Core Competency

The key is finding an activity you love so that it becomes something you look forward to rather than a chore. This will bring the added bonus of a positive impact on your mental wellbeing, as well as improving your energy reserves.

I always advise my clients to look after their physical and mental health; explains Valerie Raphael, who teaches Pilates in Bushey and the surrounding area. “We all run busy lives, working and looking after our families and we don’t always have time for ourselves. Not everyone has the time to exercise and many just don’t enjoy exercising. Some people come to my studio or classes because they need to: because they understand the necessity for their body to practise Pilates.

While Pilates has an excellent reputation for its gentle and effective approach to core-work, Valerie reiterates the idea that it’s about doing something. I always recommend that you do a discipline you enjoy, but in any discipline, what you get out of it depends on how much work you put in. To strengthen your core you need to take the time, but also make a mental commitment with yourself to work hard and not be afraid to sweat.

What are the best exercises and activities for maintaining and building core fitness?

Valerie Raphael says: I always recommend Pilates as it is very adaptable for any age and levels and there are so many benefits to it. Pilates is also very complementary to other disciplines. I also recommend swimming, a great discipline, which involves lots of muscles being worked … it’s great for building your core and has a little joint impact. Surfing, rowing and cycling also work your core really well. I hired a Segway recently and was surprised how much core work was needed. Horse-riding is very good too; if learnt with good technique, posture can also be improved, as in Pilates, and if you don’t use your core you will hurt your spine.