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Score a Hot Core With These Exercises

A DJ spins tunes in the oversized disco ball. Can you believe this is a gym? (Photo courtesy of David Barton Gym)

A DJ spins tunes in the oversized disco ball. Can you believe this is a gym? (Photo courtesy of David Barton Gym)

The other day I checked out the newest Astor Place location of the David Barton Gym. Never before have I stepped into a more beautiful fitness center—the decor was drop dead gorgeous and appeared to be straight out of a movie set, not like that of a place where I'd think people go to get buff. Inspired by the nightclub scene, not only does the decor make you want to look your best for the next night out on the town, but the overall vibe of this gym just makes you want to work out hard. Here in New York City, before you hit the town for a night of dancing, you make sure to hit the gym. This is definitely the idea that David had in mind when he opened his franchise, including a disco ball DJ booth for local DJs to play their beats during Thursday night work out rush hour. Yes, the music is turned high and the adrenaline is pumping—and David's trainers promise that you'll get a hot body. I needed some work on my core so David set me up with one of his trainers, Meka Gibson, for a quick workout. (Unfortunately for me, it wasn't a Thursday so I didn't get to experience the DJ, but I will be back to see this!)

Why my core? I really felt like my core and lower back needed extra attention because my lower back occasionally hurts when I work out (aka it's out of shape), and although I think my rectus abdominal muscles are in prime form (those are the ones you see when you're staring at someone's six- or eight-pack), the rest of my core, like the external obliques and transversus abdominus muscles, have not really been feeling the love lately. David taught me that your core is like the tree trunk of your body—it has to be strong to stabilize the rest of your muscles and help you have good posture. I sometimes feel that I'm slacking with this as I find myself slouching at my desk! Although I'm a huge fan of the plank and do this move nearly every day,  I needed a fresh plan to give me an extra boost. Here are the hard-as-nails moves that David and Meka taught me. Try these just twice a week and you'll start to feel stronger, guaranteed!

Read on to learn the fabulous moves.

What you'll need: a stability ball and mat

  • The Dead Bug

Lie faceup on a mat, lift and extend legs toward the ceiling so your body is at a 90 degree angle. Place a stability ball right above your knees and place hands on ball to keep it in place (see below, left). Lower your right leg toward the floor and at the same time lower your left arm toward your head, toward the floor (see below, right). Make sure you tighten the abdominals, squeeze the glutes and press the lower back towards the floor at all times. Always work in a pain-free range of motion. If you feel like you're hurting yourself, adjust the position by not lowering as close to the floor with the arm and leg, if necessary, to eliminate strain on the low back. Repeat with the other side. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

  • The Bird-Dog

Starting in plank position with hands and toes on the ground (not resting on your forearms), slowly lift and extend your left arm forward and lift your right foot off the floor at the same time. Balance for a few seconds, always remembering to keep your abs tight and hips down facing the floor. Switch sides and repeat.

Make It Harder: Starting in plank position, rest on you forearms. Keeping your abs engaged and hips in place, raise your body up by going from forearm position to push-up position with right hand on floor. Then raise your other side by placing your left hand on the floor until you're in a full push-up position. Always keep your hips facing the floor (do not twist them out to the side as you move from each step of this move). Return to the starting position, going back to resting on your right forearm, then left forearm. Repeat. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

If you're near NYC, David Barton Gym has a deal that promises to ease your Tax Day-induced stress. Stop by on April 18 for a free CUT class. (Get it: "tax cut"?) You'll keep moving through the whole 45-minutes with multiple sets using heavy weights and active recovery between each exercise.