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Balance Ball FAQs, Reviews & Tips
With so many ways to use an exercise ball — fitness, ergonomic sitting, injury prevention and rehab, and let's not forget FUN — you probably have questions. Start here with our complete guide to sizes, exercises, customer reviews, DVDs, FAQs, tips and more for Balance Ball exercise balls and Balance Ball Chairs.
How to Buy an Exercise Ball
The Balance Ball — also known as a stability ball, exercise ball, fitness ball, workout ball or Swiss ball — is a large inflatable ball, approximately knee high, typically placed on the floor and used to support the body in exercises done in a a sitting position on the ball, or lying across the ball, or gripping the ball between the hands, legs or feet.
Check our exercise ball FAQ for a size chart and more tips on buying the right size ball for you. Then consider a kit that includes both the exercise ball and a ball workout DVD if you'd like some guided exercises to get you started — or some new moves to keep you motivated. Some kits also include a resistance band or cord that lets you easily add more arm-toning exercises to your Balance Ball workout routine.
If you're looking for an exercise ball as an alternative to a desk chair, be sure to get a ball that will place you at a comfortable, ergonomic height at your desk. At the Gaiam offices in Colorado, many of us sit on a Balance Ball at our desks. (Tip for the vertically challenged: Some of us who have shorter legs sometimes use a footrest under the desk to keep the knees at a 90 degree angle.)
Other types of exercise balls include:
Exercise Ball How-To Tips & DVDs
Grip the ball between your knees while lying on your back on the floor, then squeeze your thighs toward each other, letting the ball add resistance to tone up those stubborn inner thigh muscles.
Grab a set of resistance bands or weights and lean back on the ball, keeping knees at a 90 degree angle, for a great upper body strength training workout that tones arms, shoulders and back, as well as your core (abs and torso muscles).
Grasp the ball between flattened palms, fingers outstretched, and lift it up above your head or move it side to side for another angle on arm-toning exercises.
Get an express Balance Ball workout and learn more moves in this 8 Minute Ball Workout video clip.
Tips on choosing a Balance Ball workout DVD
Watch preview clips of a few DVDs online to see what appeals to you and get a feel for the instructor's style. A few recommendations:
- Our Total Body Balance Ball Kit DVD is very popular and the perfect starting point if you want both the ball and the DVD as a set. It also comes with a resistance band and an air pump.
- If you already have an exercise ball and just want a DVD to show you some exercises (or rekindle your motivation), check out a standalone stability ball workout DVD like our Balance Ball Beginners Workout DVD or Balance Ball for Weight Loss DVD.
Balance Ball FAQs
Q. What size exercise ball should I buy for my size?
Exercise balls come in industry-standard sizes: 55, 65, and 75 cm. These sizes indicate the height or diameter of the ball when fully inflated. The ball height is best measured using the pencil-mark-on-the-wall method explained in the answer to question #2 below.
Exercise ball sizes are designed to ensure ideal ergonomics and body alignment for specific body heights. See our Balance Ball size chart to help you choose the right size ball for your height. As you become an experienced Balance Ball exercise ball user, you may be able to use a larger or smaller ball with successful results.
Gaiam Balance Balls are appropriate for a body weight of up to 300 lbs.
Q. How do I know if the ball is fully inflated?
Here's the best way to know that your exercise ball is properly inflated:
a.) Make a pencil mark on a wall at a height of 55, 65 or 75 cm, depending on which size ball you purchased. You'll find the optimal diameter (height) clearly indicated on the box that came with the ball you purchased. The diameter of an exercise ball is the same as its height when fully inflated.
b.) Inflate the balance ball until the top of the ball is just level with your pencil mark. Do not overinflate the ball.
Q. My dog chewed a hole in my ball. Can it be repaired?
A punctured, torn or damaged ball should be replaced. Because the ball is designed to be safely used only as designed, we do not recommend attempting to repair the ball if it's been damaged, and we do not offer a repair kit.
Q. How can I keep my ball in good condition?
Follow these use and care tips to help ensure that you get years of use from your Balance Ball:
- The ball can be cleaned with a soft cloth and warm soapy water.
- Before each use, check the surrounding area and your clothing for sharp objects that may puncture the ball.
- Inspect your ball before each use for gouges or scratches. Never use a ball with a deep scratch or gouge.
- The Balance Ball is not intended for outdoor use, as the risk of puncture is very high.
- Keep the ball away from heat sources; do not expose it to direct sunlight for extended periods.
Exercise Ball Reviews & Tips
Here are a few comments taken from our customers' Balance Ball product reviews on Gaiam.com that go beyond reviewing the product itself to offer helpful insight for other shoppers:
"I am 5'2" but will be getting another ball that is one size up. I feel a bigger sized ball will fit my body better for certain exercises. I got the smallest sized ball and will also purchase the medium ball." (Editor's note: Our very well informed customer assistance team tells us that with experience, sometimes a person can have good results using a larger or smaller ball than what is recommended for their height, but we recommend you begin with a ball that's properly sized for you based on our Balance Ball size chart.) —forfun
"If you have a backache, you can drape yourself over the ball on your stomach or back. Sitting on the ball instead of the couch while watching TV causes you to continuously adjust your balance. Great, effortless workout!!"
"I've owned balance balls in the past but never knew quite how to use them properly. Then I bought a kit that comes with a DVD and resistance bands that make working out with the ball more challenging and fun." —cjs123
Ball Workout Tips by Goal & Condition
Balance Balls can be used for strength training, targeting trouble spots, adding fun and variety to a workout routine, functional training to improve or restore mobility and agility, and cross-training to help improve performance in sports or everyday activities.
Balance Ball or stability ball exercises and Pilates are ideal cross-training for swimmers, since they help engage the core, or "powerhouse," for a stronger stroke and more power in the legs, says L.A.-area personal trainer Tanja Djelevic, an expert in sport-specific functional training as well as Pilates and yoga. (For more cross-training tips for your favorite athletic activities, read Best Cross-Training for Your Core Sport.)
Before trying an exercise ball workout for specific injuries, challenges or health conditions, it's best to consult your doctor.
You'll find more specialized ball workouts from trainers Chris Freytag and Tanja Djelevic in the Gaiam Blog, including this step-by-step photo how-to: 4 Fitness Ball Moves to Tone Hips, Buns & Thighs.