Whether your fitness facility is in New York City or Flowery Branch, Georgia, chances are you have ready access to a collection of stability balls. Instead of watching them roll around like oversized marbles in an empty room, why not use them for a great group fitness offering?
“Ready, Set, Roll” is a stability ball circuit class designed to help participants develop strength and achieve gains in cardiovascular fitness. It is a time-efficient, playful approach to total-body conditioning. This class offers many benefits, including the following:
- The dynamic nature of the ball helps students improve posture, coordination and balance.
- The added element of fun and play is built in as participants dribble, toss, catch and roll the ball.
- The class allows for seamless transitions from cardio to strength segments.
- The format minimizes equipment needs and is inexpensive, portable and low maintenance.
Ready, Set, Roll Details
Warm-Up (5–8 minutes)
The dynamic warm-up emphasizes postural awareness, alignment, centering and core control. Focus on how the weight of the ball challenges participants’ ability to maintain neutral spine. The further the ball moves from center, the greater the challenge is to core musculature. Teach each combination in the warm-up and cardio segments through a method of repetition reduction, beginning with 8 repetitions each, then 4, etc. Teach other movements that are not part of specific combinations in a more linear fashion (approximately 8 repetitions each).
- Step-touch: lift ball high diagonal right (R), low diagonal left (L), low diagonal R, high diagonal L.
- Step-touch wide (2x) + squat-touch (2x); fake pass (2x) + bounce (2x).
- Grapevine 3x (making circles while holding ball) + 2 alternating side lunges (forward figure eight while holding ball).
Teach the following using the linear method:
- Roll ball hand to hand.
- Low and wide step-touch R, L.
- Half-time hip extension R (hands
- Lunge back into split stance R for calf stretch (figure eight with ball).
- Feet together (figure eight with ball—L, R, down and toss).
Repeat on left side.
Work Phase (28–30 minutes)
Cardio/Strength Circuit. Alternate 3–5 minutes of cardio with 2 minutes of strength (approximately 1–3 sets of 16 repetitions with progressions, using appropriate levels for students). Each segment will last approximately 7 minutes. The ball allows for seamless transitions, so not much time (about 30 seconds) is allotted between exercises. Beginners will need to shorten the cardio duration and allow more transition and recovery time between exercises.
Teach each cardio combination through a method of repetition and reduction, beginning with 8 repetitions of each movement, then 4, etc. Teach other movements that are not part of specific combinations in a more linear fashion (approximately 8 repetitions each). Remember to alternate sides.
- Double-hop RR, LL, double-dribbling ball with opposite hand (8 counts).
- Single-jog R, L, dribbling ball with opposite hand (8 counts).
- Double-hop RR, LL (4 counts) + single jog R, L (4 counts).
- Lateral shuffle R, dribbling ball with L hand (4 counts); then lateral shuffle L, dribbling ball with R hand (4 counts).
Strength: Prone Kneeling Lat Pull
Initially when performing this exercise, pivot at hips with hips stacked over knees and arms straight as ball rolls away from you. Then return to starting position, pulling ball back using latissimus dorsi muscles to bring torso to upright kneeling position (with arms straight). Think of driving arms through ball. To increase intensity, stabilize hips and pivot at knees.
- V-step ball front raise + reverse V-step, double-dribbling ball (8 counts).
- Chassé R, L; full ball circle (8 counts).
- Alternate knees 2x; horizontal ball circle (16 counts).
Transition: From prone position over ball, tuck and extend, then return to standing as you pick up ball.
Strength: Ball Plank Shoulder Push-Up
From kneeling position, roll ball slightly in front of you, hands placed on top and sides for best grip. Stabilize abdominals. Bend elbows as you lower body toward ball. Keep arms close to sides to focus on shoulders and triceps.
- Lateral leap–touch 4x (R, L, R, L) side to side, rolling ball hand to hand (8 counts).
- Run 3 counts R, lead toward R wall; run 3 counts L, lead toward L wall; roll ball each way (8 counts).
- Run counterclockwise around ball, R lead (8 counts).
- Lunge R, L, rotary torso R, L, pushing ball with opposite hand (8 counts).
Transition: Squat: both arms push forward and pull back, forearms gliding over ball.
Strength: Side-Lying Hip Abduction
Start in side-lying position with support hip firmly pressed into ball, and abduct top leg. Do not allow extended leg to externally rotate at hip. Place support hand on floor for support. Cues: Lift ankle toward ceiling; knee points straight ahead. Contract glutes to keep hips extended (working leg is aligned with spine); avoid momentum.
Flexibility (5-8 mintues)
Gradually reduce intensity during this combination. Continue cooling down through strength segment.
- Seated pony 4x R, L, R, L; stand up on last pony (8 counts).
- Standing, turn R (counts 1–2) + rock step (counts 3–4); turn L (counts 5–6); sit (counts 7–8) (8-count march).
- Seated double-kick, RR, LL; 2-count repeater lunge back L, 2x (8 counts).
- March down 3 counts to supine incline (L, R, L), kick R on count 4; 3-count march up to seated (R, L, R), kick L on count 8.
Strength: Supine Trunk Curl
Begin in incline position on ball, neutral spine. Vary incline degree by repositioning body. Positioning seat further from floor places more load on neck and abdominals and less on quadriceps for stabilization. Cues: Pull ribs down toward hips and stabilize neck and pelvis. Avoid thrusting body forward, and control
eccentric (lowering) movement. Ball should not move.
Strength: Trunk Extension
Begin prone over ball. Slightly press pelvis into ball and don’t move it. Straighten spine outward as you pull shoulder blades down toward hips. Curl trunk in, returning to start. Keep neck neutral and pelvis stable.
Finish with a targeted flexibility segment that includes the following exercises:
- prone-over-ball trunk traction
- prone plank quadriceps stretch
- forward-bending rotary torso stretch
- seated active hamstring stretch
- seated figure-four stretch
- seated hip flexor stretch
- seated triangle stretch