“You Gotta Find Your Core”

Did I lose something? When I was a performer, I must admit that I was always a bit baffled by the phrase, “You gotta find your core.” It would inevitably be yelled in the midst of training or choreography by a well-meaning instructor who assumed that I would magically transform into a diva performer at the mere mention of the word “core.” That didn’t happen.

THE MYTH. I always thought “core” referred solely to my abdominal muscles. In my quest to discover my core, I would throw myself into a nightly frenzy of sit-ups and other exercises to achieve the all-elusive “six-pack,” which, in my case, ended up being more of a “two-pack.” Well, I was wrong.

THE WHOLE TRUNK, ER TRUTH. Developing a strong core (or trunk, as many people refer to it) is more about strengthening the group of muscles surrounding the spine, not just the abs. Ultimately, your spine is what keeps you upright and allows for the concise articulation of your arms and legs. Using your core means that the muscles of your trunk are strong and engaged to keep your spine and body stable—huge when it comes to staying balanced in dance and equipment work.

Also, and this is important, the engagement of your core is not something that is turned on and off based upon the demand or intensity of movement/choreography. It is constant.

TO TRY AT HOME. Simple core exercise: Find a solid, straight-backed chair. Gripping the back of the chair with both hands, place your heels together and angle your toes outward in first position. Pulling your belly button toward your spine, bend your knees slightly over your toes (always be aware of excellent posture). Slowly straighten your knees, lift your heels off the floor, hold the toe rise briefly, then lower your heels back to the floor. Repeating the bend and rise 10 to 12 times while keeping your core tight, your back upright and your head over your spine results in a solid core workout.


Chris Casteel has been involved in the color guard activity for more than 20 years. She is currently an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association and the Winter Guard Association of Southern California (WGASC). She travels to many other circuits throughout the United States as a guest adjudicator. For the past several years, she has held the position of education coordinator for the WGASC. She has a master’s degree in education and currently teaches middle school language arts.

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