By Mason Gilmour-Platt, Rooboard inventor and Surfgym Founder
I have been obsessed with exercise for as long as I can remember. I studied it and worked in the industry. By 2011 I had become focused on balance and stability training. This was partly because of my love for surfing and my need to maintain fitness for it but also because of the freedom that functional exercise brought me in both body and mind. When things were going well it was because of the shape I was in and when things weren’t going well, exercise would pull me out of the slump.
This video shows me mucking around with some of the equipment I used to stay in shape.
I then started to share my fitness class with others and started teaching a class I called Surfgym. I taught Surfgym once a week after I had finished work for the day. Initially aimed at surfers it soon spread as a class for those who wanted to improve their balance and stability.
But there was a problem. I used a huge amount of equipment. This equipment was heavy and difficult to transport. For someone who is conscious of their carbon footprint I was having to use taxis or hire cars to move my equipment around London. Then a larger problem arose. I was losing my love for exercise. I had lost the sense of freedom that exercise used to bring to me. I was worried about the class, how I would transport the equipment, what exercise I would perform and the repetition of the exercises.
I concluded that I needed to use less equipment, ideally only one or two pieces that could be easily transported by the participants and I needed to introduce more variety to the exercises.
After searching for months and trying many more different pieces of equipment I could not find what I needed. That was when I decided to make it myself.
I wrote down five design requirements for my conceptual fitness product:
- It had to replicate the exercises performed on many different pieces of equipment
- It had to be small enough to carry in a day bag and fit in a desk drawer in the office
- It had to be comfortable in order to be used from the hands, feet, forearms and for seated exercises
- It had to promote fitness freedom and must not damage indoor flooring
- It had to increase the intensity of bodyweight exercises to shorten workout durations
I made the first prototypes using wood and scrap EVA foam I had sourced. I then found a CAD designer using Freelancer and had the initial design drawings done. From these I had a 3D model printed.
The 3D model highlighted the flaws in my initial design. With the help of my CAD designer we strengthened the design, adjusted the concave indentations for the EVA balance pads and indented the deck grip into the design. With this the deck was completed.
I then experiment with different densities of EVA foam to find the correct hardness for the balance pads. Too hard and the deck would bounce on the pads, too soft and it would fail to wobble in order to create the instability.
Once I found this sweet spot I had a demo made and tested it on friends and family. It worked. I am still using Rooboard #1 today and have sold almost 1500 Rooboards to core stability and balance enthusiasts all over the world. In this video I highlight some of the design features.
The Rooboard has made a big difference in my life. I have produced something that can help other people improve their physical wellbeing which is what I am most proud off. I also got my fitness freedom back, my functional fitness and core stability is at an all time high. I have also decluttered my exercise cupboard. One single piece of equipment now stands proudly where there used to be several.