Lots of companies talk about work-life balance, but few do it as literally as Fluidstance. Fluidstance makes a series of balance boards designed for working at a standing desk, or anywhere you want to add a little movement into standing tasks.
I’ve been using a standing desk in my home office for several years now, ever since the “Sitting is Killing You” infographic came out in 2011. The infographic makes some rather bold announcements like “Sitting increases risk of death up to 40%,” and “Sitting makes us fat,” but does a really good job of highlighting some of the changes we’ve experienced as our jobs have become more dependent on computers.
I enjoy being on my feet. I guess it comes with the territory when spending 150+ days snowboarding and skiing, and another 50 days a year paddleboarding, surfing, hiking, and camping. But along with the adventures comes plenty of time at a desk. Whether it’s sitting down to type up a recent adventure, or at the computer for my role as Manager of Training for the Vail Ski & Snowboard School, there’s no escaping some amount of time spent in front of the screens.
In the time I’ve worked with standing desks, I’ve used several different heights of desk and tried a number of pads to stand on. I’ve also always had some kind of balance board in the house, and occasionally have tried combining them. For a while I used an Indo Board with their IndoFlo cushion, but even with very little air in the cushion it simply moved too much to be comfortable. A repurposed Burton LTR Spooner board works to an extend, but the board is designed for kiddos, and it’s a little too soft to give you much rocker.
Enter Fluidstance. Their line of desk surfers are specifically designed for use at your standing desks, at home or at work. I’ve been using The Level for a couple of months, and my expectations have been completely exceeded.
The minute you unbox a Fluidstance deck you know you have something special in your hands. Clean lines, gorgeous wood, and an aluminum base cut from the same cloth as your MacBook Pro. Designed for standing on and surfing your desk, it looks like a piece of art. Be prepared to answer questions about it, as everyone who sees it is going to want to know more, stand on it, and maybe sneak it out the door with them.
On the usage side of things, Fluidstance’s boards feel perfectly balanced. Where most other balance boards are designed primarily for you to balance on, The Level is balanced on its own, and has a nice sweet spot in the middle, where you really don’t have to work to maintain balance. Simply step on to the board at your desk, and find a gentle athletic stance. With a little foot-to-foot movement or toe-to-heel pressure change you’ll find it rocks smoothly and evenly, and it easily returns to its centered stance. The spoon-shaped base minimizes the overall distance it can rock, and the rubber bumpers on the corners mean it isn’t loud, even on wood floors, so you’re not going to bug your coworkers.
This is all important, because it increases your energy usage by 19.2% vs standing, surpassing the Mayo Clinic’s standard for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis equipment (requiring a 10% increase). Fluidstance also reports a 15% average increase in heart rate while using one of their decks. When you think about a day at a standing desk, a 20% different in energy expenditure is no small matter, and Fluidstance recommends that you ease into using the deck.
I’ve been using the Level deck at my iMac setup, which is where I do a lot of video and photo editing. I really enjoy being able to stand up and move while doing more creative work, and the Fluidstance deck lets me do that. On days when I can’t get outside to ride, bike, paddle, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, being able to surf my desk gives me that little extra movement to keep myself energized and engaged – it’s amazing how a standing break from sitting will revitalize you. And on the days when I’m out on the mountain or otherwise enjoying Colorado? Time surfing at the desk works as a cool-down and stretch, staying mobile instead of plopping down into a chair at the keyboard.
Whether you’re looking for your first standing desk, or you’ve been using one for years, adding movement to your setup is a great addition. Fluidstance’s balance deck is the best I’ve found, both for function and form. Review Disclaimer: Fluidstance provided The Level deck for the duration of this review.
Following up on my article on paddleboarding as a great activity for training ski and snowboard fitness and balance in the Spring issue of 32 Degrees, George Thomas and sat down a couple weeks ago to record another podcast for our Last Call edition of PSIA-AASI’s First Chair. Hope you enjoy it, let me know if there are things you want George and I to chat about in our next podcast!
After years of wanting to attend the Summer Outdoor Retailer show the timing worked out last fall. As usual, the road trip to Utah quickly turned into planning a bigger adventure, and by the time I left Vail the subbie was packed for a weekend of camping and paddleboarding in Wyoming with fellow AASI Snowboard National Team Member Eric Rolls.
With a couple of days of tradeshow exploration complete and a full tank of gas, we hit the road Friday afternoon and pulled in to Alpine a few hours later. After scouting around the National Forest Service dispersed camp sites we found a great spot by the river and set up our camp for the weekend.
Day 1 was a full day paddleboard float on the Snake River, starting in Grand Teton National Park from Deadman’s Bar down to the Moose Landing visitor center; the second time I’ve done this stretch. Grand Teton National Park is among my favorite of our national parks, one of the few that conjures the same grandeur and scale of Denali National Park (my backyard growing up). With every turn of the river the Tetons stand large, impressing themselves against the sky. I’m convinced it may be the most beautiful stretch of flatwater in the country.
With the boards inflated, board shorts on, and a few drybags of gear strapped down, we pushed into the current and began the 10 mile paddle. This part of the Snake is labeled Advanced but not because of rapids. The river braids extensively in this area, and downed trees create snags and strainers. The loose gravel bed shifts annually with snow, ice, and river flow, causing additional changes to the river. On a paddleboard, these changes are less of an issue, thanks to the portability and easy portage. Nonetheless, proper safety gear is important, and Eric and I both traveled with helmets, life jackets, and waist belt quick-release leashes.
Roughly halfway through we found the perfect gravel bar to grab some sun and eat lunch before continuing down the river. As we put back in, we found a little offshoot to river right and explored it, following it for a while before rejoining the main river. This is where we found a tree that had fallen across the river. It took a few tries, but I successfully stomped the first “hippy jump” I’ve seen on a paddleboard, jumping over the tree while the board traveled under. Further down the river we had to fully portage where a crafty beaver had closed off the river.
After rejoining the main river we quickly found ourselves at Moose Landing and hitched a ride back up to our car at Deadman’s before returning to camp. All in all, an awesome day on the river, and a great warmup for the next day.
Day 2 was the bigger adventure on the Alpine Canyon portion of the Snake, but that’s a story for another blog. Huge thanks to the companies like Big Agnes, Hala, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis, and Burton that help make trips like this awesome!
One of the awesome things about being on the AASI National Team is the projects we get to work on that impact the whole industry.
Earlier this spring, teammate Amy Gan and I met up with Burton’s Global Experience Manager Shaun Cattanach at Eldora Mountain Resort for one of those projects, a video to promote learn to snowboard programs for young kids to show at the National Ski Areas Association’s National Convention.
Not only was it a fun project to create and film, it carried an important message to ski area managers from across the country. I’m really happy with how the video turned out and love its message about improvements to children’s snowboard education through advancements in equipment, terrain, and teaching.
When we brainstormed the return of Rider Rally at Team Training last fall, all we really knew was that we wanted to revive this core event and bring together riders from across our organization.
The idea was one that the snowboard team rallied around, and so we spent the last 6 months planning on teleconferences and over beers at other events, talking to resorts and hitting the jackpot with Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, asking sponsors for whatever they had left in their swag drawers, promoting Rider Rally at every resort we visited, designing graphics and creating messaging, building the community on Facebook, and working with PSIA-AASI staff to help organize registration.
And then 60 snowboarders from all over the world showed up at Arapahoe Basin! This is the final group photo, taken at about 3:30 on Friday. Still 50 strong and many of the riders in this group went on to bounce and jump at Woodward Copper for the next 3 hours.