Most — if not all — people in the industry agree balance training is vital to a healthy fitness regimen.
We’ve written about many of the products available for this purpose, and now a new company called Modern Movement is bringing a dynamic balance training option to the market, the Mboard.
Modern Movement was founded by Glenn Polinsky, whose background is in product design. Though he initially focused on furniture, home accessories and medical equipment, he’s shifted his focus to fitness products over the past few years. Formerly of Johnson Health Tech, where he designed products for LiveStrong, Horizon and AFG, Polinsky developed the Mboard after making more than 50 plywood prototypes. Snowboarders and other athletes tested the final prototype before the team went on to find funding for the company.
We caught up with Modern Movement’s Micky Schlagel, formerly of Colorado-based retailer Health Styles, about the new company, its mission and why balance training is so vital to being fit.
Schlagel, who was a college athlete at Mesa State University, likens balance training to stretching: It’s good for you, everybody knows they should do it, but few people engage in it.
“Balance training is important because it is an element of fitness that can complement the more traditional areas of strength and cardio,” Schlagel said. “It's an issue of strength and flexibility that should not be ignored. Better balance will have different benefits to different people.”
Check out the Mboard in motion in this video.
How did the idea for your products come about?
Actually, the idea for a market direction came first. It seemed that functional fitness was where the market was going, and within that category there wasn’t a lot of innovation in regard to balance training. So we started by focusing on that category. Then it was a lot of trial and error. We probably built 50 or 60 plywood prototypes, testing out different ideas. It also involved a lot of fine-tuning. One of the goals was to create movements that somewhat replicated movements in balance sports. This meant exploring three-dimensional movement.
Tell us about the founders' backgrounds:
Glenn (Polinsky) has a degree in product design and has been developing products for about 20 years — everything from furniture and home accessories to medical equipment. He has taught college-level design courses, and his work has won numerous design awards. For the past several years his focus has been on fitness products. He was lead designer at Johnson Health Tech, designing large cardio equipment for brands such as LiveStrong, Horizon, and AFG. Prior to founding Modern Movement he was director of design and product development at Lifeline USA, which makes innovative functional fitness accessories.
Tell us about your products:
Modern Movement offers the next generation in balance training products. Traditional balance products were mostly either two-dimensional or static. We have designed and patented premium products that let users mimic natural movements, by combining three-dimensional balance with motion. You get on them, you move and you adjust to the motion.
What are the top features of your product?
At the top of the list, I would say balance-training products that actually mimic functional balance in all directions. The exciting thing we are seeing on the fitness side is the number of exercises you can do while actually on, for example, the Mboard, that improve the exercises you would normally be doing by forcing your muscles, tendons, etc. to really isolate and stabilize. Muscles are working harder, which means more calories burned. A perfect example is a push up on the Mboard. You can do a straight push up while balancing in all dimensions, and then push the board to one side with palms of hands still on board, in plank position, and then do a push up.
What makes this product different from others, like the Bongo Board?
In my view there are two key differences. First, on the M-Board you are doing weight-shifts with each cycle. You lean to your left, push off while remaining over the ball, and then land on your right. This side-to-side movement is more of a rebounding force similar to what you do in skiing. This differs from a Bongo Board, where the main goal is to find your equilibrium in the middle. It is more of a pendulum movement, but does not involve the pushing off, weight transfer and landing. The second key difference is that on the Mboard you have more three-dimensional instability, and are able to do more three-dimensional movements such as turns. It is a very versatile piece.
You said you were creating some good momentum throughout the country; what's the reason for that momentum?
Customers are always looking for what is new, cool, challenging and exciting in our industry. Specialty stores are known for being the place to go to to find what is new and cool out there, and companies realize this. Products like ours (and many others, of course) help attract customers into stores, and also gives stores something to get excited about selling. We have been lucky enough to have the chance to work with people and companies that see our vision, something that is very exciting for us going forward.
Tell us about the significance of the green track on top of the Mboard?
This track is where the custom-made medicine ball moves within. Being that it is moving within the track, the ball will never slide out, so the board will never shoot out from under you. It is safe and effective. The medicine balls are also completely detachable from the board, so you can do various exercises with just the ball alone of course.