Douglas S. Brooks, MS, ACE, TSCC-Gold, Exercise Physiologist
According to the 2010 IDEA Personal Training Programs & Equipment Survey, 95% of personal trainers offer balance training to their clients. Furthermore, use of small, portable equipment is favored. Ten years after the introduction of the BOSU® Balance Trainer, 87% of fitness professionals are choosing to use a variety of balance training tools to help clients achieve their goals. It is undeniable that balance is becoming a central focus of the professional fitness community.
At some point during the fitness revolution, the functionality of exercises and benefits to everyday life were lost. Certainly, anything that gets people moving is a step in the right direction. However, many of today’s workouts are focused on strength and cardiovascular training for aesthetic changes. As our aging population becomes more and more active, the importance of aesthetics becomes less of a focus in this sense.
Currently, there is a shift towards developing an efficient body, allowing individuals to play more, harder, without pain and longer in life. This type of training is referred to as functional training, or focusing on integrated movement, balance and body awareness. Training “smarter” involves neurological complexity or training both mind and muscles to accurately respond to daily movement challenges.
Functional training has moved beyond a core training only emphasis and encompasses an evolved performance approach that challenges the whole body. Instead of focusing on building muscle groups in isolation, functional training requires whole body, integrated movement, as well as the need for several muscle groups to work together. It moves away from isolation or single joint training. This results in a training style that trains better movement, NOT bigger muscles.
Balance, controlled instability in measurable doses and proprioception (or body awareness) are intentionally introduced in functional training. Ultimately, the individual learns how to manage his/her own body weight, the body’s interaction with its surroundings and how to re-establish center-of gravity, balance or stability when optimal alignment, or positioning is lost.
In other words, the participant or athlete moves and reacts better. Moving well includes having the ability to express varying degrees of motion, stability and mobility, based on need, or the ability to react to a wider variety of physical challenges that may present themselves in sport and life. This functional result is a critical reminder of the benefits of safe, efficient and highly-skilled movement training.
BOSU® training is synonymous with functional training on many levels. BOSU® balance training products and exercise techniques allow participants to safely incorporate integrated movement, balance and body awareness into workouts. As a result, individuals ultimately build an efficient body designed to move better in everyday life.
Douglas S. Brooks is the head physiologist/strength & conditioning coach for Mammoth Power Sports and in 2007, was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. Coach Brooks is the author of six major texts and is a Twist Conditioning Senior Master Coach. To contact him, visitwww.MovesIntFitness.com.
*NOTE: Before beginning any exercise program, consult a physician or health professional for recommendations.