The Level by Fluidstance made an immediate and lasting impression the first time we stepped onto the active standing balance board back in 2015 at Dwell On Design (a demo which earned an enthusiastic, “SO FUN”). Designed to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, the company’s line of balance boards – previously available in two bamboo and aluminum versions – is marketed primarily at standing desk users. Their latest and most affordable model, The Plane, joins the Fluidstance catalog as their smallest and most affordable option.
Just a tad shorter and less wide than its two predecessors, The Plane is constructed in the United States from recycled plastic and reclaimed tire rubber, offering the same challenge of constant and varied motion in all three dimensions when standing upon its slightly wobbly ride. It’s a little less aeronautical chic looking than its pricier and larger predecessors, but this smaller plastic and rubber version still has a cool base design hinting at the sole of a running shoe, especially in its all-white or all-black options.
If you’ve tried a balance board at the gym, you get the gist of what a Fluidstance board offers; the designers have limited the amount of wobble to feel a lot safer while retaining enough movement to always keep the body perpetually realigning itself in microadjustments. Yet even to the non-athletic, using one is easy to grasp and immediately engaging, inviting all variety of creative movements while standing upon its grippy surface: rocking, spinning, wobbling about. For anyone working from a standing position for long periods of time, this assortment of movement engagement could counteract against the muscular atrophy often attributed to long bouts of inactive standing (or sitting).
But here’s the truth: you don’t have to work from a standing desk to benefit from using a Fluidstance deck throughout the day. Despite numerous attempts to work from a variety of standing desk throughout the years (something I tried again with The Plane), I’ve never felt fully comfortable working from a standing position for an entire day. Within a few days of demoing The Plane I was taking regular breaks from my normal desk-bound routine to stand, wobble, spin, and actively squat while standing upon the plastic and rubber board, both on hardwood floors and low pile carpeting (at just a little over 7lbs, it’s easy to carry around an office or home).
After work I incorporated its core-engaging wobble to add an additional layer of challenge to my kettlebell routines; deep squats with two lightweight kettlebells in hand combined with upward presses and my typical workout veered to the novel and atypical. I’d take it upstairs to use while watching televised NBA games. And I even used the board from a pushup position…something Fluidstance probably doesn’t recommend, but reflective of the fun quotient of a fitness device which invites this sort of playful experimentation.
At $189 The Plane is still a pricey proposition, but it is $100 less expensive than the mid-tiered wood and aluminum option, bringing the price of admission down to a level where one could easily argue the return in investment in health is anything but a wobbly proposition.