Mr. Bench Press, Meet Ms. Pilates

Mr. Bench Press, Meet Ms. Pilates

Men and women can learn a few things from each other to stay healthy.

Excuse us while we take this irresistible opportunity to say that men can learn a thing or two from women. When it comes to workouts, XYs may find that XX techniques help them bust through fitness roadblocks: the spare tire that won’t deflate, the toes that refuse to be touched, the nagging injury. But this one goes both ways—spying on the guys’ locker room can be useful for the girls.

Sports are the ultimate multitasking workout. Men absorb this fact in boyhood. More women should expand their horizons and play sports, says Ellen Barrett, a fitness instructor at Crunch in New York. Join a league—dodgeball and kickball are old-school faves that are popular now—and you’ll get buff while you have fun.

Repeat after us: “Weight training is good for me. Weight training will not make me look like an Olympic athlete who failed a drug test.” As Todd Durkin, the American Council on Exercise’s 2005 Personal Trainer of the Year and owner of San Diego’s Fitness Quest 10, reminds us, “Lifting weights does not lead to big bulky muscles.”
In fact, weight training can speed up metabolism, helping you burn more calories no matter what you’re doing.

Train at higher intensity. Women often get into a routine with their workouts, where 30 minutes on the treadmill becomes just another thing to check off the to-do list. “Don’t be afraid to work hard,” Durkin says. “Challenging yourself will lead to greater results.”

Eat. “Starving is not how you get leaner,” says Barrett, who notes that guys never go on a “hunger strike.” When trying to lose weight, they eat better and up their activity level, but swearing off food rarely enters their minds.

Don’t be afraid to sweat in the company of others. Many men will not cross the threshold of a group fitness room, pooh-poohing classes as “girly.” What they don’t realize is that classes are like working out with a personal trainer at a fraction of the cost, says Barrett.

Pilates equals enhanced performance. It helps build your body’s core, the source of all your power, while improving flexibility and enhancing overall performance. (New Jersey Net Jason Kidd and Tiger Woods are Pilates enthusiasts.) Durkin also recommends yoga and meditation to manage stress and increase flexibility.

Get out of the weight room. According to Durkin, too many men obsess over building muscle mass, but ignore the most important muscle of all: the heart. (Awwww.) Cardio workouts are critical to fitness.

Indulge yourself. Far from frivolous, says Barrett, massages and spa treatments are “an important part of wellness” for both sexes. Now go share the health: Read this aloud—while he gives you a backrub.