Flexibility is a powerful tool to help you manage life. Our degree of willingness to bend, swerve and twist, ultimately delivers success (or not). We have seen this at work with such leaders as Steve Jobs, when he was heading up Apple, creating the now iconic elements of that brand, the one we can’t do without. We see this in nature, with something known as Darwinism, where species become highly adapted to survive within specific environments.
Our marvelous brains help us dominate our landscape, much more powerfully than say, an orang-utan. This is because man has been developing a collective intelligence about survival for as long as man has been around.
In his fascinating book, with a rather long title, The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter, Joseph Henrich, Director of the Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution Lab at the University of British Columbia, shares that the collective brain develops as a result of cultural evolution. “Adaptation and selective fitness give survival advantages to those who know how to learn appropriate survival skills.”
So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. This is pretty much the strategy I used when, at the age of 39, I decided to “get fit.” I surrounded myself with the super fit women of the Oxygen era back then and imitated what they did. Why reinvent the wheel? They trained and dieted a certain way and reaped the rewards with covers, appearances, and TV shows. That worked for me too, for a while.
But you can’t stay relevant, in any environment, unless you adapt to the nuances of change. At this stage in my life, after having taken a good look around, much like an ostrich popping his head out of the sand, I felt that I had a bigger message to share with women and men who were interested in achieving wellness, not for the sake of a beautiful exterior endowed with bulging biceps and perky glutes, but for living life itself.
Isn’t a functionally fit body, powered by clean nutrition and mindfulness, the ultimate goal?
How much better is it to have a powerful core, even if not accompanied by a six-pack? The answer is, 1000x better. When we train our core, developing the muscles we cannot see, such as the psoas, we are rewarded in countless ways. In Thomas W. Myers’ book, Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists, he states that the muscles are thought of as a series of myofascial slings, or a network of muscles, that extend the full length of the body. If, like me, you have an ache in your lower right back, your problem likely originates from an injury in the left shoulder. This is true for me, as I tore my rotator cuff there, years ago.
When the deep core muscles are trained, power comes from within the body. The benefits further include:
- good posture
- strong abdominals
- maximizes reaching your full fitness potential
- maintains a strong kinetic chain
- preserves quality of life
Adapt your fitness routine to include training your core muscles. Try this Abdominal Core Circuit, twice a week, to power up your stabilizers.
- Lay flat on your back, on floor, with your hands extended above you toward the ceiling.
- Bend your knees in 90-degree angle and raise your thighs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
- Exhale, engaging your abs, pressing your lower back into the floor.
- Maintain this position throughout the whole exercise.
- Slowly lower right arm and opposite leg to the floor simultaneously.
- Perform the movement slowly and with control.
- Exhale as you lower.
- Inhale and return to start position.
- Alternate sides and repeat for 10 reps each side.
Planks – you all know how to do these. But keep your butt down!
Reverse Crunch – you got these!
- Sit on the floor with feet drawn close to your backside and hip width apart.
- Place your hands straight out in front of you, palms down.
- Engage core and lean back to a 45 degree angle, keeping abdomen tight and engaged.
- Slowly twist to the right, keeping feet on floor, and touch the ground to your right. Do not twist from the lower back. Twist the upper body only.
- Return to centre and repeat movement to the left.
- This is one rep. Work your way up from 5 per side to 12.
Rotational Lunge: (adapted from Men’s Health)
- Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, and grab a moderate weight dumbbell or kettle bell. Hold the weight horizontally by its ends, just below your chin.
- Step forward with your one foot and slowly lower your body into a lunge.
- As you lunge, rotate your upper body toward your lead leg. Make sure you’re rotating from your upper back, engaging your core at the same time. Do not rotate from your lower back.
- Return to start position.
- This is 1 rep.
- Perform 10 per side. Do 3 circuits.
I am working on my flexibility and though I will never look like the beautiful ballerina in the photograph, my goal is to adjust my workouts often enough to remain a functionally fit woman for life.
Remember, I am always listening.
PS. What is your favourite core stabilizer exercise? How have you benefited from it? Share your answers in the Comments section below.
PSS. If you would like a customized training and nutrition plan to help you gain this magical flexibility and fitness I speak of, join one of my Membership Programs – Commit, Boost or Engage. You can spend time with me personally and fine tune your training to get the upper edge.