David Stuart performs a front somersault after bouncing off a semi-buried fitness ball on the beach.
David Stuart performs a front somersault after bouncing off a semi-buried fitness ball on the beach. Photo Junko Kamitani

Pushing the limits with a fitness ball

THE fitness ball rolled onto the scene rather suddenly. It seemed that every start-up and design lab had lines of employees productively bouncing away on these giant rubber globes despite WorkCover Queensland's declaration that the "balls are rehabilitation equipment and not office furniture".

The first thought I had after laying eyes on one of the balls was, "I have to organise a game of jumbo soccer". It never happened. A friend did, however, let me kick and headbutt his gym ball in the park. It was a short-lived activity that came to an abrupt end when I skewered his beloved office chair on a eucalypt branch.

I had a gym-junkie friend encourage me to buy a fitness ball to strengthen my "core". No thanks.

But while he was lifting weights I found myself kneeling on his fitness ball and putting my hands in the air, shifting my weight as the ball moved from side to side. Despite this description, I was actually hooked. "There you go Dave, you're strengthening your core," my friend beamed.

One day, I came across two young boys doing somersaults on the beach. I realised they had buried a fitness ball in the sand and they were using it like a mini trampoline to launch their nimble bodies up into the air.

"Can I have a go?" I asked them. They eyed suspiciously their bearded senior. "Yeah, I guess so," one of them answered.

Without warming up I removed my thongs and raced towards the ball and took a leap of faith. I felt my ankle roll as I shot off to the side. Ouch. The teens looked genuinely concerned. I had another turn. This time I kept my feet firmly together and made sure I landed in the dead-centre of the ball. Much better. The next step was to try a front somersault. I used to do them, it's like riding a bike right? Well, actually, yes, it was.


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