It’s time to shake that “Pilates is for [insert something that you are not]” mentality out of your head. Pilates benefits people of all fitness levels. In fact, today, more athletes are turning to Pilates to boost performance. NFL receivers Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, and Brandin Cooks and Olympians Missy Franklin, Kerry Walsh Jennings, and Andy Murray have all cited Pilates as an important component of their fitness routine.
Asphalt Green Pilates instructor Eric Clothier knows these competitors are on to something. Pilates gives athletes an edge mentally and physically. The practice reduces injuries, speeds recovering time, improves range of motion, promotes efficient breathing techniques, and develops a mind-body connection.
During sport-specific training you use the same muscle groups repetitively, which can cause muscle imbalances and hinder performance.
“The smaller muscle groups get neglected in some forms of athletics,” Eric says. “Pilates will force you into movement patterns that are lacking in other training methods. You will be lying on your side, stomach, back, sitting, standing, rolling, and balancing in different ways.”
Gerre Bettis, a personal trainer at Asphalt Green, was once a doubter of the practice but has become a Pilates regular and recommends his clients add it to their fitness routines.
“I’ve increased strength and overall stability in my core,” Gerre says. “I’ve become more aware which muscles are being activated.”
Brooklyn College basketball player Roki Mendoza started taking classes with Eric in summer 2017 and already feels a major improvement in performance on the court.
“It has been challenging for me every time I do it,” Roki says. “Training is all about change, and you have to continue to work your body in different ways. Pilates targets the areas athletes struggle with the most: postural alignment, balanced muscle strength, and functionality of movement through core body strength.”
4 PILATES EXERCISES EVERY ATHLETE SHOULD TRY
Muscles targeted: Core and back
Repetitions: Five repetitions on each side
- Start lying on your back, knees bent comfortably, feet hip-width apart on mat. Hold a Pilates ring over your chest, and lift one foot in the air.
- Take a deep breath. As you begin to exhale, move your chin toward your collar bone and push the circle across your body. Your eyes should be gazing in the direction or the circle. Begin to lift your planted leg off the ground.
- Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the floor while twisting and bending your torso. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Inhale, and return to starting position. Repeat.
Muscles targeted: Muscles surrounding the lower spine and torso
Repetitions: Five to 10
- Using a Spine Corrector or BOSU® ball, sit upright, hands cupping the back of your head. Your knees should be bent with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a deep breath. As you exhale, bring your tailbone forward, allowing your spine to round toward the barrel. Make sure your lower back makes contact with the Spine Corrector or BOSU® ball.
- Inhale once you complete the movement. Exhale to fold forward and round your body over your legs.
- Return to starting position.
Side Leg Lifts
Muscles targeted: Obliques, legs, glutes
Repetitions: 10 per side
- Lie on your side on a Spine Corrector or BOSU® ball. Your body should be in a straight line. Inhale.
- As you exhale, engage your core and move your top leg away from your body. Your leg should rise a few inches; knee caps should face forward throughout the entire movement.
- Inhale to return your leg to starting position.
Muscles targeted: Obliques, hips, thighs
Repetitions: 10 per side
- Using a Ladder Barre, rest your hip on the barrel and your feet on the ladder, keeping your body vertical. Inhale. (You may also use an inflatable ball, keeping your feet on the ground and resting your hip on the ball).
- Inhale, and lean your body toward the barre or ball, keeping your hands in the direction of your body line.
- Exhale, engage your thighs, and pull your body back to starting position.
Advanced modifications: Hold on to a pole or towel with your hands overhead while you complete the exercise.
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