Why Men Should Meet Pilates

(original post: by Ashlee Carignan)

No matter what the circumstances are, I can tell you Pilates is recommended for ALL men! I researched a ton of articles about this very topic and they covered a lot of material, but from an instructor standpoint, I’m going to tell you why I think they should.

5 reasons why men should put their egos aside and try Pilates:

  1. FLEXIBILITY! Men by nature, are not the most flexible waist down. They tend to struggle daily with overly tightened hamstrings, hip flexors, and abductors. A lot of this comes from having weaker glutes. I tend to focus my training on loosening and strengthening these areas, so men can perform other activities to the best of their ability without fear of injury. Tight muscles = more prone to injury.
  2. FORM: Traditionally, we tend to speed up movements if there isn’t a high emphasis on form. Pilates forces you slow down the movements, which in turn become more demanding on your muscles. I always tell my clients, “Slow and steady wins the Pilates race,” because 9 times out of 10, if you’re speeding through the movement, you’re doing incorrectly.
  3. BALANCE: Unfortunately, our balance starts declining at the age of 30! If your core is not strong and your body lacks flexibility, then you can throw balance out the window too; that’s exactly where it comes from: our CORE & FEET. Pilates elongates & strengthens muscle from head to toe, making your muscles balanced from one side of the body to the other.
  4. POSTURE: Pilates gets you to think about your posture, not only inside the gym/studio but also outside. In a very short time, clients start becoming aware of their posture and due to more upper body strength, men often times will have internally rotated shoulders. I encourage my clients to, “make sure your shoulders are back and chest open.”
  5. ABS: All guys want a six pack and are genetically more likely to achieve one than our ladies. More and more sports teams are turning to Pilates because of its “core”/abdominal benefits. Every movement should derive from what Mr. Pilates called our “Powerhouse.” Whether you’re lifting heavy boxes, reaching for a glass on the top shelf, or throwing a football. A strong core can help propel ANY movement better without strain on the body!
Pilates for Core Strength

Joe Pilates based his work on three principles: Breath, whole-body health and whole-body commitment; with the whole-body encompassing mind, body and spirit.

Inside ill versus outside injury

Today I am reminded of the difference between injury and illness. I know this sounds like it would be obvious but it’s not always.

The first symptoms of injury

About a week ago my shoulder started to hurt. At first it just felt stiff and my neck hurt when my shoulder hurt. As the week progressed the shoulder got stiffer and more painful until I could not lift my arm or put it down to work on a client. I tried stretching, massage from three separate people, as well as myself, the chiropractor, who is excellent and worked very hard to make it better. On each of these it would feel better for a few moments and then go right back to being painful. It woke me with shooting and gripping pain 10-12 times per night. At one point I thought I might faint when I turned my head. The pain shot down my arm and up my neck. The room actually spun!

The realization it might be more

After the chiropractor visit it was obvious that this was not an external issue but an internal issue. My body was out of balance, I had an illness. So a homeopathic remedy was the next move for me. Within an hour of taking the remedy my shoulder felt better but still hurt to lift. By the next morning it was basically pain-free and I felt much better all over. Still a little tired. I hadn’t recognized the tiredness as part of the illness. I thought I was just working too hard. Typical for most of us these days.

Evaluating the difference between illness and injury

As I’ve told my clients over and over: if you do all the right things and the injury does not respond correctly then it’s not an injury. It’s internal not external. Frequently viruses create body pain but we don’t recognize it because Western medicine doesn’t recognize it. Homeopathy, Acupuncture or Ayurvedic medicine are all good choices.

Many, many people become ill at the change of seasons. If you’re having symptoms which don’t abate in two to three days, check in with your local practitioner before you become truly ill.

Ear Candling: A Health Practice From the East

Ear candling has been used in China and Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years to promote health.

Placing the end of a hollow candle into the ear canal and lighting the far end the warm smoke travels down into the cooler ear warming and melting the wax. The centrifugal force, just like a tornado but much more peaceful, then pulls the wax back up through the candle. Some of it burns and some of it stays in the unburnt portion of the candle. In these pictures you can see there is not only wax but there are powdery substances.

The orange candles in these pictures were done in the right ear of the subject and while there is quite a bit of wax it has a nice clean color and not too much powdery residue.

The purple candles are from the left ear. As you can see the wax is actually black and there is a lot of powder in both candles. We had to do a third candle (the pink candle) because when I pulled the second candle out there was a large piece of black wax still stuck in the ear which hadn’t made it into the candle. This told me clearly there was much more in the subject’s ear. Fortunately, in the third candle you can see the return to a much more normal color.

This client has year-round allergies and was suffering from a sinus headache when she came in so we decided to do her very first Ear Candling. When she left the pain was down 75% and dropping.

I recommend Ear Candling at at beginning of the cold season and anytime you have congestion in the head.

Healing through awareness of movement.

As children we learn to move by watching those around us.  Frequently I hear people say “ I walk just like my mother “ or “ I stand just like my father”.  Yes we do.  However it is not heredity.  It is a learned behavior which can be changed.

We reveal our emotions in our posture.  Many studies have been done on why one person will be targeted by predators and not another walking down the same street.  Unequivocally it is how we carry ourselves.  Additionally, changing our posture can change our mood or outlook in life, or the day.

Hunching and looking down we don’t take on the world.  It’s too much for us.  We may not consciously realize it but we are avoiding those around us.

Pat’s story:
Pat came to me with shoulder pain.  He couldn’t sleep it hurt so much.  He was about 5’11” with a significant curvature in both upper and lower spine.  I explained that the shoulder pain was due to the position it was in from to the curve of the spine.  We began to straighten and strengthen the spine. On week 3 the shoulder was better. On week 4 he brought in a picture of his father which looked just like him.  I couldn’t tell the difference.  Pat thought his posture was hereditary and could not be changed.  As we worked I explained that there would come a day when his new posture would make him feel self-conscious. Standing tall is a different emotional and social statement.  It can make men feel as if they will be perceived as aggressive.  It may make women feel as if they are showing off or sexually aggressive.  All of these are not true.  Standing tall makes others feel as if you are comfortable with yourself.  Capable.  Sure enough the day came when he was going into a meeting and he hesitated.  He said he walked around outside so worried about his new height he almost couldn’t go in.  But he did.  He was now 6’2.5” tall.  Things changed in the next 6 months.  He was given a raise and promoted twice.  His employers saw him differently.