Core Exercises to Boost Balance and Stability

by Sarah Schrenk, MS on Nov 19, 2018

Balance, which is essential for integrated movement, declines as we age. However, you can teach group fitness students how to maintain balance while also taking them through some fun, creative core exercises. Having a strong trunk and hip complex helps us maintain balance for years to come. In your next class, incorporate these multiplanar exercises targeting the core musculature and the gluteals. Each move is done in a standing position, and equipment is optional. Encourage attendees who struggle with balance to perform these exercises against a wall or while holding onto a barre. Suggest that participants who work regularly on balance start on their nondominant side.

Static Lunge With Lateral Spinal Flexion

  • Step right foot forward, left foot back, in wide stance, with hips and toes pointing forward.
  • Bend knees and do static lunge while maintaining good posture.
  • While lunging, laterally flex spine R, then return to neutral spine.
  • Complete 5–10 reps, R side.
  • Straighten legs and switch sides.

Progression: Deepen lunge during lateral spinal flexion and/or hold light kettlebell in L hand while flexing R (in R hand while flexing L).

Regression: Stand in narrower stance and/or do not lunge.

Single-Leg Squat With Spinal Rotation

  • Place weight on R foot and slightly lift L foot (you can also keep toe down).
  • Bring hands up and press palms at chest’s center.
  • Sit back into mini squat, maintaining neutral spine.
  • Rotate spine R, ensuring shoulders and head follow.
  • Rotate back to center and exit squat.
  • Complete 5–10 reps, R side.
  • Repeat L side.

Progression: Extend both arms forward, parallel to floor.

Regression: Instead of squatting, focus on standing upright on one leg while rotating.

Balance Beam

  • Place L foot directly in front of R, as if standing on balance beam.
  • Lift heels and come onto balls of feet, then lower. Lift and lower heels 3x–5x, then stay lifted.
  • Raise arms overhead while maintaining neutral spine and relaxed shoulders. Hold for 10–30 seconds, then lower arms and heels back to floor.
  • Progression: Close eyes briefly.
  • Regression: Keep heels on floor.

Tree in the Wind

  • Begin in tree pose. Place weight on L foot. Bend R knee, externally rotate R hip, and put R foot on L calf or inner thigh. Do not place foot on knee.
  • Lift arms overhead, keeping shoulders relaxed.
  • Begin by flexing, extending or rotating wrists (as if the tree were moving in a slight breeze).
  • As balance allows, increase range of motion by moving elbow and/or shoulder joints (as if the tree were moving in a gust of wind).
  • Hold for 30–45 seconds, then lower arms and place R foot down.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Progression: Add lateral spinal flexion in both directions.

Regression: Keep arms lowered by sides.

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 16, Issue 12

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About the Author

Sarah Schrenk, MS

Sarah Schrenk, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

My first experience with fitness was exercising with "Mickey's Mousercise" on the Disney Channel at age 6. By age 12, I was participating in hi-lo aerobics classes. In my mid-20's, I decided to make fitness and wellness a career. I have a master's degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology as well as several group exercise and personal trainer certifications. Currently I am the assistant director at a university recreation center where I manage the group fitness, personal training, and summer camp programs. I'm adjunct faculty in the university's Health, Kinesiology, and Sport department and a former presenter for a national certification company.