Always aim to be stronger, not skinnier. After all, strong is the new skinny, says Ole Eugenio, co-designer of Core Suspend. Your body weight, he said, will eventually drop.
It’s a matter of refocusing your goals, concentrating instead on what is important. How you look, for instance, is more important than how much you weigh, so quit obsessing about the weighing scale and give yourself a pat on the back when your clothes begin to fit better, he said.
“Everyone keeps saying they want flat abs and a tight body. But before you can achieve that, you need a strong body. If your body is not strong, no matter how hard you work out, you’ll just end up hurting your body. For your body to be strong you need to know how to engage your core,” Eugenio said.
Now, here’s a workout, he said, that requires 80 percent core muscle strength and 20 percent willpower. A variation of suspension training, Core Suspend uses two separate ropes with padded handles so you can lift your body more comfortably. Equipment is imported from Norway.
Core Suspend, a whole-body suspension-training workout, will teach you how to activate your core appropriately. It strengthens your core, and gives you flat abs and tight glutes. It integrates therapeutic movement principles, following joint mobility and stability. Every joint is in proper position, and segments activate every muscle accordingly and appropriately, Eugenio said.
Balancing the body
Eugenio, who codesigned Core Suspend with four other trainers, including Core Barre creator/founder Monica Hoekstra, said Core Suspend is an anatomical fitness exercise program based on almost two years of research. It’s about balancing your body and correcting all the “slings,” those muscles at the front and back also known as the anterior sling, posterior sling and lateral sling.
Core Suspend uses different kinds of forces. Compression force pushes on your joint to activate the muscles around it; and tensile force pulls on them. Eugenio also incorporated high-intensity interval training so you’ll be at your peak performance faster. Muscles work twice as hard and more effectively.
The common cause of injury, he continued, is the delayed firing of muscles. With Core Suspend, muscles are activated at the right time, with your body instinctively adjusting properly to keep your balance.
“If you’re not aware of proper muscle firing, the tendency is you overwork the muscle that is already strong. That muscle can appear tight, although it actually is not. It’s just facilitated. It’s easily fired because you are always in that position. With Core Suspend, you work from the opposite side, working on the weak links to make them stronger. Strength will be balanced,” Eugenio said.
It’s a joint-centric workout, so it gets the joint in the proper alignment. Joint-centric, he said, is referred to as the third paradigm in fitness training. It strengthens and conditions the weak links in your anatomy, until you achieve anatomical fitness in the neck, spine, lower back, shoulder, elbow, wrists, hip, knees and ankles—the body parts that are hardly emphasized in any form of exercise. Every part of the joint is activated.
Eugenio said there are three factors that affect the joint—the passive system, or the bones and ligaments; the active system, the muscles surrounding the joints; and the nervous system, responsible for proper bone position for the muscles to activate. Core Suspend follows the models of joint stability for one to perform the exercise efficiently and effectively. In short, Core Suspend is a smart movement workout program.
It is also a good proprioceptive tool, which means you become aware of your body—its movement, its weight, its position—in space. It forces students to concentrate on the now. Because the mind doesn’t wander off, Eugenio said studies have shown it to be an excellent exercise for people with ADHD. The unstable rope and the infinite need to keep the body balanced and steady keeps them alert and more connected with their mind and body.
Engage the mind
“Weightlifting or cardio classes don’t engage your mind. Students simply follow instructions from the trainer. Sometimes form is even compromised. Here, we engage the mind and body, and we give you tools to get your alignment properly. You need to be alert or you’ll fall,” he said.
He added it is also a good exercise for seniors (they have a 72-year-old client), and make modifications for different conditions such as multiple sclerosis, frozen shoulder or stroke. Eugenio said sometimes it’s the nervous system that keeps the body from moving properly. The unstable ropes will teach the brain to tell the muscles to activate and become aligned, he said.
Even stretching, that part of the exercise program that everyone loves because it’s so relaxing, is a workout. Calling it the connective tissue hydration, these dynamic stretches prevent the body from collapsing in a stretch. “Stretching is work,” he said.
In the Philippines, Eugenio has chosen former actor Jackie Lou Blanco as Core Suspend’s ambassador. Blanco, whose passion for fitness became public knowledge when she snagged the plum trophy during Slimmer’s World’s bodybuilding competition in 2001, has long ago traded the bulky, heavy weights in the gym for Redcord ropes and Stott Pilates machines.
“I’m not lifting weights anymore, but that has been the foundation that enabled me to do things I do today. I’m happy I started there. Today, I do a mix of Redcord and Stott Pilates for almost two hours. It’s exciting to learn different things. This is my first time to be in an inverted position,” Blanco said.
Core Suspend will be offered at all Options Studios (Makati, The Podium, Greenhills) in August this year. Eugenio will first teach it in the US in July, before bringing it to Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore and the Philippines.
“Suspension classes today just teach students routines. They don’t teach the reasons behind the exercises/positions. At Options Studio, we give our clients exercises that they need, not the one that they want. There is an assessment during enrolment,” he said.