“Oh and By The Way I Want To Strengthen My Core”

By Lisa Byrne, B.S Exercise Sciences | Certified Pilates Instructor
NABBW’s Boomer Women\’s Fitness Expert

“Really?” I say.

Rarely do I run into a person whether new in the studio or someone I meet that doesn\’t include that statement in our conversation.

I\’ve learned that following up with a question tells me more about what they think they know verses what they say.

“So, what does that mean to you?”

The answers usually pertain to them hand gesturing or even patting their belly, responding “I want to tighten up”. And then sometimes they suck in their belly as if that adds to the answer I\’m looking for.

“Okay, tell me more…what will that do for you…to strengthen your core that is in your belly?”

It seems what they are saying is “I have too much fat here in my gut and I want to do exercises to tighten up, please tell me how to do that because it is really bothering me…ever since I had kids 42 years ago, that belly has gotten bigger and it won\’t go away”.


Let me refer to my colleague Fernando Paredes\’ latest post, “Do You Believe This Belly Fat Lie?” His first 2 tips boil down to changing what you eat. It\’s not about exercising and spot reducing that area. Read more of Fernando\’s article on that lie.

Let\’s go back to the conversation we were having earlier concerning your core. We all want a stronger core. That\’s what we\’ve learned from the media, studies, research, articles like this, and much more.

There\’s one thing I never hear, and that\’s “I want to have a stable core”.

“What\’s that?” you say.

We all associate stability with balance, but that\’s not the direction we\’re going here. Balance with stability is a very informative, useful article at another time.

Core Stability is the partner to Core Strength. I believe it even carries a little more weight than Core Strength too.

Here\’s why.

Think about it like this: if you\’re going to pick up the 20 lb. birdseed bag, or the 2 bags of groceries out of the car, or even leaning over to pick up your 15 pound suitcase what\’s the first thing you do (or SHOULD be doing)?

Holding onto yourself. Stabilizing yourself from the inside out. It\’s those smaller and deeper muscles that you want to depend on to help you hold onto yourself. Sure, you could look at it as “bracing yourself”, but the stabilizing I\’m referring to here is used as an active and dynamic part of your core not as a reaction meaning to fasten tightly or bind; but rather, to invigorate by reinforcing.

If you want to strengthen your core, and who doesn\’t, first think about what it means to you to own core stability. Your core stability shows up daily in these ways:

  • as a passenger in a car, turning the corner. There\’s a reason you\’re not flying into the door.
  • reaching up on top of the fridge to retrieve the salad spinner. In order to reach, you first have to hold onto yourself so that you don\’t start off by falling.
  • raking your leaves. Using you arms is good, but go down to your footing first. How do your feet hold onto the ground beneath while you rake?

And then there are many ways we get hurt because we forget about holding onto ourselves like:

  • trying to push the sofa with your arms and shoving the load into your shoulders, rather than stabilizing at the ground to move it.
  • carrying the bags of groceries in your arms and allowing the load of them to weigh your neck down and shrug your shoulders, verses making them part of your trunk while you hold onto yourself.
  • walking your dog and letting him pull you along, sometimes really vigorously. The hold you have on that leash should first begin in your trunk and your hold of yourself.

Think about it, how do you hold onto yourself daily?

What are some things that you don\’t even realize because you\’re not aware?

Once you get the idea awareness begins with simple inquiry.

Simmer on that idea and next week, I\’ll show you how to improve your core stability and thus strengthen your core, naturally!

Lisa Byrne is the owner and chief creative officer at Pilates for Sport, LLC in Bucks County, Pa. She has her B.S in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Pilates Instructor. Lisa has operated her fully equipped Pilates studio since 1999 and has been in the Health and Fitness Industry for 23 years. The studio space is home to private sessions, small group training, and the outdoor circuit buffet, sure to get anyone grooving. Visitors to the movement studio span the range and include average Boomers looking for diversity; young people with Asperger’s-Autism; hard core athletes looking to ‘loosen up’; and those in need of chronic pain management through movement. Learn more about Lisa on her site, Move More Today.