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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Stability ball brings new shape to workouts

By Seabrook Mow
Special to The Advertiser

Assistant fitness manager Glenn Rimando, of 24-Hour Fitness in Pearl Kai, demonstrates dumbbell chest presses using a stability ball.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

If I said working out at the gym could be a "ball" of fun, would people believe me?

Like any other person at the gym, I just want to maintain and not lose what little I have, by doing my monotonous workout for about an hour or so, and get out of there as quickly as possible. For me doing anything more than what is necessary is torture. But since my introduction to the "stability ball," my opinion on painful workouts has definitely changed.

The stability ball is a large air-filled rubber ball with a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. It has gained popularity in fitness circles, catching on in Hawai'i the past two years. Local sporting goods stores carry the balls in two sizes for around $30.

The idea of the ball workout hinges on being off balance — forcing you to use muscles you normally wouldn't use to stabilize yourself. This workout improves balance, strength, coordination, and flexibility. For instance, imagine doing dumbbell bench presses, but instead of the bench you use the stability ball to brace your back. Imagine all the different muscles, especially your abs, back and legs, you would have to use just to keep your balance.

"Those who incorporate the ball into their regimen can actually get a better quality workout with the ball than with free weights or machines," said Glenn Rimando, an assistant fitness manager at 24-Hour Fitness in Pearl Kai, who uses the ball with his clients. "It's not about the weights, it's the quality of movement and training, called functional training. The goal is to give a total-body workout."

But don't take the it lightly, warns Katherine Kim, assistant physical education director at the Central YMCA. "It's fun to use, but I've seen 200-300-pound football players cry when they try working out with this."

The ball can even help older people regain the balance and muscle coordination they may have lost through the years, Kim says.

"Seniors that use (the ball) increase their awareness ... like if they don't stabilize, they'll fall off. As we age, we start to lose our sense of balance and coordination, the ball helps us relearn them. It even helps with digestive problems. It's like your natural Metamucil."

Beyond the obvious, the ball is winning converts because it is simple and fun to use.

"I really like the ball," said Shandis Moy of Honolulu, 24, who works out daily at home. "I tried other workout tools in the past, and the ball is definitely the most beneficial tool. I can feel it really giving my abs a great burn."