Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Gift Review–BOSU Ball

I’ve been running for about four and a half years now, but I didn’t crosstrain at all for the first year or so.  When I gave myself a stress fracture from running too much, I discovered how much I liked riding a bike and swimming.  (Okay, I don’t actually like swimming, but it is a useful exercise.)  About a year ago, I finally started doing core work.  IronHubs had been doing planks and crunches sort of regularly for a few months and really encouraged me to add core exercises to my routine, but I was a reluctant convert.  It wasn’t until I read an article with a ten minute routine in Runner’s World that didn’t include any crunches – my least favorite exercise – that I decided to give it a try.  I kept it super simple at first:  ten pushups, one 30-second plank, ten tricep dips and ten trunk rotations – DONE!  Even with only that minimal amount of work, I saw results in a few months’ time.  My speed improved, my endurance improved, my recovery time shortened, and damn if my shoulders didn’t look good in a tank top!  Gradually, I added more exercises and more reps and in about six months, core work became an integral part of my normal routine.  I do a handful of exercises on my bike ride days and a good twenty or thirty minutes of core work on my “rest” days.  I have a balance ball and a five-lb. medicine ball already, but, well, you can never have too much gear, right?

I know I’ve mentioned before how awesome it is to be married to a fellow endurance athlete, and here’s another perk:  if you want some sort of equipment for yourself, you just give it to your spouse as a gift!  (This works best in a community property state like California.)  I’ve had my eye on the BOSU Ball for awhile now, so guess who got one for Christmas??

Christmas Day 038Merry Christmas, sweetie!  I hope you like my your new BOSU!

I was a good wife and let IronHubs use it first, but I was very, very excited to give it a go this morning for myself.  The training system I bought includes the BOSU Ball, a small foot pump, the illustrated owner’s manual (which showed about ten exercises) and a DVD with four complete (approximately 30 minutes each) workouts.  I paid full retail, about $100, at my local sporting goods store.  I had some reservations about spending that much money, but the packaging totally sold me – there are pics of a girl coming out of an open water swim and two girls riding bicycles.  They might as well have printed “P, this is going to make you a better triathlete!” on the box.  Here are my thoughts:

THE BALL

The set-up directions were very simple and the ball was super easy to pump up.  The base is very sturdy, but not too heavy and really doesn’t move around while on a hard surface (this was one of my concerns, as the surface where it will get the most use is tile).  The rubber of the ball is also sturdy and non-slip.  I used the trainer on both sides (fun fact:  the word BOSU is an acronym for “BOth Sides Utilized”) on my tile floor and it didn’t move at all.  I sat, stood and kneeled on the ball side during my workout and never felt like I was sinking to the bottom of the ball.  The surface of the ball is a design of concentric rings, which was useful when checking your foot or hand symmetry, or centering yourself on the ball.

THE WORKOUT DVD

The inclusion of four full-length workouts was what sealed the deal for my purchasing decision.  I have a pretty good repertoire of core exercises that I do regularly, but I admit that my execution can be dawdling.  I’ll do some back work, then lay on the balance ball for a minute or two…I’ll do my pushups, then lay on the floor for a bit…IronHubs teases me when he finds me prone in the middle of my workout:  “Ooooooh, that’s my favorite core exercise!”  The four workouts are “Calorie Combustion,” “Absolutely Abs,” “Long and Lean,” and “Total Body Workout.”  Today I did the complete “Long and Lean” workout and the main set and cooldown of “Absolutely Abs.”

Bosu Workout 015Screen shot from “Long and Lean.”

My initial reaction toward the fake-blonde-and-fake-boobs instructor – I called her “Betty” - was less than thrilled (of course I’m jealous!  Hello, you’ve seen enough pictures of me to know that I shop for bras in the Junior department!), but she was pleasant without being overly perky and she moved the workout along at a nice, quick pace.  The workout itself was mostly yoga, which I enjoyed.  It included lots of stretching and balancing poses, but at a lively pace, rather than a relaxing one.

Bosu Workout 006Intense concentration.

Bosu Workout 005The easy modification for one of the Warrior Poses.

After completing “Long and Lean” I wasn’t wiped out, so I moved on to “Absolutely Abs.”  I like the fact that you have the option to start the workout at the warm-up or at the beginning of the main set, so you can do more than one workout without having to “warm up” each time.  Mr. Muscles from the background of “Long and Lean” was the instructor for this workout and he was awesome, too.

Bosu Workout 028

Screen shot from “Absolutely Abs.”

This workout kicked my a**.  Mr. Muscles moved at the same brisk pace, but since we were focusing only on the abs, I could feel the burn almost immediately.

Bosu Workout 021Challenging crunches.

Bosu Workout 025I’m either falling off the ball or swearing at the screen because my abs are burning.  Maybe both.

