men on mats

men on mats

Introducing my Men on Mats

Men on mats is probably a term you haven’t come across very much. But did you know that Pilates is for any body not just women? You may think that there is some stigma around men doing Pilates, but you’d be wrong.

You may be surprised to hear that we still do squats, planks and press ups and some of the moves will get your heart racing. We also work on more focused isolation exercises to balance the body working from the inside out.

Here’s a few of the benefits my Men On Mats have achieved:

  • Recovery from injury
  • Increased flexibility
  • Recovery from illness
  • Better mental health
  • Slowing degenerative illnesses
  • Increased running endurance
  • All round improved sports performance

But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few of my Men On Mats happy to share their Pilates journey with you.

Bruce stops his spinal degeneration using Pilates

My name is Bruce, I am 58 years old, work for the Royal Mail group and a carer for my mother who is disabled.

I suffer from spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis which is a degenerative spinal condition .

About 10 years ago I began to struggle walking any distance and found my back and legs were only comfortable when leaning forward, I booked an MRI scan that confirmed the above condition and painkiller drugs such as Tramadol.

A spinal fusion operation was recommended but as the results seemed to be mixed I decided to seek an alternate solution.

After researching various exercise systems such as Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates all of which suggested benefits I decided to try Pilates which seemed to have most positive results for this condition. I contacted Sam and started classes in Stratton immediately.

I must admit I thought the exercises would be relatively easy, how wrong could I be!!!

A gradual increase in core strength and posture improvement followed and another MRI scan 5 years later showed there had not been one further bit of degeneration in my spine and I have been able to greatly decrease my medication.

The training classes also have a happy positive atmosphere and keep you motivated.

I do believe going forward that maintaining a level of fitness and core strength will hold me in good stead for the future and I have to say a big thank you to Sam for helping myself and many others through Pilates to keep a strong physical and mental attitude.


A forward-thinking man who lives for the now

When people say that they do Pilates how do others respond? My experience has been varied. Male friends are either accepting but with little interest. There are of course the exceptions.

More though tend to look surprised, followed by “really”. That “really” though said in a way that communicates disbelief. Pilates not being seen as a proper exercise.

Those falling into the latter group I ask to stand on one leg. Most do …to prove a point it seems. And most can. But then I ask them to do it again with their eyes closed. This time the result is very different. With most toppling over. Then we have a deeper more illuminated conversation.

Pilates may not be seen as “Macho” but it certainly is stretching, in all means of the word. Strength building, relaxing, sometimes. And very developmental; mind, body and spirit.

My name is Brian. 62 years young. And now retired……sort of. I’d worked in the sciences, marketing & sales for electrical products then construction. Non departmental government bodies, quangos! And lastly working for 12 years with those experiencing homelessness, and or addictions, specifically drugs and alcohol.

Why retired? I was stressed, exhausted, both of which were impacting on my health and relationships. But also I’d had four major operations. The first in 2012 for bowel cancer. The others a result of that. I don’t think I’d really fully recovered. Work was demanding and I was blind to how it was impacting negatively on me and my family. Finally though I listened and made the decision, supported and encouraged by my wife, Maggie and my children. I say children because they are. But they are adults making their own way in the world.

So 1 April 2019 my first day in retirement ….what now? I believe work does not define us. As with most life experiences it shapes us. But I really felt lost after the initial euphoria …and holiday.

My days became filled with dog walking, fishing, cycling, swimming, running, reading and the odd job around the house. But I began to realise I didn’t really have a structure and certainly my network of people was pretty non existent. And spiritually I was becoming bereft.

Maggie had been doing Yoga and Pilates for some years extolling the virtues of both. Finally she persuaded me to come to a Pilates Class. It would help with rebuilding my stomach muscles which were non existent following my operations. The class was one of Sam’s.

First impressions? Well I was the only man. Second impressions? I am the only man! Fish out of water. Bizarrely intimidating. Not that I wasn’t made welcome, I was.

It was though a positive experience and got me thinking, reflecting.

I was a problem man. Always had been. Now I had the time and energy to do something about it. Just be clear on a problem man they suffer usually inwardly with :

  • Being lonely
  • Lacking in self care
  • Pressure to perform, to be self sacrificing
  • Powerless in their masculinity

So I set myself some goals:

  • Reconnect with my spiritual needs
  • Recognise I have purpose in the newness of retirement
  • Be generous to myself
  • Grow my personal network

Pilates formed one plank of my way forward. I’ve met new people, talked with them, learnt from them. I’m stronger both physically, spiritually and mentally. I can give time to myself to be without feeling the guilt. Well maybe still a little. Work in progress. And that’s OK.

Pilates has reminded me of living in the here and now. Being grateful for what is here. Not what has gone or might be coming – that for me is the greatest gift. And that is reinforced with each class.

The classes I attend are full of lovely welcoming and friendly people. We suffer and celebrate together. Come back for more of all that Pilates can bring to our varied lives. And I’m happy to say more men are coming along too.

During lockdown Sam has run on line classes which have, for me, kept me well mentally. I’m grateful to her for that. There is a downside though. And that is cobwebs. Very rarely it seems do I look up in my house!


Pilates changed my physical and mental health.

Over the years I have relied on Sam and her Pilates classes to bring me back from serious injury and enhance my general health.

My good lady Julia started with Sam over 8 yrs ago above Beechcroft Library, at the time I was running quite a lot but being an older runner (52) I was always getting small injuries and struggled with flexibility. So Julia suggested Pilates.

So along I went and was made to feel really welcome and after talking to Sam I joined the beginners on a Friday morning session until I felt I could move on …..

Over the next few years I came on leaps and bounds.

Unfortunately, I suffered some serious back problems after coming off my bike and couldn’t continue until I’d had an operation.

Once again I started from scratch with 121 sessions. Sam was very understanding, even when it was too tough for me and a few tears appeared, all she did was comfort and reassure with no judgement.

This to me is one of my biggest highlights the extra support she would give. Pilates has helped my mental health as much as it has helped my body.

Even now I still sometimes have a tear during the lesson, it’s a great stress relief.

Another highlight was when Sam came to my cub pack and we did a taster lesson for the kids, it was great fun !!!!!

After every lesson I always feel relaxed and always sleep well.

I would thoroughly recommend it to more men as there’s no stigma !


Want to know more?

If this piqued your interest, contact me by filling in your details in the box below and let’s get a mat ready for you.