At the core of your optimal fitness is your core. Yet, according to Katie Finger-Girardi of Hilton Head’s Core Pilates and Yoga many of us confuse core with Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s washboard stomach.
“Everybody thinks core is just crunches and abdominal exercises,” says Finger-Girardi. “But your true core is your stomach and back and how they work together. The truth is, if you do 100 crunches it won’t do anything for you. You’ve got to work on your front and back in unison.”
Finger-Girardi and her partner, Lynne Anderson, train 100 people a week, and understand the benefits of a core workout firsthand.
“Pilates is an 80-year-old method, melding muscles in the back and front together. A strong powerhouse, or core unit, holds you in an upright position and allows you to have a truly flat back and stomach,” says Finger-Girardi.
Routinely doing core work:
- Relieves chronic back pain
- Alleviates sleeping disorders like insomnia
- Motivates better eating habits and, thus, weight loss
- Fights osteoporosis and osteopenia
- Prevents a weak pelvic floor and subsequent disorders such as incontinence and irritable bowl syndrome
To strengthen your core, Finger-Girardi recommends doing the Pilates Series of Five. “It takes 5 minutes to do it. If you think of the series as brushing your teeth, it becomes a natural addition to your daily routine.”
Pilates Series of 5 (Start each position with your bellying drawing in and toward the spine, shoulders blades off the mat and legs extended toward the ceiling or in table top position.)
- 100 Beats. Pump your extended arms alongside your hips while inhaling for a count of 5 and exhaling for a count of 5 for 10 rounds. Tip: Keep your focus on your stomach, as you draw it in toward your spine.
- Single Leg Stretch (20 reps.) Alternate bending each leg into your chest, as you extend the other out to a hover above the floor. Tip: Support your neck with your hands if you experience neck pain.
- Scissors (20 reps.) Alternate extending and lifting one leg toward the ceiling as you lower the other one down to a hover above the floor. Your hands will cradle the lifted leg. Tip: Don’t let your arms do the work, but rather your powerhouse.
- Double Leg Stretch (20 reps.) Inhale from table top position and then exhale and extend both legs to a hover above the floor. Arms will raise overhead as you extend and find optimal length. Tip: Imagine you are a tight ball and the extension is an explosion from the core.
- Crisscross (20 reps). Bring the right elbow to the left bent leg as your right leg extends out to a hover above the floor. Repeat opposite side. Tip: To keep the shoulders down and the elbows from moving toward the face, maintain a slow controlled motion.
To learn more about other fitness studios in Hilton Head, check out:
- Beach City Health & Fitness
- CrossFit Hilton Head
- Focused Fitness
- Palmetto Therapy & Athletic Club
- Powerhouse Gym Family Fitness
Be well, Becca