. The strong affiliation with the dance community had begun. Nowadays, NFL teams and professional golfers are practicing Pilates, yet female celebrities are the unofficial spokespersons for the method, perpetuating the perception of Pilates as a feminine fitness craze.

Another perception is that Pilates is a yoga spin-off. Certainly Mr. Pilates studied yoga at length, but the influences of martial arts and boxing are also apparent in his work. Men who try Pilates are often challenged by the strengthening aspects of the exercises. There is no spot training in Pilates. It is a full body work-out, which focuses on all muscles, small and large, allowing for uniform development, efficiency of movement and optimal performance. According to Pilates, “Contrology is not a system of haphazard exercises designed to produce bulging muscles and nothing else”.

Jayne McAllister is a fully certified Pilates instructor, located in Melbourne Beach. She teaches private sessions on Pilates equipment and mat. Call 321.723.8276 for more information or email jayne(at)

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