Men's wellness is on the rise, with spas and wellness centers incorporating more male-accessible wellness programming from yoga to retreats and more. The upward trend has reached Pilates, with more men taking up the workout, including celebrities and athletes. This increased interest in Pilates, along with yoga and spa treatments, is helping destroy the stereotype that the spa and wellness industry is mainly for women.
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NBA superstar Kevin Durant used Pilates during his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury and Harry Styles was featured doing a Pilates exercise in a TIk Tok video, with the pop star using the hashtag #mendopilatestoo. "Men pilates video" currently has 1.2 billion views on the often trendy social media platform.
Overall participation in Pilates increased by 10% between 2019 and 2022, according to data cited by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). According to the WSJ, while Pilates is growing in popularity and gyms are reporting a change in the male-female ratio at their Pilates classes, the exercise is not expected to surpass yoga due to Pilates using more-complicated equipment and often being more expensive. Nearly 34 million Americans practice yoga, versus 10 million who do Pilates, SFIA reports.
Men are using Pilates as a complement to their traditional strength-based or high-intensity interval workouts, flexibility training and injury recovery. Hybrid classes that blend traditional Pilates with other fitness elements can be accessible and appealing for beginners.
Joseph Pilates, the founder of the exercise, was a professional boxer, self-defense instructor, gymnast and circus performer. He created the discipline based on precise movements and breathing techniques that strengthen the muscles while improving posture and flexibility. He developed the technique further during the First World War. Since he was a German national living in England, he was sent to an internment camp. While there, he taught the method to his fellow internees.
Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1920s and opened a body-conditioning studio in New York City. The duo developed and taught Pilates together. While Joseph created the method, it was Clara that became the real teacher in the studio and allowed the method to be passed on to apprentices. She established the tradition of evolving and adapting the Pilates method to suit the individual needs of clients, according to the Pilates Foundation.
Their studio quickly earned a reputation in the dance community due to its ability to help ballet dancers refine technique and rehab from injuries. The method became associated with dancing and earned a predominantly female following outside the dance world. Originally, 60% of the clientele were men. During Joseph's lifetime, the method of exercise was called Contrology. It was only after his death in 1967 that it became known as the Pilates Method.
With Pilates now reaching more people than ever, it is essential for the spa and wellness industry to stay ahead of the curve by offering Pilates classes and promoting the method to men as a way to enhance their strength training.