Real men do Pilates. No, we aren’t challenging your manhood but we are challenging you to try Pilates. Yes, it’s not easy, albeit it might look so. If you can do deadlifts in the gym, you can surely do the teaser on the mat. Or can you? If you want to attain the perfect physique then, believe me, you should do Pilates.
You might ask, what do I mean by the perfect physique? Is it the really ripped beefcake? Or a lean athletic form? This ideal of the male body has evolved from ancient times and more than health, it has been driven by social conventions.
Ideal Male Body
Be it East or West, up until the middle ages, men of the upper class were depicted with full bellies and content faces. Muscular men depicted in art were either brutes or workers of the labour class. However, with the Renaissance and revival of ancient knowledge, there was a shift. The Renaissance man strived for perfection not only in mind but also in body. This was reflected in the lean yet defined form of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and Michelangelo’s David. Gradually, the ideal transformed to a ‘gentleman’, who is tall, thin and athletic, as he plays a sport or runs (think Prince Phillip). But a gentleman is not extremely muscular as he does no physical work (that was for his servants).
It was only in the late 19th century and early 20th century when the Herculean body of weightlifters started gaining popularity through theatre. With the increase in awareness of the importance of physical exercise and the introduction of gymnasiums in universities, many men started exercising and aspiring for hard and big muscles. And it became a large-scale obsession especially after the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on the big screen. Currently, social media and its highlight on ‘perfect’ bodies is driving everyone to a toxic obsession with achieving the so-called ‘ideal body’ by hook or crook. Apart from the fad diets and steroids, gym-goers are lifting extremely heavy weights without proper guidance and understanding of the right postures. This craze not only affects people’s mental health but also can cause excessive stiffness and injuries.
From the Pilates perspective, we believe the ideal body, whether male or female, should be well-aligned, immune to diseases, physically strong yet flexible, pain- and injury-free, and most importantly have functional capacity. If any part of your body is hindering your daily functions (think super-bulky biceps and triceps) and not aiding your lifestyle then that cannot be the ideal body, no matter what the media depicts.
Yes, you might scoff and ask, “does that mean you want us to stop going to the gym?” No guys! If you enjoy going to the gym and lifting weights or if you love running and playing a sport then you should continue all of that. However, balance these workouts with a workout which takes a more holistic approach, concentrates on the oft-neglected small muscle groups and uses your own body weight, like Pilates.
Pilates can have multiple benefits for you:
Activation of the core = More defined abs
All Pilates exercises originate from the core. The constant reminder in our Moushu’s Pilates class to keep the core engaged will help you carry that out of class and into your other activities. And a strong core will make it easier to get those defined abs!
Flexibility on the mat = Flexibility in all aspects of life
Men by nature are less flexible and tend to have tighter hamstrings, hip flexors and abductors. Further, the pumping of weights in the gym doesn’t help with flexibility in the torso as well. With the focus on dynamic stretching in Pilates, you will lengthen and stretch out the major muscles, whether in your legs or arms. You will not only be able to move with more ease throughout the day but also be more flexible in bed.
Correct posture = Pain-free work hours
Doing Pilates regularly will not only make you aware of your posture but help you correct it. We concentrate a lot on spine health as a healthy spine is the sign of youth. With the constant reminders to find your neutral spine position in class, correcting your posture at work or while watching that match on your couch, will come easily to you.
Mindfulness = Increased awareness and efficiency
Mind-body connect is central to Pilates. There is no slacking here. Concentrating on your breath and constantly focusing to ensure proper form, will make you more mindful. And it is a great way to zone out from all the pressures of work, and later get back with more vigour and mindfulness.
Working neglected muscles = Faster building of bigger muscles
Pilates focuses on building intrinsic muscles, which are muscles that don’t typically get a lot of attention. By working these smaller muscles you’re building bigger muscles and ultimately improving your results within any discipline that you are practising outside of the Pilates studio. Additionally, Pilates forces you to slow down movements, which is more demanding for your muscles and makes them stronger.
Better alignment = Better performance in sports
Pilates improves the alignment in your body. Once your body is flexible, has the optimum posture and is balanced, you will become efficient in all movements. Whether it is swimming, football, tennis, or running a marathon, proper alignment and form will improve your game.
Prevention of injury = Scope for more adventures
Pilates works on developing the deep muscles which stabilizes the trunk, strengthens the pelvic floor and protects the back from injuries. Moreover, with muscle flexibility you reduce the risk of pulling a muscle while working out or trying out something adventurous!
Most of your workouts often emphasize on a part-by-part approach to muscular development. Pilates’ integrative component which works the whole body with the focus on core, can be the perfect way to balance that out. And ultimately achieve, your ideal body, whatever it might be!
“Real men do REAL GOOD Pilates”, says Dr. Moushumi Kuvawala, founder of Moushu’s Pilates.
Need we say more? Challenge yourself at Moushu’s Pilates Studio with either Mat or Equipment Classes!
A writer and Pilates instructor by profession, and a lawyer by education, Tarannum is passionate about art, travel, fitness and food. She has been practicing Pilates for the past three years at Moushu’s Pilates Studio and has experienced the transforming effects of it on her body, firsthand.