How BOSUs Changed My Workouts Forever

Feeling “hellos” from muscles that I never knew I had and lots of giggles and wobbles — these are my memories of my first workout with the BOSU.

Three years later, I’m not quite as wobbly (thank goodness, since I teach a one-hour class each week that is all about the BOSU), but workouts on this fitness tool are just as challenging as they ever were.

According to the BOSU website, the BOSU Balance Trainer, invented by David Weck, debuted in 2000. Originally “BOSU” was an acronym for “Both Sides Up.” It meant that the trainer could be used on either side, the dome or the platform. However, the acronym now stands for “Both Sides Utilized,” but I'm not really sure how that varies from the original meaning... From this point on, I'll be referring to the BOSU trainer as just "the BOSU."

The great thing about integrating the BOSU into a workout is that you can't help but work multiple muscles at once. For example, if you were doing a bicep curl, you would stand on the BOSU (while doing the exercise), and not only would you be working your bicep, but you would also be engaging your core (meaning your abdominal and back muscles) as well as your legs to stabilize yourself.

Then, you can challenge your balance by changing your footing. Try popping one heel up while keeping the other down, or if you're really daring, you can continue to curl while standing on one foot (bear in mind that this is still pretty challenging for even me).

The ways to use the BOSU are endless. When I first began using it, I would primarily stand on it while doing squats, lunges or upper body exercises. Remember that you've always got footing choices based on your comfort level. For example, with a squat, you can do the exercise with one foot on the BOSU and one foot on the ground (whenever you're doing a squat or lunge with one foot up and one down, make sure that the foot on the BOSU is right in the middle of the dome). Or you can do it with both feet on. Or you can try popping the heel or standing on one foot (like I mentioned above).

Now I use the BOSU for so much more. I will do planks with my elbows on the dome side. I will hold onto the BOSU, flat side up, and do push-ups or planks. I will even use the BOSU as a weight, using it to do a chest press movement while I do squats (with my feet on the ground) or holding it above my head while doing walking lunges.

I love this tool so much that I teach a class each week — BOSU Burn and Firm — that is designed around using the BOSU. The format combines resistance training with cardio bursts. We alternate between 5 minutes of resistance work (using the BOSU) and 5 minutes of cardio (that can range from athletic drills that often involve the BOSU to cardio kickboxing) for an hour. I think my regulars will attest to the fact that this class is well worth their time.

The bottom line? After 10 years of teaching group fitness, I’ve seen a lot of fitness “toys” come and go. But in my opinion, the BOSU has stood the test of time and is a “fit” you should check out.

Is there a fitness tool like the BOSU that you couldn’t live without? Tell us about it in the “Comment” section or on the FWAB Facebook page. Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous!