It is true that elite athletes enjoy immense benefits from cross training and various forms of grueling workouts. However, many of those athletes are also now turning to Pilates in their pursuit of Olympic glory which is helping them take their abilities to a higher level. Since Pilates provides a balanced workout for the entire body that pulls the mind in line with the physical being, it provides a way for Olympic athletes to add something special to their regimen, helping them gain an edge over their competitors.
Here are 6 Rio 2016 Olympic athletes that use Pilates to help them enhance their performance.
1. Andy Murray
Andy Murray is a British tennis superstar who is well known for his speed and stamina on the court. That quickness and endurance helped him achieve glory in the form of a gold medal in the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Murray turned to Pilates after undergoing back surgery to help him recover in a balanced and positive way and help him build his core. Coming to the Rio 2016 Olympics, Murray was a heavy medal favorite, and he did not disappoint. He managed to scoop up a gold medal in the men’s singles.
In the years since his surgery, Murray has been an outspoken Pilates advocate and took the time to talk the Wall Street Journal regarding the benefits that he has derived from Pilates. Murray has even been known to travel with his Pilates instructor abroad to help him keep up with his training while working out overseas. Since Pilates is an excellent recovery tool, these same benefits are available to anybody who is recovering from an injury.
2. Dana Vollmer
Dana Vollmer is a London 2012 gold medalist who pays close attention to the principles of precision and focus to help in maintaining her edge in the 100m Butterfly. In fact, she is the World Record holder. Dana has stated that Pilates helps in strengthening her muscle groups in ways that other exercise programs seem to overlook.
Coming to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dana was expected to win some medals, and she did not disappoint. In the Women’s 100m butterfly, she earned a bronze medal, silver medal in the Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, and a gold medal in the Women’s 4X100m medley relay.
3. Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin is probably one of the most notable figures in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She is a swimmer with multiple world records under her belt. The 2016 Olympics will be her second Olympic competition. In the 2012 London Olympics, she earned a total of 5 medals of which 4 were gold, and 1 was bronze. In the Rio 2016 Olympics, she came hoping to add to this tally which she did. She earned a gold medal in the 4X200m freestyle relay for women.
Pilates is great for core building, and it is what helps her to be a stronger swimmer and having more balance. She sincerely believes that it is her Pilates work outside the pool that helps her dominate in the water. For swimmers, the beautiful thing about Pilates is that it encourages movement stemming from the core and flowing out. This control and focus are what helps swimmers to move quicker through the water and extend their motion. Bodily awareness is another key aspect for swimmers who can learn to tweak their movements quite effectively and thus understand how to make adjustments that help them reach the wall much quicker.
4. David Boudia
David Boudia is an American diver who came to the Rio 2016 Olympics hoping to make history once more. In the London Olympics, Boudia was competing in his third Olympics and managed to achieve a bronze medal in the synchronized 10m platform with his partner, Nick McCrory, and a gold medal on the 10m platform. In the 2016 Olympics, he was competing with Steele Johnson who is a new partner. In his preparation for the 2016 Olympics, Boudia added Pilates to his workout regimen to enhance strength and flexibility. It seems that these efforts finally paid off because he managed to scoop up a silver medal in the men’s synchronized 10m platform.
Divers, in particular, seem to get a lot out of Pilates since they need a large amount of control to ensure the perfect formation of their movements. Pilates enhances bodily awareness that is just hard to beat and is something absent on other methods of cross training. Synchronized diving like that Boudia practices, requires much more of it since both of the divers need to be simultaneously aware of their movements along with those of their partners.
5. Kerry Walsh-Jennings
Beach volleyball is probably of the most anticipated sports of the Olympic Games and Kelly Walsh-Jennings is one of its greatest stars. In Rio, Walsh-Jennings was competing in her fourth Olympics and had earned gold medals previously in London, Beijing, and Athens. It is hard to overstate her dominance in the sport since she is a pioneer and remains a prominent figure. Coming to the Rio 2016 Olympics, Walsh-Jennings was looking to add to her trophy collection and was a heavy favorite. She managed to live up to her reputation by scooping a bronze medal in the Women’s tournament.
Walsh-Jennings credits Pilates with helping her regain back her strength after birth. She is quoted as saying that Pilates gives you amazing body awareness. She stated that once she got pregnant, she really got into it since she wanted to fill all of her asymmetries. Her comments include that she owed her new body to Pilates. This new body she refers to has really worked for her, and she remains as one very outspoken advocate of Pilates as part of her training.
6. Haley Anderson
Haley Anderson is a female athlete that participated in the 10,000m open water swimming event in the 2012 Olympics in London where she managed to get a silver medal in her Olympic debut. Since then, Haley has graduated from college and trains full time. In the Rio 2016 Olympics, she managed to attain position 5 in the grueling 10km marathon which can be attributed to Pilates.
Anderson added Pilates as part of her new and tougher training regimen to help her boost the stamina and balance that she needed to beat her competitors. While she did not manage to earn a medal, she managed to get fifth place in one of the most grueling events. An Olympic swimming marathon takes about 2 hours to complete, and this kind of distance is hard to imagine. A regular Pilates workout can reinforce the stamina required to make it happen.
While there are six 2016 Olympians identified in this article, there are several more we could have included.
• Mariya Koroleva - synchronized swimming
• Anita Alvarez - synchronized swimming
• Lolo Jones – hurdles
• Victoria Pendleton – cyclist
• Venus Williams - tennis
• Gabby Douglas – gymnast
• Allyson Felix – runner
• Jordon Burroughs – wrestling
And while this list still does not identify all of the 2016 Olympians who practice Pilates, we will stop there.
Some of the greatest benefits that pro athletes enjoy from Pilates improved endurance, balance, core strengthening, and coordination. Pilates focuses on the controlled movement of muscles as opposed to specifically bulking up the muscles, thus allowing professional athletes the ability to remain fast and light but still strong. Also, athletes that practice Pilates benefit from the emphasis on cross training for injury prevention purposes.
It is quite clear that Pilates can do much for your body and stamina based on this information. If some of the world class athletes who are participating in the Rio 2016 Olympics have taken up this form of workout, it can only mean that it delivers results. However, you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to enjoy the benefits that Pilates offers. Regardless of your skill level or age, starting regular Pilates practice will help you be healthier, do more, and feel better. All you need to do is find a good quality trainer and begin your practice today.