We Tried It: Gaiam's Balance Ball Chair

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 sit—I 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 ($79.98). 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 aren’t 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?