Stand up! How I’m incorporating a balance board into my home office routine

A few years back I heard that sitting is the new smoking. That concerned me, since I’m the type that tends to stay glued to my seat throughout the workday, especially when working from home. Some colleagues and clients have standing desks –or even treadmill desks!– but they never appealed to me.

The Apple Watch has been helpful in encouraging me to stand up. While I ignore most of its other prompts (like the suggestion to Breathe) I am quite responsive to the notification I get 10 minutes before the top of the hour, imploring me to stand up at least once before the clock strikes.

Recently, FluidStance offered to let me test out its Plane balance board, billed as a product that brings “movement and happiness to your workplace.” Bottom line: I like it and  you might, too.

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The board itself. (Blue part is the bottom but it’s attractive enough that I thought it might be the top!)

With #COVID19 in the air, I don’t get a lot of excitement. So it’s always a highlight to receive a package on the doorstep. The balance board came in a long, thin box; when I opened it up I was impressed with the cloth backpack. I felt pretty cool carrying it up to my home office past my teenagers!

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Dad is so cool!

It took me a couple minutes to figure out which end was up. (I got it wrong at first.) And my initial joy was tempered when I read the label on the board.

WARNING, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! This product creates an unstable surface. Use of this product may result in injury or death. Use at your own risk.

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Till death do us part!

Injury I can live with. But death? Even if sitting is the new smoking (and that’s actually controversial) death is still the old death!

Although my balance is good, I’ve never had much luck with skateboards, wakeboards, surfboards of anything kind of board. I was particularly good with the pogo stick as a kid, however.

I need not have worried, because the FluidStance board is really easy to balance on. If you do fall off, it’s about 3 inches so no biggie! It does provide a nice stimulus –better than just standing on the floor, and it’s easy to swivel around, too, should the temptation strike you.

I didn’t want to risk messing up my hardwood floor, so I put a mat under my chair. It protects the floor but does make it a little harder to swivel. When I’m not standing (which is still most of the time) I put my feet on it and use it as a footrest.

I’ve always done audio conference calls, but the pandemic seems to be pushing what would have been in-person meetings and even many phone calls into the video realm. Since I’m not even walking from one conference room to another, I’m sitting even more and am making an effort to stand.

The balance board is good to stand on during conference calls, but it presents a couple of challenges. For audio, I’m a bit far from the speaker phone –but I’ve checked with others and my sound seems good. But for video calls my head ends up out of camera range, even if I tilt the monitor up. I could probably do something about that with a webcam or mounting my laptop on a shelf, but I haven’t. These are minor annoyances but it means I don’t use the board as much as I might like to.

I’m not sure whether there are measurable benefits from using the balance board, but in any event I do like it and plan to keep using it. The literature that came with the deck said, “We aim to blur the lines between work and play, making work a more fluid and natural part of our whole lives.” I can feel that.

The FluidStance product is very well built. It’s solid, attractive and durable. Built in California, it’s well positioned to ride the de-globalization that seems likely post-COVID.

I recommend it.

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

April 27, 2020

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