Emma has been a personal trainer since 2002. She's watched exercise trends come and go, researched health and fitness for more hours than she can ever add up, and loves working with the human body more every day.
fluid, functional, flexible
Sexy really sells in the fitness industry. Beach muscles, instagram, bullding a hot butt – mirrors in gyms have never been more useful. And if you can’t see it in the mirror, well … Chances are, you’re not going to train it. Sure core is a big deal these days, but how good is your core activation? You can feel a fabulous burn after dozens of crunches, but none of them will have done anything really useful for your body. Doing multiple sets of knee raises usually means you’ve made your psoas stronger than it needs to be, which can help you develop an anterior pelvic tilt and maybe a lower back issue, which probably isn’t the result you’re looking for.
To find a truly sexy muscle, you have to look inside. Deep inside, to your pelvic floor. It doesn’t sound sexy, especially if you start thinking about incontinence products and getting older. But nothing is sexier than not needing incontinence products when you get older. It also looks like a hammock. And everyone loves hammocks, right?
So how come it’s so hard to connect with this cool internal hammock? There are probably heaps of theories, but since this is my article, I”m going with mine. Sitting. Most of us go to school when we’re around five years old. From that moment on, we spend hours and hours sitting. And not just sitting – crappy chairs, badly designed desks – you’re fighting a losing battle to keep your body strong. If you get a job in an office, then you’re doomed to sit for most of the rest of your adult life. Most of us sit to commute, sit at home … Honey, your core is doomed. Unless you take some time to get back to your foundations. Not the six pack you might think is your foundation, but the frustratingly difficult, practice until you get it right pelvic floor.
I can vaguely remember after I had a baby, being told how to strengthen my pelvic floor. It was before I started work in the fitness industry and got really opinionated about this kind of thing. Back then, I spent my life in meetings and at a bad desk for sometimes eleven hours a day writing and editing series televison. My pelvic floor had no chance. Especially when the advice to make it stronger was something about stopping urine flow. I’m not even sure what that means, and I teach people how to do these things for a living.
Traditional pelvic floor exercises involve keeping your glutes relaxed but I don’t understand why. Glutes are a really important part of your core, and they’re also super strong, so separating them from a strengthening process seems like a weird idea. A lot like pelvic floor, glutes are hard to activate, so deliberately not activating them is just crazy. The body is an incredible machine, built to work in harmony, so trying to keep parts of it working while other parts don’t is fighting a losing battle and will only make life harder than it needs to be.
If you’re a man and you want to lift a lot of weight and be really super strong, get on the pelvic floor train and watch your strength, posture and vitality flourish. That’s right, it’s not just for girls – you’ve got one too. And it’s just as important for you to learn how to make it stronger because the incontinence product aisle has a section for guys too. And you don’t want to go there.
In almost all Eastern traditions, the area where your pelvic floor sits is the same place your vital energy resides. Your ki, chi, hara, mana all hang out there, just waiting to be replenished. Maybe it sounds crazy, but an awesome byproduct of using this super deep part of your core is to jazz up the life force you’re storing. Bruce Lee would be proud.
So if you can spare a few minutes a day and you’re up for a challenge, there are some awesome benefits to be had. True core strength, no incontinence products, strong lower back, internal fire blazing – and great sex – I don’t think I mentioned that part, but it’s a big benefit of having a strong pelvic floor for both men and women.
The big question is how? If you’re interested in having all these benefits, there’s work to be done, and it’s very specific. And not about urine flow, or pulling your belly button back to your spine, which is another really bad cue you might have heard. Check back soon for some practical ways you can use your body’s amazing structure to make the most out of your life. It’s definitely worth the effort.