A while back my husband asked me, “what does it mean when you say ‘Engage Your Core’ in your class? I hear this all of the time and have no idea what it means, or how to do it.”

It seemed to me, a fitness professional, a silly question. But, as I thought about it, I realized it was a great question. Instructors and trainers say this all of the time to their class participants and clients. To fitness professionals, “engage your core” is a blanket directive, which actually means A LOT!  But, to others it can be a 3-word enigma.

Core strength is a HUGE player in posture and a healthy back. It guides our balance and stability.

Let me see if I can help shed some light on this…

First, what is your core?

The word core is defined in the dictionary as the “the central, and often foundational part.” (Merriam Webster) Think of your core muscles in the same way. Your foundation, your stabilizers for the entire body. Your core is made up of many major and minor muscles that have fancy Latin names. I don’t need to bore you with those. These muscles cover the front and back sides of your body and run from your shoulders to your hips. Essentially anything but your arms and legs.

Why do I want a strong core?

Yes, the abdominals are a major part of our core, and they usually get a lot of attention. We all want those six pack abs and flat stomach, right?  But, our core is so much more and plays an integral part in almost everything we do. Remember, it’s your foundation. Everyday acts like looking behind you, picking up a package, or simply standing activate your core. Core strength is a HUGE player in our posture and a healthy back. It guides our balance and stability. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

So how the heck do I keep that all engaged?

WOW! This sounds like a big task, doesn’t it? The best part, you already engage your core quite a bit, without even thinking about it. If you weren’t engaging your core you wouldn’t be sitting and reading this article.

Engaging the core can be easily confused with “sucking it in.”  Think of it more as bracing yourself as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. The key is make sure you’re breathing. I know! So much to think about and I have to breath? The good news, with practice this gets easier and your core gets stronger.  Even better, the club has instructors and trainers to help with this. Don’t hesitate to ask.

What are some other cues my instructor/trainer might use to help Engage My Core?

-Tighten your Abs

-Tuck Bellybutton to Spine

-Pull up, not in

-Stand up tall with chest open (yeah, that’s core)

-Engage your pelvic floor (that’s a whole other article 😊)

Taking the time to purposely engage your core builds those muscles with the fancy Latin names. Those strong muscles then work together to keep us doing the things we want to do in our daily lives. How awesome is that?!

Check out some of these classes to help work and strengthen to engage your core.