Balance Ball Bunk
If you’ve been to a commercial gym lately, you have probably noticed people rolling around on big rubber balls. Perhaps you’ve wondered exactly why they were doing this.
Balance balls are also known as stability balls, fitness balls, physio balls, and several other things. Their stated advantage over using stable platforms for movement is that they improve your balance and coordination, as well improved your posture and flexibility. The muscles involved in such activity are in large part those of the abdominals and back. Thus, balls are primarily used when conditioning these “core” muscles.
The theory is that, by forcing you to balance, the unstable surface forces you to recruit more and different muscles and more muscle cells. This in turn, is said to make you less susceptible to injury by making muscles less likely to tear.
These claims all make sense, though their proponents offer no proof for them. What is more interesting is how and when these claims are made. How many people go to a gym with the intention of improving their balance and strengthening their core? Are people losing their balance, falling down, and getting injured when not at the gym? It seems like the vast majority go to get in shape, lose weight, or get bigger muscles. How do they end up trying to improve their balance and strengthen their core?
The answer, of course, is personal trainers. They need to sell their expertise. Like when the trainer is constantly touching or holding the trainee or their weights, the less the trainee can do by themselves, the more valuable the trainer’s service becomes. Use of the balls is it sold as part of a package that implies you need a personal trainer because you can’t do it yourself. But do you really want to be dependent on a big ball for your fitness?