Pilates For Men by Alan Herdman
by Richard Stooker
When he set up his studio in New York City in the 1920s, a dance company was
based in the same building. They were the first people in America to appreciate his
techniques, and soon he was famous in that field -- with George Ballanchine and
Martha Graham sending him injured dancers to rehabilitate.
After it became more generally known in recent years, women in particular seem to
drawn to Pilates, perhaps because it emphasizes well-rounded strength, grace,
symmetry, and flow. And rather than going for big, bunched up muscle tissues, it
stretches them as it strengthens them.
This is not inherently feminine. The sport of swimming also stretches muscles -- and
nobody would call Michael Phelps a wuss.
But it's certainly not the bulked up look sought after by weight lifters and body
Herdman realizes that many men will not want to make Pilates their only source of
exercise. Having correct posture is a good thing, but we also want to play sports or
pursue other strength building or cardiovascular activities such as running. Therefore,
a large part of the book is devoted to advice and exercises to help with specific
sports, from running to rugby. Many of these exercises can be used as warmups and
stretches to perform after completing the sport, to keep you playing instead of
sidelined with injuries.
First he does something I haven't seen in any other Pilates book -- provides a series
to twelve "tests" so the reader can assess how strong and flexible he is now, before
beginning Pilates. The author doesn't stress this, but readers should re-take this
assessment every month or so to prove for themselves how well their Pilates
program is working.
Then there's a chapter on common everyday bad posture habits and how to correct
them. Not something men want to read about, but in line with the Plates philosophy
of improving your body throughout all your daily activities, not just the period when
you're "officially" practicing Pilates.
Then he provides an intermediate and advanced workout. All of the exercises use a
mat or standing position. He doesn't even mention Pilates exercise equipment. This
book is intended to help men working alone at home.
A final chapter describes many more ways to stretch, and emphasizes doing some of
them throughout the day -- after waking up, during lunch hour, and in a hotel room
while traveling. We can't always set aside an hour a day for a real workout, but we
can stretch and practice good posture.
My only gripe would be what he left out. The sports sections include a chapter on
"gym" but does little to address how Pilates can reduce the risk of injury for
weightlifters. There's no section for wrestlers, martial artists or basketball players
(though Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and others practice Pilates).
About The Author
Richard Stooker is a freelance writer with a long time interest in health, nutrition,
fitness and anti-aging. Recently he discovered the .
Joseph Pilates probably didn't plan for
his exercises to appeal mostly to
women. He himself was a boxer,
gymnast, diver, swimmer and martial
artist -- hardly a wimp. And pictures
of him show that he had a solid,
muscular build as well as an upright
And while he was developing his
system and the various pieces of
equipment to augment it in an
internment camp on the Isle of Man
during World War I, he worked with
other male internees and male
wounded British soldiers.
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