When I broke the news to Hunter that I was going to miss class because I would be out of town, he was so happy for me. I joke about my perfect attendance when I sign in at the gym, but my commitment to wellness, all kidding aside, is a priority. I’m not just a fair-weather exerciser. So when I lamented I’d be missing class because I was traveling I was surprised by his response. “Great,” he said, “Go do what you love.” My first response was, “Aren’t you disappointed I won’t be keeping up with my workouts this week?” And he simply reminded me, “Dorrie, you don’t come to the gym to come to the gym.” What a simple, brilliant, statement.
I don’t come to the gym to come to the gym.
Like any of us, I come to the gym for all sorts of reasons, many of which support my mission to be healthy so I am able to give to my community and to live a full life. This month at Hybrid Fitness we are talking about why we do things, so I wanted to take a look at the exercises I do and why I do them. I don’t just deadlift so I can walk around town and deadlift. That would be weird! All of these movements improve my overall strength which in turn support me in being able to give the most of myself and have a full life. Of course I love the big, complex movements and the measurable gains of the isolated movements, but today I want to talk about what keeps it all together-the core. This is the foundation of our exercise regimen.
What is our core?
Our core is made up of a series of muscle groups, including the upper and lower abdominals, internal and external obliques, lower back muscles, hip flexors, pelvic floor, and I like to include on my list, the powerful glutes.
Why is core strength important?
These muscles provide a framework of support for our inner organs; they protect our back; and a strong core improves balance and stability; promotes better posture; and lessens our risk of injury. We don’t just need a strong core to be able to protect our back or have balance at the gym. A strong core helps us shovel snow, carry groceries, help an injured pet, carry bags of mulch for the garden, hike a mountain, put a suitcase in the overhead compartment, tie our shoes, cross the deck of a moving sailboat, or hold a child in our arms. A strong core impacts our lives every day.
How do we strengthen our core?
The following core movements are the favorite five at Hybrid Fitness. These are all body weight exercises. If you find that you might miss a week at the gym because you are off doing what you love, you can always do these core strengthening exercises on your own.
- Plank- targets the upper and lower abdominals and the glutes
- Russian Twist- targets the obliques
- Superman- targets the glutes and lower back
- Dead bug- targets the pelvic floor and promotes hip stability
- Glute bridge- targets the hip flexors, the pelvic floor, and fires up the glutes
While I don’t have to know all the what, why, and how of the exercises, I think it helps. Giving your body the cues to engage certain muscles sets up a pathway from your brain to the muscles in a way that supports them. Paying attention to building your core through these movements helps you put the extra effort and intention into those twists or lifts rather than just going through the motions. Knowing why your core muscles matter for you can help keep you motivated to do these motions as much as knowing why you come to the gym. Remember you don’t just do planks to do planks, and you don’t just come to the gym to come to the gym.