Using a stability ball every day can offer great postural and stabilizing benefits. It's also brilliant if you have back problems, or if you are pregnant.
If you have one gathering dust at home why not dig it out and try the following exercises in front of the TV every night:
1. Sit and bounce.
First, get in a good position on the ball. Sit about 1/3 from the front of the ball, with your feet in front of your knees. If your ball isn’t quite the right size adjust yourself forwards or back on the ball, making sure your knees are slightly lower or in line with your hips. Place your feet hips width apart. Squeeze your core muscles and bounce away gently for as long as you like.
2. Balance challenge.
This is good fun- try to lift one foot off the floor without losing your balance! Then squeeze your core and use your breath to help you stabilize. If it’s too much just lift your heel off and keep your toes on the ground. Switch sides to see which one is stronger!
3. Back stretch.
Carefully walk your feet forwards until your back, neck and shoulders rest on the ball. Reach your arms towards to floor over your head. Bend your knees gently to roll around. This should feel good- if it doesn’t stop right away.
If you try this at home please let me know how you like it in the comments!
There's a lot of assumptions out there about the kind of people who do Pilates. People assume that I only teach women... It's strange, as the creator of Pilates was a man himself. Professional male sports teams often have Pilates as part of their training regimen, as it complements any athletic pursuit. Being strong in your core muscles means you are less likely to get injured- a definite win for any professional team.
People are generally surprised when I say that I had about 30% male clients in the UK. I even taught men only classes. Some of my most loyal and dedicated clients were men. There was a simple reason for this: if they didn't come to class every week, their back pain returned. By far the majority of the men I saw had led incredibly active lives. They were strong everywhere except their core. Usually, they were lacking in flexibility. These characteristics can often be a result of too much time working out without stretching. We worked a lot on flexibility and core strength- and they were always telling me they couldn't believe how hard these small movements were!
I really enjoyed teaching men only classes- It was always a fun and engaged group. I also enjoyed the challenge of modifying exercises for tight hamstrings or coming up with creative imagery tailored to men. I particularly recall one exercise I was teaching for the first time, and one of the men cheerily decided to call it the "Nut Crusher!" I've never laughed so much while teaching a class... good fun.
Any men out there reading this who want to sign up for a class? I'd love to start one up again! If you are really lucky, I'll teach you the "Nut Crusher" ;-)
Diane Archer, Pilates Instructor from the UK now living back in Canada. Blog of tips, thoughts, home challenges.