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“Applied Pilates for Men in St Albans” – If you asked me 10 years ago whether I’d ever try my hand at Pilates, I would have laughed you off. Hell, it even took some convincing from my colleagues for me to realise it wasn’t just stretching for 45 minutes. But the ‘Tahs are doing yoga, the Blues are ‘earthing’ and even the SAS have given meditation a go – suddenly no exercise is off limits and workouts are breaking through gender stereotypes.

So, I decided to team up with the good people at VIVE Active who put a strong emphasis on making the class an experience – think beaming lights, futuristic furnishings and music synced to the workout.

Sitting at 90kg, looking like a Dorito (yes, I rarely turn up to leg day) and plagued by injuries caused by on-field rugby collisions, I knew this might just be the perfect opportunity to reset my body and tend to my aches.

So here are six things I learned after taking up “Applied Pilates for Men in St Albans” for a month:

1. Improved Core

When you’re someone who spends more time trying to increase size and going heavier, core is an afterthought. After all, no one cares how heavy you can Russian twist. But for the first time in years, I had definition on my mid-section. Although, it wasn’t just my v-line that started to show, my core improved ten-fold too – both my lower back and my abdominal region. Previously, I’d complain that my best days were behind me as I’d hobble out of bed. Now I feel like I’ve recaptured my youth, as mobile as ever.

But Vive Active Head Trainer Alexis Fernandez isn’t surprised by the changes to my body.

“Pilates focuses on not only the rectus abdominis – ‘six pack abs’ – but also the transverse abdominis (which sits under the visible abs) and the pelvic floor muscle,” explains Alexis.

“These core muscles are the ones that improve posture, eliminate back pain, allowing you to lift heavier and to hold positions for longer. It acts as a belt around your torso and draws in your waist and back. Many other typical ‘abs’ exercises such as sit ups focus on the rectus abdominis only and neglect the other core muscles.”

2. I Lifted More Weight In The Gym

This surprised me the most. In my experience, in order to improve strength, you not only need to consistently lift heavy, but you also need to gradually increase the amount of weight every time. Truth is, I was concerned that I’d come out the other side struggling to pick up the plates I’m accustomed to.

Bizarrely, this wasn’t the case. Alexis explains that pilates can actually help with resistance training because it gives you a strong foundation so your weaknesses don’t get in the way of heavy compound lifts.

“Pilates is a great supplementation to your strength and resistance training as it seriously improves your posture, spinal and pelvic alignment and core strength,” she tells me.

“This is especially helpful when performing heavy compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats, where form and alignment are crucial in order to increase the load.”

3. I Shed Weight Quick

With summer just taking off and my rig not quite in beach-shape, pilates actually became a viable solution to my skin fold woes. While the workout naturally gets your heart racing, there are even classes that can offer a little extra to you help you go from dad bod to beach god. After the month-long research, I dropped five kilogram and a more defined mid-section was a natural bi-product.

“High-intensity reformer pilates (like we offer at the studio, with added dumbbells) is a great way to drop fat, as your muscles are under tension for almost the entire session, with a mix of slow and fast movements allowing your heart rate to rise and drop similar to interval training, and minimal rests throughout the session,” Alexis continues.

“It is intense but the session goes by fast as it keeps you engaged throughout the entire workout.”

4. It Won’t Get You Jacked

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, building muscle involves a lot of trying and testing – isolating muscle groups, push-pull days, changing the recovery time – there are a whole host of methods one can use to build muscle. And having tried all of the above, I can tell you that there isn’t one size that fits all, especially when you’re looking to be more Arnie than AFL player. However, there is one thing in common – shifting heavy tin in the gym. And unfortunately, pilates doesn’t fit that bill.

While you’ll see your number lower on the scale – largely due to fat loss – and sure, there will be some muscle gain, this particular type of workout doesn’t see the same results as the Rock’s favourite sweat session.

