Canha feels 'really strong,' praises Pilates

A's slugger sees core benefits in new workout routine

February 29th, 2016
Mark Canha hit 16 home runs with 70 RBIs in 2015.

MESA, Ariz. -- When Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta's Pilates workouts were featured on a postseason broadcast last fall, the A's Mark Canha took note. But it wasn't until Canha's wife, Marci, began attending classes that he attempted it himself. Now he's hooked.
"I wanted to try it," Canha said, "and I just loved it."
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Oakland's young slugger started taking three morning classes each week at a San Francisco studio near his home this offseason, a routine he hopes to continue during the regular season.
Workouts on a Pilates reformer machine consist of controlled, flowing movements that work muscles through a full range of motions, creating a twofold effect by increasing flexibility while also building strength. This exercise specifically taps into the core unlike any other workout, as Canha confirmed, and it's sneaky hard.
"I like the core aspect of it a lot," Canha said. "It's more core work than I've ever done. It's a different type of workout. Some of the instructors are really good about verbalizing what to do, how to breathe through things, and their big thing is not to lift your chest up and overextend but kind of keep the upper abs tight. I really like that. I think it's kind of related to baseball. You don't ever want to overextend your lower back and spine."
Canha still frequents the weight room, but he likes the idea that strength building through Pilates can produce similar results without the stress and impact on his joints that athletes often experience when weight lifting.
A's executive vice president Billy Beane, a Pilates enthusiast himself, was happy to hear about Canha's newfound practice.
"Player conditioning has changed a lot in the last 10 years, from the heavy weights to more strength work, combined with flexibility," Beane said. "With Mark doing something like Pilates, I think it's great. It's something I've done myself, and I wish we could have that as a part of our strength and conditioning program at some point. I know the personal benefits of it, and I think it's something that's growing in baseball."
"Having a nice variety in your workout program, whether you're doing Pilates or yoga, is good, just to kind of keep the body guessing," Canha said. "I think the more wide-range of things you do, the better off you're going to be athletically."
Already, he's noticed a difference on the field.
"I'm excited, my core feels really strong," Canha said. "My swing feels great. My power's there in batting practice, so it pretty much feels like where I left off from last year."
Worth noting
• Henderson Alvarez, who is rehabbing from 2015 shoulder surgery, could throw off a mound for the first time in the next day or two, with a catcher set up in front of the plate.
• Jarrod Parker threw a bullpen session Sunday and will get three days off before his next one, rather than the usual two.
"Everything feels good, we're just probably going to progress him a little slowly," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
• The A's have scheduled a 4 1/2-inning simulated game at Fitch Park for Monday morning. "No winners or losers, but they'll all get a ribbon for participation," Melvin joked.