May 17, 2024

3 Core Mistakes by Chanda Fetter

Having worked in the fitness industry for over twenty years, one of the biggest deficiencies I’ve seen in people’s training is working the Core. Most neglect it all together, others just do the exercises improperly.  Either way it leads to bad posture, low back pain and countless other problems, all which could be eliminated. Remember your core essentially makes up all the muscles between your hips and your ribs both front and back!

Keep the following  in mind the next time you’re working your core:

Core is MORE than just Abs – The language I use with my clients is “front core” and “back core.” Owning a Pilates studio I see people with back problems all the time, I hear the same mistake over and over again. There is a misconception that working your Abs is working your Core.  If you neglect to work your spinal muscles but continue to work only your abs, there will be a drastic muscle imbalance created thus resulting in more back pain, tight hip flexors and even tension to the neck.  So evaluate your workouts and make sure to include “back core” exercises into your routine!

Slow Down – It pains me to walk through the training room and see people rapidly moving through their sit ups. If it hurts more than it helps, don’t do it! Moving too quickly through your motion adds stress to the spine, recruits too much hip flexor and tends to skip over the deeper abdominal muscles.  So just slow down a little and let your muscles define your range, not your momentum.

Be nice to your neck – Neck pain should not be felt during abdominal work. What most people neglect to address is the Lats. Often times when doing crunches people round the head forward too far and pull on it, or when in a plant the weight of the head sinks and adds stress to the neck. By simply pulling your shoulder blades down and engaging your Lats, the tension is pulled out of your neck and shoulders and allows for a much more enjoyable experience with core work.

Chanda Fetter
IMX Pilates Studio & Fitness Center, Owner
IMX Pilates Master Trainer

Ask A Pro by Mollie Millington

Question: Should I be doing weights (specifically, what exercises?) or cardio to lose inches in my lower body? –Michelle, Phoenix AZ.


Answer: Both! Generally, participating in both weight-training and cardio will help tone up your lower body (and actually, will tone up your entire body.) Keep in mind however, genetics also play a large part in determining our overall body shape. Finding an appropriate, healthy and sustainable balance between lifestyle (food intake and exercise, for example) and genetics will allow you to lose all-over inches.


To lose inches, try squats, lunges, calf raises and leg press. Consider also adding Vibration training (using a VibroGym or Power Plate machine) into your gym routine to help tone up. As with adding any new mode of exercise, be sure to obtain professional guidance to learn the best options (duration, frequency, intensity) for your capabilities, along with any safety information. Also, remember to include cardio for 30 minutes 2-3 times/week for an overall calorie burning result. Finally, to lose inches be mindful to control portion sizes when eating. Consider enlisting the aid of a fitness professional for basal metabolic testing to outline how many calories you burn in a day without exercising. From there you’ll be able to monitor your caloric intake more exactly.


Mollie Millington is a London-based personal trainer, available for in-person and virtual training. Mollie may be reached at, as well as via @PTMollie on Twitter.