Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great Balls of Fitness

“Goodness, gracious, great balls of fitness! When Jerry Lee Lewis said, ‘You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain,’ he wasn't talking about working out, but the latest staple in fitness classes are balls and they can definitely shake up your workout routine in 2009. Look around a health club or gym and you will see balls are everywhere! Medicine balls, Stability balls, Sponge Balls, mini weighted balls. They lend an element of playfulness and have proven to be very effective. As Mark Twain once said, ‘Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under different conditions.’ If you are stuck in a rut with your workouts, shake it up and play ball! The Stability Ball has had long-standing success in the world of rehabilitation and physical therapy. Due to their effectiveness in developing balance and core strength, athletic trainers, coaches, personal trainers and physical education teachers began to integrate them into their programs. Now you will be hard pressed to find a gym, an instructor or a trainer who doesn't use this ball on a regular basis. They are extremely versatile and can take the most basic exercise and make it automatically either easier or harder. Medicine balls are also one of the oldest forms of strength and conditioning training. In ancient Greece, the physician Hippocrates had his patients throw them back and forth for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Medicine balls offer a great alternative to your workouts. First of all, they prepare your body for realistic motions. You're not fixed to a single plane of movement and you can add throwing, swinging, and rotational movements. This is a great way to strengthen the supporting muscles and tendons around your key joints -preventing typical injuries to the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle areas. Sponge balls were designed for mind/body classes and have become an excellent tool adding dimension to many traditional Pilates or yoga exercises. Though small, soft and innocent in appearance and touch, these little guys provide a powerful punch when used correctly. The sponge ball is used to enhance core muscle activation or help with technique for postural alignment. Most sponge balls are about 8 inches in diameter (like a playground ball) and should be soft and squishy when being used. The soft mini, weighted balls are another great mind/body tool. They are different from the sponge balls in that they are smaller and lightly weighted- usually two or three pounds each. They add a new dimension to many Pilate's exercises and are also a great way to change a regular old yoga class into yoga with strength. The 4 inch balls should fit nicely into the palms of your hands and feel like a heavy bean-bag. The balls range in weight anywhere from 1 pound to 8 pounds each and come in many fun colors. So try a few of these toys and have a ball. By adding different forms of resistance, you change up the way you work your muscles, you keep the mind engaged, and you keep your body constantly challenged!”


No comments: