The core, that elusive part of our bodies that was associated with beauty and fitness has evolved—finally. Its importance now goes beyond the once highly-coveted six-pack.
I consider myself lucky. Even as someone who is now making physical wellbeing a bigger part of their life, I have rarely made much effort to embark on a journey to unearth that six pack for the sake of the “bikini body”. As the body positivity movement remains relevant—as it should be—we are learning that body weight, fitness and true health come in many shapes and sizes.
Having said that, I have recently learned of the importance of a strong core. And it has nothing to do with physical appearance.
How I’m Starting to Train My Core
In my yoga teacher training, I’ve learned quite a bit about anatomy. Being told that the core muscles, which encircle our entire torso, help us walk; give stability to our spine and pelvis; and enable movements that let us rotate our torso, bend forward and extend our spine was eye opening. It explained why as my yoga practice and bouldering improved I could no longer advance without working my core.
If you’re just starting out...
While crunches are the most common way of working the core, my favorite way to work it is Pilates. I love that beginner’s Pilates classes teach how to breathe, how to hold your core firm and how to think of it as more than just your “tummy”. In YouTube, my favorite channel is Blogilates.
If you’re getting the hang of it...
Since I myself am just getting the hang of it I can only say that continuing with Pilates plus core-focused yoga is great. However, what has made a big difference is adding strength training. A simple kettlebell and a few, well-chosen exercises like kettlebell swings go a long way. My favorite YouTube channel for that is BodyFit by Amy.
I know that gyms and crossfit-style workouts offer more alternatives, but I haven’t really been able to find a combination that I enjoy and doesn’t bore me.
If you’re ready for the next level...
I have no idea what that looks like. Probably the type of exercises that let you do a super advanced Ashtanga yoga practice or crazy overhanging climbing routes worthy of Adam Ondra.