Sex sells. It’s reputably the oldest form of employment and it sells big time.
So when model Kelly Brook, a long-time proponent of Pilates, yoga and dance, gives an interview and says that her sex life have been improved by exercises including Pilates, it get attention and sells magazines.
A simple Google search on “Pilates and sex” pulls up over 2,720,000 results with blogs, forums and tutorials touting how Pilates leads to better sex ranging from “Relight the fire in your relationship by doing Pilates with your Partner” to “The Secret Ingredients Of How to Have Better Sex Doesn’t Come From A Cake Recipe,” “10 Reasons Men Should Try Pilates”, and even eHow offering five-part instructions on “How to Have Better Sex Using Pilates”
Hhhhmmmm. If you know me, then you will know that I am very sceptical about headlines that promise “flat abs using 5 Pilates exercises” or “beach body using Pilates for 10 minutes a day”. So when it comes to “how to have better sex using Pilates” I feel the need for a Pilates community discussion.
There are two sides to every story, and this story also has two sides, men and women. So before I deal with what could be reasons why Pilates is a benefit for sexual performance, I want to consider a more light-hearted look at the differences between Venus and Mars.
As my previous blogs “You do Pilates? Are you gay?” and “Men do Pilates! Ask Dwayne Allen” have tried to highlight, there are in my opinion not enough men doing Pilates. So if the promise of greater prowess in bed does tempt a few more men to try our beloved system, then I’m all for that.
I want to use the example of, err, a friend of mine, Not me you understand, no, definitely not me. A friend. Let’s call this friend, err, Christian. Not Chris, and not his real name you understand. And definitely not me…. So I was talking to Christian about the effect of Pilates on his sex life as he is a Pilates trainer /educator and has been doing Pilates for over 20 years. In his opinion, there does come a sense of greater control but it is not clear exactly what the balance is between the physical and the psychosomatic effects. I should point out that I have not spoken to any of Christian’s former girlfriends, so I have no evidence to prove or disprove this, and if any of them are reading this blog, before posting any derogatory comments Christian has asked me to point out that the night you are talking about he had drunk too much, ok?!
As Rachel in Episode 4.01 of Friends tells Ross in no uncertain terms, “Just so you know, it’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it is a big deal!” (Yes I know, they were on a break. Or were they?) Society puts great pressure on male sexual performance as shown by Rachel and the sales of associated drugs, yet very few men connect their sexual function with the health, strength, and general well-being of the rest of their body. In keeping with the general attitude of society nowadays, many people prefer to rush to the chemist for a quick medical solution to any issue they have, and impotence and poor sexual control is no different. I have read the slogan “work hard, train hard, be hard!” Really? It sounds a little like one of those Les Mills’ call to arms, but in my opinion it gives the wrong message. I have head men talk about how their fitness has made them god-like in bed, but I suspect that it’s only their ego’s that have taken on biblical proportions rather than their sexual performance.
Most experts will tell you that probably stress is the number one dysfunction cause, and any benefits men get in bed from training hard is more likely to be in reduced levels of stress and increased self-esteem.
Researching this topic has taken me to places that I never thought I would go on the internet, dark places that I never knew even existed. But in summary, there are very conflicting opinions about the effects of Pilates. One enthusiastic blogger wrote that “I think the difference needs to be noted between being a better lover & having better orgasms. Not the same thing at all…You can tone your pelvic floor & have better orgasms through either yoga or through Pilates, but you can still be lousy in bed.” That’s difficult to argue with. Another wrote “My friends who have borne children swear by Pilates for restoration. And I’ve known more than one over-50 woman who found it very helpful for bladder difficulties. So yeah, I think there’s something to this,”
But my favourite has to be “Pilates teaches women how to fine-tune pressure of the vagina, including the g-spot, against a penis by articulating the pelvis forward and back. This allows a woman to control pressure against her clitoris. A woman with these two skills can give herself and her partner mind-blowing powerful orgasms”. And a hush falls over the room….
I would welcome the opinions of some of my female Pilates colleagues as to the veracity of such statements, but it seems to be a rather bold if not vivid claim to me.
