Tutorial #1018

Pilates for Men

15 min - Tutorial


In this tutorial, Kevin Bowen shares a few variations that work well for men, especially when they are new to Pilates. He explains why he does certain exercises so you and the men you teach know the benefit to each exercise. With a modified Mermaid, Tendon Stretch, Side Splits, and many more variations, you will have a great program for your male clients.
What You'll Need: Reformer (No Box)

About This Video

Apr 24, 2013
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Hello everyone. My name is Kevin Bowen and I am here with my buddy George and George is going to help me, uh, as I talk about some of the exercises that I've taught here on plot. He's anytime that I've come up with for men and why I came up with them for men. So George, as you may or may not know, has, uh, been as one of the students in both classes that I taught, so he knows some of them and what he doesn't know, I'll help them with. Um, I work with men on a relatively regular basis and I particularly enjoy working with men who've never done [inaudible] before. And over a period of, uh, the many years that I've been teaching, uh, I've come up with some little innovative ways of getting men to do the exercises without intimidating the bejesus out of them with some of the plotty stuff that they look at and they get scared about. So, um, I've been most successful when I've worked with men in a group and I take a class from kind of a start to finish position and a group reformer setting. And, um, it's, there's a camaraderie with the group in the room together.

They learn the exercises and some of the processes behind the exercises and why it is, what it is, how it is and what makes PyLadies different. I found that over the years that working with men, they really night liked to know why the heck they're doing something and what it's good for because we as men tend to have a little bit more of this analytical mindset. Um, we're not as, um, touchy feely as most women are. And we like to know that there is a distinct reason for things and that's just kind of not being sexist. It's just describing how I easily have come to terms with working with men and getting them into Palladio's without, without them getting a little turned off by it or free thinking that it's just for women. So what I've come up with is a few things to teach them about their body and things that they may not normally know. So George, would you help me out here?

When I came up with was having the gentlemen sit on the wood of the reformer here. So George is gonna come back here and sit on the edge of the reformer. Looks pretty simple. It is. We've all done it in our studios. I know, I certainly have done it when running an instructor training program and didn't even think about what I was doing as I was sitting talking to students. But I realized that I had to find my little sitz bones right on the wood. Well, ps, for most of us men, we don't really find our sits bones very easily. So this to me, I thought, wow, what an easy way to teach a man how to find their sitz bones. So I just say, gentlemen, let's sit on the edge of the reform. We find the little bones on your butt. Let's sit up on it, get your weight evenly distributed there, and then go ahead and pull up talk.

Well, I found that works. So it's kind of one of the things that I do. And I also incorporated some movement into it. So what I usually do is I take one spring on the reformer and I'm going to have George slide over a little bit. And if I'm working one on one, I'll bring the carriage out and I'll have George grab onto it either on the reformer shoulder block or down here on the handle holder, depending on what type of reformer you have. And I'll have him take his hand behind his head, his left hand, and I'm just going to allow him to let the reformer carriage pull him out to the side and then bring him back up. And then I'm going to cue him now that you found your sitz bones, try to keep your weight evenly distributed on each side of your sitz bone.

And I found that kind of works because most of the time we all tend to be, um, as we would say in Miami Coolo grippers where we grip our butts and we don't let our bones come down and we don't feel them. And if you know you know plots, which most of you probably do, you can see what exercise this is, which is kind of a modified version of the mermaid, right? And then I might even hold the gentleman here at the side and I may just pull him a little bit down to get a bigger stretch and then have them pull back up. Pretty Simple, Huh? You can let go. Would you like to do the other side so you're even okay. And you can see, all we're going to do is turn them around.

I'm going to get him to sit up on his sits bones. I'm going to pull this over and take his hand behind his head and I'm trying not to lean into a George and get your right pelvis side down and then just stretch over. Here you go. And if you need to, you can just press a gentle hand here to remind him. Sorry, I'm in your way. I know to keep the right side of his pelvis down and instead of trying to sit the gentleman up on the reformer in a z sit position or a cross legged position or anything like that, I just found for me, I thought this worked a little bit easier. All right, and go ahead and let's come over again one more time and I'm gonna pull you just a little bit. Drop your right Sitz bone down and then bring it back up. Okay. You can let go. Great. Now the inside sitting positions probably a little easier.

