Just call me Hungry Rower from now on. Not that I haven’t been running, but I’ve been spending much more time at City Row and I’m obsessed! (So far I’ve been to class with Annie, Beth and Shaun and they all kick some serious butt.)
Not only is it conveniently located down the street from my office (easy access plays a huge role in sticking with an exercise routine, people!) but even if it was harder for me to get to, I’d still be hooked because these classes are whipping my butt into serious summertime shape and they’re doing it fast!
I’m halfway through my third week (tomorrow will be my third workout there this week!) and noticing big changes not only in my physique but also in my upper body, lower body and core strength. I’m talking like, CRAZY core strength!
That’s thanks not only to rowing, which requires a hell of a lot core engagement, but the instructors at CityRow who love to plank!
The workouts alternate between rowing and mat exercises. Their signature class is structured like this: row, core, row, legs, row, arms, row. I know that sounds crazy but it’s fast paced and switching between the different types of exercise makes the 50 minutes FLY by. I’m literally always surprised when the instructor says it’s time for the final row. Every time.
So I know, I teased you with my title and you’re wondering what “this exercise” is that will change your life. Well I kind of already gave you the answer.
No, not that kind of planking. (Image via Wikimedia)
Annie Mulgrew had us planking up a storm in her 5:30 class on Monday and after we finished the core section of the class she said, “Do you know how long you just planked for? Seven minutes. Congratulations! Do that every day and it will change your life!”
And she’s right. It will change your life, because a stronger core will help you with everything from running and swimming to something as simple as sitting up straighter while you’re at your desk. It will help you draw your shoulders back, draw your tummy in and keep your neck tall so that your posture stays straight and enhance all of your movements by acting as the central link to your kinetic chain.
In fact, a strong core is absolutely essential for runners. Core strength will allow you to run more efficiently and help prevent injury by protecting your back and helping to keep your posture upright while running.
Annie told us that she planks for 10 minutes every day, but if you can do at least seven (with variations; see the plank circuit below) you’ll notice a huge difference in everything from your athletic performance to your ability to perform simple every day tasks.
Here’s a sample 7-minute plank circuit that you can use to strengthen your core:
30 seconds high-plank with alternating shoulder taps
1 minute alternating side planks
30 seconds plank walk ups
1 minute alternating side planks with elbow to knee crunch
30 seconds low-plank with alternating leg lifts
1 minute side plank with hip abduction (30 seconds each side)
30 seconds high-plank bird dog
1 minute side plank hip dips (30 seconds each side)
30 seconds forearm pike to low-plank
30 seconds low-plank hold
Try adding this circuit to your daily routine (this is a super short “workout” that you can do every morning when you wake up!) and let me know how you feel after a week or two!