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??
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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???