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Core To Extremity

Strength is powerful. From Popeye to Superman and beyond, we’ve come to associate strength with power. Whether to leap tall buildings or rescue those in need, strength is where it’s at. But what’s the origin of strength? For Superman, it was his home planet of Krypton. For Popeye it was his can of spinach. And for us, the origin of physical strength is our core. Some people toss around the word “core” like it’s an accessory movement you do at the end of a workout. But spend enough time training and you’ll realize that the core of the human body is essential to every functional movement it will perform. The core is the foundation upon which all movement will be built. In our gym, we call this core to extremity.

While I don’t think it’s necessary to exhaustively list every muscle that makes up the core, let me say that I’m not just talking about abs. Think of the core as the torso. It’s the essential base of the body. Your limbs, your neck, your head, all of the rest of your body is an extension of your core. Which is why it’s vital that our core be strong. But punching you in the gut or having you do some crunches or back extensions won’t reveal your core strength. In order to really see core strength, hold an object as far away from your body as you can and try to move it. Whether that’s flutter kicks or overhead squats, stronger athletes will do more reps or move more weight because their core supports their extremity. The extremity of your physical performance cannot be realized without the sufficiency of your core strength. In other words, the foundation matters.

Core to extremity is also applicable in spiritual fitness. Think of extremity as life happening to you and around you. Your job, your relationships, your family, rush hour traffic, school, bills, you name it. People miss the opportunity to develop their spiritual core when they primarily focus on the world around them. They get caught up in the pursuit of happiness and accomplishment, or they end up trying to control everything around them. But life has this amazing way of bringing new and unexpected things to us all the time. A strong spiritual core gives you the resiliency not just to handle life, but to embrace it. There’s a difference. Handling life feels like you’ve got just enough energy to juggle everything on your plate, but one more thing and it will all collapse. Handling life feels overwhelming. Embracing life feels energizing. And no self-help book or podcast alone will get you there. In the same way you build physical core strength, you must devote time daily to the development of your spiritual core strength.

I find that sometimes the best way to build my spiritual core is to be still and quiet. Try that for 10 minutes and let me know how hard it can be! In those moments, I want to fully connect to God and be open to how he is using my life experiences to teach me. I want to practice humility, focusing on how I can put others before myself. And I want to slow the rhythm of my life so that I can be present in every moment. The secret to a more fulfilling life really isn’t a secret at all. It flows from the development of a strong spiritual core.

Questions for Reflection:

Describe what you consider to be the core of your spiritual training.

As you grow in your spiritual life, does core work become more important, less important, or have the same importance as when you started?

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