Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Guide to Pilates for Men: Improving Overall Health

Though many people often focus on the best workouts for cardio and strength training, improving overall fitness requires more from the body than what those two types of exercise can offer. Incorporating a regular Pilates practice can help strengthen the body in more ways than you might realize. Because Pilates utilizes body weight and some resistance tools and equipment, the form of exercise engages more of your body with each movement.

Many, if not most, exercises in the Pilates routine, such as planks, are designed to help work your entire body rather than a target zone. Unlike yoga, Pilates requires a good deal of movement and very conscious control of every movement during each exercise. That is why Pilates helps build strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Dr. Betiku on Why Men Should Try Pilates

Headshot of Club Pilates instructor Dr. Femi Betiku.
Club Pilates

Another great thing about Pilates is that gyms offer Pilates classes which are outfitted with the equipment you will need for the class. Other options like Club Pilates are also wonderful because there are more class options to choose from that meet the needs you require from a class be it more restorative or higher intensity.

By including Pilates into your weekly visits to the gym, you can boost your overall fitness and see better performance in other areas of fitness such as weight lifting or cardio too.  The Manual spoke with Dr. Femi Betiku, DPT CSCS PMA-CPT and certified Pilates instructor at Club Pilates, to find out why and how Pilates can benefit men.

Benefits of Pilates

Man stretching in child's pose.
Taco Fleur / Unsplash

According to Dr. Betiku, Pilates is a wonderful tool for men because it helps alleviate the acute and chronic pain, like lower back pain or neck pain, that many men suffer. “Pilates helps with core strength and spinal stability as well as proper neck and shoulder alignment; therefore neck and low back issues are easily treated with Pilates,” Dr. Betiku said. Additionally, Pilates solves many flexibility and mobility issues men may be facing, too. Without proper flexibility and mobility, people are more prone to suffer muscular and joint injuries.

But Pilates can also help internally, with prostate dysfunction. “Prostate issues occur sometimes due to a weak pelvic floor or overactive pelvic muscles,” Betiku said. “Through pelvic floor activation and relaxation as well as breathing, Pilates can improve this issue,” he added. This benefit of the practice also helps men become more aware of their bodies. When awareness increases, men can shift how they carry themselves to use proper form and minimize the pain that poor posture is causing.

Dr. Betiku’s Best Tips for Pilates Beginners

Man standing in an upright stretch.

“For all of my newbies who take our Club Pilates classes, they should stick with our Level One classes for at least a month just so they can hone in on how their bodies should feel during each type of movement,” Dr. Betiku explained. But even if you do not practice with Club Pilates, it is a good idea to spend a similar amount of time keying into and honing your Pilates foundation.

Another helpful tip Dr. Betiku gives is that you can monitor progress each class by paying attention to how your body feels and responds to each exercise because the general routine of every class is the same. “Each class usually starts off with a series of the same exercises just with different variations, these are the movements to focus on to make sure they are utilizing the appropriate muscles, alignments, postures, and breathing patterns,” he said. So, even if it takes several classes to get into your Pilates groove, know that the repetition will help you pick up the exercises more quickly while building strength.

How to Get Started on Pilates

Man in full plank.

Anyone can get started with Pilates by finding a local class to attend. However, it can be frustrating for beginners to jump into a regular class when others have been spending months building their foundation and are moving forward. Modifications can almost always be made to accommodate all skill levels, but Club Pilates has four different levels of classes to make things easier. Beginners can attend level one classes that are specifically designed to build the foundation and strength for more advanced Pilates. Only after students have mastered each level can they move up to subsequent levels to increase the difficulty. To reach the highest level, Club Pilates requires students to have practiced for at least three months with the facility or have permission from a Club Pilates instructor.

Once you find a class that suits you and your skill level well, consistency is key. Dr. Betiku suggests taking classes once a week to get started. However, scaling up to at least three Pilates classes per week will help students advance more quickly.

After a routine has been established and followed for some time, students can likely tell from their own performance if their fitness has improved. Pay attention to or document any body aches or pains you experience before starting a Pilates practice and watch it diminish with time. Keeping track of strength, flexibility and endurance are also good measures of progress too, according to Dr. Betiku.

Editors' Recommendations

Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
Load up on high-fiber foods: Your guide to getting enough fiber in your diet
Learn about fiber-rich foods and how to get plenty daily
Fiber in beans

"You need more fiber in your diet." How often has your doctor, nutritionist, or mom told you that? You probably know you need fiber, but do you understand why it’s so important? 

The kind of soluble fiber that you find in grains, fruits, and veggies is best known for keeping you regular. You’re not as likely to suffer tummy problems or experience constipation if you constantly eat fiber-rich foods. While this is an essential component of healthy living, fiber has many benefits beyond regular, healthy bowel movements. Fiber also helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk for certain diseases. 

Read more
The CDC released a BMI chart showing the average for men in every age category
The CDC did a study and found the average BMI for men of every age group
Clear glass scale with blue measuring tape

Ever wonder how you measure up to other guys your age when it comes to body mass index (BMI)? Thanks to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can find out exactly where you stand based on your age and race.

The CDC's BMI charts are based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a survey of a representative sample of the U.S. population. The chart shows that the average BMI for all men 20 and older is 29.4 — meaning most men in the U.S. are overweight.

Read more
The best foods for prostate health (and what to avoid)
Include these important foods in your diet

Although it may not be a topic of conversation around the dinner table or with your buddies at work, taking care of your prostate health shouldn’t be something you defer until it becomes a problem. Prostate problems are extremely common after the age of fifty. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health, 50% of men over the age of 50 have benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, a condition that can lead to thickening of the bladder wall, urinary incontinence, and urinary retention.
Even if your 50s are decades away, younger men can take strides to prevent and delay prostate enlargement by consuming foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants known to support prostate health. These types of foods reduce inflammation, improve circulation, minimize oxidative damage, and support healthy hormone production, helping protect against benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Keep reading to find out what the best foods for prostate health are and to start taking control of your future health.

Fatty fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, trout, and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and can slow the progression of prostate enlargement. There is even some evidence pointing to the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce tumor size in cases of prostate cancer.

Read more