Why Pilates Is a Good Workout for Men

Asian man stretching on exercise equipment
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Pilates is one of the fastest-growing fitness trends in the world and has served as a training modality for both male and female athletes alike. Created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, male instructors and proponents have always been part of the female-dominant Pilates scene.

Because the Pilates method has been so widely touted by women in recent years, men often have the impression that Pilates is not an appropriate form of exercise for them. But men can benefit from Pilates just as much as women can.

Why Pilates Works Well for Men

Pilates has many physical benefits, from core strength to flexibility and balance to uniform development and efficient movement patterns. These benefits are hallmarks of the Pilates method and are also highly relevant to men's fitness.

The integrative component of Pilates can be especially beneficial. It's common for men to emphasize a part-by-part approach to muscular development, such as occurs in weightlifting.

But Pilates emphasizes moving from the center of the body, the powerhouse, and developing core strength in the deep muscles of the center to stabilize the trunk and protect the back. This technique provides a strong foundation for strength and resistance training.

The emphasis on core strength makes Pilates an excellent technique for whole-body fitness, as well as a foundation for cross-training with other kinds of sports and exercise.

Increasing flexibility is a goal that Pilates addresses in a way that men can feel comfortable with. Pilates works toward functional fitness—that is, the ability to have the strength, balance, and flexibility that allows you to move through daily-life tasks with grace and ease. Similar to yoga, Pilates exercises increase flexibility and improve range of motion, minus the pretzel poses.

Tips for Men Who Are New to Pilates

The best way to learn Pilates is by taking classes. You might find that women outnumber men by quite a bit, but don't let that deter you. When starting Pilates, keep in mind that:

  • Pilates is a mind-body practice. A big part of the exercise is about bringing your full attention to every movement. Precise alignment and ​core training that goes beyond the superficial muscles requires subtle attention and micro-adjustments to get the most out of the workout.
  • The Pilates method is the same for all. The method is founded on healthy movement principles for the human body in general. Men might find that their muscles tend to be a little tighter, especially in the hips and hamstrings, but modifications allow the Pilates method to meet the needs of a variety of practitioners.
  • There's no need to "power through." When you work with Pilates equipment, which is resistance equipment, it is not intended to be overpowered. In fact, sometimes the lightest setting on a piece of equipment, such as the reformer, can be the most challenging for the core.

Pilates Resources for Men

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.