Forward Equals Backwards Series #3

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

Forward Equals Backwards and You Own It: Balance and Coordination

By featured Guest Writer Diana Bailey

The Popular Equipment: Easy to Learn and Portable

The number one balance challenge in this studio, based on ease of learning, is the foam roller. The variety and unique core strength challenge this auxiliary piece offers are of the highest caliber. The roller offers work that can be both engaging, and in light of the diverse skills needed, astonishingly difficult to master. It is easy to see why clients love it.

The BOSU lessons are more devious because balance is challenged in all directions at once; Up and down, side to side, front to back, and rotation. It can be used seated, prone, supine, kneeling or standing. It is more difficult to stand on it without shoes, and when it is less inflated. The safety issues are nominal, but this does require a higher degree of core stability than the roller. To get the best training, the directive is to consciously disturb the balance—and if lost, work to recover–rather than attempt to hold stillness.

Comparatively, on a danger scale of 1-10, the roller is a 2, and the BOSU can be up to a 5. For the sake of perspective, aerial dance, climbing, or slack line work can be a 10. The best training for the most people takes place in the 1-5 range: Nominal safety issues with great mental/physical difficulty. The floor is a piece of cake after standing on a foam roller or a BOSU!

The bonus of both pieces is that, after a few simple instructions, they teach self-regulation and correction by speaking directly to the part of the mind that governs motion. Poor alignment choices or missed timing result in a restart with improved chances of success. Unlike a treadmill or stationary bike, these offer no surface for clothing to hang on or cover. They lurk in the corner, always in view, inviting use.

The roller and BOSU are a fun way to learn about and improve the following:

1. Core stability and flexibility
2. Balance and Coordination
3. Arm and Leg freedom
4. Breathing and relaxation in motion
5. Mental focus and stillness
6. Posture—especially head, neck & shoulders
7. Hunching or swayed back
8. Stiff shoulders
9. Deep abdominal strength
10. Spatial reflexes—knowing how to “land on your feet”.

In this region of the US, ice is a major cause of injuries. Clients have commented on the difference even a few sessions of training have made in their responses to a sudden, uncontrolled loss of footing. Skiers notice improved awareness of weight shift and greater control. The compass that keeps us responsive to challenging moments becomes more internal as balance and coordination improve. The applications range from developing the confidence and stability to walk easily down a set of stairs without the need for a hand rail, to improving the layout portion of a back flip in a gymnastic routine.