Fitness Through Core Conditioning Programs...

I like these as far as health goes. I don't, but I like the principal. It's just that most of them are done badly. Physiologists and Biomechanists have more important things to do than write up valid core conditioning programs. But the principal is still good.

If you train the muscles that impact posture and stability during movement, you're bound to have less problems when you're older. This is fantastic for old people. But it's hardly a legitimate motivation while being not old. So usually the participants in these programs have a fairly high average age. The problem is everyone actually would benefit as far as 'health-with-aging' is concerned. So that conjures up all sorts of attempts to recruit the young athletic people- telling them it will improve their gross body coordination and equilibrium, balance and precision in movement, manual dexterity, static and dynamic proprioception, response orientation, and so on. A ends up being just a massive list of vague benefits. And I wouldn't call it a waste of the athlete's time necessarily, as they will experience the improve-yourself-and-delay-your-constantly-advancing-age-from-catching-up-with-you thing. But if the only goal is improvement in the particular sport, chances are results aren't coming. Unless the conditioning program utilizes similar movement patterns to the sport, there will be no improvement really on any level. At least none of those ones I listed.

I'm not attacking core conditioning programs- it's good for everyone. I'm just saying all this balance stuff doesn't translate from one activity to another unless they're extremely similar. For example, maintaining a fairly intense off-balance posture in a group fitness class will relate not at all to balance and coordination on a soccer field, or any other field, or court, or mat, or gaming structure of any sort. Fast-paced plyometric exercise might have some cross-over benefits to rugby or basketball or something- but only the parts with very similar movement patterns. Unless you're not a human being. But for humans, that's how your developmental motor learning works.

Your body function capabilities adapt very specifically to specific stimuli, and don't very easily translate from one activity to the next. Play a video game. Become the best in the world at it. Using the same controller and screen, put a different game in. You'll suck at it to exactly the same extent regardless of how amazing you were at the other one. Play this analogy out on the larger scale of sports and exercise, and that's what it's like for your body to try to translate one activity to the next even if it seems like they're kind of similar. Your baseball swing and golf swing use the same muscles and have nothing to do with each other. Holding yourself in a difficult posture and running diagonally across a football field? I hope this is obvious. There's no relation in any way. One will not assist the other.

Ultimately though, Pilates, Yoga, and all the other already existing and soon-to-exist core conditioning programs are fantastic for posture, core strength, and coordination in fairly stable, isometric-ish situations. Essentially they improve the ability to handle your body and have pain-free mobility when you're older. Quality of life.

So I suggest old people go to town with these programs. They will experience results on a more immediately-applicable basis. Young people: you can have at it too. But if you're just looking for something to improve your sport, practice the challenging aspects of your exact sport. There's no better way to improve the dynamic strength, coordination, balance, and proprioception of a particular sport, than practicing it.