There are many components that go into making up what we commonly call ‘fitness’. What makes you ‘fit’ will rely on a complex array of metrics. For instance, you will likely need a low resting heart rate in conjunction with a strong cardiovascular system, incorporating a decent VO2 Max. You will need to have a good degree of flexibility and mobility (which are completely different things, contrary to popular belief). You will want to be strong, with decent musculature.
You will also want to maintain good posture and proprioception.
These latter skills can be honed using some form of balance board. In this article, I have shortlisted the best balance boards that I have come across over years of personal training.
Balance boards can help to train and restore our individual equilibria (our centres of gravity). Daily stresses and strains, especially through a sedentary lifestyle, can leave our equilibria damaged. Over time, this can lead to postural problems.
Postural problems can lead to pain and an increased risk of injury over time, so it’s important to nip them in the bud and deal with them as they occur.
Balance boards can also be used to help improve co-ordination, including proprioception, core strength, reaction speeds, and hip, ankle, and knee mobility (especially during rehab).
Most balance board workouts are around 10-15 minutes long, and they’re never particularly taxing, so they’re pretty easy to add in to any existing exercise regime.
Balance Boards Vs. Wobble Boards
You might hear the terms ‘Balance Board’ and ‘Wobble Board’ used interchangeably. This is kind of okay, though it isn’t quite right. Wobble boards are a specific type of balance board.
In fact, they are the most common type, hence the confusion. They are generally made from plastic or wood, feature a dome shape to the topside or underside, and can be used to move in a 360 degree range of motion. Wobble boards with larger surfaces are perhaps the most natural feeling balance boards, so they represent a good starting point for any newcomers to this kind of exercise.
Types Of Balance Boards
There are four types of balance boards, broadly speaking. Alongside wobble boards, you can find:
- Rocker balance boards
- Rocker roller balance boards
- Sphere and ring balance boards
Rocker balance boards are generally better suited (or at least most frequently used) by older exercisers. They are good for those with more profound balance and mobility concerns. They rock forwards and backwards in quite a simple, easily controlled motion, and feature large standing areas.
If you have particularly intense balance and mobility concerns, you might want to consider buying one.
Rocker roller boards build on this, offering a much tougher balance workout (and test of your proprioception and mobility!) The boards themselves have no fixed point on which they pivot. Rather, a rocker roller board will rest on a cylindrical base which will then move along with the board, which moves sideways along the cylinder.
They are tough to use.
However, sphere and ring boards are generally considered the toughest – they are the hardest to use and master, challenging you quite profoundly.
A sphere and ring board will feature a large inflatable ball with a ring sitting around the outside. The smaller the ring, the harder the board will challenge you. It will offer a full range of motion, and will be incredibly hard to even begin to use – think about practising on a rocker roller before graduating to a sphere and ring!
Our Top Balance Boards
The following balance boards are some of the best on the market. They each give the many benefits to be gained from using any kind of balance board, though the variety on offer and the different styles will mean that each offers something a little bit unique.
Power Balance Board
The Power Balance is a wobble board designed to fully engage your core muscles and improve your balance, coordination and posture, as are all of its kind.
It’s made from toughened hardwood that is built to withstand years of training, no matter how often you use it, how heavy you might be, or how hard you train. The board itself boasts a textured, non-slip ‘grip grain’ surface for extra stability and a removable balance ‘bubble’ so that you can conveniently store and transport it.
You also get a good set of curved crevice handles with the Power Balance, which open up some decent extra options. Not least, you can pair them with resistance bands for a full body workout – using the Power Balance as part of your broader regime, performing exercises such as planks, push ups, and squats, can give you a far richer level of training.
The full circle, 360-degree available with the Power Balance allows you to target a wide range of muscles across the entire body, such as the core, legs, glutes, arms and shoulders. This is helped along by the removable base, useful for a core twist workout. Remove the base and engage in a decent core-focused workout that will train your abs like nothing else.
