by Jose Antonio PhD FISSN. Not to be confused with Pornography, Corenography instead refers to the proliferation of books, websites, and blogs dedicated to ‘Core Training.’ Nevertheless, do a search on Amazon.com and faster than you can download that goofya$$ video of the fake Kardashian wedding video, you’ll find scores of fitness books dedicated to training the ‘Core.’ Sort of like the ‘core’ of an apple, you can define ‘core training’ as training the muscles attached to your torso (i.e. the abdominal muscles and lower back). This includes all the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus and intercostals), the spine (the erector spinae group) and the hip flexors (iliacus and psoas, together known as the iliopsoas). Basically these muscles stabilize and move the center or core of your body. All this anatomy talk is making me sleepy. Back to my point. Apparently core training can do lots of things. If you look at various book titles, you have “The Complete Book of Core Training: The Definitive Resource for Shaping and Strengthening the “Core” — the Muscles of the Abdomen, Butt, Hips, and Lower Back.” That pretty much explains it. But then you have a ‘revolutionary’ type of program (sort of like the American or French Revolution I guess) in “The Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body & Your Life.” And of course, if your IQ doesn’t exceed a banana, then “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Core Conditioning Illustrated” is for you.You’d think with a plethora of books on core training that nobody figured out before that training your abs, back, and hip flexors/extensors was important. But as with many things in exercise, it’s basically a ‘different way’ of looking at the same thing. If you do a full squat, you are training the core. If you do heavy curls using an EZ curl bar, believe me, you’re training the ‘core.’ Heck, doing a friggin’ push-up trains the ‘core.’ But if you’re tired of the gym and doing silly exercises on Swiss Balls, BOSU, and assorted plastic contraptions, why not do ‘core’ work that also serves to increase muscle strength and endurance. And it’s a helluva lot more fun that balancing on a stinkin’ Swiss ball. What is it? Outrigger paddling my friends. What exactly is outrigger paddling? Well way back when, ole Captain Cook arrived in Kealakekua Bay in the year 1779, he reported seeing at least 1500 canoes. Purportedly, Hawaii must have numbered between 6,000 and 12,000 canoes for a population of 175,000 to 225,000. (http://www.coffeetimes.com/july97.htm) Here was a culture that was dependent on the ocean and used ancient canoes to get from the beach to 7-11. Okay, maybe not 7-11, but when you’re in need of coconut water, the island next door might be your best bet. Polynesians actually have used the outrigger canoe as a mode of travel dating back thousands of years. Paddling, specifically outrigger canoe paddling, utilize all the core muscles, as well as the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. The rotation, flexion, and extension of the torso while paddling is a much better core workout than all the latest fad of the day exercises that you see at your local gym. In fact, the paddling sports are unique as a strength-endurance sport in that you train your cardiovascular system intensely but in addition, you can gain quite a bit of muscle mass, especially in the back and shoulders. Think of each paddling stroke as weight training using water as resistance. For instance, an ‘easy’ workout would consist of a one hour paddle in which your stroke cadence is 60 per minute (15 strokes left then right, alternating); if you do a rep count, that’s 1,800 reps on the left and right side respectively. That to me, is a helluva lot better than getting on some newfangled plastic ball and doing an exercise that you’ll never encounter in real life. But that’s just me.
So do yourself a favor, take a break from the gym and workout on the water. There are paddling clubs all over the world. Check out http://www.y2kanu.com/ (the pictures here are courtesy of them), www.kanaluimiami.com and www.ocpaddler.com. Believe me; It is more fun getting a hard workout on the open ocean doing strength-endurance work for the upper body and ‘core’ while working the lower extremity muscles as stabilizers. And besides, how often can you workout and see dolphins all at the same time?