Core Training Takes Center Stage
“One reason core conditioning is increasing in popularity is that it is a component of a larger movement toward ‘functional fitness’,” say Kathie Davis, executive director of IDEA Health & Fitness Association. With its emphasis on strengthening and stretching the muscles of the abdominal, pelvic and lower-back regions, core training is helpful in sustaining the ability to perform the activities of daily life.
“Many consumers attend core classes to improve their physical form, not their ability to function. The challenge for fitness professionals is explaining to their clients that the benefits of core conditioning go well beyond achieving washboard abs,” Davis adds.
In promoting core conditioning to their clients, many fitness facilities and personal trainers are stressing the less obvious benefits such as improved athletic performance, injury prevention and better functional ability. In addition, says Jeffrey Scott – a Reebok University master trainer who teaches at Body Smart in El Segundo, California and at the Sprectrum Club in nearby Manhattan Beach – “core conditioning appeals to everyone from highly skilled athletes to the average class participant. Core training is the foundation of all human movement. It isn’t choreography-driven so it attracts people who normally wouldn’t take a group exercise class.”
In both group fitness settings and personal training sessions, the goal for many fitness professionals is to teach clients how to train the body to improve function. “Traditional abdominal work only works the abs through a series of crunches and maybe some oblique twists; the rest of body is usually neglected. Core conditioning classes use the abs throughout the workout, not just for 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the class,” says Yumi Lee, an instructor who teaches core training at CRUNCH Fitness in Los Angeles and the Sports Club/LA in Santa Monica.of body is usually neglected. Core conditioning classes use the abs throughout the workout, not just for 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the class,” says Yumi Lee, an instructor who teaches core training at CRUNCH Fitness in Los Angeles and the Sports Club/LA in Santa Monica.
Many fitness professionals also attest to the value of using specialized equipment such as the Reebok Core Board and the BOSU Balance Trainer. “The core board improves balance and functional strength through a variety of static and dynamic movements done on its reactive surface,” says Lee. Adds Kymberly Willaims-Evans, a group fitness coordinator at the University of California at Santa Barbara, “although you can certainly offer successful core conditioning classes with only mats, our best success has come with using additional equipment, such as special abs mats balls and boards.”
The comments of Jeffrey Scott, Yumi Lee and Kymberly Williams-Evans are contained in the article “Focus on Core Training” found in the March 2003 issue of IDEA Health & Fitness Source.
IDEA is the world's leading membership organization of health and fitness professionals with more than 23,000 members in over 80 countries. Since 1982, IDEA has provided health and fitness professionals with pertinent information, educational opportunities, career development programs and industry leadership while helping them enhance the quality of life worldwide through safe, effective fitness and healthy lifestyle programs. For more information on IDEA events, publications, educational products, member services or other activities, visit the IDEA website at: www.IDEAfit.com.