If only my clients didn’t have to go back to the office after their workouts, they would progress so much faster. So much of their hard work is undone when they return to their body-destroying workstations. My ‘office dweller’ workouts always include what I now call a ‘corrective component’ where we spend a good 10 minutes on chest opening exercises and back mobilizers just to undo the hours of sitting, hunching and straining at the computer. While ergonomic interventions can do a world of good, we are just not meant to sit for extended periods of time.
Knowing the body’s response to sitting for extended periods, I am always on the lookout for active sitting solutions to extend my clients commitment to their healthy and active lifestyle beyond the gym. However, I am usually met with laughs (for good reason) when I propose a ‘stay active while you work’ plan. The stationary cycle beside the desk never caught on, and the software program that hijacks your computer every 45 minutes to encourage you to walk around or perform your neck stretches has always met with a quick ‘uninstall’. Even more creative are the ‘back saving’ strategies shared by clients, such as the lounging lawnchair tucked in the corner of the office and pulled out for midday naps, or the ‘laying on the office floor during long phone calls’ strategy.
Recently my interest was peaked by a company whose ‘story’ seems to resonate with my clients sitting woes. ‘Energy, ideas and well-being are released through variation and movement’ is a statement I would expect to see on a fitness or wellness brochure, yet it serves as the principle on which furniture company VARIÉR® has built its unique sitting concept.
Scandinavian in design (Peter Opsvik) and boasting a 26-year time-test, VARIÉR’s Gravity Balans chair (shown above) claims to offer relaxers a sitting experience that is’ probably the closest you will ever get to achieving zero gravity’. For taskers, the Gravity Balans supports reclined computing and claims to ‘continuously and effectively support the body’s natural impulses to movement’ throughout all seated working requirements.
For my discerning clientele with Eames and Le Corbusier accented homes and offices, VARIÉR’s bold designs (and environmental stewardship) are worth exploring and might just be the inspired healthy sitting solution we seek.
“The ‘living’ human is in a relationship with his chair that supports his natural, and thus healthy activities and doesn’t interfere with them. Human and chair form one unit. The natural rhythmic accumulation and release of stress, which is important for the “whole person”, is no longer hindered but rather supported – continually and effectively.”
Federal working group on the development of posture and exercise e.V., Wiesbaden, Germany – May 2008
Rethinking sitting (Designer Peter Opsviks’ animated and interactive discussion on active sitting. Recommended!)