Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-Do You BOSU?-

Hey y’all!

Here’s a little vid clip of me discussing the BOSU balance trainer.  In a nutshell, my opinion is this:  if you can’t do an exercise on the ground, why in the hell would you do it on top of a squishy, unstable bubble?

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, a gazillion trainers out there are guilty of having their clients do exercises using this device when the time isn’t right.  It’s irresponsible, in my opinion, and not only ridiculous, but unsafe…and just plain dumb…and…and…

I mean, we fitness professionals are supposed to be helping our clients progress, NOT regress.  It’s pretty evident that a trainer who has their elderly female client doing squats on top of this thing, when she can barely squat on the ground, is a dumbass.  I’m sorry for the potty mouth, but i’m on my soapbox!  😀 Having a client perform exercises that encourage faulty movement patterns is a BAD thing!  This would be an example, because if this particular client can’t squat to begin with, the BOSU sure as hell ain’t gonna help!

Hopefully grandma doesn’t fall off the BOSU, leading to a fractured hip and a lawsuit!  

You get my point.

So…if you’re at the right level to give these exercises a whirl, do so!  What are your opinions on BOSU training?  Have you witnessed a trainer having a client do exercises that were obviously not right for them?  I want to hear from you!  Leave me some comment love!

Yours in Health,



20 responses

  1. Oh, honey, I’ve BEEN that boneheaded idiot trainer! When I first started working with clients I found out pretty quickly that a lot of what I thought I knew about progressing clients was wrong. I’m NASM certified, and the NASM model is all about taking clients from corrective training to stabilization to strength to power, so naturally I figured having people do single leg squats on the Bosu while doing biceps curls with the left hand and overhead presses with the right was just a PERFECT semi-entry-level exercise! I mean, it’s stabilization training, right? Duh. Thank goodness I’m a quick learner..

    The BOSU isn’t my favorite piece of exercise equipment by a long shot, but we’ve got about a zillion of them at the gym where I train so I do use them sometimes. I like to have people do vertical jumps on them if they’ve got enough ankle stability to stick their landings,and I also like to use them for split squats with either the front or the rear leg elevated on the BOSU. There are also some good traveling pushup variations incorporating the BOSU. None of this is even remotely entry-level stuff, though.

    May 20, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    • Hey Laura!

      Trust me, i’ve had plenty a bonehead moment! I think i’m going to devote an entire post to this, in fact! I look back and realize that up until 2004, I was a complete nimrod trainer. I knew stuff, but there was so much I could have learned and done. I was still “bodybuilding Sarah”! Then when I realized I could do all sorts of fun stuff, I got overzealous and realize that I had clients doing exercises that were way too advanced for their level! Case in point, a beginning client doing MB shuffle knee pushups? WTF? I would never have a beginner doing that! I mean, learn the pushup first, preferably an elevated pushup and not on your knees, THEN progress to the “real deal” on the floor, etc. I believe a lot of my “let’s do this cool exercise” times were b/c I simply lacked confidence in myself. Thank goodness I started erasing that lame-ass “you’re not good enough” tape that was constantly playing inside my head!

      Jumping on the dome is fun! I also use the BOSU for some “cardio-ish” stuff like toe taps, lateral shuffles, stepups, etc. If I loved it, it would suck b/c the thing is just too damn bulky to carry around from client to client. It used to stay in my trunk and now it stays at home!

      May 20, 2009 at 7:01 pm

  2. Only time I had a trainer and a BOSU was at Life Time Fitness. The only thing that we did with it, was flip it over and do push ups on it.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    • Hey Chris!
      Aha! Push-ups dome side down are cool! I love the push-up position plank (or high plank) stuff you can do with the BOSU. Actually, one of my favorite things to do with a stability ball is a high plank hold with perturbations…basically I have a client hold the high plank while I crouch in front of them and beat on the ball! It rocks! Great challenge for the entire body!

      Yours in Health,

      May 20, 2009 at 7:29 pm

  3. Thanks for writing this, Sarah…and speaking abou it in your video…This is one of the reasons I decided to get certified and learn as much about training others as possible…especially overweight or “seasoned’ clients. (your term!)

    Nice exercises though….like them both! But definitely not for a beginner or someone out of shape.

    Your vids totally rock!