Here’s what I loved about the DVD: 

  • Both workouts were over before I knew it – thirty minutes has never flown by so fast while doing core work. 
  • The pace was fast enough to be challenging, but not so fast that I couldn’t keep up.
  • Both instructors were really encouraging without being condescending.  “Betty” kept telling me I was doing great (even though I wasn’t) and Mr. Muscles mentioned several times that falling off or feeling unsteady is totally okay.  He even wobbled a bit himself, which I suspect was all for show, but still made me feel good.
  • Both instructors showed the easy modifications themselves.  I really appreciated this.  On other workout videos, when the instructor relegates the easy modification to a background person, the implication is that you’re a loser if you can’t follow along.
  • It really was a workout.  “Long and Lean” didn’t make me sweat very much, but I definitely felt it.  “Absolutely Abs” was worthy of turning on the fan and grabbing a towel.  Honestly, I chose these two workouts first because I thought they might be easier, so I can’t wait to give the other two a try.  No, they’re not going to replace a run or a ride, but these workouts are going to be a great addition to my routine.

My only complaint:

  • The verbal instructions could be clearer.  I really had to keep my eyes glued to the screen or know the names of the poses to follow the movements.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I give the BOSU Ball six out of a six-pack of abs!  I’m thrilled with this new addition to my gear closet - I definitely feel like the BOSU workout will take my core work to a whole new level.

I bought the BOSU with my own hard-earned cash, these opinions are mine.

What new and exciting gear did you get for Christmas???

19 comments:

Colleen said...

I have a love hate relationship with the Bosu! :)

I got a new HRM this year and I'm super excited about it. It's the little things isn't it?

ERG said...

A very informative review!

I did NOT get any cool new gear for Christmas (on your level)...but I did get a box full of clip-on lights that flash day-glo green! Somebody (my dad) doesn't want me to be a road pizza.

I love how frank you are. I shop in Juniors for those too ;)

Tortuga_Runner said...

You already have a rock star TRI body, you don't need the BOSU, but glad you have a new toy. I got a garmin 405CX, I love it!

Alma said...

Nice review, especially the pics :) I, too, really need to make core workouts a priority as my training picks up in 2011. Good reminder.
For Christmas, I got smartwool running socks & biking socks (!!) and new bike lights to make my commute a bit safer. My birthday comes up in Feb and I'm thinking I might be dropping hints for a Garmin...

Jogging with Fiction said...

Nice! I got a spi belt and a garmin for christmas! I'm beyond psyched!

Amber said...

I finally got a Garmin Forerunner so now I can obsess about my mileage even more! Thanks for the review of the BOSU, I was just looking at this yesterday!

Christi said...

I got Yankz and a Yaktraks! I can't wait to use both!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

I love my bosu but I don't use it with the dvd, I use it as part of my own plyometrics workout.. I got a cool pair of USAT warm up pants (does it count if I bought it myself?) :-)

Julie said...

I've been wanting a bosu ball forever, but he pricetag always keeps me from going for it. My #1 instruction from my tri coach right now is CORE WORK!! He says it will make ALL the difference for me this year.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

I got an IPAD, I'm a total slacker, right?

I need a Bosu ball for sure. core, core, core, totally need it. also need to eliminate some calories. Urgh!

LMC said...

Geez, you look like a professional with all those poses! That Bosu ball will be childs play for you in no time! Glad you had a good Christmas!

I got a Wii for my husband. I've been, I mean he's been, wanting one for a while!:)

Rose said...

My old gym had a bosu. My trainer would flip it over so the ball was on the ground, and make we do one legged squats on it. Holy MOLY.

Aimee said...

Nice review!! I'm so jealous that you got one of those! I've wanted one for a long time!!

Chris K said...

That is so cool. Girls that do core work rock.

Chelsea said...

Oh, I love the BOSU. My trainer makes me do squats on it - both with the ball facing down & with it facing up. Whooo-whee. Kind of want to get one for Ab stuff though - I secretly LOVE ab workouts. :)

Katie V. said...

I'm new to the running scene and where you were at when you started: nothing but running. No cross train and no core. But I'd like to incorporate some of your tips, so thank you. What did I get? Nice running gloves, a face cover, good socks and the Garmin forerunner 405! In love.

Teamarcia said...

That bosu DVD is an arse kicker for sure! I need to revisit it. I got a very delicious new running jacket that flies in the face of my inner tightwad but I didn't need too much, ok any, arm twisting to convince me to keep it.

twentysixandthensome.com said...

Hahahaha, I love this post and your sly way of getting new equipment. Well done!

Mark said...

My wife knows better than to get me gear for Christmas. I bought a pair of paddles last week and she said... "another piece of gear, huh?"

She thinks I am clearly in need of a twelve step gear junkie anonymous program.