Walking on water or, trying to

A Greek friend used to get his English prepositions a little mixed up, often conjuring entertaining mental images, such as the particularly bright and proactive colleague he described as being “in the ball”.

The notion of a person being inside a ball seemed beyond the realm of possibility, and therefore amused me no end.

Had he and his colleague been in the vicinity of Calico Jack’s or Hammerheads in recent weeks, however, his malapropism might have been mistaken for a statement of fact.

No longer content to throw, hit, kick or bat balls around on the beach, the new craze is to get inside them and walk on water.

WOW (Walk On Water) balls are made from very strong, thin, transparent plastic and at two metres across are big enough to accommodate both adults and children – although only one at a time.

Goofy, in a good way

It is a fairly goofy idea, but why not? It looks fun.

Until, that is, I am being zipped into the deflated plastic bag, and it starts to feel more like a body bag than a beach ball.

However, once it has been pumped up the sense of claustrophobia that was threatening fades, and it’s time for action.

It’s easy enough to walk, hamster-in-wheel style, with solid ground underfoot. But the second you are pushed out on to the water it all changes.

The idea is that, with practice, you can stand up, walk, run, turn or even go backward.

It sounds simple enough in theory, but in practice it’s definitely not.

The ball is too large to be able to touch the sides in order to steady yourself once upright, and just achieving a standing position is a real challenge as there is no firm base.

Even the smallest wave compounds the lack of stability and sends you toppling over.

Much like a novice snow skier, it’s a case of spending far more time on your backside than on two feet.

During the brief moments I manage to do something akin to standing upright, it’s not with any sense of composure.

It’s a split second of flailing inelegantly before losing control and collapsing back into the bottom of the ball – to the amusement of a gathering crowd of spectators.

The company’s claim that five minutes in a WOW ball is the equivalent of 30 minutes in the gym is no exaggeration.

It is seriously hard work, even crouching down, and after just five minutes I am hot, out of breath and my thighs feel like I have done 200 squats.

Although I had initially thought that five minute sessions sounded a bit on the short side, after I had my turn, I realised it was actually plenty of time for all but the most hyperactive.

It’s an ingenuous idea really: the simplest of equipment, it requires minimal instruction and does no environmental damage.

The greatest risk is getting wet, and it is endlessly amusing for those watching and for the one in the bubble.

All in all, five minutes of good, clean fun.

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