Shaping Up: With Lisa Ciaravella

Lisa Ciaravella Start your new year off in BALANCE!

What? The professional strength coach is starting her weekly column with balance? I know what you’re thinking: What happened to six-pack abs or new thigh exercises? Instead we get balance?

But it’s important to look at your fitness and training programs like you are building a pyramid. The bottom layer of the pyramid is composed of balance, core, and adaptations to the exercise (so you can guess what next week’s column is about). When we were kids, we didn’t just get our first bike, hop on, and pedal for hours. There was a learning curve. Some learning curves may have been a little more painful than others. It may have involved training wheels or assistance from others to reduce the risk of injury, and to help teach the young rider how to balance on the bike. The same is true with your fitness program.

You need the learning curve to prepare your mind and body for the demands you want to impose upon it. One of the best ways to progress your fitness program is to open up the line of communication between the mind and body through balance training (the training wheels). The simplest definition for balance is an awareness of your center of gravity. Why is your center of gravity important? Well, regardless of the physical demands of your job, your daily activities, or of the sport you might play, your center of gravity is what allows you to move efficiently – without falling over –and it is what keeps you injury free.

Balance is a rough term used to describe a very complex system that your body initiates every time you move. The system includes your mind sending signals to the muscles to fire and stabilize joints through movement to keep you injury free. The exercises below are a few quick additions that can be added to your fitness routine to quickly improve both balance and the communication link between the mind and body, thus resulting in improved strength, better agility, and a little less clumsiness throughout your day.

Remember, you never forget how to ride a bike!

Toe Touches

  1. Balance on one foot, with the opposite hand extended overhead
  2. Keeping your knee inline with your toe, reach down and touch your toe using a slight bend in the knee
  3. Return to the start position
  • Make sure you are focused on pushing through your heel,
    you do not want your knee extending passed you toe!
  • Work up to 15 repetitions, three times.

    Balance Reach

    1. Place three cones in a triangle, and balance on one leg at the base of the triangle in the middle
    2. Keep you knee and toe facing the front cone the entire time
    3. Reach out with your hand and touch the front cone and return to the start position, then repeat to the side cones.
  • Work up to three times for six repetitions. Touching each cone once is one repetition.

    Forward Scales

    (for fun, I like to call these Mighty Mouses)

    1. Balance on one leg, keeping excellent posture and your base leg at a soft lock position. Bend at the waist, and extend your chest forward until your chest is parallel with the floor
    2. Tuck your arms by your side and keep your head up.
    3. Try to straighten out the back leg as much as possible and pull your toe to your shin.
    4. Try to make your body parallel with the floor
  • Do not lose your balance!
  • Work up to holding the position two times for one minute each.