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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Getting on the ball

Presented by Karen Donaldson of Excel Weight Loss Solutions

Karen Donaldson is a fitness and nutrition professional who lives in Idaho. She has presented numerous sessions this weekend on fitness, massage and aromatherapy. I had the opportunity today to sit in one of her fitness sessions using exercise balls.

Inflated exercise balls – also called Balance Balls – are commonly used in Pilates and yoga classes, but their usefulness doesn’t end there. I’ve exercised with them regularly for about five years, but mainly just to work my ab muscles. That’s the greatest thing about the balls – because they provide an unbalanced exercise surface, everything you do on them works out your core muscles. A word of warning, though: Sometimes you don’t realize how good of a workout you got until you try to get out of bed the next morning.

Today’s class was popular, with a few participants taking it for a second time. We started by getting a feel for the ball by doing hip rotations and figure-eights. This enabled everyone to get their balance and learn how they moved. Then we walked our feet our in front of us until our lower backs rested on the ball to do sit-ups. We laid across the ball to do push-ups. We laid on the ground and rested our legs on the ball to do pelvic raises. We even did leg raises and played catch using the ball – only we had to catch the ball with our legs.

The class was the fastest hour of my life. Everyone had a great time. The versatility of the ball meant that everyone – regardless of size or fitness level – was able to exercise with it. One man marveled that it was the first time in decades that he was able to do push-ups. Another woman was surprised that she could exercise her abs without having to lie on the floor and struggle with getting up. Others couldn’t believe how much fun it made exercise. As a testament to that, more time was spent laughing than talking, but we each broke a sweat and left feeling the effects of the exercises.

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