What is a Fitball? Originally known as a Swiss Ball or a Pezzi ball, Fitball is a specially designed ball used primarily for fitness and athletic training, but also in physical therapy, gymnastics, pilates, rehabilitaion, and more. Today fitballs are also known as fitness balls, stability balls, therapy balls, exercise balls, gymnastics balls, gym balls, birthing balls, physioballs, and body balls.
The very first use of the ‘Swiss Ball’ or ‘Pezzi Ball’ was in 1963 when it was designed and used by physiotherapists for neuro-devlopment in newborns and infants. The balls were next used to treat adults with orthopedic problems. Given their proven success, pezzi balls were ultimately used in athletic training and alternative therapy exercises, where the very instability of the ball surface makes it ideal for engaging more muscles without increasing total load.
Fitness Ball Construction
Fitball or exercise balls measure 14-34 inches or 35-85 centimeters in diameter and are made from soft, non-toxic, PVC material. They are also latex free, which makes them safe for individuals with allergies and for people of all ages, including children and infants. The air pressure in the ball can be adjusted via a valve stem, allowing users to fill or deflate the ball.
Fitball Workout Benefits
Fitballs are fast becoming a staple in fitness facilities, yoga and Pilates studios, and exercise classes. Not only do they add an enjoyable element to a standard fitness regiment, but they have significant physical benefits as well, primarily due to the unstable ball surface which requires increased activation of the core musculature. Benefits of working out with a fitball include:
- Engages multiple muscle groups
- Strengthens body core
- Strengthens abdominal and back muscles
- Improves balance
- Improves coordination
- Increases trunk strength
- Increases resistance to injury
- Sharpens anticipation and awareness
- Improves reflexes
- Yields greater physical benefits for standard exercises such as curl-ups and push-ups than when performed on a stable platform
Additional Fitball Uses
Recommended by fitness experts and doctors, fitballs have many other uses too, including:
Alternative to an office chair (sitting on an exercise ball requires office workers to engage back and abdominal muscles and to improve posture and balance)
Labor and Childbirth: Called a ‘birthing ball’ in this context, sitting on the ball is comfortable for pregnant women and aids fetal positioning. Sitting on the ball and gently rocking the hips also helps during labor contractions and facilitates the natural process of birth.
Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation: Used to develop balance, strength, coordination, stabilization
Children’s Fitness/Children with Special Needs: Kids love playing with fitballs! At the same time, the balls have proven success in aiding early learning development, didactic responses, motor skills development, proprioception, coordination, and self-confidence.
Be sure to check your local gym or fitness center for a fitball exercise class or for an accredited fitball instructor. Want an innovative and challenging core and cardio workout? Get fit with a fitness ball.