Life is a balancing act. Not only in our homes, but on the playing field (whatever that may be). Our bodies are a complex system of checks and balances. When we get in an off-balance situation, the brain is already sending messages to our neurotransmitters to correct the problem in split second time. We take this phenomenon for granted. If we play basketball, football, soccer, surfing, tennis, skiing or any other sport that demands us to shift directions at a moments notice, this is our body and mind working simultaneously in all it's glory. We just know it exists.
The first day I walked into the gym with my 55cm Swiss Ball, (it is fuchsia, by the way) the ridicule was deafening. All the credentials in the world couldn't convince these guys of the benefits of this simple spherical object.
"You'll never catch me on that" or "That's for girls" were the most popular lines.
So, in my infinite wisdom, I got down to the nitty gritty, CHALLENGE, something everyone understands. Just sitting on the "big pink ball" drew the attention from most people training in the gym. Kinda made me feel like a circus act, sorry, no spot lights. What it did do was get their curiosity up... and some brave souls took the bait. Now there is silence in the room, because all know the extent of what it can do. It all looks easy and I make it look as though a four year old can do it. (They can... ever see a hoppity hop?)
As we get older, our response time get crusty from lack of use. The whole idea behind the ball, is to get you in an unstable environment. This is where the chatter between mind and body are supreme, small stabilizer muscles tense and release to maintain positioning on the ever-changing curved surface. We are never using just one muscle in this routine, we are utilizing multitudes of them, plus brain power. This gives new a meaning to Newton's Laws of Motion. Whether sitting or laying on the ball, you must be in control. The biggest and best of the muscle groups used are the abdominal and the lower back, for those of you who hate doing them.
Teaching members that they have the capability of doing dumbbell presses, ab crunches, leg curls, or squat thrusts on its surface brings a whole new dimension to training. Walking, talking and chewing gum at the same time isn't so scary any more! The benefits are endless, and many rehabilitation centers use the ball for several different forms of treatment. Professional athletic teams work routines around it- for agility, co-ordination, and honing the sense of knowing where your body is in space. Under these circumstances, an athlete is able to maneuver quicker and with less threat of injury.
Some fitness facilities hold sculpting classes for the young and not-so-young. As ridiculous as a big beach ball looks in a gym, it more than services its' purpose. Anyone can use one, some can hold up to 2,000 lbs. Depending on your height, weight or skill level, there is a ball for you. They can be used at home or in your office, working space is nominal. The cost is low, and with free weights and some resistance bands, you've got yourself a great portable gym. Just like anything else there are video tapes available so you can follow along or get professional training.
Meet the challenge, get on the ball.By Betty Fodor-Milby, C.P.T
AFAA Cert. Trainer
Owner of Body Image Fitness