Diary of a Fit Patriot: BOSU: Balancing Fun & Fitness
By: Alison M. Hall
What is that strange mushroom-top looking blue thing you see in the group exercise room, stretch room, and fitness floor? It’s a BOSU Balance Trainer. BOSU is an acronym for Both Sides Utilized. David Weck introduced this half-dome piece of fitness equipment in 2000. Stories told at fitness conferences say he fell from standing on a stability ball injuring himself one to many times, so he cut it in half and created the BOSU. (PLEASE do not stand on a stability ball!) I don’t know if the story is true or not, but I’m glad the BOSU came to be, because it’s a great piece of fitness equipment.
BOSU for Cardio
The BOSU can be used dome side up for a variety of cardio activities. It can replace a step for steady-state cardio classes. The reactive dome, however, makes the workout much harder than using a regular step, so expect to tire out more quickly. The dome also can be used for high-intensity cardio intervals. You can do step-type activities like basic up and down, across the top, straddle, dome toe taps, etc. Most people find it more fun to jump on it. You can power onto the dome from the floor, power across it, or just jump on top. You can use one BOSU, two at a time, or set up a line and jump down them like Marlin and Dory on the jellyfish in Finding Nemo.
Both sides of the BOSU can be used for strength training. You can stand on the BOSU with one foot or both feet on the dome to challenge balance while doing traditional dumbbell strength. You can do pushups with hands or feet on the dome or platform, squats on the dome, lunges with the front foot or back foot on the dome, or lunges with your back foot on the platform side and front foot on the floor. (BOSU advises against standing with both feet on the platform side.) It also is a great core trainer. Many yoga and Pilates moves can be done on the dome or platform side, including plank, v-sit, crunches, and bridge lifts.
BOSU for Balance
Anything you do on the BOSU challenges your balance because of the unstable surface. You can challenge your balance more while standing on the dome by moving your gaze left to right or up and down, standing on one foot, or by closing your eyes. Start slowly if you are not used to balance training.
Always work out in a safe environment. If your BOSU gets sweaty, wipe it down. Make sure no equipment is on the floor near your BOSU. You can find some crazy videos online of super fit athletes doing amazing things on the BOSU—some safe and some not-so-safe. To be safe, BOSU.com and BOSU’s social media pages have video clips of recommended exercises using good form. If you still aren’t sure, take a class or work with a personal trainer to learn proper use.