We all know how the first week of snowboarding season goes — after weeks of checking snow reports and dreaming about powder, you get up to the hill only to discover your legs aren’t in the shape they were eight months ago. Your quads ache, your ankles burn, and after three runs your legs are toast. As snowboarders, historically we’ve tried to fight this scenario with various pre-season workout regimens — riding bikes, running stairs, or doing the much-dreaded “leg blasters.”
By far, the best method is balance board; however, these tend to be stiff, cumbersome, and sometimes dangerous. If you’ve ever tried one of the bulky wooden devices, you know they love to shoot out from under your feet, fly across the room, and take out a small chunk of wall. They’re difficult for beginners and only perform well if you’re already fairly agile, to begin with. Most people spend the whole time struggling not to fall off, accomplishing virtually nothing fitness-wise.
Kumo offers a balanced way forward
Thankfully, a brand-new invention called the Kumo Board set out to solve these exact issues plaguing balance boards. The patent-pending device is essentially an inflatable version of the traditional hard boards but with more options for mobility and use. The idea is to make it safer, more versatile, and easier to learn. After spending several weeks playing around on it, we can say confidently it’s a game-changer for pre-season snowboarding fitness.
The inflatable version allows for static balance so you can hold poses and really dig in.
With built-in rocker, the lightweight board is made from drop-stitch PVC — the same material inflatable stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are made of. This creates an ultra-durable, firm, resilient toy you don’t have to be afraid to toss around and really use. The solid material also delivers stellar grip, so you can play with it on virtually any surface, be it carpeting, hardwood floors, linoleum, pavement, or even hard-packed sand — it also makes for a killer surfing trainer.
A layer of embossed EVA padding on the top offers traction, as well as a comfy spot if you want to use it outside as a small seat. It also has handy, portable carry-straps, which double as attachments for resistance bands and lets you pack it in a suitcase for convenient hotel room workouts.
A smoother, customized ride
Unlike wooden or plastic balance boards which only offer dynamic, nose-to-tail movement, the suppleness of the Kumo lets you create heel-to-toe motions as well, helping you build ankle muscles that are critical to carving turns, absorbing shock, and traversing long, flat stretches of terrain. While regular balance boards must be kept in constant motion, the inflatable version allows for static balance so you can hold poses and really dig in. This is a more effective way of targeting micro-muscles and it also improves general skills like proprioception and spatial awareness.
One of the perks that make the Kumo Board really unique is that has a variety of settings. It comes straight out of the box with two options for balancing — a cushioned disc and a standard roller. The cushioned disc is easier while the roller is harder and, depending on how much air you put in each device, you can dramatically change the difficulty levels.
For instance, if you start with the board blown up but not balanced on anything, you can get a feel for how it moves. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can then put it on top of the cushion but only inflate it with a few pumps of air. As you get better, you can gradually increase the amount of air to ratchet up the challenge. Once you’ve mastered the cushion, then comes the roller where you’d repeat the same process. Advanced riders can use it to practice spins, bunny hops, and other snowboarding and skateboarding tricks.
What steep learning curve?
This whole progression, combined with the fact it’s lower to the ground, makes the Kumo far less intimidating for your average person and much safer. You’re less likely to fall and when you do, it doesn’t hurt as much. It’s kid-friendly and more practical for indoor use since it won’t ding furniture or put dents on the wall. In contrast to wooden boards, you can to ease into training, catering workouts to your particular skill level. As a bonus, the device easily rolls up so it can be taken to the gym, or tucked away for more compact storage.
A variety of uses
The Kumo Board is also compatible with tilt-based cell phone apps such as “Snowboard Racing Ultimate” or other board sport games. Simply place your phone in the middle of the board and sync it with your big screen TV. The slick board can then be played like a Nintendo Wii, as the Kumo provides great accuracy while also being several degrees more challenging.
Lastly, the Kumo features a staggering number of secondary uses. While standard balance boards have a singular purpose — board sports training — the Kumo works as a general fitness accessory for building core strength, balance, and agility — somewhat similar to a Bosu ball. The company even created a YouTube video outlining dozens of exercises including squats, presses, planks, plyometrics, and weighted ball exercises. Additionally, it can be used as a yoga block, a physical therapy tool, a standing desk cushion, a boogey board, a pool toy, and a massage roller.
The Kumo retails for $199 and you can inflate it with any bike pump or purchase the add-on pump for an extra $49.