For the first 22 years of my career as an electrician, I spent almost every day walking, climbing, stretching, swinging, and pulling. He was in excellent physical condition and excelled in anything that required agility and balance. For whatever reason, at our friends’ weddings, a limbo stick would always come out around midnight. I’m 6’2 “and I usually won!
At 40 I stopped being “in the tools” and assumed a more supervisory role (desk jockey). I bought a treadmill and stayed slim by using it almost every night. Several months later, my family went on a ski vacation. To my surprise and dismay, there was no longer that feline assurance in my actions. Physically, I was still in great shape, but my balance and reflexes had plummeted.
After Googling a bit (and hearing my wife gently tease me about getting older), I realized that my “core strength” was not what it was before. Your “core” is essentially your torso area. Include your back and abdominal muscles. There are many and they all have Greek names, but basically it is these muscles that help you to be agile. My treadmill was not working.
ENTER THE UNICYCLE …
I was talking about my depressing situation with my wife’s boss. He is a nurse, competitive cyclist, and occasional skier. Interestingly, his first recommendation was to start riding a bike. He explained that the inherently unbalanced situation in which riding a unicycle puts the body in motion forces all those core muscles to flex and release constantly and rapidly in the effort to keep you on top of the lone wheel. He also said that the only thing that could be better would be log shooting. Sadly, I don’t have a lake and a 20 “diameter log, so the unicycle would have to suffice, and he slowed the old man until mine arrived.
The learning process requires some determination. Mastering a unicycle took me much longer than when I was a child to figure out how to ride a two-wheeler. Fortunately now I have more patience. The average time to become proficient enough on a unicycle to ride without endangering public property or yourself is 12 hours.
In another sense, the learning process is very similar to riding a bicycle. After a lot of effort, something seems to “click” and suddenly you can ride. Your body has a “EUREKA!” moment. Gaining confidence and competence takes longer, but discovering an entirely new physical ability as an adult approaches the surreal.
I wholeheartedly recommend the unicycle for both exercise and entertainment. I truly believe it is one of the “best kept secrets” in health and fitness and I hope one day it will be used widely as a cardio machine and core strengthener.