So, getting back to the real world, what could possibly be the factors that might help influence sexual performance? Here is a list I have compiled from my research, but I want you all to add you points, opinions and comments. Remember, this is a “big” debate (if anyone gets that smutty school-yard joke, then please explain it to anyone near you who does not).
1. Pilates increases physical stamina
A key element to Pilates is muscle control. The slow performance of a Pilates movement (I don’t have the time or energy right now to talk about the Pilates systems out there that involve quick movements. I am writing a blog about that, but for now suffice it to say that in my opinion they are simply not Pilates) means that the emphasis should be on the technique.
So, number 1, it could be argued that Pilates gives strength and stamina during sexual activity allowing for a longer, more intimate experience?
2. Your body is your exercise equipment.
Unlike working out with machines at the gym, in Pilates you are using your own body weight to perform the exercises. Because sexual activity often requires the use and sometimes support of own body weight, you will be able to enjoy yourself without any physical discomfort and will not become easily fatigued.
Pilates is certainly functional training, but I had never thought about it being functional training for sex before. Thoughts?
3. Pilates teaches you to be fully present.
Now I am liking this one more. I am always stressing this element of Pilates in the teaching of my system Pilates EVO. There is no doubt that being fully present or “in the moment” enhances our life experiences. By doing regular Pilates, we can learn focus and concentration.
So claim number 3 is that Pilates trains your body and mind to be totally present. This will carry into the bedroom, enabling you to be totally present with your partner for a more intimate and enjoyable experience. As Paolo Coelho says in his book Brida, sex should involve all the senses at the same time.
4. Greater flexibility means more creativity.
Whilst trying to get out of my head images of the Karma Sutra, it is of course true that Pilates gives more muscle flexibility and improves the health of joints.
So number 4 is that Pilates allows you to get into positions you previously thought to be impossible. It also increases back and hip flexibility, eliminating the back pain some people suffer from during sex.
5. Increase blood flow equals more intense orgasms.
Moving onto a slightly more contentious topic, it is said that Pilates brings increased blood flow to the pelvic area.
So claim number 5 is that this continuous rush of fresh blood and oxygen to the sexual organs results in an increase in libido and more intense orgasms.
6. Pilates reduces your stress level
Safe ground at last, and one that I suspect very few will dispute. As I have already mentioned, the most common cause of sexual dysfunction is stress. Pilates breathing teaches breath control, and this method of breathing not only increases physical health, but it also reduces blood pressure and triggers a relaxation response in the brain.
Claim number 6 is that Pilates = less stress which = more sex.
7. Pilates gives increased self-confidence
The vast majority of my clients have told me that they experience increased self-esteem from their Pilates practise. It’s a logical leap that greater physical confidence carries over into the bedroom, and that the removal of negative self-conscious thoughts about your body might improve your performance.
So claim number 7 is that Pilates teaches you to love your body and this allows you to be less worried about body image and have more fun.
8. Pilates enables you to have great sex into later life
Last one (phew), and it can be argued a bit of a mixture of the ones above. It is said that sexual dysfunction can increase with age in both men and women. Pilates focuses on the deep muscles of the abdomen and the pelvic floor, strengthening the muscles that support your internal organs.
So our last claim, numero 8, is that increased overall muscle strength, greater flexibility, healthy joints and greater self-confidence means that Pilates contributes to a great sex life well into your golden years.
If you are still reading, and haven’t rushed screaming from the room looking for your little Black Book (sorry, showing my age there, I mean scrolling though your SnapChat contacts) so you can call your previous sexual partners to check on your performance, then I really want your opinions.
Some of the benefits of Pilates (and physical exercise in general) will have fairly obvious benefits for life in general and sexual performance, but as an exercise system, can we really claim that Pilates has greater benefits than most other systems?
I am very interested to hear your thoughts so please share this article with as many Pilates people as you can. But maybe not your ex because their opinion may be a little biased.
Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength. He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?
Chris pays 50% of any money made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on www.chrishuntwellness and selecting the “charity partners” tab.