    “Your Partner in Trivial Pursuit”,


    May 20, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    • Hola Fred!
      You’re welcome! Thank you for appreciating my stuff & what I have to say!
      I have a gazillion vids and there will be more…never an end to ideas for stuff!
      Eventually there just might be a DVD…or a more streamlined way of packaging a “finished” vid & making it available for download. Until then, i’ll just keep doing things this way!
      Yours in Health,

      May 21, 2009 at 7:39 am

  4. DDRdiva

    Here’s some hardcore BOSU training:

    I see a lot of mixed opinions on BOSU. I have one, and mostly use it as a “modifier” for plyo stuff, like practicing clap pushups. It’s also fun to stand on while playing Guitar Hero. I’ll have to try those exercises you demonstrated, thanks!

    May 21, 2009 at 8:39 am

    • Hey Sue!

      Pfister is a beast! I love the Strongman competitions!

      In my old age, lol (i’ll be 33 in like 2 weeks), i’ve learned that I can at times be very opinionated in my “slants” on fitness-related stuff. One thing I don’t do, though, is completely write-off something entirely just because a gazillion people abuse it (ie the BOSU). I know that I know how to use it, I know that I know which exercises are suitable for specific clients, and I know i’m not an idiot like this guy:

      Anyhow, you’re exactly right – the BOSU is a great way of “jazzing up” exercises, especially plyo stuff. In Laura’s comment above, she mentioned vertical jumps on top of the dome. Great idea when you think about the cushy landing vs being on the ground! 🙂

      I am gonna have to try standing on it while playing GH!!! Are you serious? That’s awesome! I will so do it! Another way to unleash my inner badass! GH seems to do that to me!

      Yours in Health,

      May 21, 2009 at 8:50 am

  5. jamieatlas

    The tricky thing about bosu training (as with any training) is to ask about the application of the movement to the requirements of the client.

    In some cases extra ankle stability may help the client, in others it may cause extra tension through the whole system actually regressing whatever results you were looking for. When I think of balance work on the bosu I think of RIGHTING balance vs TILTING balance. One involves recovering from losing balance/being pushed off balance from a flat surface (the ground) and the other involves staying steady while the ground underneath you tilts and moves (imagine being a surfer/snowboarder/professional sailor).

    I do think my clients have fun on it and feel good when they can balance on it with confidence – it does add a few tweaks to the workouts but can definitely be over-utilized if we let ourselves get carried away – something I seem to be pretty good at doing 🙂

    May 21, 2009 at 9:27 am

    • Hey Jamie!
      I think all passionate trainers seem to overuse whatever newfangled stuff we learn about! I know i’m guilty of that! I guess there’s two sides to the “jumping in and doing too much b/c we’re excited” issue. It indicates excitement about one’s profession and role, & willingness to “step outside the box” and try new things…yet on the other side of the coin, too much can be a bad thing (especially when done by a less-skilled trainer). I know i’m rambling, lol. Think of all the trainers out there who have been doing things the same way for 20 years. THAT is insanity, in my opinion (and so is having people do squats on top of a stability ball, lol). Ya gotta keep progressing, just as your clients must keep progressing!

      We all know there’s a cost-to-benefit tradeoff we must consider when choosing exercises for clients. Take the squats on top of the ball, for example. The cost, in my opinion, is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay greater than the benefit for most people. Now, if we’re talking training for the circus, then they may be a great idea! 😀

      Thanks for chimin’ in!

      Yours in Health,

      May 21, 2009 at 10:01 am

  6. DDRdiva

    I watched your video again and have a question about the lateral jumps. I play DDR doubles a lot (using 2 pads simultaneously) and many songs have lateral jumps just like you showed on the floor. So I’m used to doing those 2-footed jumps from side to side. Are you saying that practicing doing them with the BOSU will help me get better or faster at them? I guess I’m a little worried about twisting an ankle 🙂 Thanks!! I’ll check back later after I’m done doing today’s MTM session.

    May 21, 2009 at 10:03 am

    • Hey Sue!

      I don’t think the BOSU variety will help you get faster at the floor version, BUT they can help you work on absorbing the landing and stabilizing! If you can do them on the floor with no problem, give them a try! The main thing to think about is staying low to absorb the jump, and landing with your feet “wide”. You obviously can’t go excessively wide with em anyway, but what i’ve found is that most people tend to want to place their feet close together when standing on top of the dome. I think it’s a natural reaction to the “oh wow, this is gonna be squishy, therefore i’ll stand right on top where i can flatten it out” feeling. 🙂 A properly-filled BOSU will make things more comfortable, as well. If anything, mastering them on the floor and then throwing in the BOSU variation may help you feel even better about lateral movement on the ground.

