I tested this unique balance board — and it made work feel more like skateboarding

A picture of the underside of a WhirlyBoard
(Image credit: Future)

It’s that time of the year again and instead of coming up with a New Year’s resolution that will be easy to give up on, I’ve decided to try and be more active in 2023. Sure, it’s a more general resolution, but because of that, it will be easier to stick to.

As someone who’s at the computer all day, this can be difficult as taking breaks is something we all forget to do. Even with one of the best standing desks, it can be hard to pull yourself out of your office chair and stand for a bit while working everyday. And you absolutely should since sitting all day has been proven to have a negative impact on your overall health.

This is why I treated myself to a new balance board that will help encourage me to stand more due to its unique, skateboard-shaped design. If it helps strengthen my core and improve my agility in the process, even better.

Taking the standing desk experience to the next level

Even if you’ve never stood while working before, there are several ways to try out the standing desk experience before you decide to go all in and pick one up for yourself.

For those who have been using a standing desk for a while though, many notice that their feet get sore which is why standing desk mats or anti-fatigue mats are so popular. However, some people don’t get sore at all, and decide they want a bit of an extra challenge while working at their standing desk. 

Although you can pick up one of the best under-desk treadmills so that you can walk while you work, this might be too much multitasking for those that have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. Fortunately, there are other ways to move your body while working at a standing desk that are less distracting.

A balance board underneath a standing desk

(Image credit: Future)

Back when I reviewed the Uplift V2 from Uplift Desk, it came with the company’s Bamboo Motion-X Board ($89 at Uplift Desk). Testing it out while reviewing the desk gave me my first taste of using a balance board with a standing desk.

Although Uplift Desk’s balance board did help engage my core and work on my balance while working, I just couldn’t help drawing comparisons to riding a skateboard. It let me wobble back and forth and even do the odd 180 here and there but it just didn’t offer the same degree of movement a skateboard would.

A novel take on a traditional balance board

While scouring Amazon for new standing desk mats and balance boards, I came across the WhirlyBoard ($149, Amazon). Unlike other balance boards, it’s actually shaped like a skateboard and in fact, it uses a standard 7-ply, maple skateboard deck.

A person standing on a WhirlyBoard

(Image credit: Future)

Besides its design, I was really intrigued by how the WhirlyBoard came to be in the first place. Its creator, Erik Olsen, grew up with board sports (just like I did) and after trying out both an Indo Board and a Bongo Board, he “felt limited and got bored with the 2 dimensional side to side action”. So Erik took it upon himself to design something better.

In an interview on his site, Erik explains that he made his first WhirlyBoard by cutting a bowling bowl in half and attaching it to the middle of the underside of a skateboard deck with sideways skateboard trucks on either end. It still wasn’t quite right though, so he recruited a friend and cut a couple of pool balls in half as well and affixed them to the nose and tail of his skateboard deck and thus — the WhirlyBoard was born.

Working now feels a lot more like skateboarding

What I really like about the ball at the center of the WhirlyBoard is its additional height. Compared to other balance boards, it's higher up and it really gives me the feeling of standing on a skateboard while working at the standing desk in my home office.

I’ve been using my new WhirlyBoard for the past week on and off while working and the difference compared to other balance boards is staggering. With a traditional balance board, you can lean to the left and to the right but you can’t lean back and forth. The larger size of the WhirlyBoard’s ball does let you do this and it really makes a difference as you can feel it in both the Achilles tendon above your heel and the tibialis anterior under your knee.

Working at a standing desk while using a WhirlyBoard

(Image credit: Future)

Although the WhirlyBoard has made my workday a bit more interesting, you can also use it for exercising. It’s great for working on your balance if you’re a skateboarder, snowboarder, wakeboarder or surfer but it can even be used like a push-up board if you want to practice your planks or engage some additional muscles when doing push ups.

For me though, just seeing it under my desk invokes a feeling of nostalgia that reminds me of that urge to go skate I had when I was a kid. So far, this alone has convinced me to get out of my chair, raise my desk up and stand while working as well as when playing games on my PC. If you’re looking for something to help you get a bit more active and you already have a standing desk, a WhirlyBoard might just be the next accessory you should add to your work from home setup.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.