Anyone who has heard about pilates knows Hollywood divas are hooked on it and the paparazzi are mesmerized by the results. The list of celebrities who do pilates to stay in shape is essentially endless and many celebrities known for their hot bodies credit their streamline figures to pilates.  Madonna, Lady Gaga, Lucy Liu, Jennifer Aniston, Katie Holmes, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Kelly Ripa, Kyra Sedgwick, Jennifer Garner, Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Hawkins, Eva Longoria, Sharon Stone, Hugh Grant, Mark Harmon, Sting, Sofia Vergara and Alessandra Ambrosio are a few amongst the many most notorious of dedicated pilates practitioners. What is less known is that not just top models, pop singers, A list actors and Balanchine dancers love the way pilates makes them feel keeping them in tip top form, operating at their sizzling best longer and stronger. More and more athletes are taking to the celebrity’s workout to keep them agile and injury free, playing at peak performance staying in the game longer.


Professional athletes who have embraced the method include golfers Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate, Rich Beem, David Duval, Kelli Kuehne and Andrew McGee. Football players include Mack Strong, R. W. McQuarters, Ruben Brown and  Al Wallace. Other athletes include basketball star Jason Kidd, pitcher Curt Schilling, Tennis superstar Serena Williams and many olympic athletes, swimmers Dana Vollmer, Natalie Coughlin and Ariana Kukors, divers Nick McCrory and David Boudia, track champ Lolo Jones, boxer Andre Ward, skaters Johnny Weir and Kaetlyn Osmond, skier Julie Mancuso, runner Sanya Richards-Ross, volleyball Gold Medalists Kerry Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.


Today more than ever before super star athletes and many professional athletic organizations are taking their cue from the beautiful bodies of Hollywood. According to SGMA International, the trade association for sports equipment manufacturers, pilates is briskly becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends in America.More and more athletes are taking pilates classes and hiring pilates trainers because they are realizing that pilates techniques will help keep them strong and flexible, able to play harder while keeping the risks of injury at bay.  Pilates conditions healthy and fit bodies making them more powerful, agile and resilient. Pilates also offers therapeutic benefits to bodies that have sustained injuries conditioning them back to optimal functioning again.

Some time back there was an article on Mack Strong, retired fullback and running back coach for the Seattle Seahawks, who was one of the first pro athletes to champion pilates.  He was a forerunner leading the way showing athletes today the powerful potential of pilates. He said that pilates helped to keep him in the game longer extending his professional career for as long as it did until a serious neck injury forced him to get off the field.

In an interview Mack said what most of us can easily imagine that after years and years of pounding a body on the football field, stiffness sets in.  Mack attended pilates classes with his wife on a regular basis and noted that when he began incorporating pilates into his workouts it was the best he ever felt. Mack Strong was one of the first high profile athletes to endorse pilates, but today many athletes can attest to pilates workouts that have helped them stay agile and strong. Pilates facilitates athletes to stay in the best shape possible enabling an active athlete to withstand the extreme rigors of a professional career like football for as long as possible.

Whether a team’s goal is to increase strength, flexibility, endurance, agility, speed or simply better joint mobility, optimal ranges and coordination of movements, pilates will do that and more.  Pilates oriented programs aid in injury prevention because the method employs highly effective yet essentially gentle and safe techniques. These techniques can be performed in a home training facility with state of the art pilates equipment or on the road using just a mat and a few small pilates props.

Once the preferred workout by supermodels, actors and pop divas, Joseph H. Pilates’ unique conditioning method has now become the latest trending method of choice for superstar athletes as well because it delivers results. The benefits of pilates include not just overall better efficiency in movement and functionality, but agility and endurance gains, power, speed and quickness.

Despite its effectiveness as a powerhouse exercise method pilates has mostly been embraced by women because it delivers results without adding muscle bulk creating an elongated, sleek line to the body.


Jason Kidd, the Nets superstar point guard, was once encouraged by his wife, a devoted pilates practitioner, to try the pilates method to help rehabilitate a broken ankle.  After much cajoling he gave pilates a try and despite his preconceived notions he was pleasantly surprised.  It was an eye opener for him. He said, “I immediately discovered how tight I was. After one session I was energized. From that point on I was convinced it was a great workout.”

More athletes would do pilates if they knew that it would give them an edge up. Jason Kidd said 30% of his strength and flexibility training came from pilates and attributed much of his power and agility gains directly to pilates. His words exactly, “Pilates has made me quicker, more explosive.”

The Nets strength coach, Rich Dalatri, convinced of the conditioning advantages pilates offered, was responsible for bringing the method to the rest of the team. His words extol the holistic benefits. “Pilates is rejuvenating, restorative, invigorating,” he says, “maybe because it gets the blood flowing through every inch of the muscles. It’s so internal. It puts you in tune with your body. It puts you in a different state.”

Joseph H. Pilates, creator and pioneer of pilates, knew the potency of his method.   He wrote, “In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see a difference. And in 30, you’ll have a whole new body.” Anyone who has practiced pilates knows this to be true.

Curt Schilling, the Arizona Diamondbacks star pitcher would probably agree. After incorporating pilates into his offseason training program he had this to say. “The first three weeks, I was really disappointed, I wasn’t sweating. I wasn’t winded, which is what I associate with true exercise. Then in the fourth week I started to understand the pilates terminology, the idea of working from your center. By the third month I was more powerful and flexible than ever before. And I’d lost 15 pounds.”

