As with many exercises in the gym, there continues to be another step. Once we get comfortable with a movement, it seems advantageous to move the movement forward. The concept has been something Bernard has done well. Every time something gets accomplished that didn’t seem possible, he sticks with the concept of pushing forward. The Bosu ball completely fell into the realm of not seeming doable. I would watch people in the gym using the ball for different movements. They would be balancing on the flat side of the ball, performing an exercise. The thought running through my mind at that point was impossible. How would I ever be able to balance on the flat side of the Bosu ball? Even if achieving that balance without help, how would performing an exercise in addition be done? These seemed to be questions grounded in fear. The fear of falling off the flat side of the Bosu ball. Because balance would be lost without a way to catch myself. Standing on the rounded side was a different story. If balance was lost in that realm, stepping off the round top could happen in any direction. Even though it looked scary, we were someday going to accomplish the task.
Getting over the fear of falling was my first step. The fear of falling has always been part of my thinking. Occurring when coming across an activity that could cause instability, more instability than may be handled. The emotion has been dealt with in different ways since youth. Whether walking down a steep flight of stairs, considering walking on a balance beam, or taking on a steeper ski slope. The idea of keeping my balance has always been a part of decisions. One of the interesting aspects of working in the gym has been how those thoughts change. How my ideas involving my balance continue being challenged as balance improves. My improved balance shows up in many of our movement patterns, but the work on the Bosu ball seems to provide a good example of positive progression. A progression beginning with standing on the easier side to balance on, rounded side up, with a hand hold as support. The confidence in my ability to balance had to come along as well. So, starting with something to hold onto in the event balance was lost, helped gain confidence in my ability. Without Bernard pushing our progression forward, the physical ability and emotional confidence wouldn’t have the chance to unity. These two aspects coming together slowly build trust between client and trainer.
Cerebral palsy can make my body challenging to control as times. Making balance difficult to maintain in different situations. When the balance becomes pressured and body control compromised, things become uncertain. Maintaining composure during those times of uncertainty has been an added aspect of our work on balance. The ability to regain balance when it starts to falter has often been a focal point. Because, there will be times when balance begins to waver, disability or not. Gaining the composure and understanding to correct balance will often be advantageous. In my case, with cerebral palsy making balance more challenging, it becomes important. With all of these ideas in mind, Bernard continues increasing pressure on the Bosu ball activities. The way to increase composure has been to occupy spaces of uncertainty, challenging my ability to remain stable. We flipped the Bosu ball over, taking on the challenge that didn’t seem possible to achieve. All of those times spent watching people balance on the flat side of the ball and thinking no way for me, was about to be challenged. I thought balancing on the flat side would be possible, but would getting onto and off without falling equally work without incident. The questions circled my thought pattern, as it was time to challenge them.
We turned the Bosu ball over. It was rocking with the uneven ball side resting on the floor. Bernard provided the example of getting onto the ball and disembarking when finished. He placed one foot on the side against the floor. With the other foot, he stepped on the opposite side of the Bosu ball, suspended in the air. He pushed on his upper foot and rocked up to a balanced position, with the half ball side teetering on the floor. He dismounted in a similar way, releasing weight from one side until the ball tipped to contact the floor, then he stepped off the ball. It was now my turn to give the process a shot. Bernard remained standing close by incase anything got out of control. After watching him closely, it was my turn to place one foot on the side of the ball. With nervous energy running through my veins, I pushed on my opposite foot to lift the Bosu ball into position. Like trying to balance on a snowboard, I was up, knees bent to maintain balance, and legs quivering with uncertain apprehension. After a few second of realizing things were okay, the legs began shaking less, and balance steadied to some degree. Now, the only worry was my ability to safely remove myself back onto solid ground. Again, with the uncertainty of possible disaster lurking, I leaned carefully to one side, felt the edge of the flat top contact the floor, and cautiously brought my other leg around to step off the Bosu ball. Everything had worked without the crash and burn possibility in my mind. We performed the balancing tactic a couple more times, while timing my duration on the Bosu ball, and concluded the challenge was achieved. We had expanded the possibilities of our work out sessions.
