As a working mom, I'm always looking for ways—preferably fun ones—to get maximum return from my workout time. So I was delighted to discover that the "super-cool" gadget a friend was enthused about also turned out to be a great way to build balance and core strength. The item in question? The Indo Board Balance Trainer.

It consists of a board on top of either a roller or inflatable disc called a balance cushion (you choose which to use). The idea is that both the instability provided by the roller and the wobbliness of the disc challenge your core as you try to stay upright. I've tried stability boards before, and many felt similar to the Indo Board atop the cushion. But with the roller it's a whole different story.

Instead of trying to master wobbliness, you're trying to master ocean wave–like motion (yep, it was created by a surfer) as the roller moves from side to side under the board. Sounds hard, right?

It is. Mindful of the note on the board to "use at your own risk" (it's actually printed right on top), I set it in a doorway so I'd have something to hold on to. That turned out to be an excellent decision, as the board began to swoop as soon as I stepped on it. It took all my ab power and concentration to get it under control.

On the board, even basic moves like biceps curls suddenly became challenging and core-focused. Not only was I trying do the curls properly, but  I also was shifting my weight, tucking my tailbone, and bending my knees, trying to stay upright. Five minutes in, my ab muscles were starting to ache (in a good way).

Between exercises, I began to let the board swoop back and forth while standing on it (and holding on to that trusty doorframe). Gradually, I willed myself to relax and get into the groove, and in turn I began to feel more stable. Even more importantly, I was having a blast.

I should mention that the Original Training Package I was testing comes with a workout poster and instructional DVD. The poster is great. It offers a full-body routine composed of cool, creative twists on classic moves—sometimes using the roller, sometimes using the cushion.

As for the DVD: skip it. It's busy and unfocused, as if geared toward a zero-attention-span teenager, and only about five minutes of it are devoted to teaching you to use the board. Instead, click here for the basics.

But I digress.

My first Indo Board session ended after about 15 minutes with my abs screaming for mercy. But I'll be back. You'll find me in the doorway.

Product: Indo Board Original Training Packages

Category: Gear

Pros: This is a really fun, challenging way to build core strength and balance.

Cons: It's tricky to use at first, and the DVD isn't very helpful.

Cost: $144.95 to $159.95 (includes deck, roller, balance cushion, DVD, poster) at IndoBoard.com

Extra tips: For more control, use the roller on carpet (the deeper the better)—and have something nearby to grab on to!