Professional Athletes That Swear By Pilates

June 23, 2024

Kelly Slater is an 11-time World Surf League Champion, holding the record for the most world titles won in the sport. He is both the youngest and the oldest world champion in surfing, and at age 52, he's still competing at a professional level. When you hear about people like Kelly Slater, it can make you feel like an absolute sook for hitting snooze on your alarm and missing your 6:30 am Pilates class. Or you might think, “Alright, Kelly, maybe you need to get some therapy and stop overachieving because you're making the rest of us look like sooks.” Setting aside judgments about what motivates his exceptional success, one thing is clear: he thinks holistically about his training regime.

Included in his arsenal of training methods is traditional strength and conditioning for overall strength, as well as cardiovascular training to increase stamina. When it comes to flexibility, balance, and core strength, Slater does Pilates because it aids in injury prevention and recovery.

And Kelly Slater isn't the only one who considers Pilates beneficial for these reasons. In fact, some of the highest-performing athletes, athletes who stand out significantly in their fields, have benefited and continue to benefit from Pilates training. LeBron James incorporates Pilates into his fitness regimen to improve his core strength, flexibility, and overall body control. Tiger Woods also uses Pilates to enhance his core strength and stability, essential for a powerful and controlled golf swing. Pilates helps him maintain proper posture and alignment, preventing back issues and other injuries. Cristiano Ronaldo includes Pilates in his training to boost his core stability, flexibility, and muscle balance. These benefits contribute to his agility, quickness, and overall athletic performance on the soccer field. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, uses Pilates to strengthen her core, improve flexibility, and enhance her overall physical conditioning. Pilates helps her maintain agility and reduce the risk of injuries on the court.

Of course, it's impossible to argue that these athletes excel solely due to their Pilates training, but what can be recognized is that these athletes consider their overall fitness and approach their training holistically. So why has Pilates made the cut alongside the other training methods that these athletes use?

The micro-benefits have been briefly mentioned – core strength, flexibility, etc. – but on a macro level, when considering things as a whole, Pilates can be understood as a foundational element to overall fitness. Why? Well, this is true for several reasons:

1. Core Strength and Stability:

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, including the abdominals, lower back, and pelvic floor. A strong core provides a stable base for all movements, enhancing balance, posture, and overall body control.

2. Flexibility and Range of Motion:

Pilates incorporates stretching and lengthening exercises that improve flexibility and joint mobility. This is crucial for preventing injuries, maintaining optimal muscle function, and improving performance in other physical activities.

3. Muscle Balance and Postural Alignment:

Pilates promotes balanced muscle development, addressing muscular imbalances that can lead to poor posture and injuries. It helps correct alignment issues and enhances body awareness, allowing athletes to move more efficiently and effectively.

4. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation:

By strengthening supportive muscles and improving flexibility, Pilates helps reduce the risk of injuries during sports and aids in recovery from existing injuries. It also promotes proper biomechanics, reducing strain on joints and muscles.

5. Mind-Body Connection and Mental Focus:

Pilates emphasises mindful movement, concentration, and controlled breathing. This enhances mental focus, reduces stress, and improves relaxation, all of which are beneficial for athletes performing under pressure.

6. Adaptability and Accessibility:

Pilates exercises can be adapted to suit individual fitness levels, from beginners to elite athletes. It can be performed with minimal equipment and in various settings, making it accessible for athletes training both on and off-season.

These benefits illustrate why Pilates is not just a supplementary exercise but a foundational practice that complements and enhances overall fitness and athletic performance. Whether used for injury prevention, rehabilitation, or improving performance, Pilates provides a holistic approach that supports athletes in achieving their training goals and maintaining peak physical condition.

While I am far from being a professional athlete (my wife would agree), I have noticed how much doing Pilates has enhanced my training, especially when it comes to body awareness. When I am doing weights or surfing or even running, I feel way more “in” my body. It is the feeling of moving from an active core, being more precise in your movements, and just feeling more stable and in control overall.

To find out more about the benefits of different styles of pilates check out No, You're Not to Manly for Pilates and The Benefits of a Varied Exercise Routine

Or come and experience the benefits for yourself in Brisbane or at our online studio.

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