Fitness

4 Kick-Ass Core Workouts for Toned, Tight Abs

By Iro Kotsimbos - 25 Feb 2015

If there’s a catchphrase that’s trending in fitness right now, it has to be ‘core strength’—everyone’s talking about it and everybody wants to build on it. Abs of steel? Yes, please!

With so many peeps wanting to improve their core strength, Melbourne's best pilates, yoga and barre studios have seen a rise in popularity for core-focused classes. But, with a bunch of options out there, how do you know which core workout is right for you?

That’s where Core Candy in Prahran comes in.

One of the best fitness studios in Melbourne, Core Candy is all about, you guessed it, workouts that help to improve your core strength. Inspired by the boutique nature of New York’s fitness scene, Core Candy has a cap on class numbers, allowing teachers to deliver a personalised and effective workout for all. If anyone knows how to pick the best core workout for you, it’s the bendy babes at Core Candy! Here, they help you decide which coresome workout will rock(hard abs) your world.  

Barre

The Downlow

Heavily inspired by the long, lean movements of ballerinas, barre classes are growing in popularity in Australia…and for damn good reason! Barre is all about effectively shaping and toning your body through a series of glute and thigh exercises (so it’s perrrrfect if you want to work on your booty!), arm strength exercises plus a touch of pilates core work. There’s also a variety of props used, including the ballet barre, a toning ball, theraband and hand weights, which help you strengthen, lengthen and tone. And since the best core workout is a well-rounded one, barre class also features an element of cardio: however, it’s not so full-on you have to stress about leaving with a face redder than a tomato!

Best Suited To

Do you crave an effective full body workout but don’t like to sweat too much? Are you keen to improve all over body strength, tone, posture and flexibility? Or perhaps you get bored easily while exercising and would prefer to daydream about a life as a ballerina instead? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then barre is the best core workout for you.

The Verdict

As someone who’s admittedly uncoordinated, I slightly feared the barre class—I had visions of graceful prancing ballerinas in my head and thought there is NO WAY I’ll be able to do that! Boy, oh boy, I was wrong! The brilliant thing about barre class is that no dance experience or coordination is required (phew!); the Core Candy teachers were on hand to guide me through each step of the way. All sorts of muscles I clearly hadn’t used for a while were put to use!

Accelerate

The Downlow

Accelerate, or HIIT as it’s more commonly known, is a circuit style class that mixes high intensity cardio with resistance training—pretty much the polar opposite of a barre class! A more athletic and fat burning alternative to other Core Candy classes, Accelerate classes vary daily and focus on working multiple muscle groups at the same time rather than individual muscles. Accelerate is also one of the best core workouts available and incorporates springs, kettlebells, bands, free weights, medicine balls and a variety of other props to really test your endurance, core strength and flexibility.

Best Suited To

If you’re time poor, need an effective workout and are up for a challenge, then the Accelerate class at Core Candy is the best core workout for you. There’s no time to be bored here, Listers, as you’ll be pushed to your limits (but in the best possible way) throughout the class. Accelerate is perfect if you like to combine your cardio with strength training, and aren’t afraid to sweat! Also, if you’ve ever thought about getting a personal trainer but have never gone through with it due to the cost, Accelerate is a great alternative. You’ll find that you get just as good a workout, if not better, during this class!

The Verdict

I won’t lie to you, Listers, Core Candy’s Accelerate classes are full on…but they’re also AWESOME! Personally, I prefer to mix up my workouts with something a little more intense and fast-paced (you know, so I can feel like I’m actually doing something), otherwise I tend to get bored quite quickly—Accelerate is perfect for this! Oh, and Core Candy weren’t lying about sweating, I felt like I was the human version of Niagara Falls—the end result is totally worth it though.

Pilates Springboard

The Downlow

Beloved for its ability to work the whole body whilst remaining low impact, pilates is terrific for strengthening your muscles, correcting your alignment and improving balance. The controlled yet flowing movements also help to lengthen your spine, build lean muscle tone, and of course (or should we say core-s?!), improving your core strength—when it comes to abs of steel, pilates certainly delivers! A truly unique offering, Core Candy’s pilates springboard classes combine mat work with resistance training courtesy of the pilates springs attached to the wall. The beauty of pilates springboard is that it allows you to stand upright (although some exercises require you to lie on your back) in order to perfect your posture and balance. 

Best Suited To

In short—everyone! Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, pilates springboard is a fantastic all over body workout, with a particular focus on core strength. Not only is pilates proven to help with injury prevention and rehabilitation and strengthening and toning of muscles, it’s also a bang-on workout for those wanting all over body strength and improved balance and coordination. You should also give pilates a go if you’re pre- or post-natal, aren’t a fan of sweaty betty face while you work out, or have a love-hate (but more hate) relationship with cardio.

The Verdict

The key word in pilates springboard is CONTROL—without it, you may as well make like Missy Elliott and lose it. Once you’ve nailed the whole slow-and-steady thing, it should be smooth sailing and you’ll find yourself really getting into it—breathe innnnnn, breathe outtttt and exteeeeend. I actually found these classes to be quite relaxing (although I can definitely feel it the day after) and they’re my pick for when you want an effective core workout but don’t want to deal with anything too intense. The slow and controlled movements mixed with the resistance of the springs really is the perfect fitness combo.

Yoga

The Downlow

Hands down one of the most popular core workouts out there, yoga is the go-to workout for those wanting a mind-body workout that zeroes in on concentration, body awareness, balance and strength. Core Candy offer a Vinyasa Power Flow variety, set to chilled out tunes and the occasional hip-hop beat, for the ultimate connection between movement and breath. The flowing poses come together smoothly so that it’s almost like a dance, but one that doesn’t require crazy levels of coordination.

Best Suited To

Is your mind always buzzing? Stress levels going crazy? Feel like you never have a moment to yourself? If you find yourself nodding, then yoga is easily the class for you—it’s best for those that want to reduce stress and tension, improve flexibility and quite simply, relax.

The Verdict

Let’s be honest—yoga can sometimes be a little, well, boring. Vinyasa Power Flow is the total opposite—the combination of flowing (but not strenuous) movements, the focus on breathing properly, and the awesome music make for the perfect yoga class. I found myself relaxed but not bored, and felt like I had gotten a solid workout without being in pain. Too good!

Keen to try one of Core Candy’s boutique core workouts? Head to their website to book online now! (Editor’s note: Core Candy have one of the best introductory offers out there—two weeks of classes for only $50! Perfect if you’re like a kid in a candy store—pun totally intended—and want to try a mix!)

TUL Note: This article is proudly sponsored by Core Candy and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Image Credit: Nordstrom

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