Gear Up: Our New Favorite Fitness Toy is Just $14.99

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'm a big believer that you don't have to belong to a gym or buy a bunch of fancy equipment to get a great workout or lose weight. But some small fitness gadgets and tools can be fun! These affordable pieces of equipment can help you freshen up your fitness routine (to stay motivated and prevent boredom) and take your workouts to new levels.

Some of the most versatile and effective pieces of home fitness equipment—resistance bands, stability balls and pedometers, to name a few—are also the least expensive. My new favorite toy is no exception.

SparkPeople's inflatable balance board (I am standing on it in the photo to the left) costs just $14.99, yet is more useful than most pieces of equipment that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, if you ask me. Now that is money well spent. When I use this thing, my muscles quiver and my abs shake in a way that I haven't felt since I tried the Bender Ball . Not even a $100 BOSU trainer gives me a workout like this little board does! I test many fitness products, but of the various items hanging around the office, this balance board gets the most use.

Paul, whom we previously profiled on dailySpark, uses the balance board regularly when working out at the office. "I was trying out some unusual and new core exercises and that asked for a BOSU. We didn't have one handy, so I swapped in the balance board," he said. "Wow! I was honestly amazed at the challenge of the unstable surface. Exercises that were easy now required a lot of stabilization and I was exhausted by the end of the workout. Afterward, I thought how much more convenient that balance board is, being smaller and easier to store. I'd recommend it as a hassle-free way to add another dimension to your workouts."

"I found that working out with the balance board added a great challenge to many exercises that I normally do," said Tim, a SparkPeople employee who works in marketing (and can be seen demonstrating some of our balance board exercises). "Beyond just making the exercises more difficult, it provides the added benefit of strengthening your core and improving your balance, which of can lead to improved results in many other areas of your fitness routine. I’ve used several balance boards over the years and found this inflatable one to be as good as many of the more expensive boards I have used."

Now don't let all these claims about the challenge of using a balance board scare you! The great thing about this balance board like this is that people of all fitness levels can use it. Because it is inflatable, you control how easy or difficult it is to use. When it's completely full of air, it's harder to balance on—just like a stability ball would be. But when you take a little bit of air out (which is easy to do), you decrease the challenge so you can perform exercises at an easier intensity level. Over time, as you get stronger, you can add more air to the board so that it continues to challenge you. Plus, beginners and advanced exercisers alike can use a balance board in a variety of ways: Stand, sit or lie on it. Use it for pushups, squats, planks and crunches. To see some examples of these moves, check out these 26 exercises I created to help people learn how to use the board safely and effectively.

When you try these various full-body strengthening exercises on the board, your body will reap the benefits in no time:
  • Better balance for improved athletic performance and reduced injury risk
  • A stronger core, which can improve posture, prevent falls, and help reduce back pain
  • Increased muscle fiber recruitment during exercises, which means you're burning more calories and getting a more effective workout
  • Improved functional fitness to help reduce the risk of injury and falls and make daily tasks easier
  • Multitasking workouts that help you get more done in less time since your abs and core will be working during every move
It should be noted that SparkPeople's inflatable balance board has a 300-pound weight limit (similar to most stability balls). If you are looking to reward yourself or add a little more "oomph" to your workouts, this could be the best $14.99 you ever spent! Here's the link to purchase it from the SparkPeople Store, as well as our collection of balance board resources and workouts to help you use it!

Have you ever used a balance board? How about an inflatable one? Will you try SparkPeople's new balance board?

