Are Fluidstance Balance Boards a Good Way to Keep Photographers Healthy?

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.

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Christopher Nolan's picture

Go to the gym, workout, make it a priority in your life, or just fall apart and die a painful miserable death.

Brian Schmittgens's picture

Or people could just, ya know, be more active. Not everyone needs to go to the gym.

Nicole York's picture

I hike and rock climb, and I hate to tell you this, but going to the gym won't negate that many hours of sitting a day. That's why I suggested people read the original article. That would be like trying to counter smoking by running a mile.

Christopher Nolan's picture

Sitting for hours is a part of a lot of people’s jobs, and has been for many decades, and somehow people have managed to live long healthy lives without standing desks, or whatever new gimmick comes along. If you sit for an extended period of time a day, you get up, walk away from your workstation, walk around several times a day. Having some bubbly board below your feet is no substitute, or even necessary. You can lift weights in your house if need be, location is irrelevant, as long as you are lifting weight.

If you're comparing decades of sitting to millenia of moving around... You're either trolling or one of these weights must have hit you on the head.

Chris Spicks's picture

Just wondering, are you guys going to start selling AdvoCare on the site too, to keep photographers healthy?

Nicole York's picture

This is a review, not a sponsored post. I've had muscle spasms that cause tension headaches for quite a while now due to computer work, and the photographers I talked to are in similar boats, so I felt this might make a difference to other photographers.

Chris Rogers's picture

Wooaahh i get those muscles spasms all the time. My left lower eyelid has been twitching non stop for a week now as well. have you figured out how to stop the spasms? maybe i'm just missing something in my diet...

Nicole York's picture

The standing desk has made the biggest difference, honestly, because wont let me have bad posture. Plus, standing up makes it easier to keep moving (which is what the board is great for) so I've got better circulation and I stop to exercise more often, even when I'm deep into editing.

Chris Rogers's picture

I see. Thanks for the information! I'm going to look into a standing desk now. Honestly my legs get really restless if i sit too long so i should probably just get one any way. Thanks again!

Nicole York's picture

Absolutely! I bought a standing converter, since I wanted to keep my desk, and that allows me to stand and sit at will, which helps. I also set a timer on my phone to remind me to take breaks to get some exercise. I hope the desk helps you as much as it helped me!

All the best!

You're probably missing magnesium, Chris. But a standing desk has made a great change for me in terms of back pain and what seems to be early CTS. I can't recommend it enough. It's not just for better posture either, it promotes movement - you don't have to get up to streach or jump a bit here and there.

Chris Spicks's picture

Sorry, but this feels like a random review of product that a company reached out to you to post. Wouldnt be hard for a companies website to track all incoming clicks from this site and pay the 'cobtributor'. To me This isn't photo related at all even by saying 'some photogs suffer from this'

Things photographers suffer from:
1: packing everything in a car. Do we review the new Toyota highlander?
2: finding time to eat healthy, do we review myfitfoods?
3: finding time to date: can we review tinder?

Just asking where the line is drawn from photography vs just advertising random stuff.

Nicole York's picture

I can understand that, though this is an honest review and not an advertisement. We always post those as sponsored posts, which is a different thing entirely. I wouldn't have considered sharing this if I hadn't personally benefited from it in my work life. I had almost debilitating muscle spasms specifically from my work--which can be very heavy in post production--that required muscle relaxers and physical therapy, which taught me about how much ignoring healthy habits as a photographer can cost. I had days where I couldn't work at all, and that cost me money.
That's why I wrote the first article, and I see this review as a follow up on ways photographers can take steps to keep themselves healthy for working in the long term. Since changing the things I mentioned in the first article and adding the board, my health has increased dramatically, which means I can work more and longer.
Of course not every photographer has the same work or editing schedule, but I know many who are just like me, and if a simple review can get people thinking about adjusting HOW then work in their office, then that's relevant as far as I'm concerned.

Thanks for this review, Nicole - standing desk has been a great improvement in my work life, and this board seems like a fun and helpful (if pricey) tool too. Sitting lifestyle is clearly not unique to photographers, but it is something most of us struggles with.

Nicole York's picture

Absolutely! I've had the same experience. I realize that this won't apply to ALL photographers (no article ever will) but for those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer, changes like these ones can make huge differences in our health. I plan on being a photographer for a long time, so keeping myself healthy is pretty important ;)

Photographers in general are pretty active. Otherwise a standup desk is ideal. Not sure I could get used to this board.

Sergio Miranda's picture

So now we have advertisement for products that are not related to photography at all? I've seen surfers practicing in the balance boards (and they just throw a wooden board over a cilinder and ¡Voila!

Mick Ryan's picture

10 hours a day? What kind of phtoographers are they? I’s day I’m on my feet 10 hours a day.

Nicole York's picture

I talked to photographers in several different genres from portrait to commercial. The average time was 10 hours. I was blown away.

Wow! Fstoppers now doing paid content ads disguised as stories! can you say toast?

Nicole York's picture

**eyeroll** yet again, this is a review. Not paid content or a sponsored post. Fstoppers is not getting ANY money for this review. Not only do I explain the genesis of this review in the video, but it's also canvased in the comments.

"Fstoppers is not getting ANY money for this review. " Well then I guess you are, because I see no other reason Fstoppers would ever have such a useless review on their page.

Nicole York's picture

Not useless to those of us whose health has been positively affected by making these kinds of changes in our work habits.