We Tried It: Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/22/2008 7:16 AM   :  107 comments

As you can imagine, SparkPeople employees are into health and fitness. And even though we are deskbound most of the day (like many of you), we try to make the best of it. You may have heard of people sitting on stability balls at their desks, as a way of engaging their core muscles and improving their posture and getting a little bit of a "workout" at work. But not every office will allow their employees to sit on giant inflated balls, and sometimes the right-sized ball for you just doesn't fit well with your work area. That's where Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair comes in.

For a long time, I sat on a stability ball at my desk. To me, it's just more comfortable than a regular office chair. But more importantly, when I sit in a chair, I don't really sitóI lounge. I lean into the chair back, relax into the arm rests, and remain that way for hours. I think you'd agree that sitting at your desk all day isn't very good for your body, and lounging is even worse for your back and spine and can result in muscle pain and soreness. Plus it's a really passive way to sit in an already passive desk job.

A couple years ago, I switched out my stability ball (it was never really the right height or size for my desk) with Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair ($99). We had a few of these floating around the office for a while, and I snagged one permanently. Boy, am I glad I did!

What I like about this chair is that it's a great hybrid between a standard chair and a stability ball. It's comfortable, ergonomic, and pretty affordable as far as office chairs go. Plus, it looks a little sleeker than the bright blue ball I used to sit on, and since it has a base with wheels, it's easier to maneuver (and doesn't roll away when I leave my desk). There is a small "back" to the chair, which is a nice to have when I do choose to relax a little or just want more support.

While stability balls usually come in 55cm, 65cm, and 75cm sizes, this particular ball is a little smaller (52cm), which works well in an office setting (and should fit most people between 5'0" and 5'11"). I have a small opening under my desk, between drawers on each side, and my old ball wouldn't really fit there. This chair does. When I sit on it, I notice that I sit taller, with better posture and engaged abs.

Here's what two of my co-workers had to say about it:

"I used the Balance Ball chair for a few weeks. I liked that my core got a workout while I sat at my desk. However, I prefer to have support at my back and a foot rest at my feet, so the ball never felt like it was at the proper height for me. I felt like I was too tall for the chair," said one reviewer.

"I use the balance ball chair about two hours each day, to help improve my posture and quit slouching all day like I do in my everyday desk chair," explained another co-worker. "I like that it forces me to sit up and maintain a better posture, but unfortunately it does not allow me to sit high enough up that my shoulders arenít hunched up into my ears. I would make sure that when you buy the chair it will fit right with your desk or else you back pain turns into shoulder pain."

Keep in mind that people who are new to sitting on a ball (or ball chair) should build up their time gradually, as it can be a little tiring when you're not accustomed to sitting with such great posture for hours on end. Might as well get something out of sitting all day, right? And as a bonus, yes you CAN remove the stability ball from the chair base and exercise with it!

Do you sit on a stability ball? Would you take a seat in this Balance Ball Chair?

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    I've had a ball chair for years. My hubby got me one for work, and it was the only thing I could sit in for the hours I had to sit. ;) The office was changed, and I took my chair home and the ball went flat. I really missed it, and we finally got the ball replaced. Now it's the chair at my home desk, and I'm debating taking it to work because the chair at work makes my hip go numb. They are awesome! When I do sit in it for a LONG time, my hips will be a little sore, but it's great. ;) - 8/6/2014   11:58:15 PM
  • 106
    I sit on those flat balance discs at work for a change in pace. Can't have a stability ball in my staid office, but the disc causes the same improvement in posture. - 4/30/2014   11:36:04 AM
    I've thought about a chair, but have used my Gaiam in one of my wicker baskets for several years. Quite by accident, I tossed the ball for lack of a better place in one of the baskets. It fit right in with surface to spare. So I tried sitting on it. I sometimes use it when I am sewing, or doing office things. A chair might be a better height, but this has always been a comfy way to work.
    - 4/24/2014   1:42:44 AM
  • 104
    This is really interesting to me! As someone who works primarily from home, I have a little freedom to experiment with things like this. I think perhaps I may look into purchasing one of these. I will test it out first though, to see how it feels for my knees and lower legs, before purchasing.

    My issue hasn't so much been back pain from slouching or bad posture. My desk currently requires me to be too high, and when I lift up my adjustable office chair, my feet don't quite touch the floor (I'm a shorty, measuring in at exactly 5 feet). This causes a "break" about 2/3 of the way down my thigh, and feels as if I'm cutting off circulation to my lower legs. This is confirmed when I get up a few hours later only to find that my calves, ankles and feet are tight and swollen. To resolve that problem right now, I'm sitting with my feet propped up on a box underneath the desk. It's helping somewhat, but puts my knees right at the pull-out for the keyboard which also isn't very comfortable. It beats swollen and tight legs though.

