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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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. Report
I have the GAIAM balance ball core dvd and it rocks! Report
Sounds interesting I will have to reasearch it further thank you Report
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! Report
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!

No, this type of chair is not permitted at my job. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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?
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. Report
It's kind of funny looking. Ha ha ha! I would try it, though it doesn't sound very comfortable. Report
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. Report
Target has them Report
No I have tried this but I would love to. Report
I'd like to try one out. Who sells these stability ball chairs? Report
Oh my goodness , what next?! One of the Case Managers at my job, sits on a Stablility ball all the time, swears by it. I have tried mine at my desk at home, and it is too low, I may get a larger one to try. BUT forget the chair, I mean what you are getting is more stability?! I think the idea of this seat is that YOU are to keep this ball stable, and by doing so YOU benefit. With a chair, all you would have would be a ball, in my estimation! Report
I had tried sitting on a balance ball at home on my computer, which I sit at a lot.
I temporarily stopped because it went down a bit and I hadn't gotten it re-inflated.
In the meantime, I was having lots of low back pain, thought I had a bladder infection. Nobody told me I needed to build up to using the ball. I knew it was good for improving my posture but, if I ever knew it would also improve my core, I had forgotten. Thanks for reminding me.

And, the idea of doing crunches while my computer is loading is great. All these ideas will get me started again with my stability ball. Right now, money is so tight;
the idea of a new chair is not even relevant. But I'll fille it away for later. Thanks. Report
I sit at a desk all day. Would love to try one. Where? Report
My desk is a little too high at 30 3/4 inches, but it is attached to the file cabinets and the walls on two sides so it is not likely to move LOL. I sat on exercise ball until my sister's kids bounced on it....LOL I was guilty too I bounced as well, just not quite as hard. The replacement my embarassed sis bought was used for a year or so then Pixie climbing up into my lap (35 lbs hound with short legs and long ears and hair) clawed it trying to get up while I was trying to keep her off and then poof both of us a little shocked in a heap on the floor. I was laughing so hard I couldn't get up and Pix took advantage of my floorbound position to anoint me with loving kisses and I was at an online sales meeting so provided a huge laugh to my colleagues. TG we didn't use cameras, eh? My present ball got banished when the office was used as guest room last, so maybe I should pump up the pressure again and put it back where it belonged?
Pros - lower back pain and sciatica reduced significantly, even bad right shoulder was a little better
Cons - every time I got up I had to go fetch it from the other side of the room. It was hard to reach into the rolling file or lean over to snatch the output from the printer or fax four feet down the counter, or bring down forms from the sorter/cabinet above the main work area.
I wonder how much that chair would be in Canada? At 5'6" less a little for age I am pretty average height and due to too high desk here at home I use a foot rest anyway and the two days I go to office I could really use one there. I would really like to be able to "try one on" if anyone knows where I could go. Rosie Report
I am actually sitting on a stability ball right now at my desk. I have had very severe back issues for the better part of this year. Not only am I prone to up-slipping my sacrum is a wiggly thing and never stays in place. I work for two physical therapists who have very generously been running me through PT to fix the problems. On top of the other exercises they have been having me do, they started having me sit on a stability ball for a couple hours a day while at my desk. I can honestly say that this has helped improve my back-pain issues considerably. By increasing the muscle strength in these areas I am also increasing their ability to hold the bones in place as they should. I highly recommend those with lower back pain to try this out! I had no idea that a chair like this existed and would love to test one myself! Report
I would not mind taking a seat on this, this will keep me from lounging! Plus it would help with the whole core thing! Report
This sounds so good. I want one now. :) Report
I use a stability ball when sitting at my home desk. I'm also the person who purchases furniture for my company of 500 people. I've spent upwards of $500 on ergonomic chairs that were not comfortable at all. The stability ball is by far the best thing I've used. I'm looking forward to trying out the Balance Ball Chair. For the low price - compared to other chairs - it's certainly worth a shot. Report
Even though my posture is better than most people (I get compliments on my great posture), I think I'll order one to use in conjunction with my regular chair. Since my kids always ask what I want for Christmas, this is a good (inexpensive) gift to put on my want list. Report
I like this idea of a chair a ball together. It would keep some of the larger people out of my office breaking my chair (2 in the last 6 months). I can't use the ball because there are to many "children" where I work and they would end up popping it. Report
I'm actually really surprised (in a good way) that a lot of you sit on balance balls @ work! Is the ball high enough to be able to type or answer phones @ your desk?

