What is the Bender Ball? Shelly McDonald, Group Fitness Director of Club Sportif MAA, says that the Bender Ball is an exercise ball that strengthens and stabilizes your core when you’re doing any kind of exercise.
Shelly: From abdominal work, to hip work, to upper body work, the Bender Ball is very unique because instead of having a great big surface ( a big ball) you have a smaller surface. You have to really, really stabilize yourself before you do any of the exercises.
How does this add to your workout?
Shelly: Most people muscle through all of their exercises. They use momentum, and they think it doesn’t hurt at all, but with Bender Ball what’s unique is that you really need to be in a certain alignment. It is all about muscle firing patterns, this is the Bender method so to speak. Alignment, proper muscle contractions, and stability before mobility are important.
From a health standpoint, how important is it to have a strong core?
Shelly: It is really much more important than people think. The core is where most of your movement should generate from. You should have some stability in the spine before most movements, because when you’re not stable in the spine the quality of your movements is iffy. You can develop your muscles in ways that can create injuries over time. What Bender Ball is really about is getting you to feel the movement, be very mindful of each movement, and use your breath, and use contraction and stability through the spine before you do anything.
Now we said that it works the core, but does it also work out the rest of your body?
Shelly: There is a multitude of exercise you can do that work around the core but also get the upper body, the legs – especially the upper thighs, muscles around the shins, shoulders, everything.
What is a Bender Ball class workout like?
Shelly: Most Bender Ball is very controlled and similar to Pilates, although it is not Pilates, it is the Bender method. You have to really think before you move, because if you don’t and you don’t get yourself in the proper alignment, you’re probably not going to have balance and get through the exercises.
Is there anything else we should know before we try out this workout?
Shelly: I went to this workshop to be a master trainer, and I was in such pain. My neck hurt, my back hurt, and I couldn’t even sit still in the chair. After we did all the exercises I was completely pain free. It wakes up muscles that need to be woken up and it realigns you shoulders, your neck, your pelvic girdle, or wherever your problems lie. You’re in proper alignment executing these exercises and training in a way that’s really healthy for the body. So, it can be a rehabilitation type of thing, too.