    So the chair that I purchase needs to help me resolve that issue as well as be helpful for spinal and shoulder posture. I think if I test out the chair and like it, I'll invest in a new desk that will specifically work with it's height. I wonder, are their any physical stores where I can swing by and test this chair out, or would it be something I have to purchase online? If so, perhaps Amazon will be the best bet in case I need to return it...any insight gals & guys? - 12/12/2013   1:16:37 PM
  • 103
    I tried sitting on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair. It hurt my back something fierce. I do better with a regular office chair and concentrating on my posture. - 6/4/2013   2:42:13 PM
  • 102
    When I work from home I use a ball as a chair. I'm concerned that using this chair would negate some of the balance benefits of sitting on the ball. At work I have a standing desk - 5/29/2013   8:00:43 AM
    Don't know if it will work for me. I already have left hip pain and back pain. - 5/27/2013   11:29:29 AM
  • 100
    I agree with the comment in the blog that you have to work your way into it if you sit for long periods of time. I work at home as a transcriptionist, and I recently bought one of these to get some extra activity while working. I tried using it as long as I could when I first got it thinking I would really enjoy it. My bottom fell asleep, my back hurt, and my production was WAY down (get paid on production, so not a good thing). This week I am going to start to slowly work my way into it by doing half an hour to an hour a day and gradually add on more time as the weeks progress. - 3/25/2013   12:06:31 PM
  • 99
    I love mine. I bought it for my desk at school. I teach 4th - 6th grade, and rarely sit, but when I do I love the stability ball chair. I was a pretty hyper ADHD kind of kid and was know to wiggle so much I fell out of my chair. I would have loved one of these as a kid and wish my school could afford to get them for the chairs around my desk for teaching so the children could sit in them too. - 3/17/2013   8:36:24 AM
  • 98
    Can't afford one of these, but it looks like something I'd love. I do use a balance ball, and it's a great improvement over the desk chair in my secondary office. When I was thinking about trying one, I got some great advice from fellow Sparkers. I bought the largest ball I could find. It's bigger than the one I use at home, but fits my desk space and is the right height for work. - 3/11/2013   2:34:28 PM
  • 97
    I asked for one of these at work to help me deal with some sciatica that pops up now and then. They were not OSHA approved, so my request was rejected. Bummer. - 3/9/2013   1:25:36 PM
  • TMCK-40
    I'm ordering one today! Can't wait. - 1/5/2013   2:15:52 PM
  • 95
    I have both a balance ball adn a blance chair in my office, next challenge - invcorproatign more standing! - 9/28/2012   10:39:44 AM
  • RITAKAU2012
    I have used this chair in my office for 3 years now. LOVE IT!!! Stopped having back pains every day. People laugh sometimes, and it really isn't made for people with long legs, but it is perfect for me. I don't think I could go back to a conventional chair again. I loved it so much, I bought one for home. - 2/10/2012   11:21:48 PM
    Love my chair. I just brought it to work for the first time today. Another benefit is that it prevents me from sitting on my foot with my leg twisted up under me. It is SUCH a bad habit that I've been trying to break for years. Pretty impossible to do that on the ball. Yay!! Problem solved! - 5/4/2011   10:34:03 AM
  • 92
    I would definitely try one of these, but need to save up money to get one. - 2/22/2011   5:48:13 PM
  • 91
    $73.92 plus free Prime shipping on Amazon. - 2/17/2011   10:16:27 AM
  • 90
    I had never heard of a balance ball chair before. I'm interested! I'll be looking up info on it for sure. - 2/16/2011   3:42:39 PM
    This sounds better than that idea that some expert had, that everyone should stand all day at work, if they usually sit at a desk!!! I'd rather at least have this choice. - 2/3/2011   9:34:55 PM
  • 88
    I have been using this particular chair for years now. It is so nice to have proper posture, at the computer, at all times. When I want to do Leslie's "You Can Do" ball exercises, I just grab the big ball off the base of the chair, and her dvd and get busy doing that. :) Very convenient to me. The chair does push easily in under my desk, with it's back staying just outside, just like any other chair would.
    It's well worth having one of these for your spine's sake alone. - 2/2/2011   6:51:31 AM
    The Gaiam BalanceBall is now on sale for $79.98 +S/H. Check it out at http://www.gaiam.com/product/wellne
    - 3/19/2010   2:55:22 PM
  • 86
    Thanks for the link LILPEANUTGW - great tip to get a great price! - 9/29/2009   6:13:02 PM
    I just found them when I did a search on line....they were on sale and I found an on-line coupon for 15% off! code CSEVEN9 good until 9/29/09...perfect! - 9/27/2009   9:56:22 AM
    I'd love one of these chairs but went to the link in the article and it is gone :( - 9/27/2009   9:46:15 AM
  • 83
    I would love to have one of these. I just may order one and bring it home to West Africa when I visit North America next. - 9/13/2009   12:16:58 PM
  • 82
    I have one and I love it! - 5/26/2009   10:07:13 PM
  • 81
    If you are interested in purchasing one of these chairs and find it a little cost-prohibitive, I found an identical stability ball chair for $65 plus shipping: http://www.isokineticsinc.com/categ
    It's on its way to me right now. I'll post again when I receive it and let everyone know how it works out. - 5/26/2009   5:08:01 PM
    I love mine. I do find, however, that I still slump. - 5/23/2009   12:30:45 PM
  • 79
    I use my ball in my home office and sence I sit at a desk for 8 hours at work, I'd love, absolutely love, to try this chair! Snap! What an excellent invention. Wish I had thought of it! - 5/23/2009   2:14:27 AM
  • 78
    I would try it! I am a slumper as well and often times go home with neck and upper back pain. I am going to ask for one for my birthday! - 5/21/2009   7:18:10 PM
  • 77
    i sit on my ball in office. sometimes. now i shall do it all the time. i'd love one of those office ball chairs. wow. - 5/20/2009   11:58:00 AM
  • 76
    There was one of these as a psychiatrists office I was in once, but I didn't know it was good for you. I thought it was just a fun chair. It seems like it would be a great investment, though. - 5/10/2009   9:59:29 AM
  • 75
    Thanks for the info! I'd found this chair interesting prior fot your post. But didn't know anyone who'd tried it to make it worth spending the additional money for it. - 2/8/2009   1:26:10 AM
    I am sitting on mine right now. Have had it for 2 years and i really don't like sitting on other chairs while I am working anymore. Also, it makes it easy to work out with the ball and not have to cram it into a closet when I am done.
    TA-DA!!! I love this thing!!! - 2/3/2009   1:16:04 PM
    Thank you for the review! I've been eyeing this chair for over a year now and I think I will now make it a reward for meeting one of my fitness goals. - 2/3/2009   9:03:57 AM
  • 72
    I'd love to have this but I am not sure it will work with my desk. My desk is pretty tall in comparison to me (I'm 5'0" on a good day) and I have to have my chair hiked up a bit to the point my legs swing just to not hurt my back & shoulders. Maybe my next job :) - 1/27/2009   9:27:59 AM
  • 71
    A few of us at work were thinking of getting one or two for our group and rotating them around, but we are not allowed any unnecessary spending right now, so that idea is tabled for the time being. I think the ball chair would be a great way to get some extra core work in during the day. - 1/25/2009   2:33:05 PM
  • 70
    99 dollars seems a bit steep for a chair. - 1/6/2009   7:58:27 PM
  • 69
    I'm considering one. I have a balance ball I sit on at home but it is not quite high enough. Can't really see my work allowing it, though. I may opt for a larger balance ball. - 12/28/2008   11:31:48 AM
    I have the GAIAM balance ball core dvd and it rocks! - 11/25/2008   10:53:30 PM
  • 67
    Sounds interesting I will have to reasearch it further thank you - 11/15/2008   12:24:25 AM
  • 66
    I got the chair after reading the article. I've had it set up for 2 days (Friday and today) and I really like it. My old chair allowed me to recline WAY too much. This one keeps me in a better position and I find it helps my lower back.

