With pilates and core work or core strength – “feeling is believing”

core strength

Core strength -Feeling IS Believing…

So many Pilates clients want to work on their core strength. We’ve all heard how good it is for posture, exercise. pain and general health and well being and it’s now the buzz phrase we hear all the time.

I want to work on my core and core strength. I’ve been told it will be good for me.

The problem is actually FINDING your core so you can start the process is the hard bit!

Most of us need help and instruction on how to do that.

Most of us won’t have a clue if we are activating our core strength or just using something else. Here in lies the problem.

In my opinion, the ‘core’ is not just one muscle. And core strength is not just being able to hold a plank or do a sit up.

It’s about being able to utilise the deeper muscles of the body to recruit and use them as the support system that they should be, and in turn that then allows you to move using all the bigger muscles who’s job it is to move you!

Being able to brace and hold plank for 5 minutes is great, don’t get me wrong. You are strong, you can hold it and you are obviously fit and have worked to get there. The question is, what muscles are you actually using, and whilst being in plank, can you say you are able to relax the ‘big muscles so you stop bracing, and actively use the deeper muscles to hold and support you instead?

This is where it gets interesting.

And this is where if you can’t access those muscles and change how you move, you’ll say Pilates doesn’t work. I don’t feel anything. It’s doing nothing


Feeling is believing. First you must feel that you can get the right muscles.

A good Pilates instructor will be able to get that out of you.

A good Pilates instrcutor will be able to workout HOW to teach you so you ‘get it’

A good Pilates  instructor will be able to explain what is going on around the muscles and what you need to do to ‘feel it’.

You must believe in the exercise and the process to get any benefits.

How we teach someone who is a ballet dancer who has spent years listening to their body and making minute tiny adjustments to move and perform better, is gonna be a whole lot different to someone who is a gym junkie and has spend years powering through heaps of weights.

The way they learn will be different.

Dancers are so used to being handled they will ‘over correct’ of we handle them as they are so used to the lightest touch. Gym peeps aren’t used to being handled at all, and may need heaps of pushing and correcting to even ‘get’ what we mean.

Telling a dancer to relax and drop their shoulders – they may just relax and let them go.

A weights based person may actually physically recruit the lats and lower traps to ‘actively push them down’ which is the complete opposite to ‘relaxing.

So being able to read what people do and how they work and how they react to being cued on how to move is a testament to how we teach and how we can ‘get’ the right movement out of clients. But it doesn’t always work.

The class situation is hard. We are there to teach a group class. If one person just doesn’t get it – we can’t spend the class with them trying to make them get it. This is when we recommend ‘privates’.

We may have a chat at the end and explain what we think is happening and what they can do to ‘feel it’ and recommend a private session. It may be something like reformer work would suit better as they have something to work with and against where we can ‘trick’ the body into doing what we want it do.

We do have a few tricks up our sleeves!


Getting the best out of a class set up for you

First you must know what you should be feeling and where.

You need to know where the movement or exercise starts and ends and how it should happen.

You need to breathe! breath holding encourages bracing and affects how we move as it splints out body.

ASK if you’re not sure. Sometimes we need to hear things in a different way to ‘get it’

“Drop your shoulders/ shoulders away from your ears/ relax your shoulders/ lengthen your neck/ reach your head to the ceiling/ grow tall” are all different ways to get better upper body and shoulder posture.

Pick the one that resonates with you in class and stick with it. We will cue a few different ways….mainly dependant on whether you guys are doing what we want! If not we will teach it slightly differently…. another cue may just get the result we’re after!

Take on board any corrections as a means to improve and get better activation and improvement – not that we are picking on you or that you;re no good. We want to help you get the most out of your body and correcting and facilitating how you move is a big part of that.

There will ALWAYS be something that you can work on.

You got that bit, now great work on this, now add this on, now hold it longer, now come up higher, now do it without support…..the list goes on! that’s the beauty of Pilates – there is always something more to be done, something more that can challenge you, but first you must feel the movement and how to recruit your muscles.

Feeling really is believing  – once you get that – anything is possible.


Find out more about different Pilates options here- http://corefusionpilatesperthblog.com.au/2017/12/14/told-need-pilates/

Visit our Site for our new client specials if you want to take up group fitness Pilates – https://corefusion.liveeditaurora.com/news





About Saree Hewlett (135 Articles)
Saree has 20 + years as a physio, training in the UK and completing her Masters in Manual Therapy in Perth, UWA. She has integrated Pilates into her practise having trained in the Polestar method and currently owns and runs two Studios in Perth's Northern Suburbs. A previous international Artistic Skater she understands the needs of sports people and also those suffering from chronic pain and reduced function - we all want the same thing - to be the best we can be! She is married with two active young boys!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


  • RSS
  • Newsletter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube