Core workouts consistently leave me feeling like a new person after class. They’re my stress reliever; my perfect start to the day; my way to let go of the day; my therapy; my balance. This love affair started in January 2010, when I was offered an incredible opportunity: To take Core Fusion classes at Exhale Spa four to five times a week and document it on my website, Dori’s Shiny Blog. I thought it would be a fun challenge and figured I would finally get those muscles I’d been craving. What I didn’t realize was that this one-month challenge would not only change my life, it would be become my life. A challenge that initially seemed daunting has now become a regular part of my schedule and I can’t imagine life without it. But it turns out there’s a lot more than Core Fusion out there, and trying out new classes to find out which ones are the best has also become part of my life. I’ve learned a thing or two, and I’m here to share.
It wasn’t very long ago that working your core (abs, back, and all the supporting actors in your abdomen) was something you only did in Pilates or yoga. Or if you were lucky, you might find an abs machine or two at the gym. But now workouts that meld resistance training, yoga, ballet, Pilates and cardio training to work your core have taken over the world of fitness, and it’s hard to know which one is right for you.
What’s best for one person might not be right at all for another, but I’ve tried to sort out the good from the bad (and the best from the good) in the gallery below. Whatever method you settle on (something that in itself is daunting; believe me, I know), know that it’ll be well worth your time. When I stretch at the end of a class, I feel a peace that I haven’t been able to replicate anywhere else. I used to exercise because I felt like I had to. Now, thanks to discovering core fitness classes, I work out because I want to. I crave these classes, and my guess is so will you.
Here’s my own little guide to core workouts. I’ve rated the top core workouts on a scale of one to five “Core Balls”. (None of these classes actually use a core ball, mind you, but this seems as good a scale as any.) While some of the classes are only available at studios in New York City (lucky me), I’ve made note of which classes are available around the country and which are on DVD.