The Power Balance is easy and fun to use, comes with a great range of versatility (thanks in no small part to the added handles), is incredibly well designed and well made, and will give you all the benefits of a standard wobble board with a few extras on top.
It’s a really decent piece of kit. I was thoroughly happy and engaged with it.
Taleco Gear Balance Board
Let’s move onto our first rocker roller now, in the form of the Taleco Gear Balance Board.
As with all rocker rollers, the Taleco Gear Balance Board is designed specifically to improve your balance skill, coordination, and stability, all while getting a decent workout in.
I particularly like Taleco Gear’s version. All of their board rollers are handmade from high toughness wood. This level of care, quality and detail shows up in the final product, with a fantastic hand-crafted finish. They feature easy-grip surfaces that are gentle on bare feet yet also manage to keep help you in place entirely safely and securely.
The design and the way that the Taleco Gear Balance Board handles makes it perfect for anyone looking to improve their balance specifically for something like skateboarding, surfing, or snowboarding. If you can stay upright and in control on this thing, you will be able to do anything like this without breaking a sweat. The core strength and control you will test and build up will be ferocious.
It is also a great aid for yogis. The board itself is a comfortable platform for seated or standing balance work, and the roller itself can double up as a bit of a challenging foam roller – the massage you can get from it, as advertised by the company themselves, will be lovely. No more sore, tight muscles!
It’s a very useful, well made, well crafted piece of kit that will have great application through a range of athletic disciplines. I really enjoyed testing this one out.
URBNFit Roller Board
URBNFit provide us with our next roller balance board, with a nicely designed, well presented piece with a great deal of utility. It will help you to improve your balance, strength, agility, and body control, all whilst enjoying one of the most nicely carved pieces of wooden training equipment that I have had the pleasure of using in a long time.
URBNFit make all their wooden balance boards from premium pine and poplar, with emery tape and a smooth foam roller included. The emery tape in particular is very welcome, as it will keep your feet in place with a rock-solid stance, helping you at least a little as you start out.
The model itself isn’t the only selling point here, however. I always love a workout guide, and URBNFit don’t disappoint. Their board comes with a bonus workout guide so that you will know exactly what to do (and how to do it) right from the off. This makes their roller balance board perfect for beginners (though simply having a guide won’t be too much help at first – you will need to fully train your neuromuscular responses and get used to the thing before you can use it fluently).
I found that URBNFit’s board worked really well on most surfaces, whether it be wooden, carpet, vinyl or rubber flooring, or anything else. It will probably travel really well because of this, so feel free to take it with you wherever you go!
The PVC roller can also be used as a self-massage tool, for a deep, intense roll, through all the muscles of the legs and back.
It really is a good-quality, versatile piece of kit. I really, really enjoyed using it.
ZEN Board By Northcore
The Northcore Zen Board is a rocker balance board designed as a multi-discipline trainer for fitness, yoga, and board sports. It will improve balance, which will directly translate to improved control and flow in board sports like surfing and snowboarding, though it will of course be good for anybody looking to sharpen their reflexes, strengthen their core, and work their coordination, balance and proprioception.
It is incredibly lightweight, at just over a kilogram, but is incredibly strong and robustly made.
It’s also probably the most like a skateboard of any balance board that I’ve seen. I’m no skater, though I used to play around a bit, but this really does seem to be the real deal. It closely mimics skating action, giving you a great deal of carry over in real terms if you’re looking to improve any tricks.
It’s small, with a petite, yet entirely usable standing surface, and a little roller that will nevertheless challenge all comers. It strikes me as the perfect balancing tool for those on the go, who like to travel or who want to use it throughout the day. The whole lot will easily slip into any gym bag or rucksack, ready for whenever you are.
It’s simple, it’s small, it’s very good value for money, and it’s well put together. Thumbs up all round.
