Men piling in for Pilates classes

Two of the men at the Pilates class

Two of the men at the Pilates class

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A FITNESS class for people suffering from back and shoulder problems is bucking the gender trend by proving popular with both women and men.

The Tone up and Ease Pain Pilates course is challenging gender boundaries by having as many men taking part in the usually female-dominated activity as possible.

Pilates instructor Sammy Dakers, also an expert physiotherapist at Paul Gough Physio Rooms, in Lowthian Road, Hartlepool, said she believes the activity is as popular for people wanting to achieve a behind like Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa, as it is for participants wanting to reduce pain in their back and shoulders.

And bodybuilders, a former doorman, a runner, and a 70-year-old man have been taking part.

Sammy said: “It’s more than likely that if you dropped in on a pilates class anywhere in Hartlepool it would be 90 per cent female participation.

“Many people joke about achieving the Pippa Middleton bum but Pilates has many more benefits than that and my classes have nearly as much male participation as female.

“It’s unlikely that the males are coming to improve the tone of their bum muscles, but more so to reduce pain in the common problems areas of the lower back and shoulders.

“We have a gentlemen in his 70s, a former doorman and bodybuilder and a male runner from the Burn Road Harriers coming along every week.

“They tell us their aches and pains were greatly reduced after two to three weeks of starting.”

She added: “Pilates has been mentioned many times by the Olympic athletes lately.

“A few British swimmers said they were combining things like pilates and gymnastics to improve their balance and control in the water, so the benefits of people attending pilates are endless.” Owner of the business Paul Gough, who regularly attends the class, said the Raby Road-based Pilates class has benefited by concentrating on certain injuries that nearly everyone would suffer from at some point in their lifetime.

He said: “Sammy has been really clever with this course making it specifically for people who suffer or have suffered from back and shoulder problems. It leaves people in no doubt who it is for and how they will benefit.

“Since starting the class in March the numbers have increased week after week.”

The class takes place on Wednesday nights from 5pm-6pm at the Peoples Centre, in Raby Road, Hartlepool. For more information telephone (01429) 866771.