By Crabby McSlacker
What exactly is a Pono Board? Do you surf on it? Fling it? Predict the future by letting ancient Hawaiian spirits telepathically move aqua-colored balls around on its sleek wooden surface until your destiny is revealed?
Nope, it's none of these things. A Pono Board is a kinder, gentler balance board that can be used to add a bit of instability to various exercises in a way that is mercifully unlikely to send you sprawling on your face in an ignominious heap of kluzitude.
According to The Pono People, it was designed to feel like a beach workout, actively engaging the core, but not too difficult.
But that's not why I eagerly agreed to acquire and review a springy thingy of my very own. (Disclaimer: I didn't pay for it). What was the reason?
The Pono Board is also designed to function as a stand-up desk accessory, yay!
Here's some more info and a verdict on how I like my Pono Board.
Pono Board for Your Stand-Up Workstation
We've all known for years now that extended periods of sitting are unhealthy. You need to get up sometimes, and it's probably best to vary sitting, standing, and moving around throughout your day. Do stand-up desks burn extra calories? Well, possibly, though my results weren't impressive. But it's still a smart thing to do.
So as long-time readers may recall, I have done a lot of DIY wild-ass experimentation with stand up workstations. I face two challenges: (1) I am a cheapskate and (2) we travel and move around a lot so I have to be flexible about where to stick my stuff.
An incredibly ugly photo review of some of my stand-up workstations to demonstrate just how low tech one can possibly go? Sure why not!
Just for a couple days. Keyboard obviously wrong height.
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So yeah, it's possible to create a standing desk in a lot of settings, but getting a monitor and keyboard and some usuable workspace at the right height is challenging. But there's a further complication to contend with:
Standing up frozen in the same position for long periods of time isn't good for you either. Various body parts will object. Plus: varicose veins.
A few years back, I actually invented my own budget DIY solution to the problem of how to incorporate instability into a stand up workstation. Behold, the teeter board!
But I'd often forget to shift my weight enough to tip it, and standing slanted in the same position for long periods is even dumber than standing level, so eventually it fell out of favor.
So this winter I've shifted office locations yet again, and have a couple of other different set-ups that I figured could benefit with some some lower body instability.
This, as you can tell by the professional photography, man hands, and respectable office footwear, is not one of them:
No, I'm afraid my workstations would never make a magazine feature.
Not much cooking happening anyway so why not?
View From Above
So, now that I've dragged this whole thing out with a bunch of gratuitous blurry pictures, here's what I thought:
I love my Pono Board! It makes a great ergonomic addition to a stand up desk and I'd highly recommend it.
You can change settings by inflating or deflating the balls to make it more or less tippy. My setting is on pretty gentle, and unfortunately due to a shipping snafu I'm still awaiting a pump to attempt a more challenging experience. But I really like standing on a springy mobile platform while working. The motion is mostly horizontal, so you're in no danger of falling, yet you can still get some front-to-back tilting going if you feel like it. It allows you to move around gently while you work, and subtly engages your core, but it's not the least bit distracting if you're trying to concentrate. Even though the bamboo is hard, the bouncy balls underneath give it a very cushiony sort of feel overall.
It's handy too for adding little micro-exercise challenges to a work day: standing on one foot, doing a few leg lifts here and there, that sort of thing. Otherwise it's all too easy to feel pissy and resentful about adding balance exercises to our busy schedules no matter how crucial they may become as we age.
I'm really glad I have my Pono Board now, and will definitely be taking it back with me when we switch coasts again in a few months.
One further evolution I'd like to see? An option for a smaller board. For those of us who aren't all that tall and don't need quite as much width, something a little sleeker would fit better into existing workspaces.
The Pono Board for Cardio, Yoga, Rehab, and Strength Training?
So, um yeah, about that.
Can I say again how thrilled I am with the stand-up workstation aspect, and that I love slipping some balance challenges in while working? Because I'm afraid I haven't done much with the board outside of workday use as far as exercising.
This is not the board's fault. I don't really do a lot of work with instability and don't have a lot of imagination. Doing pushups off the board didn't feel all that different than doing them off the floor, but again, that might be different if I just had bigger balls. (On the BOARD, ok? And I'm sure I will have gigantic balls when Amazon gets its act together and the pump arrives.)
But I can see there could be a lot of potential for doing all kinds of exercise on it.
I'm thinking for all the reasons one might want to work with a Bosu ball or other unstable surfaces but find them a little too unstable, a Pono Board would be perfect. Or, if you use a low stepper as part of your cardio routine, you could add some gentle instability by subbing out the Pono.
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Part of the challenge too is that this is a brand new product, and as attractive as the Pono Ola Website is, they don't have vast resources yet for hooking one up with yoga or strength training or balance exercises that would make this feel indispensable. I'm sure that's probably coming. Also in the works: "We’re creating accredited classes for certified trainers and yogis. We’re creating ‘Moments of peace and relaxation’ videos for work and home, so we can breathe life back into our bodies and minds." So I'm thinking if they're designing classes, these will have exercises in them, and hopefully some will appear on their website.
So, are you tempted? How about a special Cranky Fitness Pono Board Discount?
Fifteen Percent Off: Very Centering.
Here's the link to save fifteen percent on your Pono Board order: cranky15 (and please do let me know if it doesn't work for some reason).
Do any of you stand up to work, or do any sort of balance/instability challenges? Are you naturally balanced and graceful or are you klutzy like me?