You may have seen late-night infomercials for the Bender Ball and its accompanying workout DVDs, which promise to deliver amazing results for your abs. In fact, one of their selling points is a big graph that says the Bender Ball is 408% more effective than crunches alone. So does it live up to its hype? Find out what I thought after putting it to the test this past weekend.
The Bender Ball is nothing more than a specifically-branded "mini ball," an inexpensive piece of equipment that has been used for years by exercise instructors and personal trainers. Just as a stability ball engages more core muscle fibers (since it's harder to balance on than a flat surface), a mini ball like the Bender Ball gives you workout options that you wouldn't have otherwise, and increases the challenge of an exercise. It's smaller than a stability ball (about 7 inches in diameter when inflated), but you use it in different ways: hold it between the thighs, knees or ankles or lie with it at the base of your spine, to name a few.
The Bender Ball comes with one instructional DVD that contains two different workout modes. The first is Core Training and it has three levels: 1 for beginners (less than 3 minutes long), 2 for intermediate exercisers (about 5 minutes long) and 3 for advanced exercisers (about 6 minutes long). I tried all three at once and felt my abs working during each one. But in workout 3, my abs were shaking like nothing I had felt before! Don't let the short length of these workouts fool you. I found them to be extremely effective and challenging. Remember that you don't need to do hundreds or thousands of repetitions to get a good workout. These short workouts get the job done!
Next I tried the second included workout: Buns and Thighs. It lasted about 22 minutes. I thought it had a great variety of exercises (including some that I had never seen before myself), and the same high-quality cues and instructions were very helpful. Overall, it was an excellent lower-body workout for people of many fitness levels.
Overall, I thought the Bender Ball was fun, different and effective. The workout instructions were clear, the exercises were safe, modifications were offered, and the participants were pretty relatable (middle-aged women), but men would find this workout just as challenging as women.
Do I recommend this product? Hands down, YES! The exercises on the DVD, in my opinion, are more effective than regular crunches alone, especially as there's a lot of variety and levels to choose from. The set is inexpensive (less than $15) to boot. If you're looking for a new abs challenge or enjoy Pilates (which this is strikingly similar to), then you'll like the Bender Ball. But remember: No amount of strength or toning exercises will get rid of the flab that covers your fabulous abs, so cardio is still essential!
Some customers have complained that when you buy the Bender Ball, they continue to ship and charge you for new DVDs later. Buyer beware, but according to their Satisfaction Guarantee, you can cancel anytime (like before additional products get shipped to you).
What do you think? Would you try the Bender Ball?
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