“Real men do Pilates.”
I love this phrase because it sparks so much discussion. It is a controversial phrase. Choose one part of it… any part of it, and you have a conversation ahead of you. Real? Define real? What is real? Who decides what real is? Men? How do we define what makes a man? What is Pilates exactly? Contemporary or classical, Piloxing, or Yogalates?
I came to Pilates as a Sports Conditioning Specialist and Personal Trainer. At the time, I thought of Pilates as another training modality like Kettlebells, and no men were teaching Pilates as far as I knew. So I jumped into teaching because I figured it would give me a competitive advantage as a Personal Trainer. I was familiar with Pilates from my days of playing football. During my summers off, I would take a group Pilates class. I quickly noticed that my visits to the chiropractic office became less and less frequent. Pilates saved my back and allowed me to continue to do what I love without pain.
When I discover something that has become a game-changer for me, I like to share it. I share the joy. Upon completing my first comprehensive Pilates course, I wanted to get more men to do Pilates. To feel the looseness in their hips, the ability to touch their toes, and the strength they feel when lifting weights on days off.
Pilates changed my perspective of “training,” and I wanted the same shift for others. I started to post my workouts on social media, but getting men I knew to do Pilates still needed a lot of convincing. Pilates had many stereotypes to overcome. I saw people start to use the hashtag #realmendopilates; it resonated with me because that is the stigma I was trying to topple.
Fun Fact: Pilates was designed by a man with men (and their faulty movement patterns) in mind. Traditionally, we unintelligently abuse our bodies in the weight room without any semblance of a recovery day. We dismiss Pilates as something for former dancers and women who need a yoga-esque mid-day movement practice while their blonde hair, blue-eyed children are at Montessori.
I quickly learned the power of Pilates as a strength challenge as well as a stretching challenge that favors no one. Now that I am a Pilates teacher, I recognize a third “S” I can throw in there… symmetry. Pilates is continually bringing my body back into balance. It improves my posture and corrects muscle imbalances—all of these pointers I present to men that think Pilates is for women. I appeal to their competitive side and state that REAL men do Pilates: Are you bold enough to try it and risk the trash-talking from your buddies? Are you brave enough to accept that you may not be successful in your first attempt or your second?
I define being a real man as one that is courageous, bold, accepting, open-minded, and committed more to a goal than the opinion of others. Real men do [fill in the blank]. For me, at this time, it is Pilates.