Testing The ALDI Fitball As A Chair

ALDI had a special that Lifehacker noted a couple of weeks ago, offering a gym ball for the low, low price of $7.99. For that kind of money, I snapped one up — but did it snap me into fitness or fatness?

$7.99 is a very low price for a gym ball and I wasn't expecting much, but then I wasn't looking for much out of this particular gym ball. The previous gym ball I'd owned was one that had been picked up when my wife was pregnant with our first child; it had long since died, but was a professional grade model that went for about ten times the price.

I didn't have grand fitness ambitions for this particular ball; I just wanted an alternate office chair to help with my back at a reasonable kind of price.

As you can see, you get not a whole lot of anything at $7.99; they were the same price whether you purchased a small (55cm), medium (65cm) or large (75cm) ball. I ended up picking up the medium and large, although after a fortnight's use, the medium one has been given over to the kids; it's too small for any but the very smallest adults to sit on comfortably, although it should be fine if you've got exercise in mind. Speaking of exercise, the only available pump I had was a bicycle pump, which meant it took a long while to fully inflate the 75cm ball; a nice gentle workout in itself.

The box promises that it's "Anti-Burst". I'm so glad it has an opinion on bursting, without necessarily being a promise that it won't.

Here's the fully inflated 75cm ball. I have to admit, at this stage, I wasn't so much thinking "exercise" as I was that they looked rather like something Patrick Troughton might have fought on a weekly basis back in the 1960s.

The ball itself is reasonably solid — which is to say it hasn't burst yet, and once the air within had settled it has held its shape and consistency well over a fortnight where I've used it alternating with my regular office chair. I haven't found, as Lifehacker US' Melanie Pinola did that my spine has radically altered, but what I have found is that it's an excellent conduit to creativity. If I'm feeling flat, a switch to the ball makes me move around and fidget a little — and then I'm back on working track. As long as this ball doesn't burst under me and make my back a whole lot worse through dropping, it will remain a worthwhile purchase.


Comments

    I have a Nike branded fitball (it just sort of turned up in my closet one day, I honestly have no idea where it came from) and I've been tempted to bring it to work, but I'm worried that doing so will make me look like a massive tool.

    Maybe I'll test the waters by using it at home. God knows my core could use the work.

      People will kick it as they pass your desk. I know this because I am a massive tool that brought one into work a few years ago.

    Gym ball has been my default home-desk chair for a while now, and I had one at work a couple years ago. I'm sure it differs from office to office, but my team didn't mind it at all - it was a curious novelty, but nobody really cared - plus there was a spare chair! I'm always fidgeting when I sit down, and the ball means I can bounce and get that energy out. Also, it rolls neatly all the way under the desk, which is a nice little novelty.

    These days I'm using a standing desk for my PC: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-22-diy-standing-desk-made-with-ikea-parts-173463 , but I keep the gym ball there for more relaxed conent consumption and in the lounge room for gaming.

    I'm not expert, but that 'fully inflated fitball' isn't even close to being inflated enough.

    I'm sorry to hear about the death of your first child. It can't be easy being a professional model.

    Oh you mean the ball!

    @Alex
    You really shouldn't be using a fit ball as a chair for any period of time. This is not what they are designed for and can lead to worse sitting posture than you would otherwise have in a normal task chair. The lack of back (ilio sacral and lumbar) support requires your many postural muscles to work harder to keep you upright. Without proper training these muscles will generally fatigue quickly leading to slouching and poor posture. If you are going to use a fit ball as a chair, only do so for short stints, maybe A few minutes at a time, possibly building up to 10 or 20 minutes max.
    The human body is designed to move regularly, sitting is not moving, regardless of your choice of chair. If you are tied to a desk, alternating between sitting and standing is a good option. Throw in some stretches, squats, pushups (where appropriate) or a short walk in between and your body will be much happier.

    "The previous gym ball I’d owned was one that had been picked up when my wife was pregnant with our first child; it had long since died"
    When I first read this, I panicked. I thought you were referring to your first-born. I was quite relieved to find I was wrong, lol.

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