Following up on my last post about juggling, I have added a new toy to my circus repertoire – a rola bola. My rola bola is essentially a balance board, much like Jonathan’s. However mine is a little wider and comes with a pipe that has a larger diameter – I’m pretty sure this makes mine a little easier than his, but I’m OK with that.
I was able to pick up the rola bola fairly quickly after receiving it as a gift, which I can’t really explain. Unlike Jonathan, I don’t have any training or experience in controlling my balance other than learning to balance objects on my chin and nose when I was learning how to juggle. I started by holding onto a bookcase with both hands while getting up on the rola bola, and focused on not looking down. All in all, it took me about a day to be able to stay on for sixty seconds – and if I could do it that quickly, so can you.
Balance boards work your core as well as your knees and joints, but you can also be very creative with them. Actively riding a balance board is one thing, but passively riding one is pretty useful too. Focusing on another activity while on a balance board ensures that your core does more of the work, since you won’t have the capacity to “cheat” and use your knees or thighs more than necessary to balance. Jonathan’s activity of choice was dribbling with a hockey stick – mine, as you may have guessed, is juggling.
I picked up juggling on the rola bola pretty quickly, and I can really feel a difference between riding the rola bola and riding it while juggling – my core definitely does more of the work while juggling than when I don’t focus on something else. Without my activity, I can actively choose to shift my weight with my legs more than just my core would normally, so my core misses out on some potential work it could be doing, and thus I don’t build as much core strength as I’d like.
Balance is a key to living well, and any way we can find to work on it is great, especially if it also happens to be fun to practice.