There are certain words you hear thrown around a lot in fitness these days, particularly in a Pilates setting.  One of these words is “core” or “powerhouse.”  What exactly does that mean?  If you look it up on Wikipedia, you will see the technical anatomical definition to include the following major muscles: the pelvic floor muscles, transversus adbdominus, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominus, erector spinae (sacrospinalis), the longissismus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissumus dorsi, gluteus maximum and trapezius.

Muscles of the trunkImage via Wikipedia Ok those are some big words for muscles mainly in your abs (both in the center and the sides), your back, your butt, and your pelvic floor—which are low ab muscles—the one you would use to stop yourself from peeing (sorry to be graphic, but that is usually the easiest way to describe it).  Think of it like this, they are the muscles that keep you upright and able to do major body movement. 

A lot of traditional exercises will target a few of these muscles, but the reason I have learned to love Pilates so much is that it integrates very precise movements in order to target ALL of these core muscles.  And some of those muscles are deep within your abdomen, underneath those “6 pack” muscles.  And trust me, crunches are not targeting all these core muscles—crunches only target one area.

By getting in and working all these core muscles, you can improve your body health dramatically. Your posture can improve.  Toning these muscles is great to maintain your balance and flexibility and also maintain nice things like continence, or not peeing yourself when you laugh or sneeze (some of you Moms know what I am talking about here).  They are also great to help during childbirth which is why Pilates can also be great for expectant mothers (and why I have an entire DVD aimed at you guys!).  You won’t have a bad back if you have strong core muscles, because your core will take care of you if you take care of it.  Seriously, a strong core is the key to so many things, but you have to know how to work it.

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