Core work and weight loss are not the same thing. I want to scream this from every rooftop of every yoga studio, gym, and the BeachBody headquarters.
I am so tired of the idea that core work and weight loss are co-conspirators in the fight against fat. And I am equally tired of how the the fitness and wellness industry uses core work as a tool to shame people and profit off of their pain.
Let me back up a bit and say that when I was younger, I bought into this idea, too.
I used to think if I did #allthecorework I’d lose weight and have the body of my dreams. never mind the fact that I wasn’t 100% clear on what “the body of my dreams” actually looked like. I just knew that I hated the one I had and wanted desperately to be skinnier/stronger/taller/more tan than I was.
I did as many sit-ups as I could during the commercial breaks of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or whatever other TV show I was watching and still, my body basically looked exactly the same.
When I was younger, in my teens and twenties, I struggled with an eating disorder and body image issues. I believed anything spewed out by the pop culture fitness machine that might help me achieve the perfection and control over my body that I so desperately wanted.
Thinness was my biggest goal, which is why I focused so heavily on core work and of course, starving myself.
Eventually, when I discovered yoga and started to get back on the healthy train (meaning, eating more than 1 meal a day, but still struggling with body image issues) I was still overzealous about core work.
Clearly I still had some work to do. Fighting back against my own demons was one hurdle. Fighting back against an entire industry bent on perpetuating falsehoods about health and body standards was another.
It took me years to start to heal my relationship with my body. And to be honest, it’s still a work in progress pretty much daily.
What I’ve learned over the years is that health doesn’t have a body size or shape.
I’ve discovered that having a strong core isn’t the same as being skinny. And I’m tired of the health and fitness industry using core work as a way to keep feeding people these lies.
A quick scroll through YouTube shows me a bunch of videos with titles like “10-min Lower Abs Workout – Lose Lower Belly Fat” and “Trim Inches off Your Waistline with these Core Moves”.
Not particularly body positive titles, not to mention the fact that they are conflating core work with weight loss.
I think there are 3 things that really need to shift when we, those of us working in the fitness and wellness industry, approach core work.
First, a healthy and strong core has nothing to do with how much you weigh or the shape of your belly.
Strong abdominal muscles don’t only exist on skinny people and skinny people aren’t always healthy or strong, in their core or otherwise. By the same token, someone who is considered “fat” might have a really strong and healthy core. You can’t always tell just by looking at someone.
A healthy core is more determined by how someone is able to use those muscles.
Second, the point of core work is not losing weight.
Here are a few awesome reasons to do core work:
Create more stability for your low back
Support your internal organs
Help with healthy movement for your spine and torso
To orchestrate more coordinated and unified actions in your body
To feel confident and strong
Core work has so many benefits. Losing weight isn’t among them.
Third, and in my mind, most important, core work is not a tool to use in body shaming.
I’m so tired of reading things like this:
“Do this core workout to trim inches off your waistline”
“Cardio core workout to melt away the fat.”
“Core moves to ditch the muffin top.”
I especially hate the message of “make your body bikini ready by summer with this core workout series.”
Core work is not an excuse to make people feel shitty about their bodies. Your value is not related to how skinny you are. Your body is beach ready now.
If you want to feel stronger, more confident, and more connected to your core, do core work. Don’t do it because society tells you that you’re not slim enough to wear a bathing suit.
What’s important to me is to change the culture within the fitness and wellness industry from one that can be a little toxic to one that is empowering.
I want my friends to hear messages about working their core muscles that are empowering, not demeaning.
I want my daughter to know that core strength doesn’t have a size or a shape, but instead has true power.
As a yoga teacher and movement specialist, as a woman and a mom, I want the language and intention around core work to stop being so antagonistic. I want it to become something that inspires us to step more confidently into our power.
Does this sound interesting to you?
I created my Yoga for a Healthy Core series as a response to all of the misinformation and negativity in the yoga, fitness, and wellness world regarding core work. In this series, you get 16 yoga classes, most less than 10 minutes long, giving you a more creative, dynamic, and fun approach to core work.
If you’d like to do core work because it’s fun and challenging and confidence boosting, check out my series. When you purchase, you’ll also get the chance to join my online yoga studio for one month for FREE!