Leave It to the Pros: Athletes Relying On Pilates

pilates for athletes

When you think of someone taking Pilates, who comes to mind? Be honest! If the person that you are picturing is a thin, flexible ballerina with amazing posture, you aren't alone! Most people associate the practice of Pilates with dancers and they aren't wrong. Some dance companies require their dancers to take Pilates to improve their skills while some individual dancers find and participate in the practice on their own time. But would you be surprised if we told you that dancers aren't the only athletes turning to Pilates?

Yup! It's true! Football players... swimmers... basketball players... golfers... tennis players... volleyball players... baseball players all are turning to Pilates to help improve their games in some way.

Here's some people that have confessed to using Pilates (to name just a few):

There are even entire teams that are now having their athletes attend Pilates classes throughout the year. Some teams that have said they are now using or have used Pilates include:

  • Dallas Cowboys

  • Green Bay Packers

  • Milwaukee Brewers

  • Orlando Magic

  • Washington Wizards

Now, you don't have to be a sports fanatic to know some of these names! But why are athletes relying on Pilates?

strength & stability for football
  1. Strength & Stability - For football players like Antonio Brown that' position requires quick, sharp movements, Pilates helps with core strength & stability that in turn allows for those explosive movements we see in professional athletes. When the core is stabilized, strong, and engaged, movements can become more explosive, balance can improve, and injuries can be prevented. (If you've ever suffered from a back injury, chances are you need to work on your core. The core helps to support the back.)

  2. It truly helps prevent injuries. Most athletes hit the gym (more specifically the weight rack) when they train. While lifting heavy weights helps them build strength, without stretching, the body has no balance. Pilates helps to create that balance by both strengthening and lengthening muscles throughout the body. Unlike traditional workouts that focus on one area and then a different body part at the next workout, Pilates challenges the entire body throughout every class. Some classes may seem to be targeted towards a specific body part but truly every part of your body is worked in each class.

  3. Muscle, bone, and ligament health. Think about the amount of time professional athletes have spent playing their sport (and maybe additional sports in their earlier careers). Years of training & playing take a huge toll on the body. The Pilates method not only benefits muscle & bone, but also ligaments and tendons - encouraging more "give" (as opposed to being stiff causing tears). Pilates is also utilized as a form of rehabilitation for many different reasons. The Reformer is non-weight bearing so for those individuals who are coming out of surgery or are experiencing back pain, the Reformer is a great solution. Also, Pilates exercises can be modified to meet a variety of levels so for an individual who is progressing through Pilates with ease, the exercises can be changed to become more challenging and visa versa.

  4. athlete flexibility
    Flexibility. Not all athletes are born flexible like a gymnast or dancer. Pilates incorporates stretching into every workout; promoting flexibility which helps athletes in different ways. When the muscles are relaxed and flexible, players can experience increased speed, less frequent injury, elongated careers, relief from muscle soreness, etc. Most athletes spend a good amount of time weight-lifting which creates short, bunchy muscles. In contract, Pilates creates long, lean, and elastic muscles. When the muscles are short and bunchy, they are more prone to injuries - again, flexibility is key!

  5. Body control. If you've ever been to a kids sports game (think soccer or basketball), you may have noticed a lack of body control. In comparison, think about a football receiver or basketball player who needs to stretch his body in a specific way to either catch the ball or dunk. He has to have good body awareness & control in order to be effective. Pilates helps with just that - precise movement. Engage the muscles you want to engage with the mind-body connection that Pilates teaches.

These are just a few of the many reasons athletes have said ‘yes’ to Pilates. If you’re an athlete looking for something that could give you an edge in your specific sport, maybe it’s time to look at what Pilates can do for you. After all, if some of the world's best athletes are doing it, that tells you something!

We'd love to introduce you to your new favorite training program. Your first class is complimentary, too!


Stack, "Why These 7 NFL Receivers Do Pilates" by Maddy Lucier, April 17, 2015, http://www.stack.com/a/wide-receivers-pilates

Rivercity Pilates, "4 Reasons Why Tiger Woods Uses Pilates to Improve His Golf Game," http://www.rivercitypilates.com/4-reasons-why-tiger-woods-uses-pilates-to-improve-his-golf-game/

Pendleton Pilates, "Key Reasons Why Pilates is Good for Men," http://www.pendletonpilates.com/pilates-for-men/ The Wall Street Journal, "Andy Murray Makes Pilates Core to His Comeback" by Tom Perrotta, June 2, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/murray-makes-pilates-core-to-his-comeback-1433258647 firehaus pilates, "PILATES GETS A GOLD MEDAL AT THE OLYMPICS" by JoAnna, August 6, 2012, https://firehauspilates.com/2012/08/06/pilates-gets-a-gold-medal-at-the-olympics/ SELF, "A Pilates Abs Workout That'll Make You Feel Invincible" by Corrie Pikul, March 12, 2015, https://www.self.com/story/pilates-abs-exercise-kerri-walsh-jennings Sports Illustrated (SI), "The Revenant: How Jake Arrieta came back from the baseball dead" by Tom Verducci, March 28, 2016, https://www.si.com/mlb/2016/03/28/jake-arrieta-chicago-cubs-profile

ESPN, "Hunter Pence credits Pilates with helping him prepare for season" by Jim Caple, March 23, 2016, http://www.espn.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/69106/hunter-pence-credits-pilates-with-helping-him-prepare-for-season

Dorothy Leung Pilates, "What does NBA All Stars and Pilates have in common? They do it!" by Dorothy Leung, February 6, 2016, http://www.dorothy-leung.com/blog/2016/2/6/what-does-nba-all-stars-and-pilates-have-in-common-they-do-it

Pilates Sports Center (PSC), "NBA Legend LeBron James Practices Pilates," June 22, 2015, https://pilatessportscenter.com/blog/nba-legend-lebron-james-practices-pilates/

Hollywood Reporter, "This Industry Favorite Pilates Instructor Trains Gisele Bundchen and Samuel L. Jackson" by Kathryn Romeyn, April 4, 2017, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/celebrity-pilates-instructor-trains-gisele-bundchen-tom-brady-amy-adams-991190

#Pilatesforathletes #Pilates

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