Dyna-Flex Powerball — Favorite Exercise Toy

The Dyna-Flex -- photo by Alice Moon

The Dyna-Flex -- photo by Alice Moon

I’ve used the Dyna-Flex Powerball for a long time, actually since the 70’s. I remember seeing it advertised as the Dynabee late one night on Channel 13, the local horror movie hotspot that always had some weird scifi movie like Revenge of the Blob playing after 1 a.m. It seemed like a fascinating thing. I don’t really know why I bought one, since it’s the only thing I ever did buy from an info-mercial. Possibly it was because I had just started working at a foundry, and the second week there I had lifted and gripped so much heavy metal that when I got up in the morning my hands just hung at the ends of my arms flapper-like for about an hour while I tried to do ordinary things like opening the frig and cooking breakfast by holding stuff between my forearms and elbows. Anything that could lessen stress on wrist joints probably appealed to me at the time.

But let’s say that you’re not a foundryman or a fitness nut, just somebody who types for a living or plays a lot of video games and wants the body to hold together a little longer. The Dyna-flex may not extend your lifespan but it certainly will maintain your keyboard fingers and mouse manipulating wrist. That’s also important, if most of your body lives in World of Warcraft. This is a modern exercise system that makes sense.

It took me a month of careful experimentation and practice to actually get this exercise toy to work. Probably that’s why it hasn’t really taken off as a hot item in the several decades it’s been around. You have to learn this gizmo, unless you buy one of the electric starters, which is cheating. It’s possible to do this the old way, by flashing one palm across the roller a few times to get it up to starting speed. Some models also let you wind a string into it that you can pull start the dyna-flex with, but you still have to experiment with wrist rotation and speed. Too fast or too slow and the bearing dies. Get it right and it’s like stirring taffy — miraculously, the bearing spins faster and begins to whine, unless if you’re me, Alice can’t stand it any more and threatens me with bodily harm unless I put the Dyna-bee away.

I understand that reaction. It’s noisy — a constant buzzing roar or high pitched whine, depending on how fast you spin it. It’s also a very effective way of working forearms and wrists without overstressing anything. If you have carpal tunnel problems and could use some therapy but aren’t too far into the decline, one of these can give your wrists and hands new and balancing challenges. The original was advertised as a exercise boon to fishermen, tennis players, golfers and anyone who uses their hands for repetitive work and play. It works for all of that.

The Dyna-Flex develops coordination in the off-hand as well, not just the dominant hand. It’s much harder to do in the off-hand, but it works on weaknesses you didn’t know you had. In either hand it’s a very helpful training tool. I’m still impressed with the results, and I’ve actually worn out a few of these over the years. They don’t wear out fast, but I’ve put thousands of miles on the things.

Always fun to try out on new friends, the Dyna-Flex is both healthful and weirdly fascinating. Computer geeks will love it, but they’ll like it better if they watch the video first.

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