More Thoughts about My Balls

Why have I become interested in exercise balls recently?

I am not an exercise fanatic, but I’d like to lose a little weight and get myself in better shape. I’m not in bad shape now, but there’s always room for improvement. It came about after thinking about fitness centers and how expensive they are. I see the value of good exercise, but fitness centers are expensive for what they offer, plus sometimes the time and energy of driving to a separate location can take away valuable free time.

Gyms are nice and well-suited to the individual on the go, but once again, they’re 30-40$ per month. That adds up sure fast. Two friends recently told me they have hired a personal trainer (at 50$ an hour). Some have been paying for 2 sessions a week, which is frankly ridiculous. I don’t dismiss the value of having an outside expert once in a while. They can give valuable feedback about whether you are doing things right and how you can maximize your performance. But paying for more than 3 sessions seems like vanity to me. Couldn’t you get this sort of feedback by enrolling in a small class? And what about videos? People knock exercise videos, but really they are not that silly. It’s fun to watch a routine and often they can be a cost-effective way to hear from the experts. (Suggestion for those working at home: Burn a CD of music videos to play on your DVD player. I have about 10 videos which are fun to dance to. Let me see. There’s:

  1. Devo – Whip It
  2. Chaiyya Chaiyya –this nutty Bollywood dance number that takes place on a train
  3. Daft Punk – Around the World (great for working out!!!!)
  4. Jennifer Lopez – Waiting For Tonight (Hex Hector Remix)
  5. Smash Mouth – Walkin’ On The Sun
  6. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams
  7. Sean Paul & Beyonce, Baby Boy (wow!)
  8. Fantastic Plastic Machine, Dear Mr. Salesman. Surreal artsy fun.
  9. Offspring — Pretty Fly for a White Boy
  10. Olivia Newton John– Let’s Get Physical

Every few years trend change for workouts. First it was team sports, then jogging, then it was stairmasters, then weight training, and now it is “portable workouts,” (which don’t require a lot of fancy equipment). Yes, I’m leaving out a few trends (I don’t pay much attention to the exercise world), but this last trend seems here to stay.

Along with these portable workouts comes an emphasis on core training (which focuses on stomach and chest rather than legs and arms). One of the books I bought talked about resistance bands as an alternative to free weights. I was skeptical, but a teenager at the local sporting goods store assured me that a lot of people did it). Dealing with plastic strips is a lot less cumbersome than dealing with free weights.

The key is learning how to utilize the equipment and coming up with a routine that accomodates your schedule and is not too long (and doesn’t cause too much muscle strain). I’ve done competitive swimming in my past and took some good PE classes in college, but frankly, the stuff I’ve been reading in these exercise books convince me that the investment of time learning routines (not to mention physiology) will pay off . The biggest stumbling block I envision is not determination but my ability to keep my living room free of clutter to actually do these exercises. I’ve never been particularly good at that, and if I’m going to be bouncing balls around, I need to be a lot more diligent.

Lots of other alternative methods for fitness exist (Pilates, Yoga, etc). To be honest, I don’t think it matters which one you’re following as long as you do it diligently, and as long as you vary the routine enough to make sure all muscle groups are taken care of.