That was the summer between eighth and ninth grades before I had a car, a job, or really any responsibilities whatsoever. TLC was singing “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls,” and Coolio topped the charts with “Gangsta’s Paradise.” And paradise it was! I spent almost every day and night with by best friend, Candice, and she and I woke up every morning with one purpose: to lay out by the pool and bake all day until it was time to shower, eat takeout for supper, talk about boys (one of whom became my hubby), sleep late, and start all over again the next day.
As responsibilities “complicated” our lives over the next few years, Candice and I would often look back to that care-free summer of ‘95 with nostalgia over the memories that we made. As we matured, conversation moved from eye shadow, hairdos, and The Babysitter’s Club to sharing pregnancy tips.
As the due date for my first child came and went, Candice told me to sit, roll, and bounce on an exercise ball to naturally induce labor by moving the baby into the proper station for birth. After ignoring her advice for some time, I decided to try rolling and bouncing, and I went into labor within hours. I was indebted to that exercise ball!
Not only is the exercise ball an aid in naturally giving the birthing process a kick start, which Candice knew because of her work as a nurse in labor and delivery, but it’s also a great tool to gently yet effectively kick start post-partum strengthening and toning. Most of the exercises that can be done on an exercise ball could also be done on a flat surface, such as a mat on the floor, but the key to the exercise ball’s effectiveness is that it provides imbalance, and the body responds to that instability by engaging more muscles, particularly in the core – the abs and the back.
The FitPregnancy website (http://www.fitpregnancy.com/video) has exercise videos that are recommended for post-partum mommies. Many of these exercises are done using the stability ball. Here are a few more videos to engage the major muscle groups using the ball: quads and glutes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFK6H_CcuX8), hamstrings (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co79nkOrqRo), glutes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYrQ0szNDp0), obliques (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-ek57lLOYI&feature=relmfu), arms (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6gTFsN3ev4), and shoulders and triceps (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvSqzWTAdTg).
So, whether you’re ready to roll and bounce or strength and tone, the stability ball is a great investment! Or, if you want to join me in remembering the summer of ’95 with bittersweet nostalgia over paradise lost (or gained), you can sing along here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFK6H_CcuX8.