What is your understanding of CORE activation and strength?
I believe the term core strength relates to SPINE strength and stability.
In dynamic posture, a strong spine is
easily held and supported at full length
and uncompromised when moving in all planes of movement
and in addition, when moving the arms and legs.
It requires an understanding of working the body as an integrated whole and strengthening the muscles which support the whole!
I often tell my clients that your spine is a 24 story building of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae with the sacrum and tailbone creating a base that connects to hips and pressure gauge. You want to have the MOST space in between your floors. Most people are walking around with collapsed floors in one area or another.
A well-ripped abdomen does NOT necessarily mean a strong core! Your rectus abdominus, aka "Sixpack" abs, are SUPERFICIAL muscles. They are the outer casing. So, what lies underneath that hard casing???
When the pelvis and spine are neutral and effectively using my respiratory muscles, which are also part of my core muscles, i.e., pelvic floor, Tranversus Abdominus (TA), multifidus, diaphragm, intercostals, and obliques, 💯 of core TA activation is possible. The minute I tilt, tuck or change my pelvis out of neutral, 60% of the TA switched off. It is usually hip flexor/Psoas muscles taking over when that happens. When the psoas are overused and tight, they will compress the spine and hold it hostage. A neutral spine is different for everyone and essential to find in Pilates and in life.
Next time you are in your Pilates session or class and perform the hundreds exercise or do a simple roll-up, check to make sure the stomach is flat with no six-pack ridge in the center. I am not talking about any extra cushion you have in that area...you will see a long ridge from chest to belly button. Those are superficial muscles coming to the party uninvited. ;) Your lower back should be pressing DOWN on the mat, and you will feel your obliques at the base of your ribs holding up your shoulders and head.
Remember, effort does not necessarily = efficiency. Instead, find the subtle sensations of the deepest connections that are easily missed by mindless habitual movement, then build upon those sensations and develop a deeper presence within your body.