How to Train a Guy in 10 Moves

Can’t convince the male student to take the Pilates plunge? Pilates pro Lili Viola has the workout to get him whipped into shape and hooked for good.

By Lili Viola • Modeled with Mark Viola • Edited by Amanda Altman

As a Pilates and movement teacher for the past 15 years and counting, I’ve often been asked by female clients how they can get their male partners or friends to do Pilates. I can relate: My husband Mark refused Pilates, despite having access to free sessions! It wasn’t until a nagging back injury turned into chronic pain that he finally decided to give Pilates a try.

Two years later, Mark is still a regular client. In that relatively short time frame, he has underwent a tremendous transformation, increasing his flexibility, gaining strength in his abdominals, hip and back muscles, and correcting faulty movement patterns in his shoulders and arms that were taking their toll on his joints…

A sneak peak of the exercises: The Double-Leg Pull


• Why men will benefit Epitomizes the quintessential Pilates “two-way stretch from a strong, connected center”
• Works on breath

START: Transition from The Single-Leg Pull by pulling both knees into your chest with your feet in Pilates stance (heels together, toes apart). Place your hands on your shins or ankles, with your elbows lifted to engage the backs of your arms.

MOVE: Inhale as you extend your arms overhead while reaching your legs away. Circle your arms around to your sides, and then exhale as you pull your knees into your chest with your hands on your shins. Do 5 reps.

• Imagine that you’re pushing the air out of your belly as you pull your knees in.
• Keep your head over your chest while maintaining square shoulders.

MODIFICATIONS: If you have a pre-existing knee condition, pull your leg in from behind your thigh. If you can’t keep your lower back connected to the barrel, reach your straight leg higher. Also, if you have a shoulder injury, omit extending your arms overhead; instead, keep your hands on the backs of your thighs when reaching your legs away.

ADVANCED: Reach your legs lower, but only to the point that your back stays connected to the barrel.

• Guide his arms overhead to provide that two-way stretch. Be careful not to pull his arms back; instead, pull them up.
• Kneel behind him and press gently down on his shoulders as he reaches and circles his arms.
• Stand or kneel in front of him, to guide his legs to an angle that keeps his back grounded.

Get the rest of this article, more exercises, inspiring stories and so much more in our January/February 2019 issue! Or better yet,  subscribe and save! 

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