Bender Balls one way for people to get fit

Fitness instructor Tracy Simons works a Bender Ball during an exercise class at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Staff

Morinville – With large blue rubber balls firmly in hand, a group of women squeeze and manoeuvre them as if they were dance partners, stepping and striding across the mezzanine of the Morinville Community Cultural Centre with purpose. But the choreographed routine is not part of any new dance class. Rather, it is a fast-paced exercise program called Bender Balls.

The Bender Ball, a small, pliant stability ball named after American fitness trainer Leslee Bender is the hub around which instructor Tracy Simons has been putting a number of Town of Morinville employees through their lunch hour paces for the past few weeks. That fitness program will hit a broader group in September when the program becomes part of the Town’s fall programs.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Simons said of working out with a Bender Ball. “It’s just a different way of exercising.”

But Simons said that difference offers women and men a safer way to do abdominal workouts. “It’s about isolating muscles, working through the core,” Simons said. “It’s a good abdominal workout because you isolate the muscles. You put it [the ball] behind your back so you are protecting your lower back. It’s taking the pressure off the lower back, taking pressure off your neck.”

One Morinville employee who has been involved in the pilot program since the beginning is Recreational and Cultural Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka. “As a participant what I find with Bender Balls is that it specifically targets areas that, for myself as a women, are difficult,” she said. “I take kickboxing, I go walking, and it works every other area. But with the small ball, I find it really works those cores.”

Dziwenka said the process of working with the Bender Ball is different every time because Simons changes up the routine week after week with both the music and the routines. “It kind of keeps you going,” she said. “You definitely feel it the next day, which is great because it shows you that those are muscles that are inactive.”

The program was introduced to fit in with Morinville’s participation in the Choose Well initiative, a program that’s gets residents into more active and healthy lifestyles.

The Bender Balls program will be offered on Tuesdays from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. from Sept. 20 to Nov. 22. Cost for the program is $30 per person.

More fitness programs on offer

Dziwenka said Bender Balls is but one of a large offering of fitness programs being offered this fall. Another half hour program called Butts and Gutts [sic] offers men and women an opportunity to shed some excess material in hard to shed areas. Other programs include Kids on the Ball, dodgeball, Power Hour, Basic Strength and Cardio Circuit, Nordic Walking and a seniors’ fitness class.

The rec coordinator said the Town has tried to spread the programing through a variety of times and age groups with lunch hour, evening and morning classes. There’s even a Strollercise program for mothers and their babies.

Dziwenka said through the Choose Well program it was discovered communities were not initiating exercise at a young enough age. “We do the stories, we do the play, but we are forgetting about the physical,” she said, adding a Kid Fit program for children aged 3 to 5 is being introduced this fall. To deal with the fact teenage girls tend to reduce participation in school physical fitness programs after Grade 10, the Town is introducing a Girls Get Going program for girls 13 and older to help them stay active.

“We’re actually trying to work on a whole community package rather than just one activity here and one activity there,” Dziwenka said, adding she and Simons have spent considerable time to put together a variety of programs to suit all residents.

Full details on this fall’s program offerings can be found in the Fall-Winter Community Guide available at the Community services office in the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

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