Tag: Balance


When I was 15, the televisions show called Eye on LA visited my house to do an interview with me on the martial arts for a spot they were producing on Ninjitsu. They also wanted to see my backyard as I had turned my 2000 square foot garden into a fully fledged ninja training camp. This series of articles is going to tell you what I had in my backyard so you too can create your own martial arts backyard dojo too. Since there have been a lot of developments in the arena of fitness and martial arts gear, you should be able to come up with a more modern version of a training location.

Before I begin.

If you are just beginning to place some items into your yard, garage or large room – do not worry too much about looks at first. Your first priority is performance and training. As you progress, you can focus on improving the look and feel of your workout location. This means that you can start by throwing in some used tires, old weights, or whatever you can find at the dump that can be somehow converted into a training tool. In the beginning, get very creative.

I have not put the items (or tips and ideas) in any particular order and since this is article one of many, you will need to review the other articles for the full scope of what to include.


I started training on 4×4 wood (covered in duct tape) balance beams in the martial arts as part of a warm up. They are great for improving balance as well as working on your kicks. In my backyard I was lucky as we already had some long wooden poles about 12 feet each. They were being used as a sort of border before the fence that led to a schoolyard. They were similar in size to a 4×4 only they had rounded edges. Because they were meant to look rough, I had to worry about getting splinters. However, they were a welcome addition to my obstacle course.

I have used everything from a fallen coconut tree to a simple block of wood (4×4) from Home Depot. Whatever you use, try to find something that you can walk across in your bare feet. You can raise the beam for more of a challenge or just leave it on the ground as it is.

Here are a few ways to use a balance beam:

Basic training

Simply practice walking across the beam or beams. Then try walking faster or even running across the beams. Finally, close your eyes and try to walk from one end of the beam to the other. This is a lot harder than it sounds.

Slow motion kicks

One simple exercise we use in our camps is for students to perform slow motion kicks (like front kicks) on the beams as they walk across the beam from one end to the other. For example:

  • Step up onto one end of the beam
  • Focus first on getting your balance
  • Perform a front kick step-by-step in slow motion
  • Take a step forward and repeat the process with the other leg

The above training is simple, but it will drastically improve your balance as well as your kicks. Good kicks to work on are:

  • The low sweep kick and front kick (easiest as you do not have to pivot the foot as much).
  • Side kicks and round kicks (harder as you need to move more and maintain balance)

You should be familiar with the coil position, pivot, extension and recoil parts of any kick. The main idea is to perform the kicks slow. It is much harder to throw a kick slow (breaking it into 1 second parts for example) than it is to throw a fast kick. You can also combine the training and perform one at a slow speed, another at medium speed and the final kick at a fast pace. Kicking slow will develop the muscles and parts of the body that create the foundation for powerful kicks. Kicking fast will help you advanced balance (adjusting and regaining balance …


Today is one of those days I just wish I had more time to do everything that is on my “to do list. I tried to squeeze too many errands in between nap times for my twins babies and ended up with 2 screaming babies in my car. Oh boy. And now I am feeling frustrated at myself for causing baby tears and frustrated that my chores and errands are not finished! While you may not have twin babies, I am sure you have felt your life implode perhaps for other reasons.

So BALANCE…how do we get it? How do we accomplish our goals while maintaining some sort of inner peace?

A good friend once introduced me to the concept of checking in with my values when making goals, structuring my schedule, and just living everyday life. What are your top five values in life? Do your actions and activities in your life support these values or are your activities and actions incongruent with your values?

I would challenge all of us to exercise our right to have direction in our lives and establish those top values. If fitness, health and weight loss is important to you, then ultimately you must make time for it or you will feel uneasy, frustrated and perhaps even depressed about it. If you also value feeling rested and refreshed, then perhaps 8 hours of sleep is a priority for you as well. So how do you make time for both??

