Ever come across a bosu ball? Or heard people whispering in hushed tones about "bosu balance"? And then going all giggly? They're a bit of a mystery in many fitness circles ... and yet the furtive behaviour is quite out of character with the results this agility training equipment seem to be producing.
You may have seen them in the gym: half of a large rubber ball that’s flat on one side. They’re often blue, and look like a massive outtie belly button. They're the latest sensation to hit fitness centers across America.
What are they? They’re BOSU balls (or balance trainers). BOSU is an acronym for "Both Sides Up". You can use the balls, also referred to as trainers, or balance trainers, on either side. Whether the rounded bouncy dome part is up or the flat 25 inch platform side is up, you’ll get different types of balance challenges.
This cross-training fitness invention originated in medicine, where it was developed to enhance balance, functional and sports specific training. Its proponents say it offers a different way of making exercise more appealing and effective for average people, fitness fanatics and highly trained athletes.
So what do you do with it? You can walk, run, step, hop, jump and leap on the BOSU trainer. Bosu ball exercises can be done at an easy steady pace that can be maintained for long periods, or you can push the intensity with anaerobic intervals. Or do some stretching on it. Active stretches use the muscles of the body to move a body part, whereas passive stretching uses gravity or an outside force to put stretch-tension on the target muscle(s).
While standing or kneeling on the dome, you can move your upper body lower, higher, to the sides or by reaching for and picking up cards from various locations on the floor. Or you can touch or relocate cones that have been strategically placed around the dome.
Bosu abdominal exercises are very popular, and it’s great for working your trunk too. Maintaining spinal alignment is important to low back health and sports performance.
In fact, quite a few people are combining it with the complementaryTibetan exercises designed to get back the metabolism they had at 25. Those five easy-to-do exercises reportedly give you more energy and help you feel better than you've felt in years.
Many sports teams use BOSU training in addition to their skills and fitness work. Bennie Wylie, Assistant Strength Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, says "I implement the BOSU trainer during our off-season program for core strength training and rehabilitation of ankle and knee problems. It's a great piece of equipment and gives us an important extra dimension to our overall fitness program. Almost all of the players use the BOSU trainer in some fashion on a regular basis."
So the next time you overhear a conversation in the grocery store or your friend tells you that she’s going to the 5:30 p.m. BOSU class at the Y, you’ll know what they’re talking about.
Better yet, give it a try yourself! Grab your own bosu ball - a bosu home version is ideal - and practics bosu balance and bosu ball exercises to your heart's content!