I recently attended “The Men’s Exercises” with Jay Grimes at Vintage Pilates in West Los Angeles. Jay is considered a first generation instructor and Pilates elder. He started studying Pilates with Joe in the mid-sixties and after he passed Jay continued working with Clara for another 10-years. Jay has been teaching the Pilates Method for over 50-years.
What does Jay Grimes mean by “The Men’s Exercises”? What is a man’s exercise? Is it something appropriate for men only? Actually, no. All of the exercises from the workshop would be considered advanced and/or “super” advanced. Both men and women do these exercises, but there were several exercises that only elite practitioners should attempt regardless of gender.
So why use the gender specific label and make such a distinction? When Joseph Pilates was working in New York City in the 1940’s to 1960’s, people didn’t really exercise unless it was for their professional career. The general public was not like today. There were no lifestyle/fitness magazines and/or health clubs on every corner. One could also assume that it would have been considered unladylike for a woman to exercise.
It is widely known that Joseph Pilates initially created his work for men, although most of his work can be used for everyone to strengthen the body. There are a few exercises that serve little purpose for most people, namely the ones that strengthen the neck. He created these exercises for wrestlers, boxers, fighters, etc. and they can be used today but probably not for your average person.
What I found most amusing about “The Men’s Exercises” with Jay Grimes was Jay’s three cardinal rules to teaching men:
- Never use ballet terms
- Never cue the pelvic floor
- Hide your copies of “Pilates Style” magazine
It was enjoyable to watch Jay Grimes’ advanced students do the “The Men’s Exercises”. As professionals we decide which exercises are appropriate for our clients and when to implement them. I encourage educated risks. Don’t worry about the gender, look at the body in front of you. I’m sure Jay Grimes would say “The Men’s Exercises” are the exercises of the devoted practitioners.
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