Looking for a more efficient ab workout, I tried the Bender Ball mini fitness ball and DVD starter kit. The commercials show lots of happy women easily doing crunches and back exercises with the sleek, green Bender Ball.
What You Get
The starter kit comes with the original Bender Ball mini fitness ball, a miniature green stability ball slightly smaller than a beach ball. The material is thinner than the average stability ball, so instructions warn not to over inflate to avoid bursting. Inflation is easy with a straw (two included) and a simple plastic plug (also two included). The design of the ball does not have a sophisticated air plug, like most beach balls which slows down air release as you seal it. Instead, you insert the plastic straw included in the kit into the hole, blow to fill, then quickly remove the straw and insert the plastic plug.
You also get a DVD, which includes the original Bender Ball ab workout and the Buns and Thighs workout. The DVDs are lacking on commercial appeal with very un-sophisticated menus and controls, low-budget filming and brief segments.
The Bender Ball Workout
I tried the ab workout first. The green Bender Ball goes at the small of your back for most of the exercises in the three leveled workout. It really does support and allows you to bend back easily without straining your neck or back. In fact, after finishing all three of the workout routines in about 20 minutes, I felt no strain or pain at all in my neck or back. I have a bad back and cannot usually do floor-based exercises or crunches without difficulty getting up. The beginner and intermediate ab exercise routines seemed a little too easy for a good workout, but the DVDs are intended to teach you the routines so you can perform them, with more repetitions, on your own.
The Buns and Thighs workout had my legs burning from the glutes all the way down my calves. A much more intense workout, I could barely keep up with all the repetitions. The little Bender Ball is used to support the small of your back, under your glutes for another exercise, and as a stabilizing force between your feet for more floor exercises. The ball keeps your form right as you subconsciously tighten the necessary muscles to keep it in place without straining other muscles. I have no doubt that a regular routine of the Bender Ball workout with quickly and efficiently tone my legs, buns, thighs, and abs.
When I first inflated the ball, it seemed cheap and flimsy. I was sure it would burst as soon as I leaned against it. The balls in the DVD seem more substantial, like they are made of a thicker material. However, it supported all 160 pounds of my medium frame, even when I pressed all my weight through my butt onto the ball for the legs and ab exercises.
How To Buy
I ordered my Bender Ball kit from the online distributor without realizing it was available in stores. The VHS version runs $9.99 and the DVD kit is only $12.99. Shipping, however, is about $8. Making the online price almost the same at the standard $25 price in Wal-Mart and other retailers. I recommend just buying straight retail if it is available in your area because the shipping took a full two weeks.
Be careful, because ordering online automatically enters you in the special monthly program with DVDs of new workouts shipped to your door and a charge of about $20 appearing on your credit card. If you don’t want the club, you have to cancel after receiving your Bender Ball order.
Overall, the workout is well designed, efficient and more than reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a magic wand, keep looking. If you’re looking for a more efficient way to tone your body without strain, then this is definitely it.