Lean forward, lean back, slouch, sip coffee, wriggle, repeat. The desk job life isn't for the faint of heart. Or, it’s at least not ideal for those looking to maintain some form of decent posture during their professional adult years.
As an editor, I've experienced firsthand what eight- to 10-hour days spent at a desk can do to your spine alignment. For me, I eventually developed some seriously bad sitting habits that I knew would require a conscious effort in order to ameliorate them.
Allow me to elaborate: On a normal day, my desk posture usually involved cranking my hips to the right and subsequently leaning all of my weight onto that one side. Then, once I’d exhausted that position, I’d hunch over, looking like I was ready to pounce, as I jutted out my chin to scan important emails just inches from the computer screen.
I know what you’re thinking. The scenario I just described is a yoga teacher’s worst nightmare. At that time, I knew I needed a solution that would both A) cause me to practice corrective sitting habits, and B) force me to be more engaged physically because, although I do LOVE my job, the inactivity of it all was beginning to drive. Me. Nuts.
Here enters the Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair ($80; amazon.com). Basically, it’s an exercise ball perched inside a chair-like frame on wheels that allows for more engaged and “active” sitting throughout the day. For me, it was either this or a standing desk, which would’ve left me staring down into my neighbors’ cubicles in our open-office floor plan. That could have gotten a little awkward, so the standing desk was a no-go.
In the Instagram below, I’m pictured sitting on the ball for the first time. In the photo, I appear a lot more confident/relaxed than I remember feeling about having to sit on the ball (and only the ball!) for an entire week. This seven-day challenge was my editor’s idea and I, of course, gladly accepted the task in pursuit of better posture … and abs?
Thanks to @clairecstern for documenting day 1 of my balance ball challenge! For a full week, I won't be allowed to sit on anything but this @gaiam balance ball chair when at home and at work. Then, when it's all over, I'll write about how strenuous (and hopefully core-toning!) the whole experience was for @instylemagazine. @bethanycianciolo @mandyvel: here's your cue to hold me accountable! Now, if I can just reach my desk from down here. 🤔
And now, for the core-blasting results.
On the first day, my new seat took some getting used to and I remember occasionally repositioning myself to find the comfiest positions that’d also benefit my posture. And minus the chair itself being a bit short for my desk, I was instantly sitting taller and straighter.
In terms of energy, I remember feeling more upbeat and energetic due to my newfound work stance. It was as if my new perky posture was causing me to be more physically engaged and in turn, I felt more mentally sharp, too. All good things.
For the next few days, my core felt strong and my lower back felt somewhat tight—only it was tight in a good way. Since the tension was noticeable, but not painful, I took it as a sign that my body was adjusting to my new way of sitting. This turned out to be true, since my back tightness eventually subsided.
Five days into the challenge, one of our interns, who’s used to seeing editors test things for stories and toss them aside, popped by my desk for a status update. After, he asked if he could snag my seat “once [I] was done.” My immediate response? “No way! I’m sticking with this!” This served as my first real indication that I was indeed hooked.
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Fast-forward to today, a solid 20 days since my challenge began, and I still have my balance ball parked at my desk. More often than not, I’m perched there typing away at emails or working on my latest story. In fact, the only times I’ve swapped in my old desk chair were the few instances when I was feeling unusually tired and decided to give my body a rest.
Otherwise, you can find me sitting upright at my desk with noticeably improved posture—all thanks to the balance ball chair. Huzzah!