Anyone who reads my blogs regularly will know that there is nothing I love more than a good Pilates story about men doing Pilates. One of my aims in life is to get more men doing Pilates, to convince more men of the benefits of Pilates, and to dispel the myth that still perpetuates that Pilates is only for girls.
So what better example than one of the most famous boxers alive today?
Sugar Ray Leonard, the five-world champion, is now 57, but he needs to exercise and eat like a champ. He still describes himself as “vain” and still a “disciplined athlete,” which is a combination that inspires him to exercise and practice moderation in all things. Health and fitness after 50 he says is about attitude, fortitude and being realistic about what your body can do. His advice? “Check your ego at the door” and “use what you can.” This is an excellent attitude for the over 50’s. It’s about balance. Sugar Ray again speaks wisdom when he says “People say ‘Oh God, I can’t do anything, also, they try to maintain what they were doing when they were 20 or 30”.
As a professional boxer, Leonard’s typical workout consisted of a 5-mile run, hundreds of sit-ups and push-ups and hours pounding bags at the gym. Today, he recommends an age-appropriate variation on that intense training: a half-hour on an elliptical machine because it’s easier on the knees, combined with bicep curls and 10 to 20 squats, sit-ups and push-ups. But back trouble, arthritic knees and a torn rotator cuff signal the wear and tear of aging. Two years ago, he experienced pain and tingling in his back, arm and chest. He was told that he had an issue with his back because of all the punching he did.
To address this, he started Pilates. Did he find it hard? “(Bleep) yeah! I said, ‘I can’t do this’ — because I turned 50, and I hadn’t used those kind of muscles. I’d been a fighter like this for 40 years. So, now I look in the mirror and straighten it up … and I incorporate all those (exercises) into my training.”
So like many people, Sugar Ray came to Pilates because of an issue with his body. It’s a shame he didn’t know about Pilates all those years ago because it would’ve no doubt helped to improve his performance and condition. I work with many athletes via my business www.sportcorestrength.com and the improvements that even an Olympic athlete can make are nothing short of astounding.
But the moral of my story is that it is never too late. In his own words “It’s all about dreaming. If you don’t dream, you get old. You have to dream.”
If you want more information about Pilates for sport, rehabilitation or anything else, then please contact me via my website, Facebook or the form below.
Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength. He also organises Pilates Carnivals, Pilates conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.