If you have been bold enough to flip through a fitness magazine in the last ten years, you have undoubtedly read an article or two about the importance of core strength and balance.

Rumor has it, finding balance and ways to strengthen your core, will help us all in various athletic pursuits. What pursuits?

The gospel of core strength for athletes has been preached and accepted by professionals for years. Even soft core athletes and normal folk like myself have heard and accepted the message. Strength = balance = less bad stuff like back pain, hip pain, etc. Even nursing home patients could likely tell you the importance of strength and balance in recovering from surgery or pain.

I will even venture a guess that a number of us potential followers have attended classes at the gym or purchased our own  balance ball, yoga mat, or other device to aid in at home core workouts.

The desire to fild balance, and strength is a noble one.

But I must admit, when I hear the words “core strength,” and balance, I rarely think of my abdominal muscles. I consider my whole body, mind, ┬ábody and spirit. I think of wellness, wholeness, psychological balance and emotional strength.

I consider whether my whole person at this minute, has balance. If not, I think on how and where I can find that needed core strength.

For example:

Long day.

Feel exhausted.

No outlet but that of work and routine. A friend needs help sorting through a difficult problem or a loved one calls needing someone to listen.

I already feel empty, un-nourished, and have nothing left to give. My lack of balance and strength will negatively impact the way I treat people I love. They way I listen, respond, give back and encourage.

To me, a life of emptiness, exhaustion and fatigue is unacceptable. Even a day of emotional exhaustion is too much. I want to feel strong, able to serve and listen. And while I cannot control the intensity of my work or the demands of ordinary life, I can control what I do to nourish and build myself up before and during the stress. I can make building core strength a priority, knowing that balance will help me get through the rough parts with enough energy left to do the real work.

I own a balance ball. One day, I will use it to strengthen my actual muscles. But for now, I am reaching out for the other tools necessary to build strength.

  • My journal
  • Daily quite time – reflection – prayer
  • Walks with my dogs
  • Books
  • Friends
  • Quiet time at home

Your list will be different. I am sure of it. My husband’s would include mountain streams and running clothes. My brother’s would include some British band’s latest record.

A friend of mine with two children, a full time job and a busy husband will need very different things to feel whole, and balanced at her core. She may need help with meals, child care. She may need alone time, a walk with the dogs alone, or a hot bath.

If we don’t find this balance, and work on it every day, we can’t be our best selves. We break down and waste what energy we do have in feeling discouraged, alone, weak.

If a 60 year old Golfer attended Titlest camp and said ” I just don’t feel like working on my balance or strength,” the instructor might inform him that his game will suffer accordingly. While it may be acceptable for an amateur athlete, I don’t think it is acceptable for our lives that we become apathetic.

It is not selfish to focus on yourself in this way. It is in this context, a gift to those around you. It is a necessity in these crazy times to find balance, and wholeness.

I would love if folks would share their secrets to balance. I think the more we encourage each other to seek it, the stronger all of us can be.

Oh, and if any of you still have an ab roller hiding under your bed from 1995, maybe its time to dust it off as well.