Swiss Balls, Stability Balls, Exercise Balls

The Swiss exercise ball. A fun toy or a hardcore workout? A necessary addition to the home gym or just a piece of equipment that gets kicked around when it's in the way of more 'serious' equipment? The answer depends on the person using it. The Swiss ball, also called a stability ball or exercise ball, can provide a challenging workout, or add an extra degree of difficulty to a free weight workout, within reason.

Stability balls come in all colors and sizes, and range in price from $10 to $80 dollars. They inflate easily, can be used by people of all fitness levels, and are easy to deflate and store out of sight when they aren't needed. So what size should you buy? And is it really necessary to spend a lot of money?


The first question is easy; for the right size, check the box. It will indicate the size of the ball and the ideal height of the user for that size. Don't get a ball that is too small as it could encourage poor exercise form. To decide which ball is right for you, check out our top three brands below, and then choose your favorite.


SPRI, Inc. describes themeselves as "the leading manufacturer and distributor of rubberized resistance exercise products for the health and fitness industry." What this translates to are product lines full of stability balls, medicine balls, resistance bands and similar exercise equipment. They also provide extensive educational materials to go along with their products.

They offer three basic stability ball products, and two other inflatable units, the Bosu Ballast Ball and the Egg Ball, which is for people who need a more stable surface.

The three stability balls are:

-Professional Xercise ball: Slow deflate up to 300 lbs.; 34.95 all sizes; 45cm, 55cm, 65cm, 75cm.

-Professional Plus: Slow deflate up to 350 lbs.; 39.95 all sizes. 

-Elite: Slow deflate up to 500 lbs.; 49.95 all sizes.

So each upgrade is a safer and heavier-duty version of the last, with the best of their line priced at a modest $50 bucks. If you didn't know, 'slow deflate' means it won't drop the user (and any weights they are using) on the floor if the material is punctured. However, larger tears may cause the ball to flatten out in a hurry.

Here are the SPRI general guidelines for choosing the right size of Xercise Ball. They do vary a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer, so take note:

45cm = under 5ft. tall
55cm ball = 5' to 5'7"
65cm = 5'8" to 6'3"
75cm = over 6'3"

Go Fit

GoFit is a company that offers everything from kettlebells to wrist rollers, resistance bands to, you guessed it, stability balls. So how do their oversized playground toys stack up? Like a lot of GoFit equipment, the quality is solid.

The GoFit Professional Stability Ball is the top of their line, and designed for commercial use. It has a static weight capacity of 2500 lbs., which is great if you ever needed to hoist a small car while laying on one of these.
They do not mention a slow deflation rating, but one can assume that if it doesn't burst with 2500 lbs. of pressure on it, it will hold up under the effort of a few pushups or dumbbell flyes.

For the Professional Grade ball, an instructional guide and full interactive workout dvd led by Mark Verstegen is included. Recommended sizes for this series are:

(maximum diameter):

55cm- persons 5' to 5' 5"
65cm- persons 5'6" to 6'
75cm-persons 5'11" and above

For $40 dollars, this is quite a bargain, but GoFit does offer other stability balls aimed at home gym users. Enter the Premium Stability Ball. GoFit has tested this model to a static weight capacity of 1000 lbs., again, more than ample for serious use.

Other than ball strength, there are two important differences, the first is the size chart. Recommended sizes are:

55 cm. Orange (Recommended for persons 5' to 5'-5")
65 cm. Purple (Recommended for persons 5'-6" to 6')
75 cm. Green (Recommended for persons 6' and up)

The second is the appearance of celebrity trainer/fitness model Lynda Leene, who guides the user through a step-by-step "Ultimate Core Stability Ball Workout."

Prices are different as well, from $29.99 to $34.99, still a great deal.

GoFit Balls:

Swiss Balls

The original Swiss Ball. Did we save the best for last? Let's take a look. The original swiss ball is now eco-friendly, latex free, and constructed of ABS material. The thick material is also free of phthalates, which are typically added to plastics to increase flexibility, but may be hazardous to the enviroment and human health.

The toughest original swiss ball can be found at It is burst proof to 500 lbs., and has a static weight capacity of 2200 lbs.. As with GoFit, it would be pretty hard to flatten this one out.

Probably the biggest difference, other than the admirable elimination of latex and harmful chemicals in their construction, is the inflation system.

To inflate, ball needs to be stored in a room no cooler than 68 degrees F before inflating. Then, it is inflated to 80% of maximum. Manufacturer's instructions indicate it will feel very hard when first inflated and may take up to two days to reach optimum elasticity.

After the initial 80 percent inflation, it needs to rest for 4 hours before being filled completely. A tape measure is recommended to ensure it is the appropriate diameter for the person using it.

Swiss balls from Theragear are the high end of stability balls. Prices start at $43.95 and go to $53.95. Consult the following chart to find the right size and price:

PB-45 45cm/18" Swiss Pro Ball, burgundy $43.99
PB-55 55cm/22" Swiss Pro Ball, plum $45.49
PB-65 65cm/26" Swiss Pro Ball, purple $51.49
PB-65S 65cm/26" Swiss Pro Ball, slate $51.49
PB-75 75cm/30" Swiss Pro Ball, green $53.95

YOUR HEIGHT                BALL HEIGHT         BALL SIZE
Up to 4’10” (145cm)         18 inches (45cm)         Small
4’8” to 5’5”(140 - 165cm) 22 inches (55cm)        Medium
5’6” to 6’0”(165 - 185cm) 26 inches (65cm)        Large
6’0” to 6’5”(185 - 195cm  30 inches (75cm)         Extra Large
Over 6’5” (195cm)            33 inches (85cm)         Extra, Extra Large

Just a thought on the 'slow deflate'feature of any of these exercise balls: As thick as the material of even the cheapest stability ball is, it is unlikely a pin prick or scrape would cause it to burst and release all of its air at once. On the other hand, if it somehow meets the point of a large sharp object while you are on it, no special system will stop it from losing air fast.

As with any fitness product, try it out first at the store or your gym, and always buy the best quality you can afford.

Swiss Balls:

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