There is no official medical definition for the commonly used term, 'core.' It appears to have grown out of the work of Joseph Pilates–a gymnast, acrobat, body builder and dance teacher who nearly a century ago had the insight that sedentary lifestyle increased the risk of back injuries and ill-health. Pilates developed a series of exercises designed to promote strength in the area of the body that to him seemed most neglected. Even athletes and physical performers, he noted, tended to focus on developing strong upper and lower bodies but not the area in-between: lower back and midsection. Muscles in this area–even in people who exercise regularly–often remain weak and underdeveloped. Followers of his methods came from all walks of life, but professional dancers especially took notice of the fact that improving strength in the muscles of the lower trunk improved their performances, helped them to overcome back pain, and seemed to reduce injuries. These muscles of the lower trunk came to be called 'core muscles,' and today they are collectively referred to as 'the core' by many doctors, therapists, Pilates instructors and trainers.
Today, a strong core is one of the most widely agreed upon goals in the fitness world and is a central focus of many physical therapy and chiropractic practices. As a chiropractic doctor, I developed a core routine for patients which drew from the work of Pilates, various yoga styles, physical trainers and medical professionals. It was performed on the floor and took about 40 minutes to complete. It helped patients get well faster and for those who stayed with the routine, it kept them out of my office. I taught back classes based this routine and promoted the idea of curing back pain by developing a strong core as an alternative to long-term treatment management or so-called 'maintenance care.' Millions of people rely on the chronic use of chiropractic manipulation and elaborate stretching routines to manage back pain. But this can be costly and it sucks up a lot of time. Many back problems can be cured and chronic back pain is in many cases preventable simply by attaining and maintaining good core strength.
When we are in pain we have strong motivation to do whatever we have to do to feel better. However, once the pain goes away, often so does our motivation. Most patients will stop doing their home care routines within 3 months of completion of care. We get busy, catch cold, take a vacation, or just start skipping days until that elaborate 40 minute routine becomes a kind of distant errand that we intend to get back to when we have the time. Pretty soon we are back to old habits. We do a few crunches at the gym and convince ourselves that this is sufficient. After all, we are feeling fine again. Gaining real strength takes time but de-conditioning occurs quickly and the stage is now set for a new injury or episode of back pain to once again take place. A few months may pass and then we go to lift a heavy piece of furniture or sleep in a twisted position and wake up in pain again. Over time the episodes tend to occur more frequently, last longer, and become more intense. Eventually, back pain becomes chronic. At this moment one in five Americans is experiencing back pain! This is an epidemic number.
A strong core requires some ongoing maintenance. There's no way around it. But for most people a 40 minute floor routine does not fit into their busy lifestyle. Nor does driving to a Pilates or yoga studio 3-5 times per week to do 60-90 minute classes. Time and cost are real hurdles in the lives of busy working people. Statistically, less than 10% of patients maintain compliance with home care beyond 3 months. I don't blame them. It was hard for me too! I found it tedious and time consuming.
For more than two decades I asked myself, "How do I better motivate patients, friends, and family members to keep up their core routine?" In the Spring of 2011, while traveling, I began to play around with doing sit-ups while hanging off the side of a bed. I did this because I not want to lie on the hotel room floor which looked unclean. Also, it occurred to me that hanging off the bed with my torso unsupported would enable me to work up and down (against gravity) instead of forward and back. I thought this might make it more difficult and less boring. I had my wife anchor down my feet using her body weight. With my hips at the edge of the mattress, I suspended my torso off the bed, and started doing sit-ups. I couldn't believe how intense it was! With my floor routine, I had to do at least 200 crunches to feel like I had gotten a good stomach workout, But hanging off the edge of the bed, working up and down instead of forward and back, I was done in about 12 reps! And the next day I felt real workout soreness. It was then that I realized that the problem I had with my patients would never be solved by becoming the world's best motivational doctor. instead, what was needed was a much more efficient approach to getting and maintaining a strong core. Kore Power Trainer was conceived out of this experiment and now, five years later, after several prototypes and refinements, I am able to share Kore Power Trainer with you. Can you manage 4 minutes 3-5 times per week? If you can make that commitment, you can have a strong core. This is real.
THE EXTRA BENEFIT
Using a Kore Power Trainer for 4 minutes, 3-5 times per week will give anyone a strong core. In addition, the more I did KPT, the more toned and ripped my mid-section became. I must admit that I liked how it made me feel to have chiseled abs and sides. As a triathlete, I began sharing KPT with teammates and friends who were spending a lot of time working their lower and upper bodies, but were often experiencing sore lower backs. The response I got was nothing short of astonishing. People began asking if they could buy extra KPTs to give to their friends or to take with them when they travelled. KPT can be rolled up to the size of one shoe and easily packed into a suitcase, backpack, or briefcase. We began selling KPTs not just to patients but to people who wanted to look great in a swimsuit. I don't mind if vanity helps motivate someone to doing a core routine! Overcoming back pain, preventing injuries, and looking your best are the returns you can expect with a 4 minute investment, 3-5 times per week when you own a Kore Power Trainer!
My sincere thanks to all of you who have provided feedback along the way. We could not have made it to this point without you.