Well… this sucks…
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We all want to be outdoors shredding some powder or being in a park (trying not to break our bones) but we just can’t do anything other than stay at home.
So, what else can we do?
I am not an athletic person; I love wakeboarding, snowboarding, and skateboarding but it’s not like you’ll find me at the gym that often (or ever, since June!). So for me, all the home-workouts I find are not really an option, although I do force myself to try them – at least the ones aimed at better “board performance”.
So, what to do? I found ONE solution for me. To be honest, it was just an excuse to do something that I already wanted to try anyway. I bought an indoboard.
Before we go on, I just want to introduce myself:
My name is Matteo.
I am from Italy and I am the founder of OUTBND: a social network for extreme sports and adventures (now beta-testing). Writing this article for me is an amazing opportunity to connect and interact with this community, as I literally just decided to make a living (hopefully one day) out of it.
But let’s get back to what you actually came here for…
What is an indoboard?
Well first of all “indoboard” is a genericization, meaning that is the name of a brand that’s now commonly used to refer to the product type (like “bic” for pens or “pink lady” for some apples).
You can also find this board under different names: wobble board, trick board and balance board are the ones I see most often. Prices range between $85 and $160 (I also found one specific for snowboarders with bindings that costs up to $300).
It seems to come in many shapes and sizes, among which some resemble:
- A skimboard
- A wakeboard
- A skateboard
- A V-split shortboard
I’m a beginner, so I honestly think that for my level there’s close to no difference. So I didn’t spend too much time researching the difference (if you know more about it, feel free to let us know in the comments).
I chose one that would look good in my living room when I am not using it. And as superficial as it may seem, remember: you are staying in the house 24/7 now, so you want something that will fit in.
One thing that I found being REALLY important however is the “stopper”, otherwise known as the two pieces of wood on the nose and tail that stop the board from completely slipping away. I didn’t realize this until I tried the board on its own and almost killed myself when it rolled super quickly to the tail and, if it wasn’t for the stopper, I’d have ended up with my head inside the TV.
How do you start on an indoboard?
Take my words for what they are: the first-hand experience of a beginner.
To make it easy I’ll say it this way: IF you already have experience on a board, go to step 2; otherwise, start from step 1.
Step 1 – Being on a board (be that a surf, wake, skate, snow or kiteboard) always has the same principles:
Keep your shoulders parallel to the board and your core perpendicular.
Be aware of your “driving” (or leading) foot and your “resting” foot.
Resting foot is where the weight is, most of the time, in the “back” (powder snowboard, surfing, wakeboard, kitesurf), but in some instances (in-slope snowboard) it’s the same as the driving foot, as it helps you pick up speed. If you’re familiar with skateboarding, it’s the foot that you’d use to push yourself up.
Driving foot is usually in the front; it primarily helps direct the board but is occasionally used to increase speed by nose-diving.
NOTE: The movement is created by the movement of your hips/pelvis while keeping your core steady. To find your driving foot, there are a couple of fun ways; the one they used on me when I was a kid involved someone pushing you from behind. Technically the first foot you put down to avoid falling will be your leading/driving foot.
Use the board’s 4 areas: nose, heelside, tail, and toeside.
Step 2 – Getting on the indoboard
Put the board with the nose up, the roll somewhere a little over the middle and set your resting foot on the tail to prevent the board from moving. The first time you get on this board, you’ll probably discover you’re one of two types:
The Reckless (like me): They put the board too high on the roller. When putting the front foot on, they immediately have a sense of “oh wow I’m up!” just short enough to get hyped, then realizing — well, too late – that they need to balance back and end up getting launched to the front. For the Reckless, the stoppers I mentioned earlier will be the difference between the head through the wall and just a scare.
The Cautious: They put the board too low on the roller. When putting the front foot on, they most likely start wondering “why!! Why is it not working!!!”, well the answer is: your weight is completely over the roller and the board won’t balance. To get out of this situation, you’d most likely have to start jumping to the side a couple of cm at a time and eventually find the right height to start balancing.
Generally speaking, I’d say that the roller should be at one-third of the board (two thirds from the tail).
How to balance on an indoboard
I’m no pro at this, so take my suggestion with a pinch of salt.
I used to like physics and I like to rationalize stuff, so I tried to come up with a reasonable explanation of why some stuff works and some other don’t. I won’t bore you too much with the “whys” (who’s to say it would be correct, either) but rather give you my findings — and please do let us know in the comments if they helped at all!
Imagine you’re a triangle (the board is the base, your head is the vertex).
The only way for a triangle to balance on a circle is if the centers are aligned. This means that you need to evenly distribute your weight. This mental image helped me a lot.
Of course, for the second triangle to balance, the triangle would have to move to the left, so that the centres align again.
The quicker the movement, the less control you have.
This goes for both the strength you are putting into the movement and the balance of the weight distribution. Take it easy.
Don’t focus on the board.
Focus on your body. Your body will always let you know if is out of balance. You feel it.
Play with your balance.
Once you can balance a little, purposely go out of balance to help you better understand how your body and the board react to extreme cases.
I tend to do snowboard exercise on the nose-dive (so weight to the back of the board and purposely trying to push the board with the nose down).
Put music on and just try to enjoy it and envision yourself being out there in a wave or shredding through a powder-covered forest.
Don’t underestimate the strain it puts on your legs.
If you do it for a while, you are putting constant tension on your legs. Take a rest if they start feeling wobbly.
As you progress, you may want to start testing a different stance, like keeping your feet closer together or turning them towards the front. I also started trying to squat and lunge (good luck with that).
Final words on balance boards for beginners
As soon as the indoboard arrived, I was afraid I had made a bad decision. I was immediately wondering whether I was going to use it at all, but it quickly became my favourite activity of the day.
I wake up and do a couple of minutes on it just to start off the day. When I have a work call (don’t tell my boss), and I don’t need to look at the screen I’m easily just chilling on the board and listening in. Whenever I feel like I need a break: I go to the board.
This has been a really fun addition to my quarantine, it’s a new little challenge every day (now trying to learn a 180) and it makes me want to push my limits so that when the world will be explorable again, I’ll have some new skills to bring with me!