As found out in my experiment, substituting my regular gym sessions with pilates saw hypertrophy decrease and I put this down to the high repetition/low weight exercises involved in the popular form of exercise. And while there’s the option to increase weight and resistance, unfortunately, given the high repetitions, it may take months for your body to be able to lift heavy with smaller rest time.

This isn’t to discredit pilates, but if you’re someone who wants sleeve-busting arms, you’ll need to ensure you’re also incorporating regular weight sessions throughout the week and you’re in calorie surplus.

5. Body Parts I Neglected Got Found Out

I can tell you right now: this will become apparent both during and after the first session – both a lack of strength in departments you’ve neglected and the pain you’ll endure having used those muscles for the first time. But that’s the beauty of Pilates – it’s a total body workout which means no body part is left untouched.
And you’ll feel it, trust me.

While you may have untended areas of your torso, don’t worry, you’ll see changes quick. Only a few sessions a week is all it takes for you to get results and as quickly as a couple weeks.

“Ideally you want to be doing three high intensity reformer pilates sessions per week to see a really noticeable change in your strength, posture and appearance,” Alexis continues.

“You will start to feel the difference after two weeks and you will start to see a visible difference after as little as four weeks. ”

6. My Posture Improved

Before taking on the challenge, anecdotal evidence suggested that a major benefit would be improved posture. And boy, were they right.

Not only did I find myself with a more pleasant posture ( goodbye slouched shoulders and unnecessary leaning), but my clothes also fit better.

Turns out the science behind it stacks up.

“As pilates focuses on the deeper abdominal muscles as mentioned before, and a combination of unilateral and contralateral movements, you are able to pinpoint imbalances and weaknesses on one side more than the other, and the exercises help balance this out. The focus on alignment within the movements allow for better posture inside and outside of the pilates room,” Alexis adds.

“Pilates also focuses on your glutes, which actually play a hugely important functional role too. They’re not often trained in isolation and can sometimes be classed as ‘lazy’. When they’re weak, other muscles like your hip flexors, quads and ITB can become overactive, which can affect your posture and cause back and knee pain. Improving glute strength often has the knock-on effect of fixing postural problems too.”

Alex Pierotti

Alex Pierotti is the Digital Content Editor for Men’s Health Australia, with experience reporting on health, fitness and sport. With a Journalism degree from UNSW under his belt, he got his start working in TV, working on the live broadcast of the Intrust Super Shute Shield on 7TWO before making the switch to print and digital at Pacific Magazines.

“Applied Pilates for Men in St Albans”

Over the years, 3 basic styles of Pilates have evolved:

Classical Pilates is based on the original teachings of Joseph Pilates and is a rigidly unmodified form of Pilates that is utilised by professional dancers. It can be highly traumatic to the lumbar spine and shoulders when practised by the average Pilates client, and is wholly inappropriate for those with musculo-skeletal issues. It is also notable that Joseph Pilates’ own belief in creating and maintaining a flat spine directly contradicts today’s medical and scientific evidence.

Fitness Pilates is based on a contemporary modification of the original form, anatomically-based in accordance with modern bio-mechanics. This is predominantly the choice for matwork classes, fitness centres and group reformer sessions. However, practised in these environments it can fail to deliver clients’ objectives, due to the group sizes required to keep costs down, the need for everyone to perform the same exercises simultaneously, and the emphasis on number and variety of exercises to maintain group interest. All of these factors result in lost focus on the basic bio-mechanical principles during exercise and make it high risk for those with musculoskeletal issues. 

Clinical Pilates was developed from the early 1990s by rehabilitation specialists who began to incorporate Pilates exercises and equipment into their protocols, and found they needed to modify the exercises to meet established physiotherapy concepts. This type of Pilates is predominantly found in the 1:1 physiotherapy environment, and so is generally inaccessible outside of a clinical or rehabilitation context.

Now Applied Pilates brings a clinically-modified form of pilates into the exercise environment, offered in both a 1:1 and small group format. Exercise routines are tailored for each individual and are delivered only by practitioners who understand the nature of musculoskeletal issues.

