Mastering the Bosu ball

“See that circle right in the middle? That’s what we call the ‘sweet spot.’” Brenda is the instructor of a Bosu class I’ve started taking at Joe Doupe, the Bannatyne campus’ gym, and she’s giving everyone a refresher, even though some students have been taking this class for years. The Bosu ball is bigger than I’d expected, wider than my hips, a bright cerulean, and it is my new best friend and nemesis. “How hard could this be?” I think as I go to step onto the ball, the arches of my feet on either side of the sweet spot — then I realize that this is going to be quite a challenge.

Bosu was described to me as an aerobic step class on a Bosu ball. While it sounds simple enough, the added element of the ball requires a lot of balance that I don’t have, and may have activated muscles that I haven’t used in years. The next day, the uppermost part of my abs (you know, almost exactly over where your ribcage starts to deviate, and it’s basically impossible to ever work them properly?) were feeling the burn. “Ha, I’ve done step before,” I thought. “No big deal,” I thought. “I catch on fast,” I thought.

This class pretty much kicked my butt, and I’m happy to go back for more. One thing I appreciate about Bosu is the ability to adjust movements to the level you’re at. Maybe you can’t do the full-on pendulum-kick-to-almost-hip-level like some of the (insanely impressive) students in front of you while you’re marching on the ball, but if you jump a little higher here, lift your knees a little higher there, you can work your way up to it, and so you don’t have to be a pro athlete to start out.

Many students have been doing this class for months, if not years, Brenda told me, and they keep coming back each week and doing this class alongside those who, like myself, are incredibly new to the game. If I had to guess, I’d say it probably means that the class is adaptable enough to keep it challenging, and the routine changes up enough to not become boring. While I’m not sure about Bosu in general, this particular instructor likes to throw in some Pilates moves for the last part of every class, so cardio and strength-building is included.

I am eager to return to class this week to see how/if I have improved. Hopefully I can use the skills I learned last class to do more knee-lifting and keep up better with the rest of the class this week.

Some first-time Bosu tips:
— Arrive early so you can get first pick of the Bosu balls, and to stake out a primo spot where you will be able to see the instructor. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but I underestimated how full the half-gym would be, and how much this would limit my visibility.
— Choose a Bosu ball that’s more firm, at least to start. As Brenda explained to me, using softer balls requires more stability-work from your ankles and hips, so it will tire you out much faster.
— Bring a water bottle! I generally find I don’t need a water bottle right next to me when I’m working out, but my throat was like the Sahara about 10 minutes into this class.
— At least at first, you are going to feel clumsy and awkward, so embrace it. You’ll get better.