What’s with all the Ball Play?

You may have noticed on social media and across my classes we spent a lot of time “messing about” on gym balls. It’s great fun and everyone always really enjoys it.


However, is it really just messing about or is there some serious training going on here?


Well I’ll have you know there is actually a lot of rider specific work going on alongside all that falling off the gym ball.


The reason gym balls have become popular training tools amongst equestrians is due to them requiring good balance and stability to stay on one. Even just sitting on one with your feet on the floor can be a challenge if you are new to core training.


When we are riding our horse we are constantly making tiny adjustments to our stabiliser muscles to keep us in balance with the horse. This is exactly what you are doing on a gym ball. Whether you are sat on trying to lift your feet, kneeling 4 point or 2 point; the very act of trying to stabilise on the ball trains the muscles you are using to stabilise on your horse. So even if you can’t kneel up and juggle on the ball in perfect stillness (if you can please send videos!) the very act of trying to stabilise is still rider specific exercise in itself.


I know many of you will have a gym ball gathering dust somewhere, or you will have seen them in the shops recently for less than £10 and are thinking you should get one but you’ve no idea what to do with it.


There are in fact loads of exercises you can do with a gym ball, hence why I use them in my classes and with 1 2 1 clients. However let’s start simple and do what I call “getting comfortable” with the gym ball.


Start by just sitting on it as you would a chair. Breathe, relax and try holding a conversation.


Then start to turn your torso left and then right-is one way easier than the other?


Now try lifting one foot at a time.


Now try lifting one foot and turning the opposite and then the same way.


Both feet…..


Try all of this again but in more of a horse rider stance-straddle the ball as if it was a horse.


Honestly, I don’t mind you giving yourself a little hand by holding a sturdy table or windowsill to help you learn what “right” feels like until you can do it on your own.


Ok, crack on with that this week and let me know how you get on before we move onto the circus tricks.


Ps: Please make sure there is nothing you could hurt yourself on around you-walls to crash into etc. If you’re very accident prone wear your hat!

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