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Thank You. Report
I’m really interested but none of the links work. I see that the article was dated 2009. Report
I have been trying to find one of these in the UK
I have been out of luck so far Report
Thank-you for posting this informative entry blog. I think I used something similar to it in the past when I had to go for PT for my knee. I would like to get one, however, I do have a few questions I would like to ask Coach Nicole first but I don't know how to email to her directly. I'll figure it out but if anyone knows of a way it would be appreciated much were you to leave on my Spark Page or send me an email, whichever is easiest for you. I thank-you & please do have a pleasant day. Report
I'm thinking about using this as a treat when I reach a 10% loss. I wanted a BOSU, because I loved using it at the gym, but they're expensive. I'm not sure if this is going to make me queasy though. I bought a stability ball and can't use it because of my motion sickness. Report
I would love to hear more information about this. Different ways to use it. Sounds very interesting.... Report
I got one similar to this from Lakeside Collection. It shows to sit on it, but with a 400lb. weight limit there shouldn't be any reason you can't stand on it. And the pump works great, too. Report
I used something like this in physical therapy today. Wow, did it make a difference! It was super tough!
One question... does this one come with a pump, or do I need to get one separately? Report
I can't wait to get this. I fall all the time. I went to PT and was told I needed to increase my core strength! Imagine that! LOL Report
well, I will see if I can get one of these at a discount as a reward at the end of the week , let's see if I can get out of the plateau Report
Im wondering, could you sit on it? My job is very sedentary, but I know sitting on my stability ball works my core, so I'm thinking this would as well.
WW Report
This is one of my mid term rewards, and I've been putting off rewarding myself even though I've hit that range. I plan on trying to order one since I am starting to suffer from workout boredom. I will try to save this blog so I can go check out the other resources once I get mine. Plus my son cannot wait for me to get this so we can both try it out. Report
They are sold out. Any idea when they will be back in stock, I'd love to get one. Report
I have one of these, but I always forget about it. I love the idea of standing on it while doing chores, like laundry. I think I'll try standing on it while making phone calls, doing dishes or cooking dinner! Report
I'm waiting for this item to be sold at yardsales this summer, after people get tired of it and go on to the next thing out there. As usual when it comes to exercise eqpt. folks. Report
I haven't done formal exercise with mine, but I have been standing on it while folding laundry in the bedroom. Report
I just blogged about this little beauty. Check out my page. Report
I first came across these great gadgets at the gym a few years ago. I like your idea of using them at the office--a way to perk up instead of heading for the M&Ms. I like the price too--I'm going to get one. Report
I have never tried a balance board. I ordered the inflatable board from SP last week, its on back order can't wait to try it out. Report
I received mine but like Exercisetchr I can't blow it up. Barely comes out of its folded state - pops right back into it. The pump doesn't work either. I'm so frustrated -I've wasted so much time and energy with it. Please help. Report
Still can't blow this thing up. Should I remove the white plug which seems to not have a hole in it? This is driving me crazy and seems like a waste of money if I can't get it blown up. Please help! Report
I would like to get this, looks fun to use, but as soon as I heard that it isn't suitable for people with weak ankles... that's me out! After breaking my ankle I was told that I have loose ligaments, great for dancing, not so good for balance exercising or rushing across roads. Report
I ordered mine using the $20 cert. from the book pre-order. Just got it but I think I have it pumped up too much. Was not sure how to use it until I checked around the SP site and found the exercises to do on it. Trying it out today for the first time. Hopefully it will help me regain some balance which I desperately need to do. Report
I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in having had trouble figuring out how to inflate this thing -- but I bet I was the only one dumb enough to somehow get the packing tape stuck in my hair while I was unwrapping it! :-) Anyway, I've tried it a few times, but I think I need to let more air out of it. Mine looks too round instead of flat on top like the ones in the pictures. But I'm still excited about it -- I love balance activities! Report
I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in having had trouble figuring out how to inflate this thing -- but I bet I was the only one dumb enough to somehow get the packing tape stuck in my hair while I was unwrapping it! :-) Anyway, I've tried it a few times, but I think I need to let more air out of it. Mine looks too round instead of flat on top like the ones in the pictures. But I'm still excited about it -- I love balance activities! Report
I got mine with my SP certificate for pre-ordering the new book---it just came today. I totally agree with the others who said it was a pain to inflate. No real instructions. But with my dh's help (yes, one to hold the white 'thing' in the hole and another to pump!) we got air into it. Now for the exercises on Coach Nicole's site.... Report
I need something to help with my balance and this looks like it. I'm asking for it for Christmas. My yoga tree pose should improve after I use this for a few weeks. Report
Mine came today and PattyJeannyC, I feel your pain! Mine came with no instructions on how to inflate, and the attachment to inflate had no hole for the air to go into the rubber device! Ack! Pumpt is useless in my book.

