I am always asked why I use the ball so much during my prenatal mat classes. There are a number of reasons behind this.
When I first started teaching this population, Pilates was not well known. In fact here in the midwest, it wasn’t known at all! Also way back when…..in the early 90’s, aerobics was really the flavor of the day. When I first arrived in the USA from London, the aerobics boom was just hitting. I loved it. Then the stability ball started to make it’s appearance.
In the beginning, I used to teach a modified aerobics class to my prenatal clients. When they hit around 7-8 months, they would get too tired and drop out. I didn’t have to look far to know how to rectify this problem. I just put my whole class on the ball. Success. My ladies were able to keep exercising, sometimes right up until labor began. I knew I was on to something. So did Ball Dynamics, a company in Colorado that sells the best stability balls from Italy. We joined forces and in 1996 produced the very first prenatal exercise video using the ball.It was called Body and Soul’s pregnancy fitness program. I think we still have some videos in the back room.
Back then we were using the balls more for fun than anything else, but it slowly dawned on us how wonderful these balls actually were. When I certified to become a birth doula, I saw how beneficial these balls were for women during labor and delivery.My idea then, was to train these women during class on how to use the balls effectively to give birth. There was no use buying a “birthing ball” and not knowing how to use it.
This became such an important part of the prenatal work that now, even though we teach mainly Pilates, we have kept some of the work on the ball for the reasons above.
Hoever, there are many benefits for exercising on the ball especially during pregnancy.
• The ball offers comfort and support to the growing body.
• It exercises the pelvic floor and the abdominals without any stress.
• It enables the client to maintain correct body alignment.
• It encourages correct spinal alignment.
• And really it is just plain fun.
So the next time you wonder why we use the ball so much, this is why.
Real women have a ball!