At the end of my kickboxing class last week we did a bunch of exercises using a stability ball — or fitness ball, or exercise ball, or Swiss ball, or big-ass rubber inflatable round whatsit — and I was kind of amazed at the workout you can get with those things. I mean, just the effort of not rolling comically off the top of it is a fair challenge, and once you master that, you can do all these crazy moves that isolate various muscle groups.

Plus, you can bounce on it, which is wicked fun.

So I bought my own exer-sphere, and let me tell you, I never would have guessed that there could be so many entertaining uses for a giant rubber ball. In addition to the exercises you can do with it, you can totally re-enact that classic boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can freak out your household pets by rolling it at them. You can drape yourself over it backwards in order to stretch your spine, then use it as a weapon to fend off your advancing husband, who insists that your pose was a deliberate provocation for him to “get up ON that”.

Also, toddlers love giant rubber balls:


Babies, however, find them confusing:


Have I mentioned how much I am loving this kickboxing class, by the way? There’s something immensely satisfying about strapping on a pair of gloves and punching the bejesus out of a heavy object, and I am always weirdly thrilled when my knuckles are bruised afterwards. When I’m in class and the music’s blaring and everyone around me is panting and sweating and the sound of the bags being struck is like a drumbeat, I feel a savage kind of giddiness. It’s this clean, cathartic, positive method of experiencing aggression and violence, if that makes any kind of sense. Like I’m just forcefully pouring every frustration out of my body, and filling up that space with strength. Sure, sometimes I am more than a little convinced I’m going to barf a lung straight out my eyesocket, but man, there’s nothing like it.

Plus, you never know when the ability to shatter someone’s kneecap with a well-aimed back kick might come in handy. Otherwise you’re just watching Spencer Pratt strut by unharmed and thinking of what might have been.


38 Responses to “But when they’re held for pleasure they’re the balls that I like best”

  1. Teralyne on November 10th, 2008 4:13 pm

    I have one of those balls too and I love it is fun and really helps with stretching and stuff too. Once you get your balance that is.

  2. Eric's Mommy on November 10th, 2008 4:17 pm

    I have one of those balls. I love it, I do crunches on it, way better then just on the floor. It’s great for my back too. When I was going to physical therapy they had me do alot of ball stuff.

  3. Naomi in Oz on November 10th, 2008 4:18 pm

    I love my fit ball, but if you really want to get use out of it, read Robert G Barretts novel “Mystery Bay Blues” ( where his new BFF “Amazing Grace” gives him some umm therapy… using the ball…

  4. K on November 10th, 2008 4:26 pm

    That is EXACTLY why i play roller derby. It’s empowering, gratifying, and there is something awesome about being all bruised up. haha

  5. WaltzInExile on November 10th, 2008 4:26 pm

    I give it 3 months before you are cursing the day you bought one because your children think they can use it to play “catch.” In the room with the not-wall-mounted flat screen tv. Just sayin’.

  6. biscuit on November 10th, 2008 4:29 pm

    I used to use my ball all the time for crunches + harassing my dog, but now it sits deflated in the closet because it reminds me of being insanely pregnant. I sat on that bitch + rolled my hips for hours trying to lure Hot Pocket out of my trap/lair/cave/microwave. . .

  7. Marie Green on November 10th, 2008 4:30 pm

    Also referred to as “birth balls”. We have one bouncing around here too… I love it for stretching out my back… perhaps I should use it for it’s intended purpose- EXERCISE!

  8. Operation Pink Herring on November 10th, 2008 4:32 pm

    That last photo… it’s the most adorable picture I’ve ever seen. Bar none.

  9. Kathryn on November 10th, 2008 4:42 pm

    I have two exercise balls, and when I get bored I line them up in front of me, place my hands on the first one, and see how far I can roll myself. Note: this is not good in crowded spaces.

  10. amber on November 10th, 2008 4:44 pm

    Hee! I want to take up kickboxing just IN CASE I ever see Spencer Pratt. Also? JB is obnoxiously adorable.

  11. divrchk on November 10th, 2008 5:05 pm

    I have friends that swore by this to sooth a newborn. Sit and bounce while holding the baby to stop fussiness. It calms the baby and gives you a good workout to boot!

  12. beach on November 10th, 2008 5:12 pm

    ok…you just crack me up!!

  13. Lisa B on November 10th, 2008 5:14 pm

    The 10-minute solution folks have a nice version with exercise ball (heh heh) that I’ve been doing for a while.

    And yes, there are ways to use it that both you and JB would enjoy.

  14. Leah on November 10th, 2008 5:20 pm

    Your kickboxing class sounds like Fight Club. Especially the part about having bruised knuckles the next day. Your coworkers must be wondering…

    I hear those bouncy balls are good for quieting squalling newborns too. That will be nice, since ours just sits in our closet most of the time (the ball, that is, although…)

  15. vague on November 10th, 2008 5:21 pm

    Oh, I have one of those, too, and I love to roll it at the dog and watch him run away and then turn back around to face his adversary and then bark like he’s about to be murdered. It’s hilarious. Why, I think I’ll go do that now!

  16. Amanda on November 10th, 2008 5:50 pm

    Mine is also deflated because the kids don’t know when to leave the damn thing alone. Apparently it ISN’T after the four thousandth time your mother has yelled at you to get off/leave alone/stop throwing the damn ball.

