By Erica Moe
Notice children at play? They sprint, squat, lift and lunge. They move a lot and use a bunch of energy. What’s more, they giggle and have fun, too! As an adult, how can you find that joy in physical activity, while getting a challenging workout and meeting your goals?
To keep exercise fun and functional, try the BOSU Balance Trainer. The 2015 International Fitness Industry Trend Report states that functional fitness tools are among the hottest trends, the BOSU being one of them.
What is a BOSU?
The BOSU, which stands for BOth Sides Utilized, is a three-dimensional platform that is half of an inflated stability ball with a hard stable base. You can use it with the dome side up or down. Weighing in at 14 pounds and measuring about 2 feet in diameter, it can be put away easily or can go to the park for an outdoor challenge. The BOSU creates an unstable surface that allows you to add a balance and stability challenge to flexibility, strength and cardio workouts.
Why use an unstable surface?
The BOSU will not only challenge your body — it will give your brain a workout, too. The challenge of balancing puts your brain to work as it assists your body to meet the demands of the changing surface.
Melissa Towey, a BOSU national master trainer, explains:
“These skills are important for accomplishing everyday activities,” she says. “For example, once you learn how to properly engage the core to maintain balance while standing on it, you will be better equipped to prevent slips and falls in daily life.”
Your body can work with the BOSU in many positions including standing, kneeling or lying. Incorporating the brain and body will aid in reaction time and fall prevention while creating a challenging workout.
How to modify exercises
The BOSU can accommodate every age and fitness level. If you are new to the BOSU, are balance challenged or have previous injuries, try modifications like placing only one foot on the BOSU at a time or holding a chair for balance.
If you are an avid exerciser, are training for sport performance or looking for specialty training, you can progress by adding greater ranges of motion or additional resistance like a Sandbell or dumbbell. Including sensory challenges like closing your eyes during the movement can greatly increase the difficulty.
Ted Lorenzen, a member of the Mission Valley YMCA, prepared for his climb on Mt. Kilimanjaro with a BOSU Balance Trainer. NFL players use it too.
Where can I find this?
The BOSU can be purchased at BOSU.com or retailers like Walmart or Target. You can find them for use at fitness centers, including Mission Valley YMCA, and you’ll see them incorporated into many fitness class formats, including boot camps, interval, circuit and strength.
—Erica Moe is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA, where she is a fitness director.