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Pilates for Ballers: What to do when your client i...

Pilates for Ballers: What to do when your client is 6’10”

The Pilates world has seen immense growth in recent years amongst both the general population and athletes alike. It’s likely that Pilates has been able to maintain this newfound interest for a few reasons. First, its proven benefits of increased strength and flexibility speak volumes. Also, the addition of Pilates classes in traditional gyms has helped cast a wider net and introduced more people into our medium.

In the sports world, Pilates has seen a huge uptick in popularity in the NFL and its players over the last half decade. However, that traction hasn’t been mirrored to the same effect within other sports, including Basketball. Why could this be? Perhaps it’s a lack of awareness at the athlete, coach, management, and organizational levels or could it be that its players just prefer a more traditional workout that they are comfortable with?

However, following the completion of the 2022-2023 season, a handful of NBA players began to trickle in. They noticed that Pilates can offer huge benefits for their bodies in the form of performance enhancement, injury prevention, and active recovery.

While Pilates’ growth within the Basketball world may just be in its infancy, there are some challenges when adjusting to this market. The average height in the NBA is 6’7” – approximately 9 inches taller than the general male population in the US. Most studios do not have the necessary equipment to properly serve this body type in a way that maximizes the benefits of Pilates.

If there is a lack of apparatuses for these larger bodies, it can lead to a disconnect between client and instructor – creating a lack of confidence for both. The athlete may not understand nor see the benefits, potentially causing a lack of continued interest in Pilates. At the same time, the instructor may feel as if they’re not properly able to present a fulfilling and challenging session due to the equipment size and/or lack of spring tension.

For the instructor, the more bodies of all types they get to train on, the more their confidence will build in servicing this clientele. Without this confidence, many instructors may encounter a bit of a setback when attempting to navigate these new waters.

What should you do when working with taller clients who may be larger than the standard equipment? Should you keep on the “normal” path and teach them what you’re used to or comfortable with? Or, do you pivot and make it Pilates but with added movement and innovations? No matter what equipment you have, you need to think outside the box and cater to the needs of the individual until you have what you need that better suits their size.

Above all, the instructor’s primary objective should be in guiding the client in developing strength and mobility through Pilates during each and every session. When working with professional athletes, it’s crucial to focus on their specific position and the physical areas they need to strengthen to enhance their performance. Basketball players often experience stress on their knees and ankles due to frequent vertical jumping. Incorporating exercises that target these areas and help build strength around the joints can significantly improve their game. Consider integrating vertical exercises into their training regimen to mimic the demands of their
sport.

To do so, it’s imperative to be creative and adaptable. Investing in larger equipment like The Allegro Stretch by Balanced Body can help achieve this – as it allows your larger client to reap the full benefits of Pilates on an apparatus that is fully equipped for their size. This is so that the instructor can be fully confident in delivering their instruction.

As instructors, we want to maintain this surge in popularity – we want our passion to be measured and recognized through health improvements for as many people as possible. For this to continue, we must start exploring new ways to serve clients of all shapes and sizes investing in the right equipment may be the first step in doing so. The Allegro Stretch, in my opinion, provides the canvas to express and maximize our creativity. This, in turn, will help continue the increased awareness of new faces to our Pilates world and the benefits it has to offer.


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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