Ditch that Chair! Youth to the Core Advocates Exercise Balls in the Classroom

Replacing hard, uncomfortable classroom chairs with posture-improving fitness balls should be an easy decision for any teacher or school board. However, like many, McGill School of Success principal Deborah Huggins was weary when Pilates for Kids instructor Bret Caslavka approached her with the idea. Caslavka explained that research shows exercise balls actually improve student’s focus along with providing a wide range of health benefits.

A 2007 study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester found that allowing the students to burn off energy by bouncing on exercise balls during class time, helped them to concentrate more on their work. Plus the noise reduction from a lack of squeaky chairs creates a better environment for focusing.

“In addition to improvements in attention and focus, the students are also more conscious of their surroundings,” said Caslavka. “Their ability to move on the ball also limits them from laying their head on the desk if they do not understand the task at hand.  Without knowing it, they are training their brains and their bodies simultaneously by actively practicing good posture, balance and overall strength.”


Principal Huggins agreed to make the switch in February of 2012 and the children in Delia Terry’s first grade class have been showing improvement ever since.

Caslavka says the strength and posture gained from sitting on a ball in the classroom transfers positively to the students’ performance in the standardized PE program.  He says the students are now more mentally in-tune, more physically aware and have better body control for their age

“We hope to have every child in every grade on the fitness balls by the end of 2014,” says Caslavka


Exercise balls are just an extension of Caslavka’s Youth to the Core pilates-based fitness program which he created to revolutionize standard fitness training and testing for K-12 students.

Learn More about the Youth to the Core Fitness Program