My favourite piece of exercise equipment these days is a beam. The one I have is a steel pipe that has a diameter of 2 inches and it measures just less than 3 feet long (I know I should be using metric – oops). It has a couple of molded rubber feet that keeps it from rolling away. Nick St. Louis, a physiotherapist from Ottawa, invented it. He is also the founder of the Foot Collective.
Nick’s passion is foot health. I’ve met him a couple of times and taken a 6-hour seminar that he instructed. I love the logic he uses when he’s talking about health.
The foot is our foundation. If we take care of our feet by moving them in every direction they can move, the result is the rest of our body benefits. The first place to start is to get barefoot as much as we possibly can. The second part is to stand on something barefoot that we never stand on. That’s where the beam comes in. The story is that Nick found himself balancing on railings every chance he got. He then realized he could create a smaller and portable version of the railing and the Foot Collective Beam was born.
There is really no magic to the Foot Collective Beam. The magic is in being barefoot and having to balance to stay on a narrow piece of something. A 2”x4” works as well. The beauty of having something round is that it challenges your foot to grip the surface more. That wakes up the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your foot. In fact, it can be painful to start but it doesn’t take long to work out the kinks.
There are two major benefits of walking along a beam of some kind. The first is that your body has to problem solve in order to keep you standing on it. Everything between the sole of your foot and the top of your head has to stack up to maintain balance. The second benefit is that there is no way to think about anything else while you’re attempting to stay upright. It’s a moving meditation.
There are a number of movements that can be done on a beam. Here are some challenges for you if you decide to drag a 2”x4” out of the corner of the garage:
· Walk slowly along the length of the beam – like being on a tightrope.
· Stand on your right foot only and hold it as long as possible. Then try your left.
· Stand with both feet across the beam and hold that position as long as you can. You’ll find you have to be on the balls of your feet, and keep your knees bent. It’s like surfing (not that I’ve ever surfed before).
· Stand on the beam with one foot in front of the other, again like you’re on a tightrope, but don’t move your feet. Hold that as long as you can, and then switch up which foot is forward and which is behind.
These are a few ideas to get you started but the challenges are unlimited. I’ve seen videos of people doing squats and lunges. I’ve even seen jumps done from one beam to another – but let’s leave that one for another day.
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