Professional Athletes Finding Pilates as Effective Off-Season Training

Pilates was the brainchild of Joseph Pilates in 1912 when he found himself at an internment camp at the outbreak of World War 1. What began as a way for him to help fellow internees to regain strength and health has grown into a workout that is known, used and loved around the world. With the focus being the core and “powerhouse,” the list of the benefits of Pilates is endless.

Recently we have been noticing the popularity of Pilates growing among elite athletes – specifically professional athletes. A recent article written by Sports Illustrated speaks to this point as it highlighted Jake Arrieta, a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

After his first session at a studio in Austin, TX, Arrieta stated to his instructor, “We need to train together. This is life-changing.” The Sports Illustrated article from March 28, 2016 goes on to say:

“He took sessions three times a week. He ordered a custom-built reformer for Wrigley Field and put it in the only space available, a cramped storage room that doubled as manager Joe Maddon’s media interview room. Last season Maddon conducted media briefings while Arrieta ground through his Pilates workout just a few feet away.

In the off‑season Arrieta turned his Austin garage into a Pilates studio. Edebor [a local instructor] trained Brittany [Jake’s wife] and Jake there for an hour and a half six days a week, starting at 6 or 6:30 a.m. ‘Jake went from a regular-sized athletic guy to just ripped,’ Edebor says, ‘and the only thing we did was Pilates.'” (You can find the full article here.)

Here at Pilates in East, we haven’t had a slew of professional athletes knocking down our doors, but we are blessed with amazing clients who push themselves hard daily and are reaping the benefits of a stronger body and more mind/body connectedness. These clients are committed to taking time for themselves to push through challenges. Just like that Cubs pitcher, we bet that after a few sessions with one of our instructors, you will feel a significant difference!


Pilates in East instructor, Courtney, looking strong.

Breaststroke: More than a swimming move

Breaststroke Heidi (1)

Heidi demonstrates Breaststroke on one of our Alllegro 2 reformers at Pilates in East.

As the weather heats up here in West Michigan, many locals are gearing up for summer and heading to the local beaches and pools.

Coincidentally, this month’s featured reformer exercise at Pilates in East is “Breaststroke.” While this is a Pilates move that shares the same name as a swim stroke, it is also an amazingly beneficial exercise on the reformer. A few of the benefits of this wonderful yet challenging exercise are:

  • It strengthens shoulders, arms and back extensors.
  • Breaststroke helps to improve posture (by connecting the deep abdominal muscles, and providing spinal extension).
  • This move coordinates the arms and body when moving into extension.

One thing that our instructors at Pilates in East love to do is to help their clients make the connection between what they are doing in the studio and how it translates to and benefits their overall fitness goals.

A few of our clients who are currently benefitting from Breaststroke (and other shoulder/arm/back exercises) are:

  • Tennis players (think overhead serving – the extension in the spine as one reaches high overhead to reach the ball)
  • Volleyball players – the shoulder, arm and abdominal strength and connection that is imperative while spiking a ball
  • Swimmers- as an overall workout, the increased shoulder and arm strength as this helps swimmers with all 4 strokes!
  • Gymnasts
  • Dancers

Can you think of other athletes who would benefit from this workout? Breaststroke is also wonderful for anyone looking to increase spinal mobility. For those of us who spend a majority of our day leaning over a computer or carrying heavy loads (children included), the opening of the chest, the extension of the spine, strengthening of the shoulders – all at the same time working the core, this is a winner of a reformer move!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try this exercise, we invite you into our studio this summer to give it a try.