ROMIX Wooden Wobble Board
Let’s take another look at a wobble board, this time in the form of the 42cm ROMIX wooden wobble board. It represents a nice, stylish way in which to improve core strength, posture, and coordination, all without breaking the bank.
ROMIX’s wooden wobble board is incredibly durable. It’s made from premium wood with an anti-slip pad on the surface, to ensure safety while exercising. You’ll have enough issues simply trying to balance – you don’t want to be fighting for friction or purchase at the same time, so I really like this! I also reckon it will last you a lifetime, the whole thing is so well put together.
It’s as versatile and usable as you would want it – athletes of all stripes will be able to use and benefit from it, and it will be a potent tool for anybody looking to recover from knee, ankle or hip injuries.
One thing I particularly like in the ROMIX board is its innovative design. It allows for 360 degree rotation and up to 15 degree tilting, as you might expect, but has also been designed and built specifically to accommodate all sizes of athletes through these ranges. It is also hefty enough to deal with any athletes up to 264lbs (over 100kg), which should serve nicely for all but the largest of users.
It has a nice wood finish, looking stylish and elegant even as it retains a great deal of utility. Form and function are perfect – fantastic.
We’ve got a great little balance board, here, from Core Balance. It looks pretty awful – all grey, cheap plastic, where some of the items on this list are beautiful wooden constructs. However, if you can at all help it, try not to let this put you off.
It’s a very well structured, well designed wobble board with a fantastic amount of utility.
Firstly, it ticks the basic boxes superbly. Standing on the balance board requires you to constantly adjust your weight to maintain your balance and stay upright – this is how it works, and it works well. Core Balance’s board allows you to do this superlatively – the 360 degree motion, with grippy foot placement and incredibly precise weighting means that you are constantly fighting gravity, but never the equipment itself.
This grippy foot placement is simply done yet perfectly executed. The balance board itself has a large 40cm surface area, making it easy to stand on, and the footing has a textured non-slip surface for fantastic grip and stability when using.
As I said, it’s simple, yet incredibly effective.
The whole thing is made from robust ABS and PP plastic, so that it should be able to last you an age.
It’s also very lightweight and portable. It’s surprisingly compact, for a piece of equipment with such a large surface area. This comes from using plastic which, whilst being none too pretty to look at, can be made very durable at very low weights.
Core Balance themselves are also a company worth taking a look at. Their teams are great, always on hand to give expert advice and guidance.
It’s utilitarian, but with a fantastic level of utility. Forget good looks – this is the real deal.
Sportneer Balance Ball
Let’s finish with a proper BOSU (Both Sides Up) ball, arguably king of the balance boards. It is essentially a half Swiss ball with a flat, plastic top that you use as a platform.
BOSUs are sort of the go-to gym equipment for people looking to improve their balance, proprioception and core stability.
Sportneer have designed and made a fantastic BOSU, here.
First off, it’s burst resistant. Considering it is half a giant, inflated balloon, this is a pretty big deal. However, it’s made with 4mm thick PVC, so that it can work under a maximum pressure of 300lbs (around 130-40kg).
All but the largest athletes should be able to use it without worrying, and even larger users will likely be okay.
The platform is anti-ski and abrasion resistant, with eight anti-slide floor pads and non-slip durable standing surface for maximum stability and added strength. You won’t be going anywhere soon, meaning that you can focus on maintaining balance without worrying about your feet going out from under you.
The base itself is a pretty generous 23.4 inches in diameter. It comes with two resistance bands, both heavy duty and able to withstand a high workload. This means that you can use the Sportneer Balance Ball for far more than simple balance work – you can get in a lightweight, yet full body workout using it.
You can adjust inflation using the pump provided, which will mean an increase or decrease in board stability to match the demands of your workouts and your own skill level.
Last, but far from least, you get a really handy guidebook with the Sportneer Balance Ball. It includes a list of attached exercises that will help you to maintain good posture and reduce the risk of injury during your workouts, meaning that even absolute beginners can get training immediately without having to worry about finding instruction from anywhere.