With the generic brand Pilates, the industry is populated by instructors with varying levels and standards of training, some of whom have little or no understanding of even basic anatomy. Many instructors genuinely believe that they are offering their clients something with great potential, but due to their lack of knowledge, they are unable to understand why some clients get good results from their instruction while others suffer continued or even increased symptoms despite every effort to teach them correctly and specifically.

The chances are that if you have a musculoskeletal issue and you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve been advised by your doctor or specialist to “do pilates”. But did they advise which kind of pilates? Did you know that a standard pilates instructor qualification does not include any training or qualification in rehabilitation or how to apply pilates exercises for specific spinal or other musculoskeletal issues? Or that over half of classical pilates exercises will actually worsen the pain of a prolapsed disc?

Effective instruction is not about delivering an entertaining variety of exercises to maintain client or group interest, but application of the right exercise. Without the necessary foundation in anatomy, musculoskeletal movement and associated pathologies, the most well-intentioned instructor will be unable to define an appropriate routine for each individual. While it’s the role of the clinicians to diagnose pathologies, the pilates instructor is responsible for defining the appropriate exercises and modifications. So if your instructor doesn’t understand the clinical nature of a prolapsed disc, sciatica or facet joint syndrome, or a ruptured tendon, ligament or muscle, clearly they won’t understand which exercises will aggravate or worsen your condition.

Check that any prospective instructor that you will work with is equipped to handle your personal objectives. In particular if you have a musculoskeletal issue make sure that they understand the clinical nature of your issue – do they actually know what it means? Ask them to explain how the correct exercises will be selected for your condition and what a progressive exercise plan might look like for you.

The key to faster and better results is “Don’t let your condition linger”
The sooner we see you the better your outcome.
Here are 2 examples of why earlier treatment can avoid long term pain and dysfunction.

Torn muscle or over-use tendonitis
Firstly it’s important to seek early treatment so that we can stabilise the affected area to avoid further damage and to allow your body to start its natural process of laying down scar tissue to knit together the damaged tissues. At this early stage we may also treat the area around the injury to improve the circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote the healing process.
The next treatment stage involves controlling the growth of the scar tissue to prevent it from forming unwanted adhesions between adjacent tissues and rigid scars within the muscles – both of these are primary causes of chronic issues that persist years after the original injury has healed. We prevent these issues with a combination of manual and electrical techniques to break down excessive scar tissue, alongside prescribed exercise to keep the area mobilised and tissues conditioned.

Tension related pain such as neck or head-aches
Often when people get muscle pain they wait and see if it goes away; often it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. The problem with the “wait and see” technique is that, if the pain is caused by trigger points and these are left untreated, this can lead to muscle and nerve damage and to chronic pain.
Often found in the neck and back, trigger points develop insidiously from seemingly harmless occupational activities (holding a phone between the head and shoulder or sitting in an awkward position in front of a computer), recreational activities (bending your head for a prolonged period of time while knitting or reading), or from acute injury such as whiplash from a car accident.
A trigger point is a patch of very tightly contracted muscle which feels like a hard knot and causes the affected muscle to lose its elasticity. This causes stress on muscle tissue, on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle, and if left untreated can cause long term symptoms ranging from agonising pain to restricted movement. The good news is that we are very successful at resolving trigger points and rehabilitating affected muscles – but don’t let it linger before you call us!

Contact The Sogunro Practice for more information on how we can help you with a wide range of injuries such as:
 General injuries: from gardening, lifting young children, minor trips and falls
 Occupational injuries: repetitive strain injuries, lifting injuries, including prolapsed disc
 Sports injuries: from recreational and weekend warriors to elite level professional athletes
 Chronic over-use injuries: eg tendonitis, tennis elbow, golfers elbow, carpal tunnel
 Muscle tension: stress or tension related pain or discomfort, like chronic neck pain or head-aches
 Muscle imbalances: stiffness and pain associated with poor posture, eg facet joint syndrome