I go to the gym multiple times a week, taking part in CrossFit workouts and other functional fitness-style sessions. My focus is always on improving my strength, fitness and mobility, which often means zeroing in on the components of these three things.
Things like coordination, stability and balance. Studies have shown that improving balance can help improve mobility, reaction time, strength, injury prevention and even quality of life.
That’s because balance plays a key role in how we move. In the gym, I’m hoping better balance will help me move free-weights with more control—whether that’s in big compound lifts like back squats or thrusters, or lighter, dynamic moves like the dumbbell snatch—and improve my running.
To develop this attribute I’ve been using a short routine from clinical exercise physiologist Victoria Rose. It’s made up of five bodyweight exercises, three of which require a foam pad or a cushion to stand on.
It's a routine you can do before or after your usual training sessions to challenge your brain and body.
Take a look at Rose's Instagram Reel below where she demonstrates each exercise.
A photo posted by on
Rose recommends doing these exercises daily to see improvements. She also suggests standing by a wall or chair for extra support if you lose balance.
I tried it on my lunch break and it was easy to do from home. I found these moves required core stability too, not just balance. I practice yoga once a week, so the single-leg balancing moves were familiar and I was comfortable doing them. However, adding closed eyes significantly increased the difficulty.
I found the heel-toe walking manageable, but when I tried doing it backward, as Rose recommended, I fell off balance a few times. One to practice.
The ball-catching exercise requires another person and is great for coordination. I didn't have anyone to join me, so instead I balanced on one leg on a cushion while throwing a tennis ball up and down in the air. This was still a challenging test of my balance and concentration.
Although this routine is not like my usual CrossFit sessions—no burning muscles or puddles of sweat—I still found the moves challenging. I realized I needed more practice before I could do them without wobbling or falling. Hopefully adding some of these moves into my warm-up routine will level up my training.
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Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.