    Props for this one! - 11/10/2008   10:50:49 AM
  • 65
    Does anybody else think this thing looks like an alien commode?

    I've been sitting on my stability ball while writing, but only for short periods. It is tiring after a while. I put my computer on a lower table when I'm using the ball.

    It's fun to sit on the ball while watching TV, then jump up and use it for exercise during commercials!

    - 11/6/2008   4:17:23 PM
  • 64
    No, this type of chair is not permitted at my job. - 10/27/2008   12:55:08 AM
    My boss was tired of us complaining that our backs hurt all the time, so he bought us these chairs. All of us at desks immediately felt an improvement! Love the chair! - 10/25/2008   2:27:15 PM
    I use a stability ball for exercise at jazzercise and home. Love it and it has sand in it so I don't fall off it. - 10/25/2008   10:06:44 AM
  • 61
    Mine sits in the corner mocking me. I dust it weekly. :) I have a pinched sciatic nerve, so I've always blamed that as the reason that when I sit on the ball chair my legs go to sleep. I love sitting onmy regular balance ball and actually feel the pressure coming off my lower back, so thought the chair would be great. The ball is harder than my normal one. Is it inflated too much?
    - 10/24/2008   12:32:10 PM
  • 60
    About a month ago I started sitting on a stability ball at work. I noticed the impact it was having on my core. After the first day, muscles in my back and abdomen felt a little tight, like I have experienced a good workout. Now when I choose to sit in my regular office seat, I notice discomfort in my back and get restless. Since I am diagnosed ADD, another benefit of the ball is that I can add subtle movement, like moving to the music from my headset. I tend to enjoy my stability ball better than the office chair.
    My one concern about the Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair is the cost. The thought of paying $99 dollars, when my stability ball cost me around $10, doesn't seem to be a need expense at this time. - 10/24/2008   8:23:22 AM
  • 59
    It's kind of funny looking. Ha ha ha! I would try it, though it doesn't sound very comfortable. - 10/24/2008   8:20:11 AM
  • 58
    Hoping that this goes on sale over the holidays, I would love to pick one up. I don't sit at a desk all day for my job, but do log in a few hours every night doing homework and catching up with family and of course on Spark! So this would be great, but just doesn't fit into my budget right now, really. - 10/24/2008   1:06:22 AM

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