I know it's a pain, but one way to inflate is to get a bike pump with the attachments included to inflate other things (like balls and gizmos like this one). I happen to have one so equipped. Then, take the white piece out that is in the rubber ( that is used to hold the air IN once you have inflated it. Insert the attachment that came with the bike pump for inflating balls like this one (which is essentially what it is), and pump away! The bike pump will inflate it much faster. Then, with the white stopper that you took out close by, take out the acccessory that you used to inflate it and very quickly insert the stopper so that you don't lose that precious air that you just put into it. Voila! This piece of equipment is easy to inflate past what you really need it at, so don't worry if you lose some air. If in doubt, take this device to a bike shop and they will hunt you up a pump that will do the job. These pumps that they come with are awful. So (Bonus), while I was at it with the bike pump, I put air into the 2 large balls that I use that also needed air. Now all are ready to go! Hope this helps you - it's really a solvable problem. Report
i found one of these at a local discount store for $8.00. the store is called Ocean State Job Lot and they sell discontinued items or items with older packaging. its amazing and my boyfriend likes it too! Report
i just got mine it great but hard Report
I received mine in the mail monday, and had it pumped up and ready to go...but I'll have to wait to use it until my walking boot comes off. I'll probably be using it for pushups instead until then. One hand on the board, one on the's a workout! Report
I had read about the Bosu trainer in one of Nicole's articles, but this is much more affordable - I can use the Bosu at the gym. Thanks, Spark People! I'm glad I haven't spent that gc for the pre-order yet, here is a good use for it! Report
I like this and plan to get one. Report
Help! I just received my balance board, but I can't get the pump to work. The air doesn't flow and the hose just pops offs. Is it just me? Can anyone help??? I was so excited to start using this. Report
i just seen this at a closeout store i used to work at. my friend told me that it's awesome! Report
I am getting one ! I have a camping trailer and little room inside - some day I will be brave enough to go outdoors with the workouts! - and this shold be just what I need!! Can't wait to try it out! Report
I got one from SP a few weeks ago, and I just love it. The kids next door, and their parents too, seem to have taken a liking to it and challenging each other with some exercises. Report
For those of you in Canada, check out your local Winners. I think I've seen something similar for about 10 bucks in their sporting-goods section. The ones there are NOT inflatable, they seem to be pre-filled - maybe they're a more "standard" balance board. But I tried standing on one at the store - and whoooo - it's an interesting effect. If I remember right, it's less than 20 bucks at Winners. Maybe I'll go buy *myself* one! :) Report
I have wanted a bosu ball for a long time - this is much more in my price range and is on my Christmas wish list (along with a nice SP shirt!!) Hopefully I can get both this year for Christmas! Report
Any idea when the SparkStore will be restocking these! I'd love to get one! Report
I ordered one at the Convention last week, and I am patiently waiting for it to arrive. I am always interested in exercises to improve my balance, and I am really thrilled about all the balance exercises you have added. I'll try them! Report
My Pilates instructor had me put one in my car when I drive. The back pain I used to have every day is much better! Report
I've heard great things about balance boards like these. My gym has them, but they are flat on the side you stand on, and rounded and full of air on the other. Are those just as good? I wouldn't mind spending the $13 for my own, but would rather not if I don't have to.. Report
I also ordered this with my $20 gc from preordering the book -- it shipped yesterday. Glad to hear there's a balance board exercise page I can bookmark. Report
I'd like to order one but I don't think it would be sent to Australia. Report
I ordered one a couple days ago, can't wait for it to arrive. I use a bosu ball at the gym, but this will be great to add to my at home equipment! Report
I used a balance board for PT on a badly sprained ankle many years ago. I think this might be something for me to add to my collection. Report
I also live in Canada. I would love to buy this balance ball. If anyone sees it in Canada, please post it. Thanks
I would like to try something like that but don't know if it avaliable in canada Report
I found one at Ocean State Job Lot in New York this past summer, on sale for $8.00! Glad I picked it up - it's great! Report