The constant quest for most Pilates instructors? To get men to do Pilates. And not just any men – but the manliest men ever created. Sure, hearing the occasional professional athlete dude brag about his recent “despite all odds” love for Pilates is fine and all. But how accessible is Pilates to the Everyday Bro?

In order to find out, I decided to go on a Manliest Man Hunt. But…. .where does one even begin a search of this particular nature? My two older brothers? Goodness no. They don’t even take my phone calls! (On the real, they’re not THAT manly). My co-workers? Please. They avoid me like they get paid to! (I’ve met me, so I get it). Who? Who could be my Manliest Man winner? 

*snaps fingers* Ah ha!

Enter my homeboy, Nick Cimmarusti. A former sergeant in the Marine Corps, Nick also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). That’s pretty darn manly! In addition to being a good friend, Nick is also my BJJ coach. He knows how much Pilates has saved my body, especially my back, after the ten plus years of havoc that BJJ training has wreaked upon it. But when I hit him up with the text, “Yo, Sergeant. You wanna try Pilates with me?” I could tell his delayed response of, “….Sure?” had roots steeped in skepticism. That’s cool. I’ve accepted far less enthusiastic responses from men before. I’m not ashamed.

In case you were not aware, the Marine Corps Boot Camp is the longest and toughest basic training in existence. It is thirteen weeks long, with more than 70 “training days” in a period of 12 weeks. To say that is is absolutely brutal is a laughable understatement. I wouldn’t last 25 seconds in that nightmare.

Related: find out if you have a muscular imbalance and how Pilates could help you.

So when Nick turned to me after doing three Pilates Roll Ups (where I was using the better part of my strength to hold his legs down), beads of sweat trickling down his face, and asked, “Am I supposed to be able to do these without you holding my legs??” I knew that Operation Make This Marine My Hare Krishna for Pilates was happening!

Every Wednesday, Sergeant Cimmarusti strides into the FFC Old Town Pilates studio and the following dialogue occurs:

“You ready for this, Sergeant?”

“Bring it, girl.”

And bring it, I do. 

Since both Nick and I do BJJ, I can really tailor his Pilates workouts to his needs. Due to the nature of BJJ, you spend a lot of time in the flexed position and the posterior chain is often neglected. Back, neck, and knee injuries are extremely common in BJJ practitioners, so we spend a lot of time on extensions, rotations, and really targeting the hamstrings and glutes. 

Every time, Nick is drenched in sweat, occasionally communicating his feelings through a common one-fingered hand gesture and peppering our sessions with comments like, “Yo! You are killing me!” after Single Leg Circles and, “You want me to do what now??” when I tell him, “Yes, those creamy gams are going up AND over your head.” He also happens to be an absolute beast in the Pilates studio, allowing the workout to humble him. 

Related: 4 ways Pilates makes you mentally stronger. Yes. Really.

So….if you’re a manly man, or even a normally manly man, do Pilates. It’s good for you. I promise. Just ask Nick.

If you practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, here are some Pilates Mat warm-up exercises you can do before class. Have questions? Shoot me an email any time at!

  • The Hundred
  • 10 Roll-Ups into Rollovers
  • Single Leg Circles – 3-5 sets in each direction, each leg
  • Swan Prep – 3-5 reps
  • Planks – Hold for 10 seconds, relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times
  • Side Bends – 3-5 sets each side
  • Spine Stretch Forward – 3-5 reps
  • Saw – 3-5 reps each side
  • Glute Bridges – 10 reps
  • One Legged Glute Bridges – 2 sets of 10 each leg

Post written by FFC Old Town Pilates instructor Natasha Tsoutsouris.

About Natasha

Natasha is a top trainer with experience in Pilates and personal training, and is also one of Chicago’s top competitors in Jiu-Jitsu. She is also passionate about creative writing, storytelling and performing in Chicago’s comedy scene. Want to set up a complimentary consultation? Email her at!