Strengthening the core of the body has been a popular philosophy in physical fitness for years, and the Covington Family Y is joining the trend in 2014.
The Y is offering a "Strength, Core and Balance class" at 6:30 p.m., Thursdays, which will be led by certified personal trainer Tracey Ashall, a fairly recent addition to the Y staff.
The focus of core training is to build strength in the body’s core, which contains the pelvis and spine up through the shoulders, to benefit everyone through strengthening the back and limiting back injuries and to help athletes improve their performance.
"It’s not enough to just do ab crunches and sit-ups; to build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of muscles," said Ashall, who is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "Most people think of the core as a nice six-pack, or strong, toned abs, but the truth is that the abdominal muscles are a very small part of the core.
"The ‘core’ actually consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso. When these muscles contract, they stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle and create a solid base of support. When this happens, we are able to generate powerful movements of the extremities.
"This class benefits people from all walks of life, from somebody who sits at a desk at work all day, to athletes who especially don’t do any kind of strength training such as runners and bikers. This will especially help to improve posture and decrease risk of injury," Ashall said.
One of the biggest benefits of having good core strength is less lower back pain and improved posture, Ashall said.
"Weak and unbalanced core muscles are linked to low back pain. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine," she said. "The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness; the type of fitness that is essential to daily living and regular activities."
In addition, core strength training has increasingly been used among professional and recreational athletes. Ashall said the reason is being stronger in the core leads to more strength everywhere else.
"All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone. Before any powerful, rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities, the spine must be solid and stable and the more stable the core, the most powerful the extremities can contract," she said.
Ashall has been with the Covington Y for about six months, according to the Y’s Membership Director Kacie Brown.
"We’ve never really had anybody to that level before. She has a whole bunch of certifications," Brown said.
Ashall is also a certified running coach through the Road Runners Club of America and leads a running club at the Y at 8:15 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Ashall said she is starting training now for people who want to run the 10K in the Cheerios Challenge on April 19 (the Cheerios Challenge also has a 5K).
The core training class and running club are included in a Y membership.
In addition, Ashall is offering personal training sessions, which cost extra above the monthly Y membership fee. Sessions can be purchased increments of one, three and six sessions. A single session for a single person is $35, while there is a discount of $5 per session if you purchase 6 sessions, while two people working out together can get a single session for $50.
"Personal training provides accountability too," Brown said. "The more she’s with you and more often you come, the better results you’ll see."
For more information on any of the above programs, call the Y at 770-787-3908 or visit in person at 2140 Newton Drive, Covington.