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?

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How about this chair : https://leyeahsoho.com/products/who
-headrest-support Report
I find a yoga ball works fine. Report
This reminds me of a show that was about old jobs.One guy was making charcoal in England and had to tend a slow burning covered fire for a long period (over 2 or 3 days). The person was given a one legged stool, the rational being that you would wake up (one way or another) if you feel asleep and lost your balance whilst sitting on it. Report
This ball is incredibly comortable. It is somewhat expensive, but most seats are. Report
Would love to get one but it is out of my budget. Report
Before I retired I had a prescription from my Primary Care Physician to use a balance ball for a chair and it kept me much more flexible and helped keep my core toned. Now that I am retired I still use one for my computer chair. I would try the chair in the article. They look great.

HOWEVER, You need to work your way into it if you haven't done it before or you will really give yourself some aches and pains in places you were not even aware that you had before. :D Report
I think that many people will find that sitting on a balance ball is way to hard if you have to do it for 8 straight hours. I mean, I'm quite an athlete and I can't do it. I find the office chair like a torture machine, so I really loved when I opted for a balance ball chair. It's like an office chair with the yoga ball in it, and you can adjust the intensity and stuff. The real question is if balance ball chair is better than yoga ball by itself I think. This guy Mark ready made a good point www.balanceballchairreviews.com Report
I received one for my birthday and have been using it for a few weeks now in the office. Aside from missing a place to tuck my feet under on occasion, I really like this alternative to my regular desk chair that I always found myself slouched over in. Also, fun to bounce on when a good song pops up on my Spotify :) Report
thank you for inspiration.
Personally I`m using Jami Fitness Stability Ball and I`m completely satisfied:

Greetings, Michael Report
thank you for inspiration.
Personally I`m using Jami Fitness Stability Ball and I`m completely satisfied:

Greetings, Michael Report
I bought it and I love it! It has only been two days but I can tell the difference from when I use it for a couple of hours and go back to my desk chair. I feel the difference in my posture and the difference in the comfort of the stability chair! This stability chair is a 10 so far in my books! I am 5'4 and I thought I would have trouble reaching my computer, it is perfect! Love Love Love :)
I'd love to try it... but my "desk" is a 7' long 3' tall counter. One of these chairs would put me far too low to work properly. :) Yeah, I could stand (aren't standing desks all the rage nowadays?) but I already stand 9 hours at work, I want to be seated at home, thanks. I'll keep this in mind, though, and maybe I can design something a bit better for me. :D Report
I just inherited a co-worker's chair (she moved to another office and left hers behind). After about 3 days, I have no problems with balance and, while my posture has always been good, I definitely notice the difference. The only problem is I injured my tailbone a couple of years ago and, every now and then, I feel a little sting in that area.

Oh, and the little back on the chair is VERY helpful in adjusting myself to my desk. And I'm pretty short (5' 2 1/2") with T-Rex arms, so this has been great!!!! Report
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. ;) Report
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. Report
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.
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? Report
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. Report
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 Report
Don't know if it will work for me. I already have left hip pain and back pain. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
I'm ordering one today! Can't wait. Report
I have both a balance ball adn a blance chair in my office, next challenge - invcorproatign more standing! Report
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. Report
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! Report
I would definitely try one of these, but need to save up money to get one. Report
$73.92 plus free Prime shipping on Amazon. Report
I had never heard of a balance ball chair before. I'm interested! I'll be looking up info on it for sure. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Thanks for the link LILPEANUTGW - great tip to get a great price! Report
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! Report
I'd love one of these chairs but went to the link in the article and it is gone :( Report
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. Report
I have one and I love it! Report
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. Report
I love mine. I do find, however, that I still slump. Report
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! Report
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! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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!!! Report
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. Report
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 :) Report
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. Report