I’ll admit that I do not usually watch sports on purpose. However, I make an exception every two years to watch the Olympics, because despite my general lack of enthusiasm for televised sports, I have an incredible appreciation for athletes and the amount of training it takes to become exceptional at a sport. And, let’s be honest – another reason I tune is is because the athletes are extremely easy on the eyes. Especially the swimmers. And the divers. And the track stars. Actually, every sport physique fascinates me because it shows how muscles need to develop to do an action. And, I still can’t understand how some bodies do some actions. Did you see Simone Biles? I don’t understand how what she can do is physically possible. I looked it up, and it’s fascinating!
One thing that you’ll notice about the Olympians (other than their fantastic physiques) is that they are big on cross-training. Did you know many of them are using Pilates?
• Track star Lolo Jones says she practices Pilates to not only improve strength and flexibility, but also to hone her focus and concentration, two skills that are critical in short distance running events. Jones also takes advantage of the rehabilitative aspects of Pilates to help reduce the toll that repetitive running and hurdling have on her body. She has called Pilates the ideal training regimen.
• British track cyclist Victoria Pendleton credits Pilates with helping her relieve sports-related injuries and back pain. Bikers spend hours hunched over handlebars, which can lead to pain in the lower lumbar spine.
“I’ve been doing Pilates for more than a year, and for me, it’s been a real breakthrough in managing back pain and building my postural muscles.” – Victoria Pendleton
• Three-time gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May Treanor swear by Pilates workouts to train for high intensity volleyball matches. The say they rely on Pilates to maintain core strength (Kerri loves the Hundred!), and also focus on exercises to help them expand their long reaches and flexibility training so they can safely dive for the ball. And, both Walsh and her teammate Misty May Treanor credit Pilates for helping them stay in shape during their pregnancies!
“Pilates gives you such great body awareness. When I got pregnant, I really got into Pilates because I wanted to fix all my asymmetries …I have a new body because of it.” – Kerri Walsh
• Synchronized platform diver David Boudia is a former gymnast who maintains a regular Pilates practice to increase his flexibility in order to prevent injuries.
• Gold medalist Dana Vollmer pays special attention to the Pilates principles of focus and precisions to maintain her edge in the 100m Butterfly (she holds the World Record!). She also says that Pilates helps her strengthen muscle groups that are often overlooked in other exercise programs.
• Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Natalie Coughlin practices Pilates as part of her training regimen and is such as fan that she became a spokesperson for Balanced Body’s Pilates Arc.
“Pilates is an awesome cross training exercise for any sport because it focuses on functional movement.” – Natalie Coughlin
• Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward, a boxer like Joseph Pilates himself, has said that he relies on Pilates to strengthen his core and create muscular balance that leads to velocity in the ring.
• Olympic swimmer Dara Torres attributes her speed advantage in the pool to her Pilates workouts and incorporates Pilates into her daily training regimen.
“In swimming, speed comes directly from the core so Pilates helps immensely.” – Dara Torres
And those are just a few. Diver Nick McCory, tennis legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams, and track star Bershawn Jackson all incorporate Pilates into their training regimen to gain strength and improve their balance, stability, and flexibility.
Watching these amazing athletes is making me feel inspired to reinvigorate my own exercise routine. Since Pilates is my base exercise, I’ll be adding swimming back to my regimen. I’ll also keep tuning in nightly to feed my obsession with sports…for another couple of days at least.
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