Sports enthusiasts constantly look for ways to improve their performance and avoid injury. While traditional strength training has been the go-to for decades, there’s a new player in town: Pilates. This low-impact exercise form has become popular among athletes of all levels, from beginners to pros. In addition, it is also very popular with celebrities.
But what makes it so effective for improving bodies? Let’s explore Pilates’ benefits and how to incorporate the exercises into your training routine.
Contrary to popular belief, Pilates isn’t just a workout for dancers and gymnasts. Today, athletes in sports ranging from basketball to tennis are also doing Pilates.
One reason for the rise of Pilates in athletics is its ability to improve core strength and stability. You need a strong core for optimal performance. Pilates targets the deep core muscles that traditional strength training and cardio often neglect. With guidance from a Pilates instructor, your body experiences efficient movement patterns and reduced injury risk.
Athletes love that Pilates is low impact yet super effective. Unlike high-impact activities like running and jumping, Pilates is gentle on the joints. As a result, it’s an excellent option for men and women looking to stay fit while preventing or recovering from injuries.
Finally, Pilates boosts body awareness and control. This can translate to better performance on the field or court.
Pilates can help athletes:
Let’s take a closer look at each:
Agility and flexibility are essential for dodging defenders, pivoting on the court, and changing direction on the field.
Pilates improves the body’s ability to sense its position in space. The exercises require athletes to move through different motion planes while maintaining control. This helps develop the neuromuscular connections needed for quick, precise movements.1 Pilates exercises involve fast transitions between activities, which sharpens reaction time and speed. In addition, stretching exercises help people develop greater flexibility.
The roll-up is an example of a Pilates exercise that improves agility and flexibility. It involves lying flat on your back and slowly rolling up to a seated position. When practicing this, use your core muscles to control the movement. The roll-up enhances core strength and spinal flexibility, which are vital for moving swiftly.
Athletes rely on their mental focus as much as their physical abilities to perform at their best. Staying focused under pressure is crucial for doing well in sports. Pilates encourages mindfulness, which helps people refine their mental focus.
During Pilates exercises, athletes must focus on their breath and body. By practicing mindfulness, they can stay present now, even when under stress on the court or field.
In addition, Pilates movements require body awareness. As athletes develop a more profound sense of their physical abilities, they can identify areas of weakness or imbalances. Then, they can work to correct them and perform better.
Post-workout recovery is imperative for an athlete’s training routine. If you play regular sports, your body must repair and rebuild muscles. Reducing soreness and preventing injuries is paramount for optimal performance. There are countless ways to recover after a workout. But if you’re looking for ideas, Pilates is a great way to aid post-workout recovery.
Since Pilates focuses on activating core muscles, it strengthens the abdominal region. As a result, athletes who tone those muscles can better maintain proper form during workouts.2 In addition, stabilizing the body during exercises reduces the risk of injury and improves overall performance.
The stretching and lengthening aspect of Pilates can help with the muscle repair and rebuilding process—athletes who do Pilates find that stretching reduces stiffness and soreness after a workout.
Pilates has been long associated with women’s fitness, but times are changing. More men are discovering its benefits and including it in their fitness routines. In addition, several male celebrities, including Harry Styles, have been vocal about their love for Pilates.
Styles has been doing Pilates for several years. He’s expressed that it helps him loosen tight hamstrings. He commits to Pilates once a week to improve his posture and support his grueling workload.
Other celebrities who swear by Pilates include Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and James Harden.
Pilates is an effective way to improve body awareness, flexibility, and strength. It’s a valuable addition to any athlete’s training routine. Incorporate it into yours by starting with the basics.
Despite it being low-impact, Pilates can be challenging. If you’re a beginner, you must first learn proper form and technique. Then, take a few beginner classes and work with a certified Pilates instructor to develop a solid foundation. From there, you can move on to more advanced exercises.
Consistency and discipline are integral to getting impressive results from Pilates. First, determine how much time you can commit to it each week. Then, schedule it into your calendar. This has helped our clients stick to a routine and reap the full benefits.
Pilates offers various exercises you can customize to fit your training needs. Don’t be afraid to mix it up by trying new variations to keep things fun and challenging.
Don’t have time for a complete Pilates workout? Incorporate some Pilates movements in your warm-up or cool-down. These can help prepare your body for training or recovery from one.