Photographers sit for so long during the day — an average of ten hours for the photographers I interviewed — that it's affecting their health in potentially disastrous ways. In this review, I'd like to help you decide whether adding a Fluidstance balance board to your office could provide a valuable way to protect your health.
The original article I wrote detailing the dangers of sitting too long to work caught the attention of the team at Fluidstance, who reached out to me wondering if their product might be a good fit for photographers. Since I'm passionate about photographers staying healthy — having the personal experience of dealing with painful muscle spams in my upper back and neck due to working too long at a computer — I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out if this was a product photographers could use to improve their health while still maximizing working time.
The Fluidstance balance board is pretty simple in concept: a flat board with a bubble on the bottom that forces the user to activate several different muscle groups in order to maintain balance while working. The caveat is that a board like this requires a standing desk or desk converter in order to use to its full potential. Since I bought a standing desk shortly after learning how much sitting could be affecting my health, I had the perfect setup to test this board out.
According to the insert provided, the user should incorporate balancing on the Fluidstance board for about 20 percent of their daily desk time, and then gradually increase as their unused muscles grow accustomed to balancing while working. Being at least relatively fit, this was an easy transition for me, and I did find that the board increased the total amount of time I spent moving at my desk. These boards have the Mayo Clinic's NEAT certification (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which basically means that using the balance board will increase the amount of calories you burn during the day (akin to taking the stairs instead of the elevator). In this case, this can reach just over 19 percent more calories than you would otherwise burn.
After using the Fluidstance board for about a month, here are some things I liked and didn't like during my experienced.
What I Liked
- Great design
- Easy to use
- Increases movement during the workday (yay for burned calories!)
- Keeps lower joints from getting tight
- Sturdy. The deck is solid wood, and bottom is military grade cast aluminum
- Better circulation, no legs or feet falling asleep
- Lower back muscles more relaxed
- Adds a bit of fun, because who doesn't want to twist around while they answer emails?
What I Didn't Like
- Must wear footwear with a grippy sole (bare feet can work, too, if no one else is sharing your board...gross)
- Sometimes the board can shift and travel away from the workstation
- Not ideal for delicate editing, such as masking
- Must have decent balance or keep the workstation free of things that may fall or cause fall injuries
- Can be pricey. These boards cost upwards of $200 a piece.
Having used the board, I'm definitely grateful to have it. When I'm not actively shooting, meeting clients or teaching, photography can be an incredibly stagnant job. Editing, marketing, bookkeeping, emailing, and writing — often five days per week or more for several hours at a time — force the human body to be still, and that's a problem because humans evolved to move. Adding the Fluidstance balance board to my workday means that I'm increasing my daily movement and mitigating some of the negative effects that desk work can have on my body. While this is a great product, it's not a panacea. It's a tool that should be integrated along with other healthful practices, such as taking breaks to get the heart rate up, eating healthy, practicing good posture, and spending some time outside.
I would definitely recommend this board for those who are concerned about the long-term affects the business of photography can have on their health, want to add practices that will keep their body in good shape, want to add aesthetically pleasing utility items to their workspace, and aren't willing to settle for a poorly designed product that will wear out quickly. This board is definitely an investment, but one that will last and look great.