Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Core Sequence, Introduction to Isolating Movement

There is a common misconception related to any kind of abdominal articulations (hula, bellydance, etc.).  People think that you work your abdominals because you're using them to initiate movement.  This is false.  If you see someone trying to move their hips, for example dancing salsa, and it looks awkward and wrong, this is probably why.  The lower body (hip/abdominal) movements always start with the legs.  The core muscles are used to isolate the movement.  That's worth repeating because it is the core concept (you like that little pun?).  Your legs will initiate all lower body movements.  You will use the muscles in your core to counter those movements.  If you use your legs only, your whole body will move.  Add the muscles of the torso to keep everything else still and only the hips will move.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  You will find that the upper body movements pretty much match up with the lower body movements. If you find that you are either very uncoordinated in the hips, or just nervous about looking goofy, upper body movements may be a good place for you to start.
Don't be afraid to bend your knees and get low in your center of gravity.  Take off your shoes and feel the floor if you have to.  These should all be very solid, grounded, strong movements.  Try not to get too high up on your toes or on straight legs.  There should be no jerking or straining.  Everything should be very fluid and controlled.

You will need:
1 mirror, that's it.

It is really important that you can see what you're doing.  When you first start, it feels completely unnatural, so you will have to train the motions by the way it looks and as your body gets used to it, you will get a feel for when you're doing it correctly.  I have been doing these kinds of movements for near twenty years and I still prefer to practice in front of a mirror.  That's another thing worth mentioning.  I have been doing this for a really long time.  For me, most of it is pretty easy.  If this is new to you, you must have patience.  It will probably take you quite awhile to get it right.  For some of you, it will take a long while.  I will do my best to explain and demonstrate, but it's really a matter of you practicing a little each day.  Do the movements every time you pass a certain mirror in your house or every time you've been sitting at the computer too long and the practice will add up without having to sit down for long sessions that can become frustrating.

I will be writing and later demonstrating related movements grouped together.  These movements will be thoroughly explained, so I will have to do a series of posts, one group per post.  Within each group, certain moves will be more basic and probably easier for you.  Start with those and they will hopefully help you build up to the more difficult ones.  Also, some movements may require more strength than you yet have.  Work into these slowly so as to avoid injury.  Learn one entire group, then another.  It doesn't really matter which group you do first, so just choose one you think will be easiest for you and have at it.

Posture, posture, posture!  Before you start.  Take a look at yourself in the mirror.  All movements start from one specific posture.  That posture is called "good" posture.  Check out the Good Posture Checklist on this page in blue.  If you do not work from good posture, you are training yourself to have bad posture.  If you already have poor posture, training from that position will not help you fix it.  It will also have you engaging the wrong muscles and possibly hurting yourself.

As with any kind of exercise program, use good judgement.  If something makes you sore, no big deal.  If something causes you pain, check your technique.  If that doesn't help, stop.  Be mindful of any pre-existing injuries that you may have.  Take your time.  New movements may be using underdeveloped muscles or use muscles in new ways.  Give your body a chance to adapt and develop.

My Core Sequence, Part 1: Lower Body Circles


  1. Thank you for this series!! The videos are really helpful. I still need to work on the inverted hip circles, but I'll get it. :)

    Can I ask what is the music you have in this video? And if it's not too lame a request, I'd love to read a list of bands or albums that you'd recommend for these exercises. I'm in a country where I can't get either Pandora or last.fm, and I'd love to expand my musical horizons in this direction. Thank you!

  2. Honestly, I just used the audioswap feature for youtube. I'm a huge fan of reggaeton, salsa, bellydance, and reggae. Reggaeton is great because it has a nice "booty shaking" rhythm and I use it to keep pace for me. This is a really good workout (doing everything at pace). It gets me sore even though the movements alone do not anymore unless I do A LOT of them. I wouldn't suggest going to fast, though, until you get used to it. It's much harder to maintain good technique and much easier to injure yourself.

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