Progressing with Pilates: Jon Ashton Interview

  • Sport Careers Agency client Jon Ashton wants to see more pro clubs using pilates coaches
  • Former Stevenage and Crawley defender discovered pilates while recovering from a hip injury
  • Pilates kept him fitter, more supple and injury-free
  • Has since become an instructor and taken pilates sessions for team-mates at Stevenage, Crawley
  • Set up Ashton Pilates business to promote use of pilates for elite sports people and the general public

STRETCHING FOR SUCCESS Jon Ashton puts Stevenage players through their paces

JON ASHTON yearns for the day when a Premier League club includes the words Pilates Coach on their bulging technical rosters.

The 33-year-old battle-hardened centre-half, now playing part-time for Braintree Town as he plans for life after football, sees England's top teams employing specialists in sports science, strength and conditioning and video analysis.

Clubs seek every edge they can get to ensure their players are at their peak but they haven't touched a full-time Pilates expert yet and ~COMPANYNAME~] client Jon believes they are missing a trick.

The former Stevenage defender first started doing Pilates eight years ago when his boss Graham Westley recommended it as part of his rehabilitation for a tear in a hip muscle.

And Jon revealed: "When I was over the injury I found it enhanced my
performance and kept me supple and free of other injuries.

"I wasn't getting muscular niggles or strains and I felt better. I was doing one lesson a week and bits and bobs on my own.

"Now I would like to see clubs introduce it to their players as part of their regimes.

"The Stevenage gaffer was a Pilates convert, he influenced me and I haven't looked back since.

"There the club paid for my sessions because they could see the benefits for me.

"I strongly believe that having someone like me on the technical staff would be the next step forward for a football club.

"I have been steeped in the sport for the last 16 years since I left school.

"I know the way footballers move, their mindset and how they react to different training programmes.

"I can offer something unique to a football club but I feel whether it is strength and conditioning coaches, medical staff or sports science people they feel threatened by someone like me coming in.

"They feel they can do it themselves and they don't want a specialist there."

Pilates is aimed at developing core strength and exercising in an even manner to improve the muscles.

Jon knows the scepticism there will always be for new methods within locker-rooms but he believes that is now changing as athletes become more educated.

And he reasoned: "It helps when you have high-profile players like Ryan Giggs doing yoga and then you have Rory McIlroy in golf building his core and hitting the ball miles off the tee with the help of Pilates.

"Runners and rugby players are also into it here but in America I believe sports science has a bigger input into players' day to day lives and NBA stars will do it after their core basketball training as will leading NFL players.

"Here in the United Kingdom we are playing catch-up but it is becoming more accepted."

Jon spent last season at English League Two side Crawley and the then manager
Mark Yates was open-minded enough to allow him to take Pilates sessions for interested players.

That strengthened his resolve to boost the brand of Ashton Pilates
, an official partner of ~COMPANYNAME~].

He stressed: "I worked with a small group at Crawley and they all felt the benefit.

"Now I am at Braintree in the Conference because I wanted to concentrate more on my Pilates.

"I have my classes up and running in my local area and I have one on ones with people.

"My passion, though, is to take this into a performance-based sport."

Ashton Pilates

READ Jon's thoughts on how Pilates could play a role in your life as a hobby - or a path into employment - in our Career Advice section.

Ashton Pilates is also featured on the Sport Careers Agency Partners page.

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