Safety of Exercise Balls in Question

OVERLAND PARK, KS -- A recent lawsuit and an injury to an NBA basketball player have raised issues over the safety of exercise balls.

Last week, a man filed a lawsuit against XSport Fitness, Big Rock, IL, after the exercise ball he was using allegedly deflated, causing a fall and an injury.

Michael Ernst was working out June 24 in an XSport Fitness in Chicago when the alleged incident occurred, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Ernst was using an exercise ball when it “collapsed, deflated and became unstable” causing Ernst to fall, according to the lawsuit. He says in the suit that his injuries from the fall are of a “personal, permanent and pecuniary nature.”

Ernst is claiming negligence on the part of Capital Fitness Inc., parent company of XSport Fitness, and is seeking more than $50,000 in damages. (XSport Fitness also was recently sued in a case involving spying in a tanning room.)

In a separate incident, Francisco Garcia of the Sacramento Kings broke his arm last Friday while lifting weights in the team’s weight room, according to The Sacramento Bee. Garcia was reportedly lying on his back on an exercise ball doing dumbbell presses with 90-pound weights when the ball burst. Garcia had surgery and is expected to miss four months of the upcoming NBA season. According to the Bee’s sources, the maker of the exercise ball is Italian-based company Gymnici, although the model of the ball is not known.

The incident prompted Kings owner Joe Maloof to send an e-mail to the NBA’s other 29 teams about the dangers of using exercise balls.

“You wouldn’t expect it in a million years,” Maloof told the Bee. “Everybody uses these balls. Every spa in the world, you always see these balls. I think this is a wake-up call. I think the most important thing is that this doesn’t happen to other teams or other professional sports franchises. For that matter, high school, college, any of these teams that use these balls. I want to make sure they know what happened to us.”

In April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of 3 million fitness balls sold under the Bally Total Fitness, Everlast, Valeo and Body Fit brands.
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