The beginning of a new year is a time of resolutions and predictions. This year, I went for the one resolution plan, which I wrote about in my blog, The One Resolution Effect. So, freed from lists about how I'm going to achieve this, that, or the other goal in 2013, I think I'll turn my mind toward predictions.
People sometimes ask me for predictions about Pilates because I do have a unique perspective, being as tuned into Pilates online as I am. And I pay attention enough to have a sense of the Pilates related topics that are peaking on the web at any given time, though I don't always see myself as an authority on industry trends. Now that I've given you a context for my prediction, I will tell you why I think this will be a good year for men in Pilates.
It's not because the term "Pilates for men" is rocking the net, it's not. What I see is a broader trend that has to do with the convergence of men being more comfortable with Pilates, and the Pilates industry, teachers in particular, being more serious about making Pilates classes appealing to men. I'm not alone in my prediction by the way. IBISWorld reported in 2012 that men and boomers were projected to lead a steady upward trend in Pilates and yoga.
I have written many times that Pilates is for men, as well as women. It was founded by a man. The exercises, the underlying principles, and the equipment are all very appropriate to fitness for men. And, of course, men have been doing and teaching Pilates since the beginning. However, along the way, Pilates did become associated with women's fitness. That made some men uncomfortable, and kept a lot of men from even hearing about or trying Pilates. Simultaneously, more women were taking classes and becoming teachers so Pilates got a little bit feminized, making the idea that Pilates was for women a top Pilates myth.
A few years ago, most women I spoke to had heard of Pilates and had at least some idea what it was. Not so with men. Usually, when I told men I was into Pilates, teaching and writing about it, I was met with a blank stare or an inquisitive, what is Pilates? That almost never happens anymore.
Most men I talk with know about Pilates and are more than a little interested in its benefits. In the past year, as many men as women have written to me inquiring about getting started in Pilates. In the news we've seen reports of professional hockey teams, basetball teams and elite male athletes doing Pilates as well as men liking it for general fitness, rehab, and cross training purposes. I've even noticed a trend of men moving into teaching Pilates as a second career. For example, I recently featured Len Palombi's story, a sixty year old man who became a Pilates teacher.
While men are coming toward Pilates, I am happy to say Pilates is moving toward men. Not that it wasn't before, lots of good work has been done, but there is a definite uptick in the converstation among instructors about how to work with mens bodies and training needs in mixed classes. I've also noticed more classes specifically for men (granted, in large urban areas) as well as Pilates DVDs for men. I should note however, that there is not a different Pilates for men than for women. Pilates is human body fitness and the same exercises and basics apply to all.
Another place we are seeing more Pilates men is online. Men who do and teach Pilates are participating in promoting Pilates info on social media like facebook and Twitter, as well as making excellent Pilates videos for YouTube and subscription classes such as Pilates Anytime and Pilatesology.
I think the expansion of Pilates into mainstream fitness venues like rec centers and gyms has been helpful in getting more men into Pilates. I also think a lot of men are tracking core fitness back to its source. Whatever the different influences are, it's up to us to continue them. Men need to continue to brave their way into Pilates classes, and instructors, men and women, need to continue reach out and expand the ways we reveal the potential (and history) of Pilates for men's fitness. It would be great to look back at 2013 and say, Yes, that was a tipping point.
I cringe sometimes when I look at the Pilates home page here at About.com and see I have no photos of men. I try to keep a balance but I can't always do it. I do have a lot more photos of women. Even so, men are well represented here and by way of inspiring you guys, and gals, here are just a few of the Pilates articles featuring men.... and I look forward to bringing you more:
and Reviews of Pilates DVDs with male instructors:
Pilates Playground with Nico Gonzalez
System 17 with Rael Isacowitz
Athletic Conditioning with Fitness Circle with John Garey
Sexy Body Workout 1 with Jonathan Urla
photo Steven Boschoff as a teacher in training. (c)Steven Boschoff