Teach a balance and core class in which partners share a ball without holding hands or invading each other’s personal space.
Would you love to use the stability ball in your next fitness class, but you’re short on equipment? Are you itching to challenge participants with something new, but you’re too busy for special training? Are you worried that people will cringe at the idea of holding hands with a partner? If you said yes to any of these questions, then Partner-Ball is a perfect solution, no matter what format you teach.
FORMAT: balance and core class using stability balls
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: professional-strength, fully inflated, antiburst stability balls
MUSIC: none or soft, yoga-type music (Partners must be able to speak to each other.)
GOAL/EMPHASIS: to improve balance and strengthen the core (abs, back, glutes and inner thighs)
- Physical: These goals are intrinsic to most sport and exercise modalities.
- Social: Cooperative effort promotes interpersonal relationships.
- Flair: Here’s your chance to introduce a fun, easy-to-implement change of pace.
Footwear: Either wear athletic shoes or have bare feet. Socks alone are too slippery.
To properly warm up the back and core, do fluid movements (rather than static stretches). Work body parts evenly to ensure good muscle balance (work both legs, twist to both sides, bend forward and back, etc.). Cue participants to listen to their bodies and not to stretch beyond their comfort zones: pain means stop!
Around the Belt. Stand back-to-back, a few inches apart. Partner 1: hold ball and twist around to give it to Partner 2. Pass ball in circle around waists for 1 minute clockwise and 1 minute counterclockwise. Safety tip: Keep feet planted.
Overhead Pass. Stand back-to-back, a few inches apart, with Partner 1 holding ball overhead. Partner 2: reach up to take ball. Both partners: do a forward bend. Partner 2: push ball between feet to Partner 1. Stand up and repeat “over the head and through the feet” pattern for 1 minute. Rest, and change direction.
Mountain Meditation. Stand with ball pressed between backs; ankles crossed. Keep feet flat, eyes closed and hands in “prayer pose.” Hold 1 minute. Switch feet and repeat. Challenge: Squeeze thighs, abs and buttocks. Safety tip: Warn partner if you are losing balance!
Lightning Bolts. Stand with ball pressed between backs. Bend knees, and extend arms up by ears. Hold bodies in this “lightning bolt” shape for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then rest. Repeat twice. Challenges: Close eyes; increase knee bend. Safety tip: Don’t let buttocks go lower than knees.
Double Tree. Stand with ball pressed between backs. Place right (R) foot on inside of left (L) ankle, and slide foot up as high as possible, hands in prayer pose. Hold 30 seconds and change sides. Do 2 more sets. Challenge: Place foot higher on inner thigh. Safety tips: Stare at eye-level spot to aid balance. Do not press foot on opposite kneecap. Never lock standing knee.
Dancer’s Prep. Stand facing each other, both partners holding ball. Lift R foot a few inches off floor, to rear. Keep lifted leg straight and toes pointed. Hold 30 seconds and switch legs. Do 2 more sets. Challenges: Raise R leg a few inches higher; close eyes. Safety tips: Stare at spot past your partner’s R shoulder to aid balance. If balance is lost, immediately touch right toe to floor.
Double Dare Dancer. Stand facing ball. Partner 1: place L hand on top of ball. Partner 2: place L hand under ball. Grasp R foot from behind with R hand. Hold 30 seconds and switch feet. Do 2 sets. Challenges: Raise R foot higher; close eyes. Safety tip: If you can’t grasp your free foot, stand with free leg bent back.
Half Moons. Stand side-by-side with ball on floor between you. Place inside hand on ball, and lift outside hand and leg. Hold 30 seconds and switch sides. Do another set. Challenges: Raise free foot and arm higher; close eyes. Safety tip: Choose eye-level focal point if needed.
Table for Two. Sit on floor with ball between backs. Move away from ball until heads are on ball. Raise backs parallel to floor. Contract glutes and abs. Hold 30 seconds; rest 30 seconds. Do 3 more sets. Challenge: Hold the up phase longer. Safety tip: Talk to partner to coordinate up and down phases.
Bridge Game: Lie on backs with feet on ball, and lift backs and buttocks off floor. Contract glutes and abs. Hold 30 seconds; rest 30 seconds. Do 3 more sets. Challenge: Shorten rest period. Safety tips: Do not arch back. In between, rest with feet on ball, and rock left and right.
Open Draw Bridge. Get into bridge pose with feet on ball. Lift R leg toward ceiling and hold 30 seconds. Rest, and repeat on L side. Rest, and do another set. Challenge: Hold longer. Safety tip: Shorten the up phase, or do “bridge game” if this is too difficult.
Twin Boats. Sit with ball between backs. Lift both legs so shins and arms are parallel to floor. Contract abs. Hold for 30 seconds; rest for 30 seconds. Do 3 more sets. Challenge: One or both partners: straighten legs. Safety tip: To lessen back stress, touch leg to floor.
Relax the Backs. Start seated with ball between backs. Partner 1: arch over ball while Partner 2 bends forward (nose to knees). Hold 1 minute, and switch.
Butterflies. Lie on floor. Place feet on ball with bottoms of feet together. Knees are wide apart. Stretch for 1 minute.
Cannonballs. Relax on backs with ball between feet. Hug knees to chest; place feet on ball and slowly rock side to side for 1 minute.
Be at two with the universe. Working occasionally as a team requires partners to use their bodies and minds differently. Your class can achieve more than improved stability and strength while sharing a humble piece of equipment. The combined effort and camaraderie experienced during Partner-Ball can transform your class into a supportive community—literally and figuratively!
Be at two with the universe. Working occasionally as a team requires partners to use their bodies and minds differently.
To view photos of all the exercises in this class, visit www.ideafit.com/partner-ball-pictures