  17. Joanne on November 10th, 2008 6:08 pm

    I used to take a class of just exercises on those balls, man it can be hard but so, so good for you! I LOVED my boxing classes I took when I was in NYC. LOVED. I loved wrapping up my hands and I loved how sweaty I would get. I miss it a lot but my gym here doesn’t have it and plus now I am pg. so I don’t know if it would be a workout for now. But maybe I’ll get a heavy bag for the summer and start beating the shit out of it in the basement!

  18. Michelle on November 10th, 2008 6:31 pm

    1. Dylan is adorable.
    2. Toddlers love the ball way more than adults.
    3. How long did it take you to move onto Level 3 of the Shred because honestly, Level 2 = death by Jillian!

  19. Keaton on November 10th, 2008 6:58 pm

    Hehe, I’ve always enjoyed martial arts more than any other workout. It’s just so much more… exciting =P Plus, now you have a response when your husband uses a line as bad as “get up on that.”

  20. willikat on November 10th, 2008 7:50 pm

    Those balls are great.
    Also I think boxing and martial arts are great for disciplined violence.

  21. Victoria on November 10th, 2008 8:05 pm

    Oh Spencer. *shakin’ my head*

  22. Anais on November 10th, 2008 8:25 pm

    The title to this entry is hilarious. And it’s a big blue ball! Blue balls! Haaahaaark…*clears throat*

    Yes, I am immature.

    Thanks for the laughs. I envisioned my cat running through the living room away from a giant ball, pure terror on his face. I gotta get me one of these.

  23. M. Giant on November 10th, 2008 8:25 pm

    Aw, look at your little Atlas!

  24. Eleanor Q. on November 10th, 2008 8:48 pm

    Fussbot likes to pull to stand on the ball and then topple over as soon as it starts rolling. He thinks it’s the funniest thing ever. We also play “flying baby” on the ball and it’s always a hit.

    Spencer. Kickboxing. I like it.

  25. Heather C on November 10th, 2008 9:53 pm

    I have one of those. I haven’t used it in a while because I wasn’t allowed to work out following my surgery, but I feel smushy now, so I’m going to pop that DVD in tomorrow. I miss it.

    Also, I named my ball Happy Fun Ball. DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN BALL!

  26. del on November 11th, 2008 2:29 am

    Lets just say that perhaps you could use the giant ball to assist you in doing a somersault in the house, in the same room as your now wife is quietly reading a book. Hmmm, I wonder what would happen? Surely not a broken nose!

    I strongly recommend encouraging acrobatic users to remove shoes prior to rolling around on the ball. My nose definitely agrees. Have fun!

  27. Jem on November 11th, 2008 3:10 am

    I used to sit on my ball while at the computer, but even worse, I used to hold the keyboard in my LAP. For like 2 years. I don’t know how I managed that…

  28. Cameron on November 11th, 2008 7:54 am

    Next stop – fight club.

  29. bad penguin on November 11th, 2008 8:02 am

    I LOVE my kickboxing class. I always come home in the best mood on Wednesday nights because there really is something so satisfying about kicking and punching things for an hour.

    I have one stability ball video I do at home, and I have yet to finish the abs workout. It’s that hard.

  30. Meagan on November 11th, 2008 9:28 am

    If you ever feel like taking up another martial esque art, I know of a good fencing club in Seattle. Admittedly less aerobic, but very good exercise just the same. And I also love my giant bouncy ball, but I mostly just sit on it because it’s fun.

  31. Crystal on November 11th, 2008 9:57 am

    Face the wall with the ball at your feet. Hold it tight with your knee so the ball cant move.

    Grab the nearest toddler, hold their hands, and let them jump on the ball to their hearts content, while your legs hold the ball inplace against the wall.

    My kids LOVE this.

  32. Heather B. on November 11th, 2008 10:19 am

    “Plus, you never know when the ability to shatter someone’s kneecap with a well-aimed back kick might come in handy. Otherwise you’re just watching Spencer Pratt strut by unharmed and thinking of what might have been.”

    yes, yes, YES.

  33. Serenity Now on November 11th, 2008 10:22 am

    I have no idea how you made it through two pregnancies without the ball…it was great for back pain – and after the mcnugget was born, it’s a surefire way of bouncing him to sleep instead of traipsing up and down the hallway 498 times every night. Plus, you get to park it in front of the TV and catch up on shows – bonus!

  34. Gleemonex on November 11th, 2008 11:10 am

    Madam, I knew you were My People, but this pair of sentences proves it, forever and ever, and may the Holy Flaming Shatner’s will be done:

    “Plus, you never know when the ability to shatter someone’s kneecap with a well-aimed back kick might come in handy. Otherwise you’re just watching Spencer Pratt strut by unharmed and thinking of what might have been. “

  35. Kara on November 11th, 2008 11:55 am

    Love the toenail polish – Lincoln park in the dark?

  36. Claire on November 11th, 2008 12:34 pm

    I bought one of those balls for the sole purpose of using it during labor, which I did for all of – maybe – five minutes. Guess I could bring it out and actually exercise with it!

  37. Rachel on November 12th, 2008 8:31 am

    My own eight month old finds the ‘ball on top of him’ trick to be hysterical. Big rolling giggles for the ball.

  38. mrsgryphono on November 12th, 2008 11:39 am

    Oh, dear… Spencer. I would like to see HEIDI place a well-aimed back kick into his kneecap.

Leave a Reply