Before Leo Laporte built his new studio and acquired his new high-back chair, he used to sit on a stability ball while he did his TWiT network shows. His leadership inspired me to give it a try, so I purchased an UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball from Gopher Sport. Using a stability ball as a desk chair has its advantages, but there are some lessons to be learned from my experience as well.
- Company: Gopher
- Product: UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball
- Size: 55cm (22" diameter), Green other sizes and colors available
- Cost: $31.95 (22")
- Additional information
What I like
- Exercise: Sitting on a stability ball will force you to exercise your mid-section, which should, in time, strengthen your abdomen muscles.
- Focus: One side effect I did not expect is that sitting on the ball in the afternoons, a time at which I often get sleepy, will keep you focused and awake. At least it will if you don't want to fall off the ball on to the floor.
- Novelty: If you like being a bit on the unusual side, sitting on a fitness ball is one way to express your individuality. The sight of seeing a man of my girth sitting on the UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball was apparently quite a sight to see.
What I don't like
- Set up process: You can't just take a new UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball out of its package and start pumping air into it. There is a process involving the gradual expansion of the ball. I learned this the hard way and I had to deflate my fitness ball and start over.
- Maneuverability: One thing I found I was missing when sitting on the UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball was the ability to roll to another part of my desk. My normal chair has wheels so it is easy to slide to the left or right to get access to one of my test machines, but with a fitness ball I have to get up and physically move the ball into the right position.
Caveats to consider
- The right ball: Size is a very important consideration when purchasing your fitness ball. I chose the green (22 inches) ball for my review, but I think I would have been better served with the 26 inch in diameter ball (blue). Take a minute to measure how far off the ground you need to sit for the sake of ergonomics and make sure to purchase the fitness ball that is slightly larger than that height.
- Air pump: Gopher does not send an air pump with the basic UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball and the balls do not self-inflate, so make sure you have a good air pump available. I used a good hand-driven air pump, which worked well, but it was certainly a long way from quiet or non-strenuous.
- Fitness: This should be obvious, but better safe than sorry. The UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball is not appropriate for everyone. Sitting on a fitness ball does take at least some muscle coordination, so be sure you can manage the physical requirements before you run out and get one.
Geek Gift bottom line
The UltraFit Anti-Burst Stability Ball is a good, albeit different, choice for a desktop chair. It will help you get some exercise while you work and it will help you keep your focus when you would be typically suffering from afternoon sleepiness. Just remember to get the size of ball that is most appropriate for your situation - learn from my experience.
Geek Gift Score (out of 5)
- Fun factor: ***
- Geek factor: ****
- Value: ***
- Overall: ***
For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.
Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.