Equipment: Striking a Balance

Bodywork: Fitness for the Outside Athlete, November 1996


Equipment: Striking a Balance
By John Alderman


Chances are, you'll never try to pull off a 720-degree spin with a tail grab on your snowboard. But if you do want to, or if you just want to develop the requisite coordination, balance, and body symmetry, take a ride on the Vew-Do Balance Board from Balance Designs ($124, 802-362-7098). It's an elegantly low-tech training tool used by everyone from reigning world freestyle snowboarding champion Ross Powers to the kayakers and skiers at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.

Part skateboard, part seesaw, the handcrafted Vew-Do consists of a nonskid wooden deck atop a plastic rail that slides along a grooved wooden roller. Kevin Moody, an athletic trainer at the Olympic Training Center, recommends that Vew-Do beginners start by simply balancing over the roller, feet at either end. "Once you've got that down, go dynamic: Play with your stance and roll the board out to both sides," he says. "Then try all that with your eyes shut."

With the basics mastered, you can start making your moves sport-specific. Skiers can get into a tuck and throw their hips side to side, and surfers can hone their various stances. Do try this at home. The best place to use the Vew-Do is on close-cut carpet in an area cleared of furniture. Indeed, snowboarder Powers perfected his world-class, aerial stunts in the comfort of his living room.

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