A fitness trend that has recently caught my attention is the Bosu ball.
The Bosu ball is a variation of the traditional exercise ball but can be better used to perform a variety of exercises. It looks like an exercise ball that has been cut in half and mounted on a flat round platform. Bosu means “BOth Sides Up” because it is used with the flat side on the floor and the ball side up or the ball side on the floor and the platform side up. (this last is not recommended without a trainer present if you aren’t an expert bosu user)
The idea behind the Bosu? Balance. All activities performed with the Bosu ball requires the body to be balanced on either the round side or the platform side.
I was surprised to learn that the Bosu was invented in 1999 by a man named David Wreck after a mishap with the traditional exercise ball. He designed it as a remedy to lower back pain and foot discomfort he was experiencing with the original ball.
This training ball is not for the uninitiated. Before using the Bosu alone, practice with a partner or trainer is advised. Workouts will require concentration and physical stamina, however greater benefits can be gained using equipment that enhances balance and provokes more of a challenge out of the workout.
All activities can be performed on the Bosu and will work out more major muscle groups than standing on a flat area ever could. Squats, push ups, crunches, jogging, jumping rope and a variety of cardio workouts can be incredibly enhances with the addition of a bouncy domed surface to challenge your core stability and balance.
The first time a Bosu trainer came to my gym and I watched her jumping rope while standing on top of the ball, doing squats while balancing on the platform side with the dome side down and and performing a type of step aerobics I tried to inconspicuously back out of the classroom. After getting caught by her eagle eye, I was recruited to demonstrate how a beginner can overcome her fear of falling on her butt and making a fool of herself in front of a class of much more coordinated exercisers.
As I found, learning to balance on the ball is a fun exercise in physical and mental concentration. The core muscles seem to be incorporated into every type of exercise as they are so vital in balancing the upright body. One tip for staying on top of the ball instead of lying beside it is to focus on something directly in front of you and keep your eyes glued to that object. Practicing balance is the first step to an invigorating workout down the line.
Another piece of advice is to keep a slightly bent soft knee while standing on either the dome side or the platform side of the ball. Don’t keep your legs stiff and straight.
When standing with both feet on top of the dome, keep one foot on either side for better balance. Trying to stand on the very top of the dome with throw you off balance in a hurry.
Don’t use the platform side without assistance. It could be very dangerous for a beginner to try this alone. Be sure to have someone to hold on to until you are familiar with the mechanics of keeping yourself stabilized and balanced.
I have not yet attempted to jump rope while on the Bosu but it looks like fun. There are whole routines built around the rope and it takes a great sense of balance to achieve but once you have the Bosu ball conquered you’ll have the confidence to take on other challenges in your life.
The ball sells for about $100 by itself and can be purchased with additional work out equipment and/or workout videos for a little more.