The Importance of Engaging Your Core

My fitness instructor is constantly reminding me to engage my core. She interjects during lunges, curls, and pushups. No matter the exercise, your core muscles must be engaged. The central part of the body is essential for everything else to function properly and to maximize performance. In Alli’s own words,

“It’s all about the core!”

This is not only true for athletes. It’s true in life.

The word core is defined as: the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.

In other words, your core is who you are, deep down.

Have you been through times in life when you let your core get soft and didn’t feel like yourself? You lost sight of who you are and disengaged from the important things? It happens to everyone. Some common reasons people go through this type of slump include:

  • A career change
  • Baby blues
  • Transition to a new city
  • Death of a loved one
  • A serious illness

Major life changes can wreak havok on your sense of self. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of adjusting to your new circumstances, and forget to take care of who you are.

There are several avenues back to your core. A good way to start engaging again is this: Think of an activity that reminds you exactly who you were before you fell into a funk. The activity itself doesn’t define who you are, but participating in it makes you feel invigorated.

A core-engaging activity can be anything that makes you feel like yourself again. It’s something you love doing, utilizing your skills or passions. It makes you feel alive. Maybe it’s a sport, hobby, or volunteer position. Or simple as a walk on your favorite trail.

In the winter of 2011, I was not feeling like myself. A cross-country move, two babies, and a major career change had taken their toll. I was spiraling further down into the dumps. A gray storm cloud followed me overhead like a grouchy cartoon character.

One afternoon I saw my health club was advertising tryouts for a men’s basketball league. There aren’t many non-WNBA women my age who want to play organized basketball, so the men’s league sounded like a good option. I arrived at the tryout and was welcomed with a barrage of questions.

“You do know this is a men’s league, right?”

“Here to cheer on your husband?”

“Did someone say you could tryout? We’ve never had a girl play before.”

We played a half court game of 3-on-3 while the league captains observed. On my team were a guy in his 50’s and a 21 year old who could jump through the roof. We scored 20 points in five minutes.

After the tryout, the guy in charge of the league drafted me on his team.

Every Sunday night that winter, I laced up my shoes and engaged my core. I played the sport I love most and talked some friendly trash. Basketball doesn’t define who I am. But it was a huge part of my life for over a decade.

Playing ball again in an organized setting reminded me of something important. While I love being a wife, mother, and folding massive amounts of laundry, the core of who I am hasn’t changed. I’m still competitive, athletic, and love encouraging my teammates. I get back up when I fall down. I handle myself with grace and sportsmanship when others don’t. I know how to have fun. I can laugh at myself.

I had forgotten most of those things. And it was time to apply them to my current roles in life. It’s important to get back to your core.

By the way, the team with the girl on the roster? They won the league championship.

Question: Do you need to get back to your core? What steps can you take to engage it again?