This Training Center article is written by the editors of SNEWS®
So your customers are coming in shopping for treadmills, home gyms, yoga mats, and bikes, as well as for gear for activities such as skiing and hiking. They want to burn calories, strengthen muscles, get flexible, run faster and be better at weekend pursuits.
But if you just sell them that equipment and don't talk to them about balance training gear, you could be doing them a disservice and could lose a regular customer down the road.
Why train balance
Balance is of course what keeps us upright and mobile. And although one doesn't ever think about training balance, every one of your customers should because it is what allows them to run, walk, skate, ski, hike or run around after the kids. That's because everyone balances for a millisecond with every step and, in active pursuits and exercise, good balance helps improve performance and staves off injury.
Plus, balance has to be practiced, particularly as we age. Watch some senior
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citizens shuffling down the street. The shuffle is often because they don't have enough sense of balance or strength to actually lift a foot and not fall.
Who hasn't sprained an ankle, tripped over a rock, or slipped on a wet or icy sidewalk? Better balance can keep the little twist or slip from becoming an activity-curtailing disaster. And if your customer gets stronger and doesn't get hurt, he or she will meet their goals successfully and stay active – creating a happy, repeat customer.
What balance training does
Standing on balance or wobble boards and working to maintain an upright position does four things for a person's balance:
- It strengthens lower legs, feet and lower body muscles key to the strength needed for good balance.
- It tunes the so-called "proprioceptors" in the joints and muscles. If well-tuned, they will respond involuntarily if you start to tilt and automatically keep you upright.
- It teaches the person balancing to use and to process visual clues to keep him or her on an even keel.
- It educates a person to stand tall and look out at the horizon, not down at the ground, so the body’s natural balance mechanisms – ears and eyes – can function properly.
Integrating balance into life
If someone has made the decision to take the time to workout or otherwise get active, selling them on one more thing to add to an already busy schedule could be tough. So don't!
Instead, explain how a few minutes of balance training each day can be integrated into things they already do at home and at the office. Explain how they can stand on it when they watch the news, brush their teeth, or while they talk on the phone. Teach them to make it a habit, part of their regular daily routine.
For example, they can also:
- stand on a balance board for some weight-lifting exercises such as curls,
- sit on it while doing ab exercises,
- stand on it while at the sink washing dishes,
- stretch on it after an aerobic workout, or
- stand on it while playing fetch with a pet dog.
Differences in boards
Prices can vary from about $30 to $60, with some boards going for as little as $15 at mass merchandisers and sporting goods stores. The difference is in construction and features.
For example, a better board will have an adjustable base, a non-slip top to stand on, will have an even speed of tip (rather than just flopping with a jerk when you are off-balance), and won't flex with a user's weight. A top-end board will most likely be made of wood and have more adjustments for different levels and skills. Both will come with some kind of instruction or education on enclosed brochures or on packaging. Cheap boards may not have any adjustment, education or consistent tipping and could be less durable.
A store's staff needs to get comfortable with balance first before it can truly promote it to customers.
- Put a board behind the counter or near the phone so staff members use it themselves and the customer sees it and the sales staff using it.
- Put one on or near the counter so if a salesperson is typing up a quote, searching for information on the Internet, or tallying up a sale, he or she can take a moment to ask the customer if he or she is familiar with balance training. Then the salesperson can put the board on the floor for them to try. In that position, the customer will also have the counter to hold onto since you don't want any injuries from an unexpected fall off the board!
- Show a customer from the start how a “heads-up” posture is important because of the mechanisms in the ears and eyes that help with balance. No staring at floor or feet!
Make sure a customer knows he or she does not want to simply find a stable and still position and say, "See, I can balance." The point is for the person to force him- or herself from off-balance to balanced positions. That's where the training of legs, feet and core happens. Someone will never "master" balance training since it is a constant journey with no final and winning position. Winners are only the store selling balance and the customers training it.