Bosu Balance

The Bosu Ball has been an important part of working on balance. A tool used in the gym with a flat side on one side and half a ball on the other. We began testing my balance on the ball side. Bernard had me stand on top, attempting to balance on one leg. It didn’t matter how long I was able to balance on one leg. He wanted me to work on stability using the Bosu ball. From getting the balance down on one leg, we moved to another progression. The game of lava monster was introduced into our session. The idea was to stand on the rounded side of the Bosu ball, moving from one to another, without touching the ground. Bernard places three Bosu balls in a configuration for me to move on them. Following the task of moving along the tops of the Bosu balls, we moved to another progression. Our next challenge got into the territory of something that didn’t seem possible. Bernard had me balance on the flat side of the ball. He wanted me to tilt the ball up with my legs and stand steadily on top. To my surprise, the stability exercise was performed without falling. We executed three attempts of balancing on the flat side. The timing of staying up was slightly longer each time. It all lead to our work this month of standing on the Bosu ball while playing catch.

It had been a few weeks since working with the Bosu ball. Our first work with the ball caused apprehension. When Bernard had me attempt balancing on the rounded ball side, he had me set up next to a hand rail. If my balance became lost at any time, I could reach out to support myself. That beginning exercise surprised me when the ability to balance on the ball side with one foot was found. Once we progressed through the lava monster exercise, where I found the ability to move from one Bosu ball to another, the excitement continued. The skill to balance on the ball side and step to another ball without loss of balance was satisfying. But, the real excitement came when the Bosu ball was flipped over. Never did I feel standing on the flat side of the ball would be achievable. Keeping the platform steady with the ball side against the ground felt scary. It gave me an uneasy feeling with the possibility of a fall more realistic. There didn’t seem to be a possibility of simply stepping off the flat side of the ball. The process of getting onto and off the ball felt pretty specific. So, uncertainty ran through my emotions as we began on the flat side.

With one previous trainer, I had done some work standing on the flat side of a Bosu ball. The balance to stand with the rounded side on the floor was possible I knew. But, in that previous instance, help was provided to get on and off the ball. The previous trainer had me hold his shoulders for balance getting on and off the Bosu ball. Balancing on the flat side of the ball under the tutelage of Bernard would be different. He provided an example of how to get on the ball and it was on me to execute. I remember my first time attempting to get up onto the flat side. The Bosu ball was tilted to one side with the edge resting against the ground. One foot went on the flat surface. The other foot had to push on the other side of the ball, the side sticking up into the air, then off you went, placing weight on the foot stepping on the higher side. I was suddenly up on the ball, using the rounded side to hold me up off the floor. My balance was maintained, but the next step would be disembarking without help. Anxiety came back into the equation after balancing for half a minute or so. Disembarking would call for leaning the ball to one side until an edge contacted the ground. Then, remain balanced and step off the Bosu ball with the opposite leg moving across to contact the floor. After watching Bernard execute the dismount, the footwork was in my head. My only question had to do with my own ability to disembark safely. The questions were answered as I safely made my way off the Bosu ball and my nervousness faded. After a couple, more rounds of successfully getting onto and off of the Bosu ball, I was getting the hang of being on the flat side. The thrill of being able to accomplish it all on my own was awesome.

After the excitement of balancing on the Bosu ball, we went away from working on the ball. This last week we brought the Bosu ball back out of hiding. Bringing the ball back into our session caused excitement. This time, the ball would be used for more than balancing. We had already established my ability to balance on the ball. Like many things we work on, Bernard was aiming to make things more complex. Just when you get an exercise stable, he turns things up a notch. He brought a six-pound exercise ball into the yoga room with the ball. My mind slightly sped with curiosity over his plan. We were going to play catch with the exercise ball, with me standing on the Bosu ball. Our first trial would have me standing on the rounded side of the ball. With the Bosu ball sitting flat against the wooden floor. Getting up onto the ball was a little shaky, having not balanced on the ball in a while. But, I was able to find my stability in a few seconds. Once my balance point was found, he handed me the exercise ball. We began with the ball being thrown underhand. Bernard began only a short distance away. The most challenging part of the exercise was catching the ball while maintaining balance. As he moved back, making the throw longer, it caused the return toss to come in with more speed. The speed on the return throw was challenging to manage. It required a tightening of my core in anticipation of accepting the toss. Something I continue to learn has been how to tighten the core, helping provide stability in the body. There were a couple tosses caching me off guard. The balance couldn’t be recovered and a step off the ball ensued. Having been able to remain relatively stable, Bernard again wanted to increase the challenge. So, we turned the Bosu ball over.

The idea of turning the Bosu ball over felt daunting. We had balanced of the flat side, with the round side of the ball on the turf. With the rounded side of the ball resting on the wood floor, things could be different. The surface could be slicker, making the maintenance of balance more challenging. These were the thoughts moving around my brain as the Bosu ball was sat on the rounded side for me to climb up. Getting onto the Bosu ball worked similarly to being out in the gym. It took some time to gain balance, stabilizing the ball. Once the feeling of balance came, Bernard handed me the six-pound exercise ball. Standing on the flat side of the ball was challenging. Even with the feeling of stability, there was a continued emotion that balance could be lost. When Bernard handed me the ball, backing for me to toss it to him underhand, I requested he move closer. He took a step toward me, shortening the distance and providing a better chance for me to maintain balance. When standing on the flat side of the Bosu ball, it couldn’t just be stepped off like when balancing on the rounded side. It added another dynamic to the exercise.

Adding the extra element of standing on the ball in a more unstable position increased concentration. The process had me thinking of the steps needing to be taken if balance was lost. It would force me to understand where my balance was during different situations. Beginning to understand when balance could be recovered and when it was going to be lost. The first couple tosses to Bernard when okay, planning to receive the exercise ball was more challenging than throwing. Bracing or tightening my core became important at the point of reception, as the weight of the ball coming toward me could impact stability. During one early reception, the ball did have an impact on balance. My balance became lost, but having thought through the possibility, my reaction worked well, as I leaned the ball to one side, and stepped off one side. Having lost balance on one of the receptions actually seemed to provide more confidence. The situation let me know, the loss of balance didn’t mean a fall was imminent. The coordination was there to feel my balance falter and safely dismount. Stepping back up onto the Bosu ball found me complete more tosses with Bernard, even causes him to move back a step. Adding more complexity to the movement and more challenge to maintaining balance.

The Bosu ball progression has been one of the more challenging activities in the gym. The instability of standing on either side of the ball places pressure on balance. That balance has been the part of me requiring the most improvement. Stability seems to be advantageous in most everything we do throughout life. Even the ability to rise from a seated position and walk requires stability. Cerebral palsy tries to hinder the ability to balance. So, when we can work on something like a Bosu ball, we may also be improving the ability to walk. If balance can be found, lost, and found again on unstable surfaces, imagine how much better things can become on stable surfaces. Our progression in challenging balance with the ball hasn’t been easy. It has been a step by step process beginning with standing on the rounded side of the ball. Close enough to a bar, I could reach for if balance was lost. Over time, we have arrived at standing on the flat side of the ball, balancing the rounded side against a wooden floor. Not only finding balance, but tossing and catching a ball from the position. There have been nerve-racking steps along the way, where the fear of falling weighed on my mind. Stopping or quitting was an option, requesting Bernard find something else. That would have involved allowing anxiety to win and removing the opportunity to prove myself wrong. Which, seems the best way to gain confidence. Breaking things down and progressing one step at a time. Maybe, we can overcome most any fear.

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