Fit Minute: Core values with Beth Johnson and Energy Within

Using dumbbells and weight machines are great ways to get stronger and are commonly used for exercise at the gym. But how about just simply using your own body weight with no additional tools?

Beth Johnson, who runs her fitness center Energy Within from her own home and has been a fitness instructor in Marblehead for 40 years, says that your core is the key to being fit.

“If you can strengthen your core, it’s going to help your back, it’s going to help every other part of your body,” she said. 

Johnson continued to say that planks are one of the most beneficial ways to strengthen your core, however, a traditional plank where a person holds themselves up from the ground with their elbows and balls of their feet can be difficult for some. 

“There are many ways to strengthen the core. One of them, people always recommend planks. The plank is a great exercise all body, but that even is hard for some people to do,” Johnson said. 

To make it an exercise that everyone will be able to do, Johnson demonstrated a leg-raising exercise that “Is the easiest exercise to do, but really effective.”

“You would lay on your back and you want to just feel like your lower back is pressed into the mat,” she said. “Then you lift one leg and without a lot of shifting, you lift the other leg.” 

Johnson calls them “toe taps” as the next part of the exercise involves touching each leg back to the ground. 

“You’re going to tap one toe down, bring it back up, but what I didn’t do was change my lower back. If you feel as you are going down slowly that you start to lose it then just stop there and come back up.”

Johnson says you should spend less than a minute on the exercise and notes that if it feels too easy, it is not being done correctly and you should feel the “burn” of the workout just below the belly button. 

She also said that if you want to modify the exercise to make it harder, you can put both hands behind your head. No matter which version you do, she says that you will certainly feel the workout.

“I can guarantee that you are going to feel this deep into your core,” she said confidently. “It’s safe, simple, and every person I give it to between the oldest to the young athletes, they all feel it.”