After spending a couple of weeks suspiciously eyeing up a group of people participating in a gruelling Vew-do Balance Board class from behind the safety of the glass windows of my local gym’s class room, I finally reached my turning point where I could say: now is the time not just to watch this craze, but actually be part of it!
This new type of class was launched a weeks ago and is gaining popularity very fast. The balance board was originally designed for skiers and then surfers to practice their skills in the off season and at night. It has now come to be used for training in different type of sports, for rehab, and most recently it has become (in my opinion) one of the most challenging, fun and infuriating pieces of fitness equipment ever to hit the gyms, too. The purpose is the same: to develop physical fitness whilst improving balance, motor coordination skills, weight distribution and core strength.
As the picture shows, the balance board resembles a smaller surf board in shape. The board fits on top of three “rocks” – a cylindrical roller, a half-sphere wobble attachment and a rocker or flat block with a rounded top. All of them will move and rock in various directions, so your challenge is to keep stable while you’re carrying out the exercises. All these different attachments mean you can use the board for lots of standard exercises, from lunges and press-ups to squats and plank, all of which are just that bit tougher than usual.
One of the participants of the class is still smiling – clearly, we have only just done the warm-up…
I really enjoyed the class because working with a completely unstable surface made all the traditional exercises a lot more challenging for me, as the board forces your body to employ various muscles which don’t normally get used, so you get a full-body workout. The instructor did a circuit type of class which meant that we worked different parts of our bodies with each exercise and mixed strength and cardio exercises together. I would describe his instruction style as “military officer” – beware if you are caught out resting too much!
Needless to say, I have never sweated and felt the urge to swear more during an exercise class! I felt thoroughly exercised in every bit of my body by the end of the 60 minutes, and I am aching all over as I am writing this blog entry. I also enjoyed the “camaraderie” that was gradually formed amongst us, a class of complete strangers to each other at the start, but later united in sweat, overflowing adrenaline, flushed faces and wobbling arms and legs and exchanging painful looks on our faces!
The vew-do class provides a great variety of exercises which can be adapted for different fitness levels, and helps you shape up, improve your balance and core strength. I find it quite addictive in a sado-masochistic way – you know it is gonna hurt and you will work to your limits, but you just want to go back to ask for more because it is so good for your body!
Unfortunately, only after a couple of sessions, the class was taken off the timetable and the instructor vanished (I think he was not from the UK and must have gone back to his home country). When I tried to find out if I can get my own Vew-Do fitness balance board, I was very disappointed to see that this excellent product is nowhere to be purchased in the UK. Nowhere.
If you know of a good place in the UK to get it from, please let me know! Or if you are a Vew-Do distributor, please get in touch because I could use these in personal training and classes!