A lot of athletes, certainly the professionals and many amateurs, train in a variety of ways. A pro basketball player like LeBron James doesn’t just practice his jump shot – basketball players also lift weights, run laps, and do other kinds of training. It is important to keep workout routines varied to make sure that all the muscle groups are getting worked and that your body is not getting too accustomed to any single exercise. There are a lot of fad exercise routines on the market – pole dancing, for example – but there are also some great ones. You might have heard of Pilates as a way for celebrities to maintain their physiques (Jennifer Aniston swears by it), but it is also a great method for athletes to improve their games.
“Pilates helps athletes develop core strength, increase flexibility, assist in rehabilitation after injury and create muscular balance throughout the entire body,” says Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for STOTT PILATES. “As a result, athletes can withstand rigorous training regimes and ultimately improve their golf drive or baseball pitch, prevent or recover from injury, and maintain an optimal fitness level for the activity of choice.”
Pilates is an excellent way to exercise for athletes, especially tennis players. Good tennis players need to be both flexible and strong. Muscular endurance is also critical for those long matches. Pilates works on both of these things. Combined with regular cardiovascular exercise, it can give players an extra edge. Pilates will improve abdominal strength, sending the ball further down the court. It will improve shoulder and arm flexibility, helping with a player’s serve. It helps with balance and improves power and endurance. Working on core and stability muscles makes serves more powerful. Many tennis players have stronger sides, and Pilates can correct these imbalances. Better balance also aids tennis players in quickly responding to a moving ball, allowing them to change directions more easily and quickly. There is no question that training with Pilates noticeably improves tennis performance.
But the benefits of Pilates are not just limited to tennis players. All athletes can benefit from their improve core muscles and strength. Basketball players have also turned to Pilates, often training with it in their off season to improve their on season performance. Superstar NBA player Kobe Bryant has been known to train with Pilates, as has NBA All-Star guard Jason Kidd. Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat’s shooting guard loves Pilates. He turned to it during last year’s lockout – the players were locked out of NBA gyms and couldn’t use NBA trainers. So Wade turned to Pilates almost by accident. “The lockout meant I was working out with a different trainer,” says Mr. Wade, “and he introduced me to different types of workouts that I didn’t even know my body needed, like yoga.”
Athletes in other sports also include Pilates in their workouts to improve their performance. World famous golf player Tiger Woods is known to practice Pilates. He probably likes the way it improves his muscle strength, neuromuscular training, joint flexibility and balance – all of which make him a better golfer. A good golfer needs a good swing, but a great golfer needs an excellent one. Pilates helps players hone that complex movement and control their strength and direction.
Even for non-athletes, Pilates is a great way to build muscle and strength. An hour of Pilates a week can make a real difference in your muscle tone and balance. Classes are given at most gyms. You can also find videos that will teach Pilates to beginners.
About the author: Earl Reidlen has written for the sports industry for many years. When he’s not writing, you can find him reviewing tennis product companies including M.Putterman. Click here for more information.