Sometimes the old adage no pain no gain dies hard, but when the light bulb goes off it truly is an epiphany.  The best workouts are not the ones that challenge your effort to the point of extreme exhaustion where you walk away ready to hurl up your lunch.  Pilates is the very enjoyable workout that really works. Pilates elongates muscles as much as it strengthens them.  A longer muscle has more potent explosive power. The results come with the method. The pilates method is a healthier option targeting both optimal flexibility and strength facilitating an ideally balanced and eloquently able body.

Creating a balanced musculature of optimal mobility results in power gains and better injury prevention. Rubin Brown, the 6 foot, 300-pound offensive guard from the Buffalo Bills tells us that after adding pilates to his off seasons workouts he faired better during the season staying freer from injury. He said, “I used to feel like crap after practice and games but not since pilates. I learned how to breathe through my muscles. My posture is better. I can run more fluidly. And I increased my bench workouts.”

Pilates helped prolong the career of Rocco Mediate, PGA Tour golf pro.  After major back surgery in 1994, Rocco Mediate said he wasn’t the same. Bending over for long periods of time to practice his putting became a challenge and lengthy plane trips could throw his back out leaving him suffering with back pain. “Pilates put an end to all that. After a week [of pilates] I was turned around,” he expressed. “After two I felt like I’d never felt before.” After experiencing such amazing results doing pilates Rocco turned his home weight room into a pilates equipment studio. The reason is quite simple. He tells us; “pilates never compromises your back,” and adds “ I got more motion in my shoulders, midsection and legs. I can repeat my basic swing more often. Pilates is going to add five, six, seven … years to my career.”

Golf may not be an extremely vigorous sport but skill, precision and consistency in the gold swing is imperative.  Like many sport skills and athletic moves, the golf swing is always performed on the same side which can cause an imbalance in the body. Pilates methods work to create more harmony balancing the physical framework of the body. Pilates practice helps to relieve and realign some of the tension in the back created by the one sided nature of the golf swing. Strengthening the core realigning and rebalancing muscle forces helps to ease the extreme torque placed on the spine from the continuous repetition of motion on the same side. Pilates teaches the golfer to initiate the swing from the center more and to control it from the core rather than the peripheral extremities which helps prevent injury.

Whatever your game, pilates could be the difference between playing for a lifetime of enjoyment on the course, field and court, or fretting on the sidelines. 

Practicing pilates consistently will ensure an athlete optimal functioning at his highest level of performance. Pilates can benefit all athletes whether weekend warriors or professionals playing football, hockey, soccer, baseball and or basketball. Tennis players, skiers, golfers, rock climbers, bikers, runners, rowers, equestians, swimmers, surfers, dancers and skaters can all benefit from a complementary pilates program that will support their primary sport.

With pilates oriented conditioning athletes can throw or hit the ball farther, pitch and run faster, jump higher, spin quicker, acting with greater finesse and reflex, all with less risk of debilitating injury or fear of extreme muscle fatigue, a workout to build power without an increase in bulk, one that will not inhibit efficiency of movement, but enhance kinesthetic flow and coordination.

This is the truth and many pro sport clubs already know it.  Here is a short list of a few professional teams that have embraced pilates workouts to help strengthen players bodies and minds in efforts to ensure the team’s resolve and success.

Minnesota TimberwolvesDetroit Lions 
New Jersey NetsGreen Bay PackersMilwaukee Brewers
Orlando MagicTampa Bay Buccaneers 
Washington Wizards

Professional athletes who workout on the very popular pilates reformer have shared testimonials.  These should encourage any aspiring athlete to check out their pilates options.

Frank Lawrence, NBA Coach said, “Pilates workouts using Balanced Body reformers are an excellent conditioning tool for the NBA. The strength, agility and performance of my players have increased and pilates has become such an essential part of our workouts that we take a reformer to our away games. I even have a Studio Reformer ® for my own home use.”

Brent Burns, Defenseman, San Jose Sharks said, “Pilates has become a big part of my conditioning and the Allegro Stretch Reformer from Balanced Body is an incredible athletic training tool. It is able to fit taller and bigger body types like myself and is easy to adjust and use. I use it every day and its really changed the way I move.”

Chris Simms, Former NFL Player, Assistant Coach, New England Patriots said, “Pilates on Balanced Body Reformers has greatly increased my core strength and my overall flexibility. I’m more agile than I was before and that’s a big deal in my line of work. It has definitely become a crucial part of my training program.”

Garrett Giemont, Conditioning Coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, 2002, Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society said, “I look for ways to turn every ounce of potential into winning performance for my players. Pilates training with the Allegro® Reformer strengthens the core muscles, increases flexibility and helps my guys stay on the field and off the injured list.”

Brady Clark, Former MLB Player, said, “As a professional baseball player I am constantly twisting and torquing my body. Pilates on the Balanced Body Allegro Reformer has been an excellent conditioning tool in this respect because it has greatly increased my agility and strength. It also allows me to work out small muscle groups that I normally don’t.”

Josh Bidwell, Former NFL Player, said, “Pilates on the Allegro Reformer has definitely lengthened my muscles and increased my agility. I can really feel it in the way I move.”

Now are you ready to try pilates?

I highly recommend it, but then again, as you can see I am not the only one.

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