There’s a tremendous need, now more than ever, to hook kids on fitness and equip them with good lifestyle habits. A child’s growing body needs regular movement in order to function optimally. Since the core is essentially “ground zero,” it’s a fitting place to start, because strong core muscles assist with posture and reduce the chance of injury. The key to a healthier tomorrow is to be proactive and get kids involved today.

Regardless of whether your facility offers a class specifically for kids, as a certified group fitness instructor you’re uniquely qualified to reach out to this underserved population, perhaps by volunteering at a local school or church or in an after-school program. Use the following stability ball exercises to instill a love for movement that will grow into a habit and positively empower children for life.

 Note: The ideal ball size for kids is 45 centimeters.

Overhead Hold and Leg Raise

Overhead Hold and Leg Raise

  • Stand upright, legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Contract core.
  • Hold ball overhead, arms as straight as possible.
  • Lift right leg to side and lower back down, 10–15 repetitions. Soften left knee and breathe evenly.
  • Repeat sequence, L, resting briefly between sets, if needed.
  • Progression: Instead of holding ball stationary, lower arms to parallel and add leg adduction and abduction.
  • Regression: Hold onto chair with one hand and reach overhead with the other, continuing with side leg raise (no ball).

Back Extension

Back extensions for kids

  • Position ball underneath torso. (Assist by either holding child’s feet or helping to position them against a stable surface.)
  • Place hands behind head or on ball.
  • Extend as far as core muscles will allow for 1 set of 10–15 reps.
  • Hold briefly when lower back, glutes and hamstrings contract. (Cue neutral spine.)
  • Slowly return to starting position.
  • Progression: Extend arms into V position and lift knees off ground. Regression: Place hands on ball.

Roll and Crunch

Roll and Crunch

  • Lie supine, knees bent, heels on ball. Press lower back firmly on mat.
  • Position arms behind head, fingertips resting gently on head.
  • Slightly tuck pelvis under and pull navel in toward spine.
  • Lift hips, push through heels and roll ball in; lift shoulders and head off mat.
  • Hold briefly and look up at ceiling or knees, not down at stomach.
  • On exhalation, crunch and roll. On inhalation, return shoulders, head and ball to starting position. Perform 1–2 sets of 10–15 reps.
  • Progression: Keep hips lifted throughout movement (arms on mat). Regression: Crunch only and keep legs still on ball (bent or straight).

Ball Bridges

Ball bridge for kids

  • Lie supine, feet up on top of ball, knees bent.
  • Position arms by sides, palms down.
  • Slightly tuck pelvis under and brace core.
  • Push through heels and lift hips.
  • Hold briefly when hips are lifted. (Cue imaginary straight line from shoulders to knees.)
  • On exhalation, lift hips. On inhalation, return to start. Perform 1–2 sets of 10–15 reps.
  • Progression: Keep legs straight and lift hips off floor. Regression: Place feet on floor.