February Core Strength Challenge!

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Core strength is important all year long, but February is our month for focusing on core strengthening.  This can be done at home with zero equipment, so you should be able to get it done whether or not it is a “gym day” for you (aka no excuses ;)).
Each day in February, your goal is to do 2 times as many Pilates “double leg lower & lifts” as the date, and 2 times as many arch ups as the date (i.e. Feb 1st = 2 double leg lower lifts and 2 arch ups, Feb 2nd = 4 double leg lower lifts and 4 arch ups, … and so on).

Pilates Double Leg Lower and Lift
Lay yourself down (face up) on a mat, carpet, or other firm but cushiony surface.  Place your hands behind your head, but rather than interlacing your fingers, stack one hand on top of the other.  Each rep starts in a high and tight ab crunch position (shoulder blades off the ground) with both legs pointed straight up, squeezed together and with the toes pointed.  Lower both legs part of the way to the floor and then lift them back to vertical.  Only lower the legs until the tailbone touches the ground (yes, that means that you should begin with such a strong crunch that the tailbone starts off the ground!!!).  For most people, this will be a range of motion that is less than 45 degrees.  Hold the strong crunch position the whole time, even while lowering the legs.  Movement in both directions should be slow and controlled, so that the upper body does not rock back and forth, and the crunch can be held tightly.

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Arch Ups
Sometimes referred to as a “Superman,” we want you to perform this movement like the gymnast that you are: straight arms and legs, with toes pointed and feet squeezed together.
Lie on your stomach and arch as much of your body off the ground as possible, only your abs should be in contact with the ground when you are at the top.  Freeze the top “arch” position for just a half a second before returning to the ground.  You can do these fast if you want, but control the movement in both directions: no “floppsies.”  Double check that your elbows are actually straight, and that your legs are actually together!  As with a hollow up, you should not just be lifting but also reaching (fingertips reach forward and toes reach backward).

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