Deplaning Into the High Excitement of IDEA World Fitness Convention

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
As I flew into Las Vegas from San Diego this morning, the ambient temperature was 40 degrees higher than it had been at home, but the weather wasn't the only thing here that was hot. It was a treat to land just as the first full day of the IDEA convention was starting to simmer. My first stop was PJ O'Clair's session, STOTT PILATES® Programming on the V2 Max Plus™ Reformer. If you're a Pilates instructor and you haven't discovered this equipment yet, you have some excitement in store, gauging by the participants’ comments that I was hearing. What makes it special? "With this equipment, you've got everything!" said one attendee. "With imagination and experience, the possibilities are unlimited.” The combination moves I was seeing certainly reflected that—even the veterans were moving their bodies in new ways. One thing before I move on, though—where are all the men? There was just one in this workshop. Isn’t it time we saw more male participation in Pilates classes? Is anyone having any real success with this? My own training is in yoga. I love yoga, and it’s my great wish to make more time for it again—life has been complicated the last few years. To be honest, when I watch yoga workshops at IDEA events—which I’ve been doing for more than 10 years—the level of technical proficiency among attendees concerns me. They are often long on enthusiasm and willingness, but short on alignment and presence. I see beginners more than I see advanced students. And that’s fine, of course, as long as people are aware they’re beginners. Yoga (as I know from experience) develops slowly and only with a lot of practice; I hope we’ll all persevere--the effort is so worthwhile.

Comments

Nate Balko
On Jul 16, 2008
Kate,

I am male and I teach Pilates, I do not have a Stott Pilates background however. Not to detract from Stott, but I think the Gravity GTS system was more revolutionary when it came out, and I use that class to teach group Pilates. I feel like EFI does a better job marketing to both sexes, and Pilates feels more "acceptable" on the Gravity system (it helps that about half of their trainers are male.) Just wanted to let you know that we are out there, just maybe not in the Stott classes ;)
Kate Watson
On Jul 29, 2008
Nate,

Must apologize for my tardy response--I could see your comment but couldn't reply to it till now. Frustrating for me--and even more so for you, I'm sure. An IT issue. All fixed now, and we won't make that mistake again.

Thanks for your input. Definitely there are other systems out there that are working well. Am interested to hear of your success in attracting men. Can you be more specific? What marketing tactics work well? Want to say why the Gravity system makes Pilates "acceptable" to males?

Kate
Nate Balko
On Aug 05, 2008
Kate,

I wouldn't say I've had a ton of success attracting men, but I will say, being a male instructor makes it much easier to keep guys in the class. I think for one, it seems like the majority of Stott materials I see (and we own about 12 Stott DVD's at my facility) feature women prominently pictured, I rarely see males. I did see a few male Stott trainers at IDEA, but with EFI, males are the norm, not the exception. The last time we had EFI come out to our facility to train instructors we had a male take us both through Gravity Group and Gravity Pilates.

I also think that EFI portrays a bolder/edgier image, that is a little more masculine. It helps that Chuck Norris was the pitch person for Total Gym for a long time, the long running "Chuck Norris is all man" jokes actually helps in a way for EFI :)
Kate Watson
On Aug 06, 2008
Nate,

Good to hear back from you. I'm wondering if other Pilates professionals out there would like to respond to Nate's comments. Anyone agree or disagree?

Kate
Kate Watson
On Aug 07, 2008
Just received this e-mail from Leslee Bender of The Pilates Coach:

Hi, I believe why men do not do Pilates is that it's geared toward women only, from all the traditional dance-based exercises. Today’s man is not interested in such programs, and honestly I cannot blame him when I see that most of the exercises are based on "perfect flexibility," which men do not have!! I created the first man-friendly workout with the “original” (since been copied) Pilates mini ball, in which the ball is placed under the tailbone to relieve men's tight low backs and hamstrings so they can indeed perform exercises "pain" free. Every session being taught at conferences is geared toward a strong, healthy, flexible woman! When are there going to be courses that address the purpose of a movement and who it is appropriate for? We are turning out great performers, but what about actual teachers? I cannot tell you how many students come up to me after sessions saying their backs are killing them from Pilates! Especially men!