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A Balanced Approach: Balance Beam

Evolution

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Some elite skiers work out on a balance beam or even a tightrope to sharpen their poise, but such equipment is scarce at local gyms. Big Apple Circus high-wire performer Pedro Carrillo, the man with perhaps the best balance in the world (he holds the record for consecutive jumps on a tightrope at 780) has a better idea: Use an eight-foot length of two-by-four lumber. Set the board flat on the floor. Walk to the other end, keeping your knees bent, then turn sideways and shuffle back. Next, shuffle down and walk back. Do three sets of 10 to 12 up-and-backs. Other possible drills include shuffling sideways as someone throws you a medicine ball, jumping rope atop the beam or walking on your toes. When you’re on the board, “close your eyes and imagine that you’re 1,000 feet in the air with no net,” Carrillo suggests. “Then you’ll see that a good percentage of balance is mental, too. So for confidence alone, it pays to practice.”

JANUARY 2005