You can also turn him around. So George, just go ahead and show this. If you were to be turned around, you can sit them this way. The problem with this is that for most people, you're reaching back and it's a little bit more difficult on the shoulder girdle and instead it actually pulls the client back. But if they the flexibility and they want to do it, you could also do it this way. Okay. You can let go. Very good. Okay, come on over here.

I also do some very simple things for men. When we teach a class, they're used to doing things like this, which is one leg up on the reformer foot bar and they can get a hamstring stretch. I'm sure most people have probably figured this out, but I like to throw all these things in because for most men they're familiar with things like this nature and for most men, for the majority, their hamstrings are tight. So I have them do whatever they can do in this position and we even talk about, I'll come behind them and ask them to straighten the leg here and then they come over where they can comfortably on the reformer. Okay, let's do the other side so you get a little bit of an even stretch there. When I first start working with men, especially if it's in a group class setting, they're new to Palazzos. I don't get extraordinarily picky and tear them apart with their form because they don't really like that in the beginning because it's all new to them and they really have to first learn what they're doing.

And then we start to work on the form. It's more or less how I work with most clients, but I'm especially for men when they're just not used to some of these movements, you can come on back up. I just don't bust their chops so to speak too much. Okay, we're going to do one more little stretch I came back up with. So come on and Barbara here, you're going to stand inside here and face that way and you'll see this. And what's gonna happen is he's either going to grab the shoulders and step, separate your legs a little bit so when the head rest comes towards you, right?

And look straight ahead George. Then you can drop your chest a little bit. Then take a deep breath and as you exhale, round your head down, pull the carriage towards you and straighten your legs. Good. See this and then release and come back. And again, Paul and come up into it, and this is kind of my play version of tendon stretch that you would normally do up on the reformer. We just kind of do this here. So round and pull. I don't have to deal with someone who's not been on a reformer very much in getting them a little uncomfortable, getting up and down off the equipment.

They're still standing on the ground yet they're still using the piece of equipment for their exercise. Great. And then release all the way back. Good. Very good. You can go ahead and stand up. So a couple of other things I like to do is I'll take the men through the basic workouts, which you've probably seen. We always have to do footwork. We do some form of abdominal work, short box, long box, et cetera. But I found there's a few exercises we can do.

I'm going to have you come down here at the end of the reformer. So go ahead and [inaudible] on the floor again. So stand on this end. He's gonna reach his arms up. He's going to exhale and round forward. He's going to place his hands onto the carriage. He's then gonna step his legs back and get his body as straight as possible, zipping everything up and then he's just going to move the carriage out and in.

Now I have one spring on. We could also put two springs on and make it a little bit heavier. If the gentleman wanted a little bit more of a challenge than this. How are you doing there? Good. Now they were going to be real strong man and what he's going to do, he's going to separate his legs apart so they have a really, really wide stance.

He's going to pull his body together. Squeeze your glutes, take one arm off George and reach it forward. There you go. And try to move the carriage with one arm. Now this is an extra bit of a challenge. Good breathe. Be Very careful. Try to take that arm out to the side. That might be better. There you go. One more time. Good enough. Be careful and try not to rotate too much.

Now switch, so take it down. Bring it out to the side, shoulders back and press. Not Too much, George. Just small, small movement. Rotate back this way to me. There you go. Small. Moving out and bring it back in and see we want to keep the movements a little smaller here. Good. And bring it back. Bring both hands on. Pike your body back up, drop your head down, bring the carriage all the way in. Pull it all the way back in and around yourself up. Walk your feet. There you go. Excellent.

So that's a little bit of a long stretch position in a modified version. I also like to do this when it comes to splits because a lot of men really can't get the front splits on the reformers, so we do something like this. A George come and step on this side. I have them take their inside leg up on the reformer and bend their foot up against the shoulder block. Okay, now all is going to do is he's going to straighten his left leg and bend it back in. Now try to keep your right leg straight. There you go. Just straighten it and bend it back in.

Straighten it. Good. This is pretty simple. Step one. Good. This time we're going to straighten the leg. Then he's going to split into it. Whoa. Be careful. Don't rotate too much. He's going to split up back and he's going to bend the knee. Okay, so he straightens. Splits into it. Good.

