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Fit in 5: Your 5 Minute Core Workout

Pamela Hernandez owns Thrive Personal Fitness in Springfield, MO where she focuses on weight training for weight loss. She writes a blog for her web site, www.thrivepersonalfitness.com, sharing vegetarian recipes from her kitchen, exercise strategies, lifestyle tips and stories from her own journey. You can also follow Pamela on Twitter @ThriveFit or pick up more tips on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thrivepersonalfitness.

A client commented to me the other day about the lack of crunches in our workouts. She had worked at a health club many years ago and still had memories of endless crunches during the abs section of her aerobics class.

I told her that while crunches can have a place in a fitness routine, they are not the best exercises for overall core strength. A lot has changed in our world since Abs of Steel was in everyone’s VCR. We sit more during the day for longer periods of time and have less opportunity to be physically active at workplaces and schools. Bodies have gotten weaker. I see a constant stream of tight hamstrings, weak backs and hunched over shoulders. For the majority of my clients, it’s not about having a six pack. It’s about being able to pick up the kids and get up out of a chair without pain.

If this sounds familiar, and sit ups and crunches aren’t the answer, you may be asking what should you be doing?

First, remember the core is involved in pretty much every exercise we do in a standing or upright position. Get in touch with it by pulling your belly button into your spine during exercises like overhead squats and standing shoulder presses or while using cardio equipment like the elliptical trainer.


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Yoga for a Strong, Happy and Healthy Core

The core of a person can be defined in many ways. In the physical sense, the core consists of the muscle groups between the hips and the ribs. In a psychological sense, the core makes up the deep inner-self some might call the soul. In an energetic sense, the core is what makes up the solar plexus, a place in our body that is home to bundles of nerves responsible for those curious gut feelings. Yogis often refer to the solar plexus as the third chakra, the spirited space in our body that governs our self-esteem and feelings of empowerment.

However you view your core, a regular yoga practice has a strong and powerful effect on it. Whether physical, psychological or energetic, your core will be particularly influenced, and the following is a look into why.


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Join the Plank A Day Revolution

Ok, confession time. Or better yet, twitter-fession time. I’m a bit of a Twitter addict. Ok, maybe more than a bit. I may be a big enough addict that I find myself talking about my “tweeps” like they are good personal friends. But it’s a new world and social media serves more than just entertainment purposes. Twitter really does have more to offer than just seeing what Justin Beiber had for lunch today.

This summer a particular hashtag kept coming across my feed that caught my attention. #Plankaday was showing up after several of my “tweeps” mentioned they got their ab workout in. Having just lamented that I needed to commit to a more consistent ab routine to help me with my running, the Plank a Day challenge walked into my life.

Apparently I’m not alone in my loathing of ab work. While I know it’s useful, I still hate to do it.


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Impressive Planking Requires Extreme Core Strength

A new viral trend has swept the nation, where mature, upstanding citizens take pictures of themselves laying face-down, motionless and expressionless, on…something. Anything, really. This trend is called “planking”, and while it sounds stupid, lazy and like a waste of time, it is.

I know, I know, they aren’t hurting anything, but I can’t help but roll my eyes that the newest craze in America is to take pictures of yourself not moving. We’ve always been fond of not moving here in the great U.S. of A., but documenting it and putting it on the Internet for all to see is a new development. You can now become a YouTube sensation for being sedentary.

I see the lure, though. While I am used to thinking of planks as a core exercise that actually, literally, makes me angry, as I started scrolling through Google images of planking, I saw some planks that made me laugh, cringe, gasp and scratch my head.


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Yoga vs. Pilates: What is the Difference?

As a teacher of yoga and Pilates, I am aware that some people stick with either one method or the other as part of their exercise program. Even in our modern era of fitness, where crossover classes such as Yogilates are the latest rage, some choose to be loyal to their preferred modality.

While there are many similarities between yoga and Pilates, the differences that exist may be enough to tip the scale of favoritism.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a 5000-year-old discipline steeped in spirituality. The practice of yoga- however diluted by modern culture- still involves a whisper of self-reflection and divine connection. Good for the mind and the body, yoga rises above the realm of exercise because of its intention to elevate the consciousness of those who practice.


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