Okay, good, I got your attention! “Muscle Mary”…that was the mocking term used for us in my hayday. Big boys, big weights, lots of testosterone. Perhaps a sprinkling of ego and vanity too, maybe, possibly, a little bit?

Only after 20 years of rugby and 10 years of bobsled did I stumble upon Pilates. Who would have thought it? Not I.

In fact, I dated a ballet dancer for 9 years who used to say she was off to Pilates training. Me thinks: “girly thing, dance, core stuff.” (Somewhat and, retrospectively guiltily, dismissive) Yep, that was stereotypical me, the man! Needless to say, better late than never (I am enlightened now).

So I waddled, with no neck and like I just got off a horse after a long ride, out of the gym and into the Pilates Reformer studio next door.

What’s this? Long machines, straps, cables, springs… is it S&M or the Spanish Inquisition back to tear us limb from limb? Jill, the instructor, (she has a lot to answer for) challengingly beckoned me in to try it out. Chest puffed out, sneering at the piddly springs I approached and had my first full… 5-minute work out!

Pete Pallai, Men Pilates, Allegro 2, Ultra-Fit Circle, Balanced Body Pilates

Yes, that’s all it took to reduce me to a sniveling, quivering drenched wreck! And that’s all it took to get me hooked!
It’s that manly “El Testoserone” thing again, get the burn, work up the sweat, replicate the effects of hard labour in the gym and ‘you had me at Pulse!’. Then the comedy and misguided cheek of it, Jill said, “you should think about doing a course and teaching.”

Hilarity! Side splitting laughter. She’s a comedian or…wait, is she mocking me? To this day I have no idea what she saw in me or what she was thinking and little did I know the fishy was hooked. Perhaps she was early on that curve to get us late blooming menfolk to turn the Pilates corner.

The revelation of it is that grown men do cry. Oh, and that ‘if only’ thing. If only I had tried this sooner and how much I would have benefitted. Not just rehab but the much used and nonetheless valid prehab advantages. It’s no coincidence that the forward thinking All Blacks rugby World Champions are so resilient and statistically less injury prone. They’ve been ‘playing’ Pilates for some time now. As have a number of NFL and NBL players.

So why is it so slow for the gauntlet to be taken up by your average Joe or recreational sports person? This is something I’m always at pains to address but cannot and must not judge as I am borne of that breed. And now I’m a man in a female dominated game.

As a Balanced Body MI (a proud one!) I am on the next leg of my journey taking the MOTR with me. A contraption that beautifully transcends the world of Pilates into PT and strength and conditioning. Now that’s something that may just resonate with people like the old me! <wink>

And that’s where my journey in this world began. Ding ding, end of round 1! More on my story as an Olympic athlete, journey into Pilates and tips and tricks in my next piece.


Pete Pallai is a two-time Olympian, Balanced Body Master Instructor, Lululemon ambassador, and studio owner of myPilateslondon. Follow him on IG @mypilateslondon.



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