I am obsessed with stability balls. I received my first introduction to the stability ball four years ago when I was still relatively new to ballet, even though I’d already earned intermediate status as a dancer when I got en pointe in 10 months. It was during a summer intensive that I first interacted with a stability ball for a therapeutic ball class–which is far from therapeutic. And it was during this intensive that I learned a myriad of exercises you could do with one of these stability balls.
A stability ball is primarily used to develop balance and core strength. These two skills are essential in ballet, for without them you’re going to have a difficult time doing just about anything in dance. Yet, it is not only dancers who can benefit from these skills but anyone. Many people in our modern world lack balance and core strength because of poor posture and sedentary lifestyles. Some people, however, are trying to fix this by replacing their chairs with stability balls since doing so forces you to use your core to remain balanced as you sit on the ball. Some classrooms are even replacing chairs with stability balls. A stability ball has so many uses for improving one’s health that its benefits cannot be overstated.
- Variety. A stability ball can add variety to your workout, particularly if you want to overcome the dreadful plateau. Stability balls not only develop core strength but can develop overall body strength since they are so versatile in their use. You can use them with medicine balls, dumbbells, and other equipment; thus, you don’t simply have to use the stability ball by itself.
- Balance and core strength. This one is obviously a given since I’ve mentioned it already, but I would argue this is the best tool for developing these two skills. In my ball class, when we’re doing port de bras with dumbbells, we have to keep our feet off the floor, so not only are we working our arms, but we’re also working on balance and core strength. We also kneel on the ball, and can be by the barre if we’re new to the exercise, or be in the center if we’re veterans at it. There is also one exercise we do we’re we stand in arabesque, attitude, a la seconde, or devante, and we throw the ball against the wall while trying to maintain our balance in these positions. As you can see, there are so many balance and core strength exercises you can do with a stability ball.
- Great for any age. Because of its versatility, it’s great for any age, from pediatric to geriatric. It utilizes the entire neuromuscular system in a way that no other piece of gym equipment can. Since it challenges balance, it can rewire your system, thereby improving balance and core function.
- Multiple muscle systems. You can exercise any muscle system you can think of. You can do pikes on the ball, push-ups, lying dumbbell presses, reverse crunches, regular crunches, stretches, and even some upper-body workouts using only the ball. Since a stability ball does demand multiple systems, it is great for promoting full-body alignment and becoming in tune with the body once again.
- Inexpensive. Owning one is not pricey at all. In fact, I think I paid about 20 bucks for mine, compared to the 20 bucks I spent on a set of 8 lb. dumbbells that I don’t use for every upper body exercise.
- Injury protection. Due to the inherent unstable service of the ball and its demands on the core, it increases the muscle fibers used and promotes spinal stability, thereby reducing one’s chance of injury. This can aid in sports performance for any athlete.
As an aspiring trainer, I know stability balls are going to be huge in my arsenal of fitness routines for clients. I would absolutely invest in one for your personal use.