The Birthing Ball

Running in the summer is easy: throw on a shirt, a pair of shorts and running shoes and you’re set to go. Even taking the boys with me is not a difficult task; they are both always keen to come with me and will jump onto their own means of transportation (a bike and baby jogger) quickly. But in the winter, running brings a whole new set of challenges.

The harshness that winter carries is my first dilemma. The chilling temperatures are not good for my asthma and, often, running or not, bronchitis for me is inevitable. Ice is a second challenge – especially when running in darker weather. And, then, there is the pile of laundry that the layers of winter running build.

Winter, then, brings a lot more indoor training for me – not on a treadmill, but on my road bike sitting on a windtrainer. This gives me flexibility of running at any hour no matter what it is doing outside. And, I don’t have to worry about the boys.

In fact, the boys tell me that I need to ride because they love coming down to the basement with me. Now, if you saw our basement, you would think that the big attraction would be the main room full of toys. But, it’s the adjacent room, where I try to ride alone, that draws them downstairs. The “bike room” also has the birthing ball.

I bought the birthing ball over nine years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. Yes, this big blue ball does have a more fitness-oriented name, but this is what I called it when I first bought it – to keep my leg muscles strong and work on isometric conditioning – and this is the name that will always stick with me. But, now, ten years later, it is a favorite “toy” for my boys.

Without fail, less that ten minutes into my ride, one of them walked in and grabbed it. The other followed, they climbed on, bounced on it, supported each other…. As I watched them a few nights ago, I realized that this is not just a toy but a fitness ball; by using it, they are getting some exercise and building trust in each other. The fact that they can find a way to “play” on this for almost 40 minutes amazes me. But kids will be kids and they can be creative in ways that we big people forget.

Whenever I ride and watch them play, I bite my tongue from telling them to stop in fear that they might get hurt; instead, I tell myself that it is absolutely the best piece of fitness equipment that I ever invested in. After all, it lets me get in a 45 minute ride.

The boys playing while I ride.

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