Favorite Things

AFX Foot MaXimizer

foot strengthenerThe Ankle Foot MaXimizer (AFX) is a fantastic new conditioning tool developed in Vancouver, and used regularly by Williams Health Group professionals. The AFX gives athletes, exercisers and practitioners the ability to selectively and progressively strengthen the muscles of the feet and lower legs. This helps in function, performance and injury prevention. Check out the benefits of the AFX as it relates to posture and performance here. 

Bosu Ball

If there’s one product in the fitness industry that I wish I’d thought of, it’s the Bosu Trainer, also known as the Bosu Ball. Because the industry has changed so much over the last decade, with the integration of more functional, ground-based activities, the timing of this product launch was perfect.

Primarily recognized as a balance training device, the best thing about the Bosu is the versatility. It’s possible to take almost any traditional exercise and integrate the Bosu for added benefit. Even the most basic exercises like squats, step-ups and push-ups can be made more challenging when performed on the unstable surface of the Bosu, and there are so many different exercises and variations of exercises that the options are endless. When you compare the benefits of a squat movement performed on a solid, stable surface to a squat movement performed on the unstable Bosu, it’s easy to see that the increase in muscle activity and neuromuscular coordination required to maintain balance on the Bosu is a valuable training stimulus.

Another point worth mentioning is the broad appeal of this device. Simply standing on the soft rubber dome can help senior citizens improve their balance and coordination. Athletes can increase their explosive power and muscular control by using the Bosu during plyometric conditioning sessions. Rehab patients will benefit from the balance stimulus through the controlled instability of the product. When my two boys come to my studio its hard to keep them from jumping on the Bosu as an enjoyable and challenging play activity. For almost anyone I also encourage using the Bosu barefoot for improved conditioning of the foot musculature. However you use it, always warm your body up beforehand, and be careful with your foot placement to avoid falls or ankle injuries. I recommend getting your physician’s approval before trying any of the following exercises.

A trainer can assist with proper alignment

Bosu Lunge. When performing a Bosu lunge with your rear foot on the Bosu, ensure that your core is engaged to stabilize your pelvis and your front foot remains flat on the floor, targeting 90˚ angles at both knees at the bottom of the movement. This should help to keep your weight back far enough that both legs will be working as you squeeze your body up and down. Avoid the tendency to lean forward or to let your weight shift onto your front foot.

  1. Watch knee alignment

    Bosu Squat. One good use for the Bosu is to teach balanced alignment and good weight distribution during bodyweight squats. Start with your feet flat on top of the Bosu, with neither your heels nor your toes pressing deeply into the dome. Try to maintain this level, balanced position of the feet and constant pressure into the Bosu as you complete your squat. If your toes press deeply into the Bosu, you’re weight is too far forward and you’re likely over-emphasizing your quads during the squat or putting excess pressure on your knees. This may also result in a lack of glute/hip involvement during the squat movement.

    Rob Williams is a Vancouver based multi-business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is an entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, athlete, father, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community.

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