With my ability to balance on the flat side of the Bosu ball, Bernard could expand some of our movements. In the next few weeks we began a new exercise with the ball. It would involve more than just balancing on the Bosu ball. Those days were most likely behind me. Bernard began with me taking a stance on the rounded side of the ball, the easier of the two sides for balance. We started tossing a six-pound exercise ball back and forth. My part was to throw underhand and catch the return toss, while maintaining body stability on the ball. The exercise was accomplished and like so many times before, time to add complexity. He had me turn the Bosu ball over, balancing on the flat side. The nervous energy came back when thinking of the challenge. Just maintaining my balance on the flat side of the ball was difficult, now it had to be done with movement. The very thing that didn’t seem possible a few weeks prior was becoming part of my experience. He handed me the exercise ball and hand me climb on the Bosu ball. Again, my mind wondering if this was going to end in a topple over. Bernard wasn’t going to be there to catch the fall, as he was standing away to play toss. Everything turned out to go well. The most challenging part was catching the return toss, as the six-pound ball effected the center of gravity. It became important to tighten the core and be prepared for the exercise ball on its return trip. There was no fall and as we concluded, the step off felt seamless.
Our next step with the Bosu ball seemed to enter the mind of Bernard. As the following week saw the ball come back into play. We began again by tossing the six-pound exercise ball underhand. First, on the rounded side of the Bosu, then continued on to work from the flat side. The balance felt better from our work the previous week. The ball traveled back and forth until our set was finished. The dismount from the top of the Bosu ball went well again, no fall, and it seemed we were finished. Bernard had other things in mind, as the exercise ball was handed back to me with instructions. We were going to work on a Bosu ball squat. The very exercise seeming outside my ability. Balanced myself on the ball and performing any movement would be challenging. Bernard wanted me to hold the exercise ball out in front with arms straight. Then, after finding balance, squat to about 45 degrees, before standing back up. The challenge would be maintaining balance with the added movement making it more challenging. Getting up onto the flat side of the ball worked as before, but maintaining balance another story. The added parts of the movement caused uneasiness right away. My legs wobbled back and forth, trying to keep the Bosu ball steady under my body. Bernard had me squat once, then twice, holding the 45-degree angle for a count or two before rising. On the third attempt, my legs wobbled too much. Recovering my balance didn’t occur, as Bernard reached out to catch my tumble. But, he didn’t need to, as all our practice getting on and off the ball came in handy. The footwork we learned had become more natural and even as my balance gave out, I quickly dismounted the Bosu ball safely. With the new understanding of safety, I could recover from the loss of balance, I got back on the ball, completing the round of Bosu ball squats.
The Bosu ball squat was another new gym experience. Watching people throughout my time at the gym work on the ball caused me to think it not likely. The balance to stand on the flat side of the Bosu seemed too complex. Paired with the fear of falling off, the exercise made sense to stay away from. Bernard had other plans for my workout progression. Someone who has the experience to help grow my ability to balance. He understands the steps required to reach balance goals that for me seem out of reach. Those small steps also help reduce the fear surrounding balance. We have reached an accomplished place with the Bosu ball. A place where confidence in working while balanced on it has been executed. The exercises prove many things about our ability to improve. The most important might be trusting in the process. Having faith, the small steps being taken all lead to an ability feeling out of reach at the time. We started by testing balance on the rounded side of the Bosu ball. With a hand hold nearby, one leg was balanced on for just as long as I could. Today, we have progressed to balancing on the flat side without a hand hold. Performing squats with an exercise ball, while maintaining that balance. It has been a humbling progression for me, to see our small steps come together in accomplishment. If we break things down into small steps, taking our time to trust the process, we may just surprise ourselves.