I am Mark Balmer and this is my story about my first balance ball chair.
I am a regular 38-year old guy from California and work as an office clerk. I love my job but the thing about being office-based is that I have to sit for 8 hours straight every day.
A trip to the water cooler or to brew some coffee is pretty much the only exercise I was getting in my job for about 4 years until the tightening that developed in my spine started to ache quite severely. I’m sure many of office-based folks can relate.
Plain Sitting that can Crush a Spine
The math is simple. If you have to sit an ordinary chair for 10 or more years, sooner or later you will develop spine problems as I did, and once you get them, they are literally a pain a bit north of your ass (lower spine is damaged the most).
When the pains started I made my second mistake – I still didn’t listen to my wife who has developed spine problems in her youth and learned a great deal about how to correct her spine by strengthening the core with balance ball chairs.
Exercise ball vs office chair? Too intensive vs too bad for spine
I thought about using painkillers to numb the pain but thinking about it – should I really be a pill popper for the rest of my life just because I have to sit? I’m better than that. So, against my wife’s advises, I went out and bought a proper exercise ball (some call it balance ball or yoga ball), rolled it in the office for everybody to see and started my first day sitting on it.
It was so intense that I could literally feel my core growing strong. However, I had to switch the yoga ball for my regular office chair after about 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I am fairly well built and run a 10k every other day, but having my core focused on not falling off the exercise ball for 8 straight hours is an impossible task even for me – everybody who has ever tried to sit on a balance ball will tell you that it is really really intensive and eventually people just create a sitting position on that ball that is usually even more harmful to the spine as sitting on an office chair.
Balance Ball Chair (learn a lesson and listen to your wife)
After trying pretty much everything I could I finally admitted to my wife that I have a serious problem. She, being an expert on how to manage spine pain, said the same thing she said when she first saw me touching my aching back.
It’s that chair you sit on for 8 hours a day. Why do you think I have a balance ball chair in my office and at home? Trust me, Mark, get an exercise ball chair now before it’s too late and we’ll have to be going from doctor to physiotherapist to doctor again just to try to salvage your spine.
I knew something needed to be done fast but couldn’t just borrow one of her balance ball chairs (she now has 3 yoga ball chairs at home). If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this right and will pick my own chair that will best suit me. That’s where the problems started.
How to pick the best balance ball chair for you?
Balance ball chairs have become very trendy nowadays and I was actually really excited how cool they looked. That would be a fine addition to my office but, gosh, I didn’t really know where to start.
Should I buy a balance ball chair with the wheels? Should my balance ball chair have a big or small backrest? The best choice is an adjustable balance chair like the Gaiam’s one you see here but I didn’t knew that at the time.
The last thing I wanted to do is to consult my wife about it (which in hindsight would of course be the smartest thing to do) but I really wanted the achievement of fixing it myself.
One night when the pain was unbearable I just said to myself ‘Enough!’. The same night I bought my first balance ball chair (it was Gaiam’s Original Chair). How?
Simple. I just went to amazon, checked out a few of them and settled for the one I liked the most. And let me tell you, after doing anything from balance ball, exercises for my back and even consulting a doctor about it (quite unnecessarily paid $200 just for a 20 minute consult that really wasn’t that helpful), I was in awe about just how effective balance ball chair is and how easy is to get one.
Opting for Balance Ball Chair for my Office Job
The one I picked was meant for the office job since there is where I sit the most. I had few preferences:
- The yoga ball chair had to have wheels so I can move around
- Appropriate height (I’m 6 foot 11)
- A BIG backrest (just seemed appropriate for the beginners balance ball chair)
After 2 days, the UPS man came with a box. I immediately took the chair to the office to test it. ‘She was right! She’s always right!’ were my first thoughts when I sat on it.
Even after 2 years I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I could feel my stomach muscles lightly tightened but I felt at rest and my spine was magically straight right away. The feeling was pretty much as sitting on a regular office chair with one very important bonus – I was impressed at how quickly I got used to lightly tightening my core and the pain I usually felt was all but gone.
I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. I gave it a good 10 minutes – I was afraid it will be the same as with the balance ball and everything will start aching all over again – but amazingly I just feel into my work and the when next time I noticed more than an hour has passed. I couldn’t even feel the chair under me it was so comfortable.
After a week or so I finally managed to go to sleep without thinking twice about the pain in my back – it was almost gone. I can’t remember when I was so impressed by something I bought for myself!
You really can’t go wrong with balance ball chair selection
At first I was afraid that the yoga ball chair I picked will not be a good choice – I really had nothing to go with except with my preferences for office balance ball chair.
But I was wrong to worry about that. All balance ball chairs work on the same principle – they are not as intensive as balance balls and not as rigid as office chairs – and you can’t really go wrong with buying any of them.
In my 2 years of experience I learned I was not entirely right about that. An average chair is awe-inspiring but if you nail one that works best for you, trust me, you will be praising God when sitting on it drinking the first cup of morning coffee.
This is precisely why I’ve created this balance ball chair reviews for everybody in need of some first-hand advice about which yoga ball chair to buy. I’ve learned a lot about them – the mobility matters, the backrest matters, but what matters the most is how your core strengthens and how you progress with every balance ball chair you sit on.
