Why Pilates is the MLB’s Next Big Game-Chang...

Why Pilates is the MLB’s Next Big Game-Change

In recent years, Pilates has experienced a significant rise in popularity within the NFL and among its players. The benefits – core strengthening, mobility, flexibility, and balance – are clear and correlate directly to on-field improvement. Despite its advantages, the popularity of Pilates within other sports leagues has not been as prominent. Why are coaches and trainers in other leagues taking longer to recognize the benefits Pilates provides to their players?

Professional baseball is a thrilling mix of passion, precision, and exhilaration. Staying healthy and avoiding injuries is crucial for baseball players to perform at their best. The physical
demands of the sport are immense and require players to maintain peak physical condition over a long 162 game regular season and hopefully beyond into the playoffs. To meet this, a healthy lifestyle – including proper nutrition, rest, and a well-rounded fitness regimen – is a must for players to endure and perform at their highest-level game after game. Staying healthy allows baseball players to fully enjoy and excel in the game they love without being forced to “start over” from square one upon recovering from an injury.

A significant difference between professional baseball and football is the length of their respective seasons. Unlike football players, baseball players do not have to maintain intense
workouts throughout the season. In fact, heavy workouts could have negative effects on baseball players, as it could lead to fatigue and susceptibility to injury. The addition of Pilates to both in-season and off-season training regimens can help sustain mobility and strength while decreasing recovery time.

In training any client, my aim as a Pilates instructor is to enhance my client’s mobility, allowing them to move freely and comfortably while addressing their weaknesses. I don’t strive to make workouts excessively strenuous – rather, I aim to challenge their bodies with movements that may be difficult and/or unnatural to them. My goal is to enhance strength so that they are able to perform at their highest level without any restriction or limitation.

During the recent MLB off-season, I began training a group of baseball players who were interested in Pilates, but not fully aware of its potential benefit to their careers. Frustrated by
nagging injuries that prevented them from playing seasons in their entirety, these players decided to take the leap into our world of Classical Pilates. Like many newcomers, they expected Pilates to primarily be centered around manual stretching. As instructors, it’s vital to correct this misconception and demonstrate that Pilates is a full-bodied comprehensive fitness regimen that goes beyond simply stretching, pulsing, and muscle fatigue.

One of those clients, professional baseball player Blake Rutherford, was introduced to Pilates by a friend. Blake noted that “after incorporating Pilates into my routine, I noticed a significant improvement in strength, flexibility, and core control. Pilates targeted muscle groups like my hamstrings, which had been challenging to address during the season. Furthermore, Pilates helped to provide a quicker recovery time that has been vital towards maintaining performance during our rigorous season.”

To excel, baseball players require strength in various muscle groups – primarily the core, shoulders, forearms, back, hips, legs, and calves. They require a balance of strength, power,
and flexibility in these areas to perform their best while also reducing the risk of injury. Pilates not only addresses, but in fact enhances all of these – it strengthens core muscles essential to providing stability, power, and rotational movement. It strengthens their shoulders, which in turn increases throwing velocity and accuracy. Their legs are strengthened, allowing for more power in both hitting and throwing. Forearm and grip muscles are improved to increase both bat control and throwing ability. Hip strength is also increased, leading to an improvement in speed and agility for baserunning.

After training these professional baseball players, it has become very clear that Pilates provides as much of a benefit to them as it does to NFL athletes. As such, my hope is that the MLB and its coaches notice the potential power of Pilates to maintain and increase its players’ careers. When they do notice, Pilates will take off in the MLB as it already has in the NFL.

Nicky Lal is the founder and creator of Fuerza Pilates in Los Angeles, California. Born and raised in Miami, Nicky discovered Pilates while taking classes as her daily form of exercise during her time working as a Graphic Designer in the fast-fashion Industry. Nicky quickly learned of her love and passion for Pilates, and it did not take long for her to make a career change. Soon thereafter, Nicky began her training to become a Balanced Body certified Pilates Instructor and gained experience working in multiple Pilates studios in the LA area. Nicky's focus is to teach the core principles of Pilates while maintaining the philosophy that it should be accessible to everyBody.



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