Heather’s Myth-Busting Core Workshop

Posted on March 5, 2024

Athletic woman's stomach

If you thought Pilates was all about the core – prepare to have your mind stretched as much as your body. Heather’s upcoming Core Education workshop on March 16 will totally bust that myth. It will activate your core without cueing the core. It will show you how to slim and tone rather than bulk your core. Prepare for many aha-moments. And it’s ideal for anyone who sits at a desk, does sport or has any joint pathology. Learn how to recover, balance and increase performance with Heather, who gives a little intro below.

Pilates was never designed as a core exercise. Look at the original name – Joseph Pilates called it Contrology and it was the science of controlling the mind and body for total movement.

People get fixated about the core. Joseph Pilates called it the ‘Powerhouse’ and never once cued, ‘Pull your stomach muscles in!’

Of course the core has to fire for the body to move as an organic whole. This is why Pilates brings core results quickly. But the theory is that it is a method of movement that is the complete integration of all body parts under mind control.

Lengthen, don’t shorten, for flat abs

Why shouldn’t you pull your stomach muscles in? Because Joseph Pilates talked about lengthening the body. Pulling your stomach muscles in shortens them, and that’s what creates bulk rather than tone.

Try lying down, stretching down through your toes and up through the crown of your head while holding your ribs and neck in place, and you’ll find the core muscles kick right in. If you are sitting and you stop yourself from slouching by sitting up straight you’ll also feel a gentle organisation of the abs. That’s because elongating the spine naturally engages them.

Joseph Pilates also emphasised that stretches went two ways. It was never about only lengthening in one direction. Whatever cue he gave had an equal and opposite cue. It is moving from the centre outwards, dynamically engaging the body in two directions, that creates the abdominal work.

Understanding the powerhouse

I see too many people who are overly active in their hip flexors, which shortens their lower abs and their rectus abdominals, all in the name of the 100s. But the 100s were never just about rolling up and scooping your belly. When lifting the body against gravity, can you lift your legs using just your abs? No, you need to use your glutes and hamstrings too.

If you look at the original focus of his work, the powerhouse included the lower trunk muscles, hip extensors, glutes and hamstrings. Use the entire powerhouse and you come out with a really toned and lifted butt, strong hamstrings and flat abs.

With the correct activation cues in class, your abs will eventually learn to intelligently fire the way they are meant to. That way you’ll avoid the big bunched tummy.

What’s more, when you bunch your stomach muscles you can actually damage the abs by pushing them away from the spine, which they are designed to support. If you shorten the abs, you can also compress the organs, joints and spine instead of creating space, movement and support for them all.

Core education for all…

This workshop will teach what it is to lengthen the body for a flatter, stronger stomach and super-trim waistline.

This workshop is for anyone who sits, who rides a bike, who runs… It’s great for triathletes and other athletes who need to lengthen their hip flexors. Using your abs correctly will recruit your hip extensors and give you more power and performance.

This workshop is also good for anyone with any joint pathology. The body adopts compensation measures when injured, adding stress and strain to the non-injured side. The uniformity of Pilates helps to balance the body and is ideal during the recovery period.

This workshop is also wonderful for anyone with a spine pathology. When you have osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) it is key to learn how to move safely without further damaging your spine.

…For the perfect state of mind

If at any time, whether in a Pilates class or out for a run or sitting at your desk, you are thinking to yourself, ‘Am I the longest person I can be in this position right now? Am I giving my organs space to glide?’ then that’s the beginning of using your abs correctly.

Join Heather for her Core Education workshop on Wednesday 16 March from 2pm to 3.30pm at Island South. To sign up click here.

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