Why was the balance ball chair perfect for me?
In one sentence – I finally bought something for myself and it paid off exceptionally well.
Waking up in the middle of the night because of the back pain or thinking twice about lifting heavier things is gone now. Balance ball chairs literally transformed not only my posture but my life as a whole. If you’re being a bit negative because your back constantly hurts, you will know what I’m talking about. Absolving yourself of that painful feeling is as close as I even came to reinventing myself.
Here are why I’m so in love with balance ball chairs.
- No pain anymore. That’s pretty obvious, ain’t it?
- I feel energized at work. I do much more because the pain is not dragging me down.
- I feel better about myself. I finally had guts to admit sitting 8 hours is the problem and resolved it.
- It strengthened my core. I’m an avid runner but only after using balance ball chair for few months I felt invigorated enough to run a marathon. Yes, that’s 26,2 miles. In under 5 hours. Working on getting even better.
- I teamed up with my wife. I became such a fan of these chairs that I took my wife as a partner in crime, and now we test every exercise ball chair that comes out. Well, she buys them for herself, but I’m the one who tests them vigorously and will share my experience about them here and do some balance ball reviews. Sharing is caring.
Lessons I learned by helping myself.
- Back pain can literally make your life miserable. It’s a small thing but it will drive you down if you don’t act against it.
- Balance balls are too intensive and obsolete. Thankfully we live in a time when balance ball chairs are very popular and for a good reason – not as hard on your back as office chairs and not as intensive as balance balls.
- Doctors and physiotherapist are ok but I prefer balance ball chair much more. There is no denying they are the experts but spending $200 for a consultation and leaving with ‘yeah, I really have back problems, doc’ confirmation is not helping my back much. I could buy 2 excellent balance ball chairs just for a price of a doctor’s consultation.
- I can actually help myself. When I had back problems, I really thought it is unavoidable – it’s just the way it is if you have an office-based job, and I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life. Boy I was wrong about that. 1 week sitting on balance ball chair changed everything.
This guy on youtube really explains well how you can build your core with an exercise ball chair.
Balance Ball Chairs for my Children
I have to thank my wife for blessing me with the two of the most playful and kind children. Sally is 8 now and Timothy is 5. Because my wife experience back problems from birth, she took the necessary measure to actively work on our kids healthy spines. She’s an expert at that so she instinctively knew what to do – buy a couple of children’s balance ball chairs.
Sally and Tim picked the colors of the yoga ball and are very fond of them. Sally is a handful and very playful and getting her to do her homework is infinitely easier with a children’s balance ball chair. Even though she’s sitting calmly doing her math problems she still has a feeling she’s active because the chair is strengthening her.
Seeing my children enjoy the chairs as much as I do gives me this extra motivation to share about my experiences with balance ball chairs and hopefully making someone’s life easier when they are deciding which exercise ball chair to buy. Either for themselves or their children (Sally said she wanted to help with the reviews and I hope she’ll keep her promise and help me out when she’s not running around doing ‘waaaaay more important things’ her father does).
Tim being a little brother to Sally
What I really find amazing is how Sally will never fall off a balance ball chairs. Tim is in that phase when he seeks attention, and you know how kids are, he will go are try to push Sally of her chair just to show his big sis who’s the man of the house, I guess. I would be horrified is Sally fell from an ordinary chair, and the chair would probably on top of her.
Now I laugh my lungs out when he tries that. What Tim doesn’t know is that Sally has been sitting on an exercise ball chair from her 3rd birthday (guess what was her terrific gift). Her little body is so balanced that whenever Tim tries that, Sally just stays on her feet with the chair rolling away. I really like how both kids find it quite funny as well but at the end of the day I’m really proud of both of them and of my wife – the’s golden and watching her sit of her balance ball chair while helping Sally doing the homework and Tim jumping around just connects everything together.
I think they’re also really proud about daddy joining their exercise ball chair club. They say I smile a lot more now, and that’s pretty touching to me.
GOLDEN ADVICE – Start before the back pain starts
My only regret is that I was skeptical about the balance ball chairs my wife was using for so long. If I started using the exercise ball chairs before the pain began, I wouldn’t have to go all the pain I though I will never experience.
I really do hope you learn from my experiences. If you’re more an active person, you might just love Isokinetics ball chair with adjustable intensity.
In order to share my experience (and because I find it quite fun and heart-warming) I will write a review about every chair me and my family uses. It is my hope that this will make the decision to buy one for yourself or your family easier and will refrain you from needless pain, and get you more energetic and light-spirited as it did for me.
I’m just starting off, you can subscribe here and I will send you an email when:
- I (or Sally) finish a new balance ball chair review
- A very good deal for a balance ball chair comes up
- You will need help!
That’s right, my email is email@example.com and I’m open to all questions you might have. I maybe not be able to answer all of them but I will certainly be pleased to share my rich experiences with exercise ball chairs.
In all honestly, my wife Hellen is an encyclopedia when it comes to spines and exercise chairs, so whenever I’m in doubt I’ll just consult with the expert.