Still telling your clients to ‘draw their tummy in’?

94_ab separation_no stripesI entered the fitness industry via the jumpy-jumpy aerobics, personal trainer, fitness route, then soon got injured and realised that Pilates enabled me to understand the body a little better…


…and it really helped me take a step back from hi-impact to take the load off my poor painful feet.


Pilates is actually a great form of exercise for both our pregnant and postnatal clients and Pilates forms the basis of a lot of my education, training and background.


The slight issue I have nowadays with Pilates is the pre-teaching of the ‘core’ engagement stuff that I’m no longer down with.


It took a lot of resistance for me to stop saying ‘now draw your tummy in’ or ‘engage your core’ in my classes.


A ‘reflexive core’ is what we’re trying to get our clients to build.


When I say ‘reflexive core’, I’m referring to your whole entire abdominal unit functioning or switching on, when it’s required.


So, if suddenly slip or trip on something, correct me if I’m wrong here, but wouldn’t you want your core to fire up and protect the spine?


That’s its main job after all, isn’t it?


When your core does its role perfectly, that’s ‘reflexive’.core2


Perhaps ‘reactionary’ is another word you could use there if that works better for your brain.


Sure, Pilates and core-based exercise does work the core…


…your clients are supposed to ‘feel’ their transversalis muscles contracting during certain exercises…


…but, you’ve got to ask yourself whether this might actually be ‘interrupting’ matters of a natural bodily function here, eh?


The core is not designed to be ‘held in’ or ‘active’ all the time, and similarly it’s not really designed to be ‘prompted’ to be pre-engaged before movement either.


By doing this, you’re majorly screwing up a natural function of the human system here.


In all honesty, I probably spend more of my time nowadays getting my clients, and my postnatal clients with diastasis recti in particular, to ‘relax their belly’.


I know, I know.  The post-birth tummy ‘pooch’ is something our new mums want to hide.


So, what they do is either a) hide it under some ‘pull in your pudding pants’, or b) constantly ‘suck their stomach in’ to make their tummy appear flatter.


Neither of these fixes actually help the situation at all!


Do me a favour (particularly if you’re female reading this), and go with me on this little practical exercise here for a moment…


Wherever you are in whatever seated position you’re in right now, take your awareness to your belly and relax it.


I mean let it go, let it go…!




Let it all hang out (especially if it’s after midnight).


How difficult was that to do and actually keep it relaxed for more than a few seconds?


I don’t mean ‘push your belly out’ – that’s different.  Just relax the unnecessary tension that’s in there right now…for no apparent reason.


Were you surprised that your tummy was actually slightly engaged/contracted/pulled in?


This is a female trait.  Men don’t usually do this.


If their belly is full of food for example, what do they do?


Well, they just undo the top button of their trousers or loosen their belt a few notches.


What do females do?


They need to draw their belly in constantly so as not to appear bloated (maybe you’ve even said this to one of your daughters when posing for a photo…?).


Does this pulling your tummy in business ‘work your core’?  No.


Does it add to the already unnecessary pressure that’s built up in the abdomen?  Yes.


Does it disrupt the natural function of your core and digestive system?  Heck yes.


Can you fix someone abdominal separation if they constantly do this?  Ummmm…no.

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I cover ‘reflexive core’ and many more aspects, in the same fun, factual way in my Diastasis Detective ‘7 Steps To Fixing Abdominal Separation’ Instructor Online CPD Qualification.

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