Wonders of BOSU

There is a fitness gem that has never needed an infomercial, the BOSU (both sides up); that little blue dome you’ve probably seen usually tucked away in a corner of the gym. People have come to associate it with static balance exercises, but it is the most effective multi-function training tool that combines agility, balance, and kinesthetic awareness. {{more}} The latter is the perception of movement, weight shifts, resistance and position.

Functional training uses integrated, multi-joint movement patterns that mimic daily activities and (re)train the body to maintain agility while reestablishing center of gravity and stability when optimal (normal) positioning is lost. It incrementally introduces controlled instability in measurable doses. Sensory instabilities can include having eyes closes, and responding to tactile cues instead of verbal. A body that is strong and flexible can move through the unpredictabilities of the dynamic three dimensional physical world in a coordinated safe manner. The mind and body work together to link motion at joints with simultaneous stabilization in other joints. The end result of this synergistic and integrated effort is skilled, safe, and efficient movement. All advanced movement requires some degree of motion and stabilization. Training on the BOSU precisely targets this method. Linking motion with stabilization, results in training benefits that carry over to daily activities. Wouldn’t you like to be able to move and bounce like a 10 year old, fluid and reactive? With BOSU functional training, you can regain that agility. Just as older adults can improve their proprioception, decreasing risk of fall and related fractures, younger adults will show improvement in agility, speed and reactivity, reducing chance of sprains and strains from missteps.

Most gyms use the BOSU as a prop; introducing a level of instability for various isolated exercises. This is considered static balance. An example of functional training would be to line them up and pattern plyometric movements down the line.

Test Yourself on the BOSU

1. Step up onto the dome, feet positioned in the center on either side of the bullseye. Just stand for 30 seconds, trying to reduce the energy it takes to stay balanced. Now, close your eyes for as long as you can. Step down with the opposite leg. (static balance)

2. Step onto the dome, balance for two counts and step down with the same leg. Repeat with the opposite leg. (dynamic)

3. Stand behind the dome, bend your knees maintaining alignment in the three joints, hips, knees, ankles. Now, jump onto the dome with both feet and try to stick the landing like a gymnast. This is the Jump-Stick and it is a plyometric movement.

4. Like in 1, step onto the dome, feet positioned in the center on either side of the bullseye. This time, step off the right side with the right leg leaving the left leg on the dome. Then, step off the left side with the left leg. Now, step back onto the dome one leg at a time. Repeat this cycle a little faster, then count how many you can do in 1 minute. (agility)

Bring some balance to your workout and jump on a BOSU for some dynamic balance exercises that add a steady improvement to your fitness. More on BOSU next issue.

Lesley is a health and fitness professional providing a balanced approach toward a healthy lifestyle. She can be reached at lmgiovanelli@gmail.com.