Arthur Jones was the innovator that brought us the Nautilus Exercise Machines and retired as the CEO of the Medx Corporation. He spent a life time developing/perfecting exercise machines and researching spinal and cervical rehabilitation. Jones was involved in exercise for nearly 60 years and invested millions of dollars of his own money in personal research in the field. His agonizing pursuit of intrinsic knowledge in exercise was a product of the passion of his philosophy of life, which was enlightened self interest. Arthur Jones, the eccentric genius is quoted as having said: "There must be a few people who are not idiots, but they follow the advice of idiots, listen to idiots, and train in a fashion that can only be described as idiotic." He also said, "One of the few things that I can say with no slightest reservation is the fact that meaningful communication of ideas is the most difficult thing you will ever attempt. And it matters very little how simple the idea may be; things that should be obvious to a goat, and probably are obvious to a cat, still leaves many people in a state of hopeless confusion. You can make many people "believe" almost any damned thing, no matter how ridiculous it may be, but making them "understand" it is another matter entirely." This totally describes the "new age" generation in the field of physical training and there is no hope of it getting any better.
The fitness industry has had its fair share of "innovations." Innovation is commonly considered progress, and rightfully so in some arenas of thought and science. But commonly in physical fitness such "advancements" fall by the way of being merely pseudoscience. Such flimflam comes from a long line of rejection that is well documented in physical fitness past. Be that as it may, here comes another half crazed innovation in the field of exercise that has taken in plenty of "core" belief. It is called the Bosu Ball or Bosu Balance Training. It is ironically taken from the stability ball craze, possibly as a result of some of balance enthusiasts of that genre were injured badly in their performance exercises. What they have done is simply cut the ball in half and placed it down on a flat platform. What we have here is an inflated half ball so to speak, making the possibility of the individual performer falling less. So in essence one is simply standing and performing stunts on a rubberized dome. This is the true landmine of exercise if there ever was one. If that isn't enough for starters, it can be used in an opposite sense and placed "upside down." This allows for furthering the instability of your exercise prowess, therefore increasing the lurking danger of your falling again. Go figure! Look carefully before you leap as the manufacturer's note attached suggests that you had better have adequate space around you in case of such a fall, so be very prepared! This is all in the pursuit of health and fitness? Medics be on alert!
Bosu is an acronym which stands for "both sides up." As implied, anything can go on here and it often does. Bosu training creates the illusion of teaching balance but in observation portrays a rather comical lack of balance, a paradoxical Cirque de Soleil in the form of "exercise." These preparation stunts might make one ready for a lunar expedition, only the lunar unfortunately and quickly becomes looney. This new fledgling craze is catching on rather quickly. It is cropping up in gyms and health clubs at an alarming rate, and there is nothing hinting that this fitness obsession will slow anytime soon. Recently it was reported that one well known fitness guru had a Bosu festival day where approximately 300 people exhibited their balance prowess. Videos have them portrayed with the backdrops of beautiful ocean views; while our fearless performers are demonstrating this insanity on seaside cliffs (don't try this at home!) A closer look and their warning labels read as follow; "Failure to read and follow the safety instructions stated in the owner's manual and video may result in possible serious injury or death. Children must be supervised by an adult familiar with the proper use of this product." Yes indeed, this warning is particularly appropriate for a lawn mower as danger does lurk in these instances, but what intelligent adult would even bother with such a hazardous child's toy?
