• Christl Marcontell

5 Benefits to Unlocking the Power of Your Core

When your Pilates teacher cues you to engage your core, are you thinking rock-hard abs or might there be something deeper going on?

Hey, if you are looking for a beach-body, we can design a program that gets you well on your way to that goal! But, when we speak about your core, we are targeting so much more than the way your tummy looks in a swimsuit.

Your core is fundamental to virtually every move you make, both inside the studio and in your real life. It is your "home-center" and the seat of good posture and connects you to your emotional state.

If you are weighing important decisions, you can "trust your gut" if you can clear your mind enough to pay attention. Whether you have butterflies or knots of tension, core exercises can help release stress and anxiety.

In Pilates parlay we call it "The Powerhouse" because it is the center of powerful movement.

No matter what kind of exercise class you attend, you will hear the instructor telling you to tighten up, pull in, engage, or otherwise pay attention to your core. And although your instructor would love to help you get a firmer tummy area if that is your goal, that is not why they are placing so much emphasis on this part of the body.

The truth is, the condition of your core has far reaching consequences to your body that go well beyond your work inside the studio. Having a stronger core impacts your life off the mat, too.

What is the Core Exactly?

Before diving into the real world benefits of strengthening your core, let’s get clear about what your core is exactly. The core is a collection of muscles that includes the abdominals, obliques, diaphragm, pelvic floor, trunk extensors, and hip flexors. They work together to connect the upper and lower body and are engaged when doing everything from sitting up straight to walking upright.

Why is Core Condition Important?

When the core is weak or inflexible, the arms and legs do not function optimally, risk of injury increases, and balance and coordination are decreased. The core’s condition impacts virtually every move you make, making it an important area to strengthen and condition.

5 Real World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core

When you work to strengthen your core, you can expect to experience a host of benefits both inside the studio and in your real life. Here are 5 of them.

1. Household tasks: You know when you start mopping the floor and about halfway through the first room you realize how hard the motion can be? What about when you dug that hole to plant the knockout roses you saw at the nursery and had to have? No matter the task or chore, your core plays an integral part in your body being able to access the movement and maintain the endurance needed to complete it. A core that gets regular attention helps you tackle all of the activities on your household list with energy to spare.

2. Lifting and carrying things: Every parent knows that a seemingly small child can feel super heavy in no time. And when the 50 pound bag of dog food gets delivered in the rain, you want to be able to get it inside, safely and quickly. Having a conditioned, strong core allows you to do that. Not only will your body be able to handle the load more easily with a strengthened core, you will be more aware of how you are lifting. Regular core engagement inside the studio is practice for engaging it in real life when you need it most.

3. Back and spine health: Ever experienced back pain? You are the not alone. Here are a few sobering statistics from The Good Body.

● 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point

● 54% of those with back pain spend most of the day sitting down

● Americans spend $50billion per year on treatment for back pain

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to the health of your back and spine, engaging in regular movement, especially when the core is engaged, is a critical component to living without back problems.

4. Balance and coordination: Having a strong, conditioned core reduces the risk of falling. Stay strong on your feet, no matter what you are doing, with a strong, conditioned core. Hike uphill on rocky terrain, take that obstacle course like a champ, or ride your bike with your little ones with greater confidence and agility thanks to your stronger core.

5. Better pleasure: We all seek pleasure from our own unique sources. A stronger core helps you engage in all kinds of activities with more energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment.

If you love live music, your powerful core can help you stand up for the entire show without getting tired. Want to enjoy the game with your family? A strong core will get you into and out of your seat for every play. And let us not overlook how a strong core can impact your time alone with your partner. Greater flexibility, endurance, and power certainly come into play under the covers, too.

Next time you take a class at our studio and your teacher asks you to engage your core, know that doing so is going to help you succeed in your session AND bring tons of benefits to your real life, too.

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