This month the Brooklyn Nets debut their inaugural squad at one of the most exciting times in the NBA. Riding in on a wave of excitement collectively created by Linsanity, the mighty Miami Heat, and an Olympic gold medal for Team USA , the Nets step onto the Barclays Center hardwood atop the crest of NBA popularity. But they’ll be greeted by one of the most aggressive Atlantic divisions we’ve seen in a while, and judging by the competition—Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, and Tyson Chandler, to name a few—perhaps the strongest.
To rise to the occasion, Nets power forward Kris Humphries has spent the past few months laying the groundwork to play his best basketball yet. “Toward the end of last year I started trying different things to take it to the next level,” Humphries says. “I don’t always match up with guys like Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, but when I do, they’re a challenge. I wanted to figure out a way to get in the best shape possible.” With MMA , swimming, and track workouts already a part of Humphries’ conditioning training— in addition to regular basketball practice— he turned to Pilates to pull it all together. “It’s so different from any other workout,” Humphries says. “You’re working in a totally different way.”
Pilates approaches the body holistically, building strength in tandem with balance and flexibility. By training in a state of constant resistance, you’re forced to generate power using your core, resulting in stronger, more controlled movement. “You get deeper into your core with Pilates exercises than you could with any other core-based program,” says Jennifer Mongeluzo owner of The Pilates Centre in Norwalk, CT . “You’re going into your transverse abdominis— your deepest abdominal muscle— you’re going into your obliques, you’re going into your pelvic floor. These are all muscles that you don’t hit properly with most kinds of training.”
Through Pilates, Humphries has been able to improve his balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and even focus. Perhaps more important right now, he’s also protecting himself from injury. “It’s like putting a suit of armor on top of what you already have,” Mongeluzo says. “For an athlete like Humphries, it’s a case of adding another layer of protection.” That will be crucial for Humphries, whom the fledgling Nets will rely upon heavily this season. At least now he’s confident they can.