Stability ball: fitness jack of all trades

Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:01am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Call them Swiss balls, Pilates balls, physio balls, exercise balls, balance balls, yoga balls or body balls.

Stability balls by any other name would still be the same hardworking multi-taskers of the fitness world.

"They can be used for balance training, for core training, with or without weights and for resistance training," Dr. Christina A. Geithner, of the American College of Sports Medicine, said of those big, colorful spheres that brighten the corners of workout rooms everywhere.

"They are fun, versatile, inexpensive and relatively easy to use," she said. "And they come in different sizes for different sized individuals and for different uses."

When the balls first bounced into gyms, they were dismissed by many professionals as a fad. But their seemingly limitless adaptability, reflected in their many monikers, has solidified their status as the multipurpose work horses of exercise.

"You can use them in yoga and Pilates, in cardio and strength training," said Stephanie Vitorino, group fitness manager at Equinox, a national chain of luxury gyms.

"The stability ball works for the senior doing low-impact cardio, the pregnant woman strengthening her core, and the pro-athlete working on peak performance," she said in an interview from Woodland Hills, California.

The stability ball was rolled out in the early 1960s as a toy manufactured by Italian Aquilino Cosani and sold mainly in Europe as the Gymnastik.   Continued...