It takes 21 days to establish a new habit. My challenge for the month of May is to change a current actions in your life to uphold and support your top 2 goals and values. Give it 21 days…a very consistent 21 days consecutively. Maybe the alarm is set one hour earlier to start the day with exercise, then at the end of the day, you need not worry about it, it is done and you can hit the hay knowing you have already exercised AND getting to bed early enough for that all important sleep.

How does TIMING play into all of this? Some goals and priorities are present at specific times in our lives. For me at this time in my life, mothering is a top value. I desire to be the kind of Mother who is available and present in heart, mind and body. I want to be the one who cooks them breakfast, lunch and dinner…reads to them…takes them to their activities…puts them to bed each night. Does it make sense then for me to fill my schedule with so many other commitments that I am not able to be available to my babies and 5 year old? No. However, perhaps after my children all enter school, I will have the spare time to dive into other life goals I would like to pursue.

What goals in your life deserve your attention right now?? What opportunities will pass you by if you don’t do it presently?

May Challenge: 21 days for your 2 top goals!


Source by Cathy Herd


New Balance elliptical trainers have been a favorite of home exercise enthusiast for the past few years. Of course New Balance shoes have been a favorite of runners and cross trainers for many years. The company’s fitness equipment is made in China and Taiwan is marketed through Fitness Quest of Canton Ohio. Fitness Quest also markets several other brands of fitness equipment including Ab Lounge, Edge and Total Gym.

Recently t he company has begun marketing the New Balance 8000 elliptical trainer. As luck would have it, an acquaintance of ours recently purchased an 8000 and was breaking it in. She is a fitness freak like many of us and had already ridden the machine for 50 hours. We asked her if we could test the elliptical out and do a review and she gladly assented.

We used 5 test subjects to evaluate the New Balance 800. They ranged from 6 months to 4 years in experience in using elliptical trainers. The weights of the testers ranged from 109 pounds to our 265 pound linebacker. We asked each to conduct 3 normal workouts over a period of a week. They were to note the ease of use, smoothness, fitness programs, stride length and comfort, sound levels, stability, total body comfort, perceived workout level, electronics and over all fit.

According to the brochures the 8000 model weighs in at about 180 lbs and has a 40 by 30 inch foot print which should give it relatively good stability. It is also rated to 300 lbs. Our testers initially really liked the foot pedals due their size. The ability to change the stride length from 18 to 20 inches is a good feature but a better one would be a fully adjustable stride length. Two of the testers wanted a little more stride than 18 inches but not the full 20. The stride length was not a problem when work at normal speeds but when conducting an intense workout these testers ended up having to use the shorter stride.

Stability was not too bad even for our football player who really made the machine rock and roll on the pad. A more durable or harder pad might have added to stability. Sound levels were comparable to all but the loudest of ellipticals allowing one to watch TV without headphones at moderate workout levels. Testers felt that the workout programs would probably satisfy all but a few home exercise buffs. The display was easy to read but blacked out on one of the tester during her workout. We were unable to get the console to repeat its failure so we are unsure as to the cause of the failure.

All testers gave the 8000 a 3 rating out of 5 in terms of smoothness of operation when compared to the more expensive commercial elliptical trainers. In addition everyone found it easy to use the upper body handles to enhance their workout.

We were not able to determine the durability of this unit based on the short time that it was in use. To date there are few reviews of the New Balance 8000 that would give a real clue as to any problems with this model. It should be noted that Fitness Quest does not have the best record when it comes to customer service. As a result we would recommend an extended warranty to cover the electronics and parts. New Balance or Fitness Quest provides a standard 10 year frame, 2 year electronics and one year parts warranty but labor and shipping costs are not included.

With an overall score of 3.75 out of 5 our testers felt that the New Balance 8000 would probably be a good purchase for the average home fitness enthusiast. The greatest concern given was the fact that this elliptical trainer was marketed and serviced by Fitness Quest which does not have a good reputation among fitness people.


Source by Jim Kesel

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