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Hands on: FluidStance Original Level

When standing desks tire you out, this balance board puts you back on your feet

The first time you stand up to work, you feel like a champion. Maybe it’s because you tower over the rest of the office, or maybe just because you’re suddenly using more of the muscles in your body; but regardless of the reason, you feel like you can conquer the world when you first stand up.

But it only lasts for so long. Eventually your body starts complaining. Your feet start to hurt, your legs get tired, your back starts to ache — for one reason or another, you’ll eventually have to take a break. This is normal. Just because you’ve got a standing desk doesn’t mean you need to stand for eight hours straight every day. Eventually you’ll want to sit down for a bit.

After you’ve had a minute to recharge and legs start to feel like they’re ready for another round, you’ll stand up again. But this time you’re not going to last as long. You’ll get tired much faster during this round, and instead of sitting down, you’ll likely do what I do — shift your weight to give each leg a short break, or lean over a bit to stretch out your back.

This is, and has always been, one of my biggest problems with standing desks. If you’re standing using poor posture, or constantly shifting your weight, you’re not really doing your body any favors by standing up. Sitting might be the new smoking, but standing with your back in an awkward position isn’t much better — let alone resting all your weight on your joints.

Imbalance is good

That’s where The Level comes in. Recently launched on Indiegogo, it’s essentially a specialized, high-end balance board that’s purpose-built for standing desk users. Instead of allowing you to stand with bad posture, the board puts you on an uneven surface, which passively forces you to stand perfectly straight and use your core/leg muscles to stay balanced. I’m standing on one right now while I write this, and despite having my doubts about it initially, I’ve got to admit it’s pretty amazing.

I actually look forward to getting on my feet now.

I’m not sure if it’s by design or by accident, but whoever designed this thing absolutely nailed the recipe. Unlike balance boards designed for recreation or fitness (which are often oddly shaped, and far too wobbly for sustained productivity), the Level is right at the sweet spot of instability.

The bottom of the board isn’t the usual half-sphere that you have to struggle to balance on top of; it’s more of a gradual, gently curved bump that passively forces you to stand upright and keep your center of gravity in one place. As a result, The Level isn’t particularly difficult to balance on. It’s right at that Goldilocks level: just wobbly enough to engage your stabilization muscles, but not so wobbly that you’ve got to constantly focus on staying balanced.

You can feel the difference right away. Your legs get tired a little faster at first, since you’re using more muscle to keep yourself stable, but your posture stays perfect for the duration. After a couple weeks of use, I started to feel stronger and more composed while standing up — which ultimately made working upright more enjoyable.

That’s the unexpected benefit of the Level: I actually look forward to getting on my feet now that I’ve got it. The board is wiggly and playful enough that it’s actually pretty fun to stand on, which makes standing feel like less of a chore. You’d be surprised how much fun it is to whip 360’s and 540’s at your desk.

If you’re a standing desk user, we highly recommend you check this thing out. At $285, it’s certainly a bit on the spendy side, but if you’re like me and you find it difficult to maintain good standing posture for a sustained period of time, then The Level should definitely be on your radar.

Highs

  • Solid build quality
  • Attractive design
  • Fun to use
  • Encourages good posture

Lows

  • Expensive