Many professional athletes have started incorporating Pilates and mindful movement into their training regimens to increase flexibility and stability and prevent and rehabilitate injuries, including the world’s top ranking tennis pro Novak Djokovic, Paralympic double gold-medallist Richard Whitehead, and two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant.
As instructors, it’s exciting but sometimes daunting to start working with elite athletes who are in peak physical condition.
We spoke to two Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainers, Jenny Carr and Carol Earle, who work with athletes regularly, to find out how they incorporate Merrithew’s mindful movement modalities, including Total Barre® and Merrithew Fascial Movement, into their athletes’ workouts and why these programs help athletes achieve their performance goals.
1. How do you incorporate Merrithew’s mindful movement modalities into your programming for sport-specific clients and high-performance athletes?
Intermountain Pilates Training Center
Salt Lake City, U.S.
Since my athlete clients travel so much with their teams, I mostly work with them virtually over FaceTime. I find it most effective to incorporate Merrithew’s education programs that use small props into their workouts for convenience.
Having them invest in a Halo® Trainer Plus, Stability Ball™, Stability Cushion™, and Flex-Band® is a great way to challenge them in a way that requires focus and mindfulness. These are also portable and versatile props that they can take with them wherever they go.
I use the programming from Total Barre® with all of my athletes, from dancers to pro football players. The programming in Total Barre is the perfect conditioning and mobility workout for athletes. They all love what it does for their strength and agility.
Northeast Pilates Education Center
I incorporate a lot of Merrithew Fascial Movement with my sport-specific and high-performance clients. For example, I like to use the Twist Ball™ or the Resistance Loops™ to help them understand and activate hydraulic amplification of their fascia. I also get them to stimulate the fascia in the foot by ‘flossing’ with a Flex-Band or doing vigorous rolling of the calves or quadriceps before a high-impact workout.
I also lead them through a body scan before and/or after a workout to help them improve their own proprioception.
2. Why is mindful movement and Pilates so effective for athletes and how can they benefit?
Athletes often work out and practice in a way that emphasizes a lot of global muscle recruitment, so that they can generate speed, agility and force. Mindful movement, such as STOTT PILATES®, requires athletes to move in a more fluid and controlled manner, which works the neuromuscular system in a different way.
Slowing down the movement, focusing on form, working with springs or small props improves joint mobility and muscle flexibility. When athletes combine their speed, agility, and power training along with Pilates and mindfulness, it takes their performance to the next level.
The sensory awareness element of Merrithew’s mindful movement repertoire is huge for recreational and high-performance athletes. The ability to respond better to stimulus helps with an athlete’s speed and agility. Stimulating the sensory nerves within the connective tissue can assist in performance or post-performance recovery.
For versatile Matwork and at-home workout props for athletes, check out Merrithew’s Personal Trainer Props Kit >