      Yours in Health,

      PS – I haven’t had a client roll their ankle on the BOSU! Your in good hands, I promise! Let me know how your MTM workout goes today! I think i’ll post later about MTM and get peoples’ feedback!

      May 21, 2009 at 10:10 am

  7. I LOVE that you brought this up! One of the most bonehead movements I’ve ever seen was on Biggest Loser, and in my opinion was even worse than when Jillian showed kettlebell “swings!” In this last chance workout clip, a woman was standing in a split squat with EACH LEG ON THE FLAT SIDE OF A BOSU (yes, two Bosus) and she was doing lateral dumbbells raises with what looked like 5 pound weights. Yeah, that’s what a 300 pound woman needs! 🙂

    May 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    • Omg Leslie!!!
      How did I miss that? Probably because my ADD ha been supremely bad these days and in watching the show on DVR, I get busy doing other things & forget to watch! 🙂 Each foot on the flat side WHILE doing lateral raises? WTF? I don’t get it!!!! Ahhhhh, it’s for showmanship? Makes ratings go up? Sheesh!!!!!!!!! I haven’t had a client do lateral raises in forever…maybe a 1-arm variation in a half-kneeling position, but…the “regular” version just begs for crappy form from most people & over-recruitment of the traps!!! Add not one but TWO BOSUs into that equation & you get crap!!! Nuts!

      May 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

  8. Tera

    There is a trainer at a gym where I sub who has no clue what she is doing, let alone on the BOSU. She will see and exercise in a mag and then have EVERY SINGLE ONE of her clients do that exercise. Not only will she have a senior with bad knees & hips doing squats on the BOSU, but she will tell them what a great exercise it is for them as they are falling off of the thing. The BOSU is an amazing piece of equipment when used properly on clients that are ready for it.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:12 am

    • Hola Tera!
      Wow…that is eerily similar to what i’ve seen! 😦
      A senior with bad knees and hips would benefit much more from some single-leg balance work (nothing crazy) and just mastering their bodyweight, as you know!
      Can we figure out a way to “brainwash” these types of trainers, and replace the lack of thinking with applicable stuff? I wish I could do that! lol

      Yours in Health,

      May 22, 2009 at 11:18 am

  9. Jenn

    Hi Sara! I really enjoy your blog. I’m not a trainer so I don’t have an opinion on training clients on the Bosu but I love using it. I do all sorts of things that most people might consider “dumb” like turning it over and doing hip abductions and hip hyperextensions (That’s probably the wrong name!). I have a very strong core and great balance as a result of many years of dance. However I did start off doing this stuff on the floor and slowly progressed to looking like a wacko on the Bosu. Honestly I do it more for fun than anything sort of like practicing my hula hoop. I just love the challenge of balancing on the thing. I think it’s strengthened my core as well as helped me to continue to develop that mind body connection.

    June 6, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    • Hi Jenn!
      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your comments! 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoy my blog! It sounds to me that you “get” the proper use of a BOSU! If you have mastered the stuff on the floor, the you can most definitely “jazz things up” by throwing the BOSU in the mix!
      I’m gonna have to write a new post today about what I did yesterday…one of my awesome readers and Twitter buddies suggested that I try playing Guitar Hero on top of the dome. I finally tried it, and wow! It’s trickier than you think! My calves got tired!
      Keep training smart and having fun!
      Yours in Health,

      June 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

  10. Shelby

    Just found your site, it’s awesome. What do you think of a trainer, not me 🙂 who during a conditioning class has the participants hop in succession from one BOSU to another ( 6 in a row)??

    December 28, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    • Hey Shelby!

      Thank you!
      I think that there’s definitely a risk involved when it comes to “exercises” such as the one you described. The upside of exercises such as these is that they are fun, “different,” and can be a challenge for participants. The downside is that the fact that some people may not be able to hop and “stick” a landing on a BOSU without turning an ankle, and therefore this drill may not be worth the risk. I feel “fun stuff” such as this drill has it’s place, but thought must be put into the execution. Are the participants in tip-top shape or are most of them overweight with very little exercise background? Bottom line: if the goal is to provide a safe environment for exercisers, then it’s best to leave the “risky” stuff out and focus on tried-and-true movements that challenge the entire body, burn the most calories, and allow participants to achieve a sense of mastery!

      Yours in Health,

      December 31, 2009 at 11:02 am

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