Men Are Reforming Their Workouts with Pilates

Power Pilates for men at COREFIT PIlates & Barre.

What do COREFIT regulars George Riley, Martin McReynolds, and Chad Hackney have in common with Harry Styles and members of the Kansas City Chiefs? Hint: It’s not Taylor Swift. They are among a growing number of guys who have discovered the power of Pilates to transform their bodies and lives. According to GQ, Pilates has been having a moment with men since the height of the pandemic. Garmin, the company behind many popular fitness trackers, experienced a whopping 96% increase in the number of men logging Pilates minutes in the app between 2020 and 2021. The trend shows no signs of slowing down. SolidCore, a national fitness brand known for reformer workouts, reported a 71% increase in male memberships in 2022 and 2023, while our studios average around a 40/60 male-to-female ratio in many classes.

So, what’s bringing the boys to this boutique studio workout? As a hilarious slew of TikTok videos devoted to men shaking and quaking on reformers illustrates, it’s tough! We’ve seen men of all ages, shapes, and sizes get humbled after only two minutes in a Runner’s Lunge as they realize that this “cute” workout, so popular with the women in their lives, just kicked their butts!

“Halfway into the first class, I was struggling to keep my balance, and my muscles were trembling,” recalled Riley. “I had no illusions that it would be easy, but I also didn’t expect that level of exertion.”  

McReynolds, who has been attending COREFIT for approximately 18 months, echoed that sentiment. “I expected Pilates to provide a whole-body workout, but I didn’t realize the intensity and resistance the reformer would provide. It’s not only increased my flexibility and fitness but also added a decent amount of muscle mass.”

How It Works

Pilates is a serious strength training program designed to build muscle and improve balance, flexibility, and core stability, aspects many men overlook in their quest for “gains” at the gym. It pushes the muscles to the edge of fatigue by keeping them under tension for extended periods rather than intense intervals. Unlike traditional strength training, which primarily focuses on concentric muscle movement (or contraction), Pilates focuses on the opposing eccentric motion. Both methods build mass, but concentric motions shorten the muscle, which may result in tightness, while eccentric movements lengthen and strengthen the muscle simultaneously.

German boxer and bodybuilder Joseph Pilates originally developed the concept that would become his eponymous workout to rehabilitate injured soldiers during WWI. Although it has morphed into a mainstream craze, many doctors and physical therapists regularly recommend Pilates to their patients who need to build strength without all the wear and tear on the joints. That was the case for Hackney, a former weight room addict, who started Pilates at the suggestion of his surgeon and physical therapy team following back surgery. He said he was “hooked” after the first class. 

“Pilates has become my new favorite exercise, even more so than weight training,” he said. “I love the challenge of certain movements, and especially the slow speed of the movements, which ramps up the difficulty level.” 

A Well-Balanced Workout

Matt McCulloch, Pilates educator and co-founder of Kinected and the Functional Anatomy for Movement and Injuries (FAMI) workshop, told Healthline that Pilates can help men find balance in their workouts.

“Men tend to overtrain certain joints, regions, and muscles such as the rectus abdominis ‘six-pack muscle,’ the biceps and triceps, and the quads. Due to this overtraining and resultant muscular imbalance, men tend to incur certain frequent injuries.”

He added that bigger doesn’t equate to balanced, but that’s where Pilates can help. “Pilates, as a system, remedies faulty patterns by balancing the body’s strength and flexibility and optimizing its efficiency,” he said. “When the body is symmetrically aligned, and muscles function efficiently, injuries tend to occur less frequently.”

The COREFIT men agree. Hackney said he has experienced “a greater sense of overall strength and balance in that strength, especially in my core, compared with the free weight work I’ve done in years past.”

McReynolds pointed to better balance and flexibility, along with an improvement in his bloodwork, since starting Pilates. Riley, an avid golfer, joked that it has improved his game. “I have no scientific proof, but I’m hitting the golf ball farther now than I have in the last ten years.”

The COREFIT Experience

Physical results and golf games aside, these men credit our excellent COREFIT instructors as a big part of the reason they keep returning for more.

“The instructors are great,” said Riley, who noted that the studio is clean, well-run, and offers plenty of class options. “They all are very knowledgeable about not just Pilates but fitness in general. They provide guidance when needed to ensure I’m getting the most out of my workout, along with an occasional dose of encouragement. I think most importantly, for me, the class/instructors really push me beyond what I would normally do while working out by myself.”

“They keep it interesting and challenging,” McReynolds added.

We love our COREFIT men, and with Father’s Day right around the corner, what better time than June to celebrate them? Follow us on Instagram to see the special deals and discounts for all the men in your life and have them join the free Men’s Power Pilates class at Alamo Heights on June 15th at noon.

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