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Pilates for Men: How I'm Recovering from 30 Years of Pain


At 49 years old, Pilates has helped me recover from pain I’ve had since I was 16.

I’m obsessed with Pilates now, but it wasn’t always that way.

I have been an athlete my entire life and always enjoyed competing in multiple sports, basketball being my favorite.  I played in a recreation league, on the high school team, outside with my friends, and an intramural sports league in college.

 It was always very difficult for me to play due to some pain that I experienced in the front of my leg (tibialis anterior tendon) starting around age 16.  No matter how much I stretched, iced, or used heat,  the pain was intense and greatly impacted my performance while running down the court.  

After college, tired of all the pain, I basically hung up my basketball sneakers and never really looked back.  

Over the years, even extended walking has caused this pain to reappear. 

I think I was at the point where I accepted that my only exercise would come from lifting weights at the gym and the less movement in my legs, the better.

Now, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with Pilates.  Great question!

Two summers ago, my then 13 year old daughter, Brooke, heard about a teen Pilates class at our local Club Pilates in Alpharetta, GA.  When I picked her up from that first class, she couldn’t stop talking about how much she enjoyed the class and how she couldn’t wait to go again.  It turns out that after her last class that summer, it was mentioned that she should bring a parent along to experience Pilates. I was happy to go with her to support her new endeavor. 

As I laid down on the reformer looking at the class full of women, my mind went to a few different places.

  1.  Do any men actually do Pilates?

  2.  What are people going to say when I tell them I took a Pilates class?

  3.  I need to do a good job so as not to embarrass Brooke!

It turns out that not only did I really enjoy the class, but I signed-up shortly after.  I am a co-host of a YouTube Channel, Phil and the Mic, in which we talk about all things sports and I was a little nervous to bring Pilates up on the show.  My co host gave me some grief at first, but I explained to him and our audience how much I enjoyed Pilates.

It was totally different than anything I had ever done and challenged me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. 

I now talk about Pilates during almost every show! I am still one of a few men,  but that doesn’t bother me.  I take my normal Pilates class on Sunday mornings and usually there are a few other men with me. 

So far,  I’ve taken 77 classes so far and I'm looking forward to getting to put my name on the 100 classes  wall.  

IMG_0025I've started to notice how Pilates has changed my life in other ways. 

After about 10 classes, my wife asked me to go on a hike.  Honestly, I was very apprehensive as I knew the pain that was ahead of me.  I stretched the best I could, and we left for the park on a perfect Saturday morning.  It turns out we hiked almost 5 miles, and I was completely pain-free!  My first thought was that I did an incredible job stretching and just got lucky.  A couple days later, I was working from home and decided to take a walk around the neighborhood.  I was actually on the phone when I started and completely forgot to stretch but midway through the walk I came to an unusual realization…I did not have any pain at all in my legs.  The walking continued and a few weeks later, I was even able to jog a mile with no pain at all.  

Could this really be happening?  I decided to do something I wanted to do for a long time, I found a local over 40 basketball league and signed-up.  Needless to say, we are about to begin our 3rd season and I remain pain-free.  

How did this happen?  The answer is simple - Pilates.  A different way of using my muscles, coupled with stretching and balancing, has literally changed my life.

It’s really strange to think that as I approach 50, I am doing things that I haven’t done in over 30 years. 

I love being active and the ability to play competitive basketball once again is truly a dream come true.  I never thought this would happen but I’m so glad I listened to Brooke and joined her for an introductory class.

To all the men out there; let me give you a piece of advice.  Try it.  Give it a few months and see what happens. 

You will feel better, look better, and hopefully be able to do things you haven’t done for a long time.  Sunday mornings are my favorite time of the week knowing that either Arlene or Elaine are going to help me achieve my goals, and that Sadie is always available providing encouragement to all the members.  

A special thank you to Brooke, who now works at the Club Pilates studio, for helping me change my life, and to my wife, Trisha and youngest daughter, Aubrey, for their support,

and understanding that Sunday mornings belong to Daddy and Pilates.

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