Despite what my heart would love to believe, sitting all day is not great for it. Curling up in that comfy couch or lounging in your fancy office chair sounds great for the first hour or two, but stay there, and you might be subject to a panoply of health risks down the line.
My job often requires me to be at a computer for long periods of time, so I've tried a number of strange options for keeping active: I use my Apple Watch to get me to move. I've tried medicine ball chairs. I've hooked up treadmills to hang-anywhere standing desks. I've pedaled while typing. I've worked in my kitchen.
After trying all of these options, however, I've come to a single conclusion: I really, really, really hate standing and walking. There's a reason why I play a sport on wheels, after all.
I fidget when I stand, and that often results in putting too much weight on one leg (or hip), which cramps up my tight hamstrings and generally makes me more inclined to sit, not less. I also skate enough that the idea of cramping and tiring out my feet before practice by standing is less than ideal.
Enter my latest fit-desk curiosity: FluidStance (opens in new tab), a company which makes snowboard-style balance boards designed to spice up the standing desk experience. The boards come in a variety of beautifully designed finishes (including wood and quality aluminum) that hover a few inches off the floor thanks to a circular balance fulcrum in the middle.
- FluidStance Plane Scandi - See at FluidStance
- FluidStance Plane Level - See at Amazon (opens in new tab)
Floating in air
When you step on the Scandi, you'd be hard-pressed to believe you're touching the ground at all. When standing shoulder-width apart, it truly feels like you — and your board — are almost floating. Combine that with the circular base's ability to swivel based on your movements, and you have one of the weirdest (and most pleasant) standing experiences of my life.
Maybe I love this board — the HDPE plastic-and-felt Scandi (opens in new tab) — because it engages my leg muscles and ankles in a way I normally only feel while skating. Maybe it's the ability to shift from leg to leg without putting undue stress on my hips or knees, or do 180 spins like I'm in a desk chair. Maybe I love it because it's just plain fun.
Whatever the reason, I'm hooked. The board's wide range of movement means a fidgeter like me can keep my body interested in continuing to stand long after the initial novelty has worn off, and it's surprisingly comfortable, too. The Scandi's felt top and plastic body gives it a nice grip that FluidStance's wood boards lack; it makes the initial balance experience a little easier, but it also gives way to more advanced tricks I wouldn't have tried on the fancier (and slipperier) boards, like fast forward/backwards rocks to wake up my ankles while I type. (Doing that right now while I type, by the way.)
Here's the one sticking point: The Scandi and its siblings are not cheap. My board was a rather pricey $189 birthday present to myself; FluidStance's aluminum-and-metal decks range from $289 to a whopping $489. In contrast, you can pick up a basic wobble balance board on Amazon (opens in new tab) for just $20.99.
But having used a number of these fitness balance boards for skating practice, they're not designed for long-term work — they're often significantly more challenging to stand and hold positions on, let alone shift your weight or do anything more advanced. FluidPlane's Scandi succeeds in its simplicity: It's easy to get your balance and start working, and equally easy to start challenging yourself without losing sight of your sentence or your work. (Try doing the same on a Solofit (opens in new tab), and you might find yourself falling more often than you are answering emails.)
That the boards are beautiful is a bonus: The Scandi's stability and downright fun is what keeps me coming back. And it's portable: I've carried its 5-pound body around the house multiple times to use it while cleaning dishes and play VR (it's a surprisingly effective deterrent for my motion sickness when playing stationary games that require movement).
If you work at home or do a lot of stationary work on your feet, I'd unconditionally recommend the Scandi to bring a little adventure into your work day. (Also helpful: The company offers a 30-day guarantee, so you can try out the board and send it back if it's not the experience you want.) It may not be a "true" hoverboard experience, but it's one of the most enjoyable ways to stand and write at my computer that I've found after years of testing fit-desk products — and that alone, for me, was worth the cost.
Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.
This may be a silly question, but I’m assuming that standing on this contraption works muscles that are not used when simply standing, right? Or to put it another way, are there exercise benefits to this balancing act that exceed simply standing (other than comfort)? I’m guessing it probably works core muscles. Any idea how much difference it makes vs. standing on the ground? Thanks.
Yes! It's going to make all your stabilizer muscles (hamstrings, glutes, core, foot muscles) hate you the first few days you use it. As your body adjusts to being on a stabilizer board, you'll get less out of it than in your first month, but you'll still benefit from having trained those muscles — and the nice thing is you can add variations to make it difficult again (i.e. standing on tiptoes, rocking back and forth, working in a squat). The FluidStance folks also have a few whitepapers on their site detailing other health benefits (elevates your heart rate, for instance, so you're burning more overall and your body is in a more active state). Personally, even as someone who already uses her stabilizers fairly frequently (hi, skating!), the board set my hamstrings and glutes on fire after the first day. It's a good workout for muscles that don't usually get modern use.
Thanks for the info!
Sold. Totally getting one of these. Meant to buy one when they first came out but forgot! This is a good reminder... and awesome that you're loving it.
Just out of curiosity, what is your standing desk setup? Been thinking about it for a while, and see one in my near future.
I've got a Kallax 1x4 mounted to the wall. I mostly love it, though I need to build an extender for my keyboard, as the iMac + keyboard on the desk makes it a little too short (vertically) for my liking.
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