The One Thing All Athletes Are Missing

Screen shot 2015-03-30 at 9.29.16 AMNo, it’s not breast milk or the latest protein powder. It’s not a new-age training regimen or time off. It’s not the latest technologically enhanced equipment. It’s Pilates.  Every single athlete I encounter could benefit from Pilates. Are you a weekend warrior? Maybe you’re a closet triathlete, marathoner, or even a professional athlete or dancer. No matter what you do or how often you do it, Pilates could be the key to extending the life of your sporting “career” and helping you get the most out of every training session, game, match, meet, competition, or performance.

Pilates has long been a staple in dance companies, where they employ certified instructors who specialize in working with dancers. Former New York City Ballet principle, Wendy Whelan, turned to Pilates for rehabilitation after surgery for a labral tear in her hip.  She instagrammed throughout her recovery and built quite a following in the process. But what many people don’t realize is that athletes such as Tiger Woods, Jason Kidd, Ruben Brown, Curt Schilling and Rocco Mediate, have all turned to Pilates to rehabilitate injuries, support their sport-specific training, and extend their careers. You can read more about those guys and their journey through Pilates here.

I think there are a multitude of misconceptions that keep people who would benefit the most away from Pilates. My main question is why aren’t more professional teams employing Pilates principles and training into their schedules and off-seasons to get the most out of their athletes and keep them healthy?

Here are some key misconceptions that I think keep athletes from either trying or continuing with Pilates:

  1. Pilates is a woman’s activity.  This is simply not true. First, the Pilates methodology was found by Joseph Pilates, a man. Second, some of the athletes that benefit most from Pilates are men.
  2. Expecting immediate results. Pilates will not give you immediate results, but if you stick with it, it can change your entire approach to your sport. It will improve your stamina, resilience, resistance to injury, and even the life of your career.
  3. There’s no benefit unless I’m sweating, grunting, and throwing up afterwards. If that’s what you’re used to or what you expect, it’s best to leave those thoughts at the door. Pilates won’t replace your regular training. What it will do is make your training more effective by teaching you how to be mindful, recruit new muscles, open your posture, and give you a larger range of flexibility and strength to work with.
  4. It’s too easy. Well, if it’s easy, you’re not doing it right. Talk with your instructor, let them know you’re not feeling it the way they’re describing it; but remember, it’s not going to be a sweating/grunting/passing out kind of feeling anyway

Absolutely hate it? Give it 4 weeks. You might not like it….yet, but I bet after one month your body will feel different. You’ll approach your training and performance differently and feel stronger and more in control. Who wouldn’t want a few more years doing the thing you love to do, and doing it well, free of pain and injury?