Teaching Pilates to Men - an observation

I’ve been teaching Pilates for well over a decade now and I have to say I love teaching men. That’s not to say it’s an easy sell. At CoreWorks only about 12% of our clients are men. 12%...that isn’t very many. So, why?

Let me tell you, it’s not because men don’t get anything out of it.  The majority of those men come more than once per week and have been coming for at least 2 years.

There are so many things that play into this.  I could write an academic paper on femininity and masculinity and what society expects of us both and how that informs our exercise choices but this is not the place.  I will say though, that the clear majority of those men came either because their spouse already did Pilates and basically compelled them, or they had some sort of injury or impediment they wanted to work on, for instance,  back pain.

I think it comes down to how Pilates is packaged and marketed in today’s world.  After all the person who started it was a man.

This is Joseph Pilates.

This is Joseph Pilates

But this is how we often see Pilates today…


Unfortunately, I believe the latter is turning men (and some women) off Pilates.  You see, Pilates is not just about long lean muscles, it’s about functional fitness. It’s about the strength and ability to do everyday movements like squatting, bending over to pick something up, getting a glass off the top shelf, getting in and out of the car, walking up and down stairs. That’s extremely important no matter what gender you are.

The other thing that keeps men and even some women away from Pilates is that it isn’t “hard” enough or they don’t sweat when they do it.  It’s true, in order to really understand Pilates you have to have a grasp on the often non-sweat generating fundamentals. Things like pelvic stability, lower abdominal engagement and hip dissociation don’t really get the heart rate up but it’s an important step to getting the movements right and getting the most out of it in the future.  Sometimes people get these fundamentals right away and for others it’s a longer process.

I do find that men tend to want to power through exercises...especially challenging exercises and in doing so they miss the whole point.  There is a fine balance to be struck when teaching a man in giving them just the right amount of challenge but still focusing in on the smaller more refined movements.  

Being patient at the outset, and developing the right attitude can mean anyone who wants a challenge can end up doing the hardest exercises and loving it. Yes, there will be Lulu Lemons, leg warmers and Toesox. Our studio is not about what people look like or the outfits they wear, it’s about the exercises and being able to do more than when you first started.

The challenge is the same for everyone,  regardless of gender. Once they realise that they can do things in their daily life that they weren’t able to do before Pilates, they are a convert. Getting the message out to men is the real challenge when there is an Instagrammed branding of Pilates that has little to do with it’s true values. So if you know any men who might be interested in trying Pilates, send them our way!