YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Fitness | GEAR

A steady approach to fitness

September 29, 2003|Roy M. Wallack

Instability is not a good thing in most aspects of life, but it's great for fitness training, helping to strengthen your heart, posture and coordination.

Trying to balance on a moving surface while stretching, doing aerobics and weightlifting works large groups of muscles. It's great for your "core" muscles -- the abdominals, back and glutes.

No wonder workouts with balance products are growing in popularity at health clubs. Here are four for use at home.


Adding bounce to your workout

BOSU Balance Trainer: Bouncy, trampoline-like fun on an inflatable half sphere.

Likes: Excellent 30-minute video that provides a step-style aerobic workout. Great for crunches and push-ups. Can be used right-side up or upside-down (hence BOSU -- Both Sides Up). Easy to inflate with pump (included). Good for strengthening feet and ankles, which get worked at unusual angles.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $129.95 (three video/DVDs are $14.95 each). (800) 321-9236;


Some cushioning underfoot

Dyna-Disc: Pillow-like, inflatable disc got its start in physical rehabilitation.

Likes: Useful for single-leg exercises and sit-ups. More than one disc can be used for double-leg exercises, squats, lunges and push-ups. Can be used as an unstable seat cushion.

Dislikes: Includes only a two-page exercise sheet, with no formal workout program.

Price: $29.99. (888) 556-7464;


Hanging 10 in your living room

Reebok Core Board: Tilting, twisting rectangular platform that will make you feel like you're riding a tiny surfboard.

Likes: A versatile, all-around workout. Twisting motion works the often-neglected transverse abdominal muscles.

Small, cut-out notches in the 26-by-19-inch board allows for stretch cord resistance workout. The solid platform is ideal for boxing and martial arts movements. Optional workout video.

Dislikes: Heavy at 30 pounds; carrying it may be cumbersome.

Price: $169. Three video workout tapes, $20- $25 each. (800) REEBOK1;


A challenge for abs and glutes

Fitter First Balance Board: Updated version of the old wobble board, but tricky to use.

Likes: Simple balancing on the 16-inch plastic disc is initially quite challenging. Works your abs and glutes. Adjustable height lets you gauge the difficulty.

Dislikes: After a few basic moves -- rocking side-to-side, standing on one foot or doing push-ups -- you may run out of things to do.

Unsuitable for a good aerobic workout. Too unstable for comfortable use with dumbbells.

Price: $39.95. (800) FITTER1;


-- Roy M. Wallack

Los Angeles Times Articles