Exercise With Caution? 3 Million Fitness Balls Recalled

Fitness Balls

People searching for motivation to exercise may have another excuse to sit still: Inflatable fitness balls that might be key to toning your abs also could explode and send you crashing to the floor.

EB Brands on Thursday voluntarily recalled three million fitness balls made in China after reports that they can pop unexpectedly if overinflated -- despite the fact that the products specifically say they are burst-resistant. Bally Total Fitness, Everlast, Valeo and Body Fit Fitness Balls, all made by EB Brands, are involved in the recall.

Though the action is termed a recall, EB Brands won't actually be taking the balls back unless they have burst. Rather, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced, "Consumers should contact EB Brands to receive a copy of the updated instructions on how to safely inflate the ball."

A total of 47 people have reported that the fitness balls burst since 2000, according to the CPSC. Some people have been injured as a result, including reports of a fracture and multiple bruises.

A woman in Seattle was sitting on a Bally Sports ball playing a board game when it exploded beneath her and she fractured her sacrum.

Another who barely topped 100 pounds in Winter Springs, Fla., was exercising with weights on her exercise ball when it popped, causing her to get medical attention for bruising on her cheek and jaw.

Pregnant women and preteens alike have injured themselves when the fitness balls unexpectedly burst.

"I can just imagine being in Pilates class and having the ball explode on you," said Nancy Cowles, who has a fitness ball at home.

What's more, the executive of advocacy group Kids in Danger said, "They're big bright colorful balls," meaning they're alluring outside of exercise class.

"If you've got one and you've got kids, your kids are definitely on them in addition to the more organized use of them," Cowles said.

Indeed, the announcement came as more people are getting creative about how to use the fitness balls. Restless cubicle dwellers have ditched their traditional chairs. Pregnant women rely on them during delivery. A class of fourth grade students in California bounce on the balls during class at their desks to keep their bodies active as well as their brains.

"They're better than chairs because you get to wiggle around," one student told ABC News earlier this month.

Balls Will Remain in Stores

Despite the recall announcement, the fitness balls will remain on store shelves. And there will be no changes in design or manufacturer. In fact, there won't even be changes to the safety recommendations, other than highlighting the safety and usage paragraphs in bolder type.

"The product out there on the market is fine," Brian Anderson, president of the fitness division of EB Brands, told ABCNews.com today. "The CPSC recommended that for future products we ship, inside the box we have more robust warnings and guidelines."

"For the most part, what CPSC recommended and what we did was make the instructions we already have bolder, larger and easier to read," he added.

For information on how much to inflate the balls, the company also established a hotline for consumers and posted information on its Web site.

"I'm a little disappointed not to see anything more on the part of the company," Cowles said. "With three million balls out there, no refund, no replacement of the product, I think the number of people who are going to comply might be low."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Bruce Jenner is shown here at age 10 in this undated childhood family photo.
Courtesy Linda Thompson
PHOTO: Bruce Jenner celebrates after winning 1500M race during Decathlon at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada, July 17, 1976.
Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
PHOTO: A female coyote lay in an animal carrier after being captured by Special Operations officers on Manhattan?s west side, Saturday, April 25, 2015, in New York.
New York City Police Department Special Operations Division via AP