A good friend of mine told me about a conversation she overheard at her gym. She said two very fit looking guys, who she sees regularly lifting weights were discussing core work and how it was just another trend that would go away in a few years. Knowing that I teach Pilates and that Pilates is all about the core, she asked for my opinion on this. To be blunt, I told her this was an uneducated statement. Let me explain why!
Yes, the fitness industry has seen many trends. Think step aerobics, kickboxing and body pump to name a few. What makes these trends is the technique used to achieve fitness, not the body work accomplished. In all of these instances, the goal of the workout was to burn calories, tone and have fun. There are many ways to achieve this. When something new comes along that does the same thing in a new way – the trend changes.
Pilates has been around for some 80 years. It may not have been as popular as some of the trends but it has stood the test of time because it’s about a function and implementation of the whole body. Pilates is often used in therapy, by physical therapists and endorsed by doctors. The goal of Pilates is to create balance, strengthen, tone and flexibility in the body. This can not be accomplished without addressing a major part of the body … the core. To neglect the core and hope to achieve fitness is like taking care of the exterior of your car but ignoring the engine. At some point the car will not run properly, even though it may look lovely.
The fitness industry has changed through the years. The old school style of thinking was to spot tone or work a particular muscle (Buns of Steel or the Thighmaster anyone?) While this worked for some, others suffered injuries due to imbalance of muscles. Science has shown us how interconnected the muscles and fascia are in our bodies. Tightness in the hamstrings often leads to low back issues. A weak core can lead to shoulder issues. Working the shoulder alone to strengthen it will not fix a weak shoulder girdle. Working the hamstrings alone will not address the low back. Even issues as simple as knots in our hips can hinder out movements. In order to properly move and perform at the highest level – all aspects of the body need to function at their best.
It is impossible to lift your leg without relying on your core to stabilize the body and counter balance the weight of the lifted leg. It is impossible to carry your heavy purse without engaging your core to keep you upright. The more we realize the connection between our core and all of our movements – the better we become. Core work is essential to our daily movements not just a fad.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to do Pilates or engage your core in other ways, don’t neglect your core! Core work is here to stay regardless of the method or technique you use to achieve it. Core work is a necessity for all movements and without a strong core we are susceptible to injury.