How’s your sense of balance? Do you avoid balancing exercises, or hate balance poses in yoga? It’s my experience that most people don’t have much confidence in their ability to balance, and that everyone definitely needs some type of balance training in their fitness routines.
The 5 Tenets of Fitness
Balance is one of the 5 tenets of fitness. When most people think about fitness, strength training and cardio usually come to mind. However, there are more aspects of your fitness that you need to consider to be well-rounded, and pardon the pun – well-balanced.
In addition to strength and cardiovascular fitness, you also need to train balance, coordination, and flexibility.
I call these the 5 Tenets of Fitness:
Strength – In the most basic context, allows you to move through your environment.
Cardio – Provides you endurance to keep moving.
Balance – Keeps you upright, so that you can move.
Coordination – Allows you to use all of the tenets separately and interchangeably as you move.
Flexibility – Increases your range of motion, and improves overall efficiency of effort.
If you’re like most people, and not so confident in your ability to balance, then don’t be alarmed. Balance is something that improves if you practice it. It improves in much the same way that strength and cardio improve when you’re consistent in working on them.
Include balance training regularly in your training program, and you will notice improvement.
If balance training isn’t already included in your training program, then you need to ask your trainer why.
What is Balance?
Balance is basically your body’s ability to interpret information about your position in an environment. The cues that your body uses to interpret this information come from nerves firing and muscle engagement, fluid positioning within your inner ears, and visual judgment and spacial recognition.
Your brain is constantly taking all of this information into consideration so that you can maintain your sense of direction and navigate your environment.
Some fundamental movements are basically balancing bodyweight exercises like walking, or standing on one leg. In yoga, tree pose, and dancer’s pose come to mind. Lunges, one-leg hops, step ups, and all kinds of exercises have a component of balance to them.
More advanced displays of balance are when you can manipulate the core muscles that allow you to shift your center of gravity around. If you’ve ever seen Cirque du Soleil, then you understand the possible extent of one’s balance at the height of their fitness.
Benefits of Balance
The main benefits of balance are that you can move with agility and prevent injury.
Our bodies are the vessels that we use to travel through this amazing experience called life. It makes sense that the better our sense of balance, the easier time we will have exploring this world. We use balance in every type of movement, the most obvious being walking.
You want to climb that hill and get a great view of the forest, or walk up to that ledge and view the coastline? Well, balance is going to help get you there.
As we age, a good sense of balance will help us prevent injury from falling or bumping into things. We should strive to keep this vessel tuned up for as long as we can!
Equipment Used to Train Balance
You can add weight with kettlebells and dumbbells to lunges and other exercises that will increase their difficulty. There are also some exercise equipment pieces that excel in helping with balance training. Bosu Balls and the TRX Suspension Trainer are great for training balance. Many exercises that you can do with this equipment are designed specifically to help with your balance.
The great thing about TRX is that it can be easily modified to most fitness types, doesn’t require much space, and can be used wherever you have a doorway.
Ideally, your training program includes balance, and all of the 5 tenets of fitness. All of my programs include balance, and it’s something that I give consideration to while I develop my workouts and programs.
How is your balance, do you need some extra balance training?
Let me know about it in the comments below, or check out JohnnyFit Online to work on all 5 tenets of fitness!