Category “Personal Stories”
One of my favorite parts of my job is traveling to trade shows and conference where attendees can visit our booth and sit on a swopper for the first time. Seeing their expression after that first moment of bouncing, tilting and swaying on a swopper is priceless.
Here are the four most common first reactions I see people have with the swopper.
“This chair is so fun to sit on!”
I can honestly say every time I’ve witnessed someone sit on a swopper for the first time, their immediate reaction is a BIG SMILE followed by “this is fun!” Often we’ll hear that the movement of the swopper reminds them of their childhood toys – think pogo stick, hippity hop, jump rope, wagons, rocking horses, and wobble boards (all the toys that kept us moving as children).
“There are a lot of health benefits to the swopper, huh?”
Other times, people’s immediately focus when sitting on the swopper is the fact that they are working their core and their back posture is feeling better and that this “fun” item could actually be a very beneficial health and wellness tool – one they could incorporate anywhere (office or home).
When I’m dealing with chiropractors or others within the healthcare industry, they can pretty much assume what the swopper will be doing before they even sit on it. Yet again…they even get the BIG SMILE.
“This chair looks so unique.”
Sometimes people’s first reaction is solely based on the look of the swopper. It’s as if it’s some alien device, and they aren’t sure how to approach it. However, once you explain how it moves and gently prod them to give it a try….wait, here it comes…the BIG SMILE happens once again!
The swopper is definitely a conversation piece and the design alone commands attention.
“My kids would love this.”
The fourth impression I’m receiving more of these days is coming from parents. Parents with kids who love to play video games…for hours! Yes, our kids choices of toys has changed dramatically these days. Unfortunately for many, these video games are taking the place of all the active physical fun things we should be encouraging.
Enter swopper. Parents are looking at swopper with the thought “If they are going to be sitting for hours playing video games, lets at least put them on a swopper, which would encourage them to move while playing.
And yes, I’ve seen young adults try swopper and again….a BIG SMILE!!
The bottom line is … Swopper = Fun = 🙂
If you’d like to give a swopper a try and experience that BIG SMILE yourself, we are offering free returns through October 9. No risk, no hassle, just pure fun.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
When people hear the story of how the idea for swopper came to be, I often get asked (as its inventor), “How did you get the idea to combine motion with sitting?”
I tell them that it all comes back to what I know to be true as an engineer. If you look up the definition of engineering you’ll see it’s “the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, design, build, maintain and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.”
When I was working on swopper for five years in my garage … yes you read that right, my garage! I wanted to focus on bringing scientific AND social/practical knowledge together to create a chair that truly supports the human body.
I knew to accomplish this, we had to examine the central issue with sitting and create a paradigm shift. In a conventional seat, your body has to adapt to the shape and movements the chair allows for – mostly synchro – mechanic. Our goal was to create chairs that adapts to and follows your natural body movement, as that seemed much more natural.
In our whole evolution we never have been fixed and immobile like we are now, stuck behind a desk all day. Our whole body was optimized for movement, through natural selection, over hundred thousands of years.
Since our ancestors raised their bodies and started to walk on two legs instead of four, we have had to keep equilibrium. Our vestibular system developed together with the brain, and we know a good functioning vestibular system is essential for the good functioning of the brain.
When creating the swopper, we “copied” from evolution the 3 dimensional movement and need to have to keep equilibrium. With swopper, you are sitting in an unstable equilibrium, as the pivot point of the chair is below your seat. Thus your body has constantly to adjust the equilibrium slightly. This keeps you alert, like in nature, where you have to react permanently to all kind of influences. Your cognitive performance increases and you burn more calories.
So you see, while a great deal of work and science went into creating the swopper, in reality the answer to the issue of sitting and health has been apparent since the beginning of time. Humans are meant to move, and the swopper is the natural way to meld our body’s basic needs with the demands of a modern life.
As an engineer and human, I’m proud that swopper is the perfect combination of science and evolution.
~Josef Glockl, swopper Inventor
Whenever we introduce swopper or one of our other motion seating chairs to someone for the first time, we usually get asked “who thought of this idea?” It’s a question we love to answer, because the story behind the creation of the swopper is genuine, authentic and explains exactly why there is so much passion behind this chair.
The story begins in Germany in 1997. Josef Glockl, a renowned engineer, was spending long days in his office … sitting. Like so many others at the time, Josef used a traditional office chair to do his sitting and pretty soon the negative affects crept in. Despite being active in the evenings through sports, Josef started to suffer with lower back pain, just like 80% of the population in Germany did.
While others suffering from back pain may turn to medications, Josef had a secret weapon to help in his quest to solve his pain … his wife. It was lucky for him, and in the end for so many other people, that Josef’s wife is a renowned physiotherapist and osteopath. Dorothea Prodinger-Glockl knew exactly why Josef was having issues … Josef was sitting far too much.
Dorothea knew that the fact that the majority of the population has a daily pattern of static sitting goes against all of human beings natural patterns of movement. As hunter and gatherer, the human being is made for walking, running, bending and stretching etc. This is good because from the start of man’s history, surviving has involved intensive movement.
But, then came the problem – hours of sitting started to become the predominant activity of the human being. This leads to numerous disorders and at the top of the list – BACK PROBLEMS!!