Is this a game for the children or the adults, or are the adults considered the children? This is arrested development by default. Frightfully, this practice nevertheless is now emerging and becoming widely popular and as always it is simply another fitness "concept" appearing out of thin air. What are the claimed advantages and the benefits? Well, there are a fair share of them ranging from weight loss, superior balance, complete bodily strengthening, mimicking sports activities, and ostentatiously the rehabilitation of knee injuries. Of course they couldn't trick the fitness consumer without proclaiming such baffling luxuries as the improvement of your kinesthetic awareness, and proprioceptive reflexes. These terms refer however to the adaptive developmental conditions that are very specific to the exact tasks that we do every day. Such training would have to consider training the impulses that interact primarily from your inner ear. Again to just hear such terminology is enough to impress us that we do certainly require this training and the like. This is nothing new under the sun (NNUTS) and if you were to research this exercise lore, you would find a fitness era far removed from today, but not very different at all. This was an era long before any of these fitness "innovators" were born. But like any up to the minute "cutting edge" fitness folly, it creates a clever "new" twist. It allows for a bit of fun, but other than that it is a worthless ploy, an exercise in complete futility. Let's take a look back
The 1940s were a hectic time in the era of our country. Physical fitness was at the forefront of society. While our soldiers were at war, people in general had to also play the part of being fit. Exercising was common place for the "war worker," as there were many articles and books clamoring for all to be physically fit. A landmark book written at that time was called The Six Factors of Physical Fitness. It was the complete companion to our fitness needs at that time. It included chapters that were a prelude to what is seen today as the origin of the balance cult. This radical training was referred to as equilibrium training, meaning the state of balance of the body. It was a growing concern then as it is today based on the fact that we as a nation depended on the extensive use of cars, elevators, trains, and various other mechanized conveniences. It was thought that we were losing that perfect sense of balance, and this was taken away from us by these horrible luxuries. But alas, in this book there was a variety of balance skills matched with a selection of many simple implements that were meant to "right the ship." But to the credit of the Six Factors Book, there was nothing to sell the public except for the genuine concern for health and well being. There were five other factors were included in the book and those were endurance, suppleness, strength, speed, and skill (which balance is unto it self). There were many other physical educators that had a compelling, although specious concern again about our health and well being. Their main concern however was to "balance" out the body by adding this sixth, elusive factor. But the body itself is a complicated and brilliant work of physiological machinery and adapts to skills rather specifically. Developmental physical education, games, and sports are taught to children from the early stages of maturational development on. These physical/recreational activities help to balance out the educational mental lulls of elementary education, as well as to cull out potential athletes to sport. It is a tradition that has been passed down for decades. As these children become older and graduate to the work force, the balance in life itself is well understood, matured, and developed. Fun physical fitness is then seen again however in health clubs and gyms. Offered as the end all - be all and with a dash of fun, these balance skills are realized again in the form of the latest in fitness fad. These have been something amiss for years, but these are simply stunts that could only benefit a child in their physical development. These have been left in our consciousness, only to be conveniently dug up again. Just like back to the future, your inner child is again realized. Realize that these are merely recreational stunts, and your selection of the "game plan" is purely yours to your unique individual taste and preference. Sports and games are just that, they are personal and distinct individual choices.
Trick or Treat?
Today's stability ball and Bosu training are merely fitness trends of absolutely no demonstrated value whatsoever. These are childish skills and they will make you better at utterly nothing outside their realm. They are merely silly rituals, regardless of the lip service given. This is another example of retrogressive fitness "technological" trickery and deceit at its best. It is one of many of the performance based exercises that leave you at the center of the stage with no rewards and no audience approval. Outside of that there is no visible physical improvement. This is an entrapment akin to the days of the fervent aerobics classes that never paid off physically, only making you spent in more ways than one. This becomes another example of an adult romper room activity that provides an exhilarating activity, but trapping you in the same bodily depression for years to come. Like these other fitness failures, you have been captivated by a new trend and taken in period.
The name of the game in physical fitness excellence is progressive seeable and measurable results. The only thing that can give you this is strategized (not random) progressive strength training. Progressive strength training is simply the use of Dumbbells, Barbells, and various Strength Machines. This entails strengthening the muscles one to two times a week in an order of time that should not exceed past thirty minutes. This involves the lifting of weights to a point where the muscle experience localized fatigue or a "burn" so to speak. One set is all that is needed to address the body responsibly. After all, you are not employed by physical labor standards, its exercise pure and simple. You are addressing the body, not picking up a part time job. This understanding allows for intelligent exercise dosage. The main objective in exercise should be maximum bodily health. This again simply involves the strengthening of lean muscle and the attaining of minimum fat by a moderately reduced of calorie intake. This combination will give you a charge of physical energy and ability that you can actually use for the rest of your life. The time is now to act upon this and become the absolute best you can be. You will achieve physical results beyond your expectations, without the crazy fads that waste your time and money. If you are seeking the aforementioned inexpensive and dubious apparatus to expedite your physical fitness, there is always these lurking fitness quacks to expose you to this low grade mentality. Set the highest standards for yourself and avoid this and any other fitness dogma like the plague.
© 2010 David Landau