Now look straight out George. There you go. Come back and bend the knee. Good. And one more time. Straighten down. Whoa. There you go. Come on Jack and bend the knee. Excellent. Okay, let's walk around with this slide so you're evenly split apart. So you take the inside leg onto the reformer, you bend the knee, step this leg a little bit more forward. So this bring your left leg forward towards me. Okay, so just straighten and bend the leg. So it's just a push out and come back in.

All right, you want to check that the drop your pelvis down a little bit. If you can. There you go. Press out and come back in. Press out and come back in. This time he's going to straighten out. He's going to lengthen and split into it. He's going to lengthen back and bend the leg.

You can also hold your arm straight out. So press lengthen into it. Come back and bend. There you go. And again, press lengthen. Come back and bend. And one more time. Press lengthen. There we go. Come back and in. Okay, step off.

I also have another little version for side splits, which some of you may have seen. Uh, what we're gonna do is George is going to stand right around here about where the edge of the carriage is. And it might be easier to have a sticky pad, but you're going to have one leg up on the diagonal on the reformer. So go ahead and do that George. Okay. Now all he's going to do here is just straighten the leg out, straight in and sideways and come back. And is that too heavy? I need a sticky dead. Okay, so again, if you're queuing, you want to make sure their face straight ahead, you rotate your pelvis to the right. There you go. And just press out. So you also want to make sure that the client, let's turn your foot out a little bit. There you go.

Has the knee going over the toes. Now the next one, he's going to go here and then he's going to a side split over. Whoa. Come back and bend the knee and come back in. And again, so he straightens the leg, he sights, splits over, keep your leg straight, bring it back and bend the knee back in. And one more time, press side, split over, bring it back and bend it back in. Excellent. Let's do the other side. So you're even, so all you simply do is turn your sticky pad around. He stands towards the edge of the reformer, puts the right leg up, squares the pelvis, press the leg out and bring it back in. So you gotta be very careful. Side's a little more difficult for you. Huh?

So, well form is very important at this as is an awful lot of these exercises. It's actually very good and much easier for men to do this than actually doing some of the exercises, especially the splits where they have to get up on the reformer and do them. Okay, so you straighten and split into it and come back in. And Ben and again, split into it. Good. Come back up. And Ben [inaudible] and for some men it's very challenging. I think it's a little challenging for you, isn't it? Yes, yes.

And come back in and you do one more time, press it out. Press and lengthen. Come back and bring it back in. [inaudible] excellent. Okay. You can go ahead and step off of there. So I just found that these exercises tend to um, just be a little bit more user friendly. And then once the men get used to doing them, then I can get them up on the reformers to show them the splits.

I can perhaps show them the tendon stretch on the piece of equipment and I can keep them through a progression of [inaudible] exercises and maintain some semblance of, you know, the quote unquote historical order without them feeling like they're going to be incapable of doing some of the more difficult work. I just pair it down and then when the time comes, I put it all back together again and get them back on their classical Palladio's sequence. Thank you very much. Have a great day.


Sherry S
3 people like this.
Thanks Kevin! Great way to get the guy's moving! .....Sherry
2 people like this.
Thanks, Kevin! Loved the modifications/progressions for the guys. Can of course apply to all clients as an introduction to the equipment. Carrie
5 people like this.
Very nice...now we just need more men.
1 person likes this.
Thank you, I really like your approach and have used it on my male clients. Is it possible to do an intermediate reformer class for men? Thanks again!
Melanie~ Kevin taught a Reformer Class while he was with us that may suit your needs. Click here to go to that class.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Kevin! What great movements to introduce men to Pilates. Very useful. Great to learn from you again!
2 people like this.
Thanks Kevin. Always looking for more tips on Stretches for men. Also great for older women who are apprehensive about standing on Reformer for elephantetc.. Loved the mermaid option!
Krista O.
Great tips that I plan to use. I can appreciate your comment that men (and actually quite a few women clients) like to know the purpose and effect of an exercise.
I really liked these variations. I work with a lot of rehab clients and these will fit in very well!
Emma Jane
1 person likes this.
So helpful! Thanks!
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