Together, Josef and Dorothea set out to create a chair that would allow Josef to conduct his work, while remaining active. And so grew the idea of a seat that makes movement possible while sitting and in fact actively encourages movement.
The road from vision to success was long and hard. Years of expensive development work (paid out of his own pocket), the search for a designer competent enough to tackle the unique challenge of technology and form along with the inevitable struggle through bureaucratic red tape.
Josef battled on. He founded the company aeris gmbh, found a backer and a young designer, who helped bring his and Dorothea’s dream into a reality. The first chair to be completed was the swopper, the 3 dimensional active seat. National and international awards and recognition soon followed the introduction of swopper in 1997, with scientific tests and medical reports. Josef Glockl’s perseverance and his belief in his invention were finally paying off.
Then came the muvman, a variable height sit to stand active stool. Most recently introduced is the 3Dee Active-Office-Chair, which takes all the great features of the swopper, and adds some new ones, taking the active sitting philosophy more mainstream.
Success stories in the furniture industry have become rare; even rarer when coupled with genuine innovation. Josef Glockl has managed to achieve both. He has revolutionized sitting with his inventions while achieving true cutting edge innovation.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
The Swopper staff has one thing in common … our love for what we do. We all feel lucky to work for a company that is on the forefront of health and wellness in the workplace. We thought it would be nice to let you, our faithful blog readers, get to know some of our team through a “Swopper staff spotlight” each month.
Kicking off our first staff spotlight is warehouse manager Derrick Mastalka.
What can I say about Derrick? He is literally the person who keeps our company moving along by handling all the workload of prepping our chairs for shipment out to customers across the country. While most of us are working at our computer, Derrick is working hands on with the chairs to ensure they’re perfect when our customers open the box.
Derrick says his favorite part of his job working in the Swopper warehouse is finding out that he has done well with his part of the process. Our team is a big interconnected network, and Derrick knows that if one part of the process goes awry, the whole thing crumbles.
Derrick also does our custom Swoppers, which is when we embroider a special message or logo onto a chair. These types of orders take a lot of precision and attention, which shows in the work Derrick does. Here’s Derrick hard at work on a custom Swopper.
In his spare time, Derrick can be found tearing up the hills doing what he loves most- off-roading on his 4×4. Just don’t get too close; he works hard and plays harder! During the work-week though, you can find him decompressing by passing the time challenging others in the world of online gaming.
We’re thankful that Derrick is part of our team here at Swopper. We all know we can rely on him 100% to bring the highest level of customer service to every part of his job. Thanks, Derrick!
Stay tuned for another post featuring one of our awesome Swopper staff members.
~ Jenn Lytle, Director of Customer Service and Social Marketing
Working with swopper.com is very special to me. Our company is very passionate about delivering great products that improve peoples’ health and wellness at work. This is something we all care about deeply. For me it is especially important, because I have experienced this first hand.
Here’s my story:
In my early teens I was diagnosed with Kyphosis. This is best described as a curve in the spine.
I came very close to having a full spinal fusion at that time, which is surgery to join, or fuse, two or more vertebrae. Spinal fusion is considered major surgery. Thankfully the specialist I was referred to recommended a combination of physical therapy and a back cast instead, so I dodged a bullet.
The condition never got in my way or limited my activities growing up. In school and college I was very active in sports and the like. When I graduated from college I started my career in retail banking. The nature of my work required me to sit in an office chair for extended periods during the day. I found at the end of my workday my back was sore, tired and it was difficult for me to stand completely upright.
Fast forward about eight years later; a friend of mine who happened to be a chiropractor, introduced me to swopper. He was very passionate about what the chair could do, and suggested that I give it a try. I remember thinking it looked cool, and so I sat on it. That moment literally changed my life!
I immediately, within seconds of sitting, felt incredible relief in my spine. Even better, for the first time in my adult life, I had no back pain! I describe the pain I had experienced as a little gray cloud, not debilitating by any means, but just a nagging consciousness of discomfort more so than anything. I had become resigned to it. But when I sat on swopper that day, my little gray cloud went ‘puff’. I was immediately conscious of not having pain. I will never forget it!
This experience was a turning point in my life. I immediately realized that what happened to me was incredible, and then I thought, “This could help other people too.” Long story short, I became an advocate for Swopper and went on the road telling my story.
I began to research low back pain (LBP) and found that LBP was the second most common reason for an American to see a healthcare professional. I also discovered that 75% of Americans were required to sit at work. To me these facts were directly linked. With more research, I discovered that poor posture while sitting is one of the main causes of LBP. Then the penny dropped! I realized I only became conscious of my back pain when I started my career and started sitting all day. I was in an office and I was sitting, most likely in poor postures with no reason to get up and move. No wonder I had pain!
So why did swopper help me?
1. It corrected my posture. The bounce (vertical motion) immediately corrected my spine and put it into a neutral position. The combination of the convex seat shape and the forward tilt allowed my pelvis to rotate forward. This allowed me to stay in that neutral posture very easily as a result.
2. I had no back support with Swopper. This meant I had to support myself in an upright position. This made me engage my core muscles and therefore condition and train these muscles around my correct posture. This had a long-term