Power To Your Core | Great Health Guide
Power To Your Core

Power To Your Core

This article is taken our upcoming issue 8 (February) of our magazine. Issues 1 to 7 are also available through the App store and Google Play store. Please subscribe to the Great Health Guide magazine – (subscription FREE for limited time only).
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Power To Your Core written by Vanessa Bartlett

Pilates can build strength, tone up muscles, improve core strength, connect the mind and body and help our flexibility just to name a few perks! But why is Pilates so popular and has the potential to deliver results to clients, time and time again?

Pilates creates ‘stability’ and when executed with precision and consistency, delivers results.

1. What is ‘stability’?

Stability refers to the body’s ability to find its centre of balance and be able to execute movements from a sturdy foundation or platform. It is like a building needing a strong, sturdy foundation and the same goes for our bodies. 

We need deep, inner strength and ‘stability’ throughout our body to ensure that we move with steady control yet freedom within each movement that we perform. There needs to be a balance between flexibility, mobility and strength for optimal movement function and injury prevention.

2. Why does this matter? 

Our postures are placed under pressure daily, commonly due to technology and the way we move. We are in a constant battle with getting our bodies back into alignment, balance and natural patterns of movement.

Jobs at desks, typing, driving, using phones and tablets are all forward-based activities, using the anterior (front) muscles of the body. If we are repeating the same movement patterns daily, we are slowly causing imbalance between the muscles and a strain within one area of the body. If a muscle is too tight for instance, the opposing muscle group is likely weakened or even too flexible which causes aches, pains and imbalance.

3. Where does this show up?

Commonly we hear about and suffer from back and neck pain. This means the muscles surrounding our spines are under some pressure or tension and not performing correctly for postural support and ‘stability.’ 

Now let’s add exercise to the equation e.g. you decide to lift weights. If you do this with a weak structural foundation you are adding to the existing imbalance by adding a load to it. The issues that arise when people cannot ‘stabilise’ their body when performing exercise are frequent visits to physio, constant muscular pain, back pain, lack of flexibility and mobility, just to name a few.

This is where Pilates can help you and give you that inner strength and stability that we all need to feel ‘comfortable’ in our own body.

How does Pilates build your stability?

When you do Pilates, the first thing to do is to ‘activate your core.’ This means you need to connect with your breath and connect the mind to those deep abdominal muscles that are closest to the spine. If you move without ‘engaging’ these muscles, you risk over-using other muscles as well as creating more imbalance.

The whole premise of strengthening your core is fundamentally what creates ‘stability.’ When you are strong from the inside-out, you have greater control, flexibility, freedom of movement, creating a balanced body. By performing Pilates exercises over time, you will start to feel and see a change within your body’s movement patterns and muscular strength.

Niggling pains can decrease or disappear, you stand taller, you walk without shifting your hips so much. People tell me that their running, golf, gym work, dancing or even gardening has become easier due to having more stability and control within their body.

The following are two of my favourite Pilates exercises:


1. Kneeling on hands and knees ensure hands are under shoulders and knees under hips

2. Take a breath in and as you exhale, engage / tighten your core (abdominals)

3. Maintain neutral spine (ie not arching your back)

4. Slowly lift and extend your opposite arm and leg so they are in line with body

5. Ensure your arm and leg is parallel to the ground

6. Ensure you are stable through hips and shoulders i.e. not moving

7. Complete 10 arm/leg raises on each side.

8. For a challenge – balance a drink bottle on your lower back! This will test your inner stability.

Bridge with leg extension:

1. Lie on back – Place feet on floor hip distance

2. Engage & tighten abs

3. Lift pelvis and spine upwards contracting butt and back of thighs

4. Keep hips stable/level – lift leg slowly up so that toes are pointing to the sky

5. Hold leg straight for a few seconds

6. Lower leg, bend knee and place foot onto floor

7. Lower pelvis to floor 

8. Repeat with other leg (2 reps each leg)

Great for butt tone, core stability and balance, toning and strengthening posterior (back) muscles.

Author of this article:
Vanessa Bartlett has 14 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is a qualified journalist. She has appeared as a presenter for TVSN, The Morning Show and co-hosted a community TV lifestyle show. In 2013 she was part of a group award for ‘Innovation in Healthcare’ for helping teach mental health sufferers Pilates and meditation to complement their treatment.
This article is taken our upcoming issue 8 (February) of our magazine. Issues 1 to 7 are also available through the App store and Google Play store. Please subscribe to the Great Health Guide magazine – (subscription FREE for limited time only).
iTunesor Androidstore

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