Are you a cyclist? Runner? Basketball player? Golfer? Then Pilates will benefit you. Pilates is not only a refreshing mind-body workout, it helps you become more in tune with your body’s specific needs and lays a perfect foundation for whatever sport you’re about to tackle. Here’s three benefits of Pilates for athletes.

1- Pilates lengthens muscles and, in turn, increases the flexibility you need to participate in many activities. Short, bulky muscles are the types that are most prone to injury. By doing the natural, full body movements of Pilates, you will gain lean, long muscle mass that helps with strength and speed as well as healthy long term fat loss. You’ll also increase in tendon, bone and ligament strength which is vital for all athletes. This will help if you’re shooting hoops on the weekend or training for the Crescent City Classic.

2- Pilates exercises strengthen your core. From your shoulders to knees, this whole “powerhouse” is essential for balance and stability and preventing falls and injuries. In fact, a strong and flexible core underpins almost everything that you do from scooping up a package to maintaining good posture sitting in the car. The core work in Pilates lessens the wear and tear on the spine through the use of your deep abdominals. Joseph Pilates has said that we are as old as our spines, so by developing a strong core you’ll be sure to enjoy your athletic lifestyle for years to come.

3- Pilates improves sports performance. You’ll find the exercises condition the whole body—even the ankles and feet, which contribute to healthy, balanced muscles. Doing the same workout every day will cause weak muscles to become weaker, and strong muscles to become stronger. Avoid this muscle imbalance and take care of your body as a whole!

Those are just three reasons among many that make Pilates such a beneficial workout and essential for your athletic lifestyle. Many athletes, including the New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Lions, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to name a few, have incorporated the Pilates regimen to their team workouts because they know the infinite benefits of Pilates.

I, too, have found that my running form and speed have improved dramatically since coming back to Pilates after pregnancy. I’d love to see all of you dedicated athletes in class and I know you’ll love the results that will trickle into your athletic (and every day) performance. Hope to see you soon!

Madi Rice