This is a Guest Post from Bryce Taylor, a Physical Therapist and creator of the Halo Trainer

What is it?

Let’s get something straight.  I’m not in the business of training angels or training folks to be better sharp shooters on their X-box.  Instead, Halo Training has a broader meaning of structure and function.  The definition of a halo is a cosmic ring that surrounds something.  There is a duel meaning with HALO.  The Halo Trainer physically surrounds a stability ball, like a ring around a sphere.  Halo Training is a systematic method to address the core in a three-dimensional approach as an integrated ring of muscles around the spine from the scapula to the pelvis.  I realize that the muscles are even more integrated than these upper and lower landmarks and that is why I refer to Halo Training as integrated body weight training.  To put it another way, Halo Training is a process of repurposing the stability ball to make it the most effective user experience, no matter what level of fitness you may be at right now.  The Halo® Trainer is a versatile, free-standing, friction-fitting piece of equipment provides ergonomic handlebars that improve already popular equipment such as the Stability Ball™, BOSU® and TRX®.

A little history

Let’s go through a brief history of core training.  Many decades ago, we had it right—folks were lifting asymmetrical loads and moving very multi-directional.  Then we moved into an era of spot reduction and isolation.  The early Nautilus equipment reprogrammed our movement patterns into uni-planar loaded movements and folks figured out a hundred different ways to perform a sit-up.  With some science backing the evolution, we progressed core training to a half sit-up and called it a crunch.   Some were progressive enough to perform back extensions and load rotational movements on a fixed axis resistance machine.  Meanwhile, the machines began to dominate and humans were falling prey to these advancements.  Simultaneously, the computer was growing in popularity and more people gradually stopped moving for several hours per day.  Now we have a problem…folks were sitting more at work and disengaging the support system for their body and then attempting to remedy the computer desk work with a trip to the gym…to sit on equipment that restricted motion into one plane of motion. 

Thank goodness that the round squishy object that we know today as a stability ball entered the picture.  From an Italian manufacturer to British and Swiss physiotherapists, the large inflatable ball worked its way through the rehab space into general fitness over the past 5 decades.  As a practicing physical therapist, I found many benefits to using the stability ball for patients.  And it was not reserved for back pain sufferers.  But in 2009, I became frustrated with the stability ball.  Not only was the popular programming limited to sit-ups, planks, bridges, and wall squats, but the ball was limited by its intrinsic instability.  I liked that the ball required an integrated engagement through the core muscles to maintain a position or to control the movement in variable positions.  The Halo Trainer was born out of a need to select the level of stability required to progress load and dimension.  In other words, the stability ball was repurposed to provide variable levels of elevation and selectively choose how much instability the user could tolerate to progress resistance in multiple planes of motion.

Obligatory soap box message

Quick soap box message here; rehab and fitness are on the same continuum.  Some fitness folks are actually farther back on the continuum than some rehab folks.  Our goal should always be to move along the continuum from disability to pain-free movement  to basic function to optimal performance.  I realize that there are specific limitations that may not permit much movement along the continuum while for others, elite athletic performance is optimal.

The core

The core was eloquently referred to as the “powerhouse” in the early 20th century by a man named Joseph Pilates.  I think that is one of its primary functions.  However, the core not only generates movement but it also resists movement, and transfers kinetic energy through the stiffness of the core muscles.  Halo Training uses a concept called proximal stability for distal mobility.  This is a broader functional definition for our core muscles.  The human spine requires three systems to perform.

 1. Static stability of our joint congruency and organized connective tissue 

2. Dynamic stability of our muscles 

3. An efficient neurological system to coordinate the dynamic stability

This is a beautiful system and it requires different parts of our core to perform different roles.  Some of our dynamic stability is performed by small muscles that we refer to as stabilizers as well as larger muscles that we refer to as movers.  It is crucial to utilize and engage both sets of core muscles as well as the neurological system to coordinates these efforts.  A simple way to explain it is that the small stabilizer muscles do not require heavy loading but they heavily depend on the feedback from the nervous system to subconsciously stiffen our spine in preparation for movement.  Whereas the larger mover muscles are required to walk, lift, push, pull, etc. and they require a conscious effort to produce enormous forces at the joints.

In summary

Halo Training is a systematic progression of exercises with variable stability and variable load to improve the function of the core.  The Halo Trainer is the perfect tool to accomplish this task.  The Halo Trainer, with its uniquely patented ergonomic shape, allows the user to select the degree of instability they can tolerate in order to progress the multi-directional load.  This accomplishes two things simultaneously; stimulate the stabilizers as well as build strength in the movers.  This is how you build a foundational core that will prepare your body to improve posture, mitigate lower back pain, maintain function, perform athletics, high intensity interval training, Olympic lifting, etc. 

Jon is already a master of core training because of his experience in gymnastics.  His body if already fine-tuned to appropriately stiffen the spine and produce massive forces at the joints to perform loaded movements that most of us can only dream of.  Many of us are not gymnasts and require time to prepare our core for advanced movements and resistance.  Take your time and begin with a lower level of resistance and/or instability than you think you can handle.  Once you have mastered that, move into the next progression.  I assure you that Jon will make these exercises look easy.  I look forward to seeing your progress.  Thanks for allowing me to share my perspective on core training and I hope you will GET A GRIP ON YOUR CORE.  Cheers!