It is a commonly held view that the core consists of just our abdominal muscles. But that is a mistake. It’s so much more!

Anatomically the core is the trunk or torso of the body. That’s everything apart from our heads, legs and arms. So that’s quite a lot.

In Pilates, training the core is placed centre stage of the discipline. In fact, we are rather obsessed with it. That doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in working the muscles of the legs and arms. We are! But for us and especially for me, the core is central and crucial to everything we do.

In essence we work from the centre out with a focus on strengthening the deepest muscles of the trunk. If you practice Pilates you will be very familiar with your teacher’s focus on the transversus abdominis – which extends from the ribs to the pelvis, wrapping around the trunk from front to back. You will definitely be familiar with the muscles of the pelvic floor. And without necessarily knowing what they are called you will be working your multifidus and erector spinae muscles which run along the spine, in every class you attend. There are many other muscles of course, but together they are crucially important to the discipline.

Using precise, small movements we build strength in the deepest muscles of the core which give us greater stability and control as we move out to the limbs. We then progress to build power in the big muscles of the upper body and glutes thereby completing the circle of the core.

A strong core provides a crucial foundation for everything we do. It gives us greater power and control, makes us more shock absorbent, improves posture and can help alleviate pain and prevent injuries.

Whether we want to make our daily lives more comfortable, improve breathing and functional movement or enhance our sporting activities and provide ballast to our cardiovascular fitness – a strong core is essential.

So if you want to improve your core strength you’ll struggle to find a better way than the Pilates way. And I say this as a huge yoga, ballet and dance fan.

Curious? Then come and join me for a 1.5 hour Core workshop on Saturday 7th October, 2-3.30pm at the Sunflower Centre.

Even more curious? Come along to my mat based Pilates class on Thursday evenings, 6.30-7.30pm at the Sunflower Centre. We’re a small and friendly group and everyone is welcome.

For further details and to book please visit www.companionpilatesandyoga.com.

Jenny Smith, Pilates Teacher

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