Brief History: When I first heard of Gaiam (pronounced "guy-um") about 5 years or so ago I considered it a yoga wear and related equipment retailer. In 1988 Gaiam was founded by Jirka Rysavy in Boulder, Colorado. Since then it has become so much more. They are a "provider of information, goods and services to customers who value the environment, a sustainable economy, healthy lifestyles, and personal development." They have become a national leader in "going green" supplying green household products, organic clothing, as well as solar and renewable energy products. The Gaiam community also offers an opportunity to learn about fitness and the environment through articles and videos.
Product: Back Care Conditioning Kit
Description: An inflated exercise ball in the shape of a peanut. It holds up to 300 pounds.
Packaging: Came packaged in its own box. Along with a video, hand pump and poster.
Price: Regular $40 on sale for $9.99 (it's been $9.99 for over a year).
Comments: Exercise balls have been touted for years as an effective method for stretching out the muscles of the back and performing strength training exercises. I have always wanted one of the exercise balls but the standard 'ball' shape always made me nervous because they were unpredictable and unsteady. Not to mention most of them are not designed for heavy poundage. I have since learned that inflatable balls are designed to have a slow leak, not to pop like a balloon.
Satisfaction: Very pleased. I've had mine for over a year and haven't had any problems with it. This inflatable peanut is very stable and I feel completely secure when I'm on it (I have issues with those office chairs that go back and it feels like you're going to flip out). The pump still works and I only have to touch up the air every few months. There's a video and fold out poster included. It's very basic but shows you how to handle the ball. I've discovered what works for me and pretty much do my own thing.
I used to use it quite regularly (a few times a week) but now I find I only take it out when needed (if I feel slight discomfort coming on or a tightening in my back and need a good stretch/realignment). If you do yoga of any kind it is also helpful with some of the floor moves that require more balance or support if you can't quite get into position because of added tissue. I especially like it for the child pose. I have it in the corner of the dining room so when ever I need it, it is accessible.
If you want to purchase your own Inflatable Peanut visit their official website. They are so cheap you should get one for a friend.
Update: It appears Gaiam is no longer carrying this form of exercise ball. Here are some other options I found online:
* Balls 'n Bands has Cando Saddle Rolls (Peanut Balls). They are more expensive of course but hold up to 600lbs.
* Amazon has Aeromat Anti-burst Therapy Peanut Ball but there isn't a weight allowance mentioned. I'm guessing they are probably 300lbs.