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Exercise is simple with ball, wall, mat

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As much as we all would like to get to the gym every day or run a few laps around Kapiolani Park, life takes over and time runs out. Often, the closest many get to exercise is the thought of it.

A good way around this time crunch is to fit your workout time into the comfort of your home. This is tricky when we are inundated with so many options that lead to indecision paralysis. What should I do? Where do I start? What equipment do I need? These are questions that can be answered by following four simple criteria. Your routine should be simple, efficient, effective and convenient.

Keeping this in mind, all you need is a rubbery nonskid mat, an exercise ball appropriate to your height (while sitting on it, your knees should bend close to 90 degrees) and a towel.

Here is a routine to try, using this equipment, starting at the bottom with your legs and progressing toward your head. You could reverse the process as well.

The wall-ball squat: Place the rubber mat near a wall. Place the ball on the wall and position slightly below your shoulder blades. Your body should act like the hypotenuse of the right triangle formed by the wall and the floor. Slowly roll down toward the floor until your knees form close to a 90-degree angle. Repeat this sequence for 70 seconds, being sure to pause slightly at the bottom of the squat.

The Ball Crunch: While sitting on the ball, roll down to a spot slightly above your lower back while tilting your tailbone toward your nose to prevent excessive hyperextension on your lower back. Using the towel as a cradle for your head, begin to perform a crunch movement emphasizing the articulation of your spine, like rolling up a piece of carpet. Exhale while coming up. Perform this set for 70 seconds.

The Push-up: This simple push-up can be performed traditionally, on the balls of your feet or, modified, on your knees. Draw your belly button to your spine and be sure to perform the motion while activating and emphasizing the wide musculature of your back. In other words, flex your "lat" muscles. Perform this for 45 to 60 seconds. If you feel a pinch in your shoulder blades or neck, you are likely not using the proper muscle groups.

Repeat each of the steps above three times, and by the end of the routine, you will have targeted every major muscle group and elevated your heart rate. When you are finished, use your ball as an office chair if you feel strong enough to do so. Remember, sitting on a ball requires effort and could cause fatigue if you are not properly conditioned. Work your way up to sitting on it the whole day in 20-minute increments.


Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. His website is

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