An enlightening interview with Spiderman actor Chris Tierney and his kinesiologist Dr. Edythe about the unexpected benefits of BOSU.
Have you heard? Even Spiderman marvels over the benefits of training on a BOSU® Balance Trainer. We’re talking about Christopher Tierney, a stunt actor playing the superhero in the Broadway musical performance of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
To prepare his body and core stability for the aerial stunts required of his Spiderman role, Tierney began training on the BOSU ball under the direction of Dr. Edythe Heus, a NYC-based chiropractor, kinesiologist and founder of the scientifically tested RIM training system.
But when Tierney fell 30 feet on the Broadway set – an accident that broke ribs, cracked vertebrae, landed him in ICU and led to back surgery – Tierney told us he came to appreciate how working out with a BOSU ball was even more advantageous than he first imagined.
Of course, that got our “spidey senses” tingling. We had to find out more.
BOSU caught up with Tierney and Dr. Edythe at her midtown Manhattan studio, Revolution in Motion. Here’s what they shared with us.
BOSU: Chris, had you worked out much on a BOSU® ball before coming to Revolution in Motion and training with Dr. Edythe?
Chris Tierney: “No. Dr. Edythe put me on a BOSU ball and it humbled me because I couldn’t find my balance on it – and I can find my balance easily so I knew I was in for a lesson.
Mentally, I had to throw my ego away - that’s good for me. And physically – right before I started working on Spiderman, I had taken time off and was not in as good of shape as I usually am. But after working on the BOSU balls with Dr. Edythe’s workouts, my body came right back to knowing what kind of athlete I am.”
BOSU: Dr. Edythe, in your professional opinion, what makes the BOSU Balance Trainer a good training tool for clients who want or need to be challenged and also for clients who require rehab or are recovering from an injury?
Dr. Edythe: “I don’t see a distinction between rehabbing somebody and doing performance enhancement. If you have the right exercises and the right equipment, rehab and performance enhancement are happening simultaneously. And the advantage to that is that you aren’t doing six weeks of rehab – Chris’s would have been many months. He is improving his performance while he is recovering from his injuries.
Chris’s rehab program doesn’t vary a lot from the training that he was doing before. We have the advantage of working one-on-one with him and identifying the areas of his body that are not integrated. We integrate them and he keeps advancing his performance and new areas show up that need integration. It’s a progressive, sequential program, and BOSU is definitely an integral part of it.”
BOSU: What role does the BOSU ball play in helping you assess a client’s training protocol?
Dr. Edythe: “We utilize multiple pieces of equipment to tell us about an individual’s body – where are they breaking down, what’s not integrated. BOSU is an important part of that.
The design of the BOSU ball activates internal mechanisms that allow us to work with gravity and those mechanisms that create space within the joints. For example, we start all people with ankle limitations (many aren’t even aware of having ankle problems) on the BOSU ball.
Generally we [Dr. Edythe and Alex Kalinkos, a certified Revolution in Motion trainer] do a postural examination looking for asymmetry and how they use their feet, toes, if the knees line up with feet, we look at swayback and are they using their torso, to name a few things. In addition, we analyze their gait and movement in general.”
BOSU: Can you share how you specifically analyzed Chris in this way, using the BOSU ball?
Watch the video on location at Dr. Edythe’s Manhattan studio Revolution in Motion www.revinmo.com.
Dr. Edythe: “What we can see and the questions we ask when Chris stands on the BOSU ball with the right heel in the middle of the bull’s eye of the BOSU – and what Alex and I can see when Chris is on the BOSU ball is: How is he using his feet? How stable is his ankle and is he able to engage his lower abs?
Is he able to get volume and lift through his torso? And is he able to relax his neck and reach his head up toward the ceiling? The result of those things working properly is that his shoulders are going to fall into place and he’s going to be engaged in the right places and relaxed in the right places.
His body is going to be efficient, using the right muscles with the right amount of tone to get optimal performance. When you have all those things that I just mentioned working, you’re going to get explosiveness, core strength and grace in movement. We work from the inside out, and the BOSU ball is an integral part of making that happen.”
BOSU: Chris, you were already using the BOSU ball with Dr. Edythe before your accident on the set of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” You continued to use it as part of your recovery process. How has working with Dr. Edythe and the BOSU Balance Trainer helped with your recovery?
Chris Tierney: “If I had not done this work (RIM) and worked with these BOSU balls before I fell, I probably would have tried to save myself by grasping at something to make sure I didn’t fall.
Instead, I knew I was falling, was efficient about it immediately, went very clear in my mind and knew how to get my body in a position that would help me live through this.
Doing this work kept me calm and gave me the core strength to flip myself around midair - while I am falling - and the capability to hit and release when I came to the ground. I credit this work not only to my recovery and my training previously, but to lessening the blow of the fall itself.”
BOSU: How were you using the BOSU ball for Chris’s training before his accident?
Dr Edythe: “I created many exercises using the BOSU ball that are designed to activate and enhance the nervous system through proprioceptive stimulation and neurological sequencing. This improves balance, coordination, core strength, movement precision and performance of all kinds. Other exercises on the BOSU ball activate and strengthen the feet, ankles and knees, as well as all the joints.”
BOSU: How did you start to work with the cast of Spiderman?
Dr. Edythe: “The way I got to work with the Spiderman crew from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was through Scott Rogers, the stunt coordinator and aerial designer. He was designing the rigs and stunts for the performers.
The performers are actors, dancers and singers. Scott said the only way this is going to happen is if you hire Dr. Edythe to train the core so they can be in these rigs and do these extreme things that are done by stunt people or aerialists. Such extreme stunts have never been done on Broadway or by Broadway performers.”
BOSU: The BOSU ball has helped the Spiderman performers improve their core strength.
Dr. Edythe: “Yes. I use the BOSU ball and other devices that create a state of instability to magnify the benefit to the nervous system, which is, fundamentally, training the core. The core is where movement originates from the smallest muscles with the richest nerve innervation closest to the spine and where small movement initiates larger movement. It’s dependent on nervous system activation and amplification.
The better the nervous system, the more efficient and stronger the core. Exercises I have designed using the BOSU ball allow me to activate the nervous system and strengthen the core in a way that is fun, playful and has impact. We have used the BOSU with the Spiderman performers since the first day we began their training and continue to use it daily. Whether it is performance enhancement or rehab, the BOSU is essential.”
For video clips of exercises that Dr. Edythe recommends using the BOSU Balance Trainer, see Part 2 of this article