Very interesting! Report
The gaiam ball chairs have been on drugstore.com for $79. I have another brand that I bought through Overstock. I LOVE it--but a warning--when you first get it, you have to wait a day or so before you are able to fully inflate the ball. When I first pumped it up--to the point I thought it would burst--it was about half the size needed to fit in the chair. I even went through the customer service department at Overstock--insisting that they'd sent me a bum ball. But, finally, I pumped it up the rest of the way (thinking that if it did burst, I could just have them send me a new ball)--and it has worked great ever since. Other than a few odd comments from some co-workers, it hasn't drawn that much attention. And, like others, I have tried just sitting on a stability ball--and this is LOADS better. Report
I'm in love with the wheels. I sat awhile on a stability ball at work, but I really needed to be able to slide two or three inches back and forth. I'd usually wind up clutching the edge of the desk and leaning precariously to reach the places I needed since getting up all the time wasn't really reasonable. I'd love a chair like this. Report
I would love to have one at work, but it would not work out at all in the classroom! I have a stability ball at home at my computer desk and the suggestion to build up to time spent is great advice. My back became sore when I used it a couple of hours w/out building up to the time. Once I did, my back was better - I've had back issues for over 30 years. I sit taller and really like that I'm working my core too. Report
This sounds wonderful for at home - I used to use my ball all the time, this will motivate me to use it again. Because of serious low-back issues, (which i blame on my laziness) i gained 40 lbs. and now I stand at work all day, which is workout enough for me. Hopefully now that i am on the road to recovery i will be motivated to get back on the ball a few times every week and when sittin on the computer or in front of the TV. I dont think the chair is for me tho, the ball alone is enough. Report
I would love this as I'm at a desk all day. A co-worker has a ball that I'll use once in a while but this looks much better and won't roll away. Report
I wouldn't mind trying it at home, but it's very expensive! I'd rather just keep the chair I have now. Report
I like it but have way too many back issues to consider using anything without proper support. Report
i'm a designer for a commercial furniture dealer - we sell very high end, top of the line ergonomic desk chairs. i would be very concerned about the ergonomic issues of this chair - it has no height adjustability. this is an essential component of ergonomically correct chairs - not to mention seat depth and the back height. there's no way that one chair has the right static proportions for all users. on top of that, i would be very skeptical of any chair that costs $99. a good quality ergonomic chair should be at least 5 times that. and if you're in a chair with proper ergonomics, you won't be slouching in the first place. i would worry this chair does more damage than good. Report
Wow I would love to have one of those at my desk. I'm a receptionist and I spend most of my day in a chair at my office and I feel so gross and bad because I'm not doing much activity at work. If I had one of those chairs it would make me feel alot better about being at work. Report
It's cute but I wouldn't consider using either a free rolling ball or chair like this during work hours, even though I do the writing part of my job at home. It would interfere with concentration and I'm just more comfortable on an actual chair, but to each their own. Report
I think it is kind of funky. On the good side it would definitely keep an employee on their toes or provide the office with lots of laughs when one fell off. I think would definitely prevent cramps from sitting still too long in a chair. Report
I sit on a stability ball at my computer desk a lot. I used to enter in the amount of exercise from sitting their for 8 hours. I think it is an excellent way to increase the calories burned, even if not a lot. I am not sure I would need the chair, though. I probably get more exercise with just the stability ball. Report
Oh man, I was given one and gave it away without trying it. It seemed like a gimmic to me at the time. Report
I sit on a balance ball at my computer desk at home. My computer is slow, so I have to wait for it to load things quite often. I do crunches ot stretches while I wait, it's win-win.
I am not sure about the balance ball chair though, it seems that the chair-like frame kind of defeats the purpose, taking away the rolling action of the ball and limit it's possibilities. I'll stick to the free-rolling ball myself. Report
I've been tempted to try one of these for over a year, however; I feel very sure that the ball won't sit up high enough for me to reach my desk (just as the 2nd reviewer said).

I'm too short for regular chairs, too. I need a footrest. I'm sure there's a better alternative, but I'm sure this one is too short. Report
I would definately try this. I spent over $300 on a kneeling chair, because I have severe and chronic back pain. I also spent that much on a regular office chair, and then went to the stability ball. I go back and forth from each b/c of the pain. SO in short this is a reasonable price to me, if it works. Report
Sounds great I will have to start putting up some money to buy one. Report
I've used a stability ball for almost two years now at work and love it. The big advantage I immediately spoyted with this chair is no flats if you run over a staple on the floor (says one who has lost three balls to staples). Report
No, I would not try it unless I was absolutely sure before getting on any balance ball that I could achieve perfect balance and stability on it. Not for me. Report
I am dying for one right now! Report
That looks neat! If I worked in an office I would like one of those! Report
I'm lucky my office not only allows balls, they are actually very vogue over here. The only problem is I'm too tall for the balls I can find in stores. I need to order a 75cm on-line. Now my only problem is actually doing it. Report
I think this is great. That way my time spent on Spark will also be productive physically. I have been wanting a stability ball and we need a new computer chair, so it is a win win situation. Report
I think I am going to add this to my Christmas wish list. Report
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