For the beginner, exercise balls can be confusing. You can sit on it, and you can bounce on it — maybe even roll on it a little — but what else? Where does the exercise portion come in?
Well, it didn’t actually come in until a little later on. The exercise ball, originally called the “Pezzi” GymnastikBall, was invented in 1963 by Italian plastics manufacturer Aquilino Cosani. He created it with gymnastic exercise in mind.
But the GymnastikBall soon became an aid to much more than gymnastics when Dr. Susan Klein-Vogelbach, a Swiss physical therapist, began to implement the ball in orthopedic practices. It wasn’t until the 1980s, when Dr. Joanne Posner-Mayer and colleagues visited Europe and adopted the ball’s therapeutic practices, that it was brought to the United States and renamed the “Swiss Ball,” a homage to Dr. Vogelbach’s Switzerland-based developments in medicine.
Today, the exercise ball is one of the simplest, yet most efficient, pieces of exercise equipment. It’s easy to use, whether at home or in the gym, and can provide a good core workout through stabilization and balance. To do that, you’ll need to understand the various ways that you can position yourself using an exercise ball.
Of course, the type of position you take will depend on the exercise. The ball pass, ball crunch, and ball squat are a few to get you started.
For the ball pass, you will lie flat with arms flat above your head and your feet spread slightly apart. They shouldn’t be too far apart, however, because they will need to firmly grip the exercise ball. When you lift the ball with your legs, grab it with your hands, then pass it back to your feet. The ball crunch will require more stability. You will need to bend your back across the ball, keeping legs at a 90-degree angle and your feet firmly on the ground. Put your arms in crunch position and lift your upper body into a crunch. The ball should help support the lift while enforcing balancing skill.
With the ball squat, you will need to put the ball between your back and a wall. Squat until your body is at a 90-degree angle, then use that core strength to balance the ball while bringing your body back into its upright, standing position.
These exercises may be an appropriate starting point, but they’re certainly not the only ones to take advantage of the chameleon exercise ball. You can implement it into your own exercise routine just by getting creative with your favorite workouts. If pushups are what get you going, challenge yourself and throw an exercise ball under those legs. Then, you will have to maintain your balance while pushing your body up, or else the ball might
get away from you.
Routines don’t have to be mundane. A simple plastic ball might be all you need to reignite the burn.
Getting a good workout means working with the right equipment. While weight isn’t a factor in which ball to buy, as most max out at 250 pounds, you may need to consider brand if you’re between 250 and 300 pounds, as some brands may support more weight. However, height is an important factor, so be sure to get the exercise ball that’s appropriately designed for you.