Mindful Movement with the BOSU® Ballast® Ball
Designing fitness programming is an ongoing challenge for fitness professionals. We want to “wow” our clients every time they come to classes and training sessions, and it is tempting to come up with new moves to keep things interesting. However, we must be mindful of safety considerations and remember that offering endless progressions is not always the safest way to keep our participants engaged and achieving results. There is a limit to how much we can progress before the risks outweigh the benefits of each exercise.
How else can we boost motivation and success? First and foremost, we must determine the specific goal of each training session. What are we trying to achieve, and what are the best exercises and training protocols to utilize? Then, we can incorporate additional strategies to enhance the experience for our students while keeping safety as a primary consideration. Here are some suggestions:
Create an inclusive environment where all fitness levels are welcome. Especially in a group exercise setting, there are students of varying levels of ability. We can foster a positive experience for newcomers (or those with limitations) by demonstrating the regressed version of each exercise first, and then layering on appropriate progressions for our more advanced participants. We can also offer a team approach by using inclusive language. When coaching and cueing, use words like “we, us, and let’s” to signify that the training experience is group oriented and that everyone is “in it together”.
We are all guilty of occasionally “going through the motions” when training, especially when the exercises are familiar. This can negatively impact success and put clients at risk of injury. Remind participants to focus on their breathing and alignment, and ask them to be aware of how they are feeling as they execute the moves. They can use this information to adjust effort level, range of motion, and intensity to ensure success and safety.
In addition to cueing the movements, provide more information on the focus of each exercise. Explain what muscle groups are being targeted, as well as the benefits of each exercise. As fitness instructors, we can be a great source of information and support by sharing our knowledge and expertise.
Let’s apply these principles to some fun exercises utilizing the BOSU® Ballast® Ball. These moves focus on core stabilization and spinal mobility. Give them a try!
Supine Core Tuck
Begin lying on the floor in a supine position with your knees bent 90 degrees and the Ballast® Ball balanced on the shins. Slowly extend the knees and hips, pausing at the end range of motion. Flex the knees and hips to return to the starting position. Encourage participants to start with a small range of motion and increase movement as appropriate.
- Breathing: Inhale while extending and exhale while flexing at the hips and knees.
- Alignment: Maintain neutral spine throughout the exercise.
- Educate: Explain that core muscles are used to maintain a neutral spine. This is a functional way to challenge the core muscles and the benefits transfer to activities of daily living.
Shoulder Bridge with Lateral Balance
Begin in bridge position with your shoulders on the Ballast® Ball and feet on the floor. Open your arms out to the side in line with the shoulders. While keeping the arms and hips level, ‘slide’ to one side, rolling the ball to your opposite shoulder. Pause for several seconds and repeat to the other side. Encourage participants to start with a small range of motion and increase movement as appropriate.
- Breathing: Avoid holding the breath.
- Alignment: Maintain hip extension throughout the exercise.
- Educate: Explain that this exercise strengthens the muscles of the posterior chain, including the core stabilizers, and can help improve posture.
Dynamic Child’s Pose to Prone Extension
Begin in kneeling position with your hands on top of the Ballast® Ball. Pull the hips back into child’s pose. Roll forward to prone extension and pause. Roll back to child’s pose.
- Breathing: Exhale in child’s pose and inhale in prone extension.
- Alignment: Retract your shoulder blades while extending the spine, and drop your shoulders away from the ears.
- Educate: Explain that spinal extension exercises help improve posture and provide an opportunity to stretch and open through the front of the body.
Melissa Weigelt, MS, is a BOSU® Master Trainer and owner at Flow Fitness Training, where she develops and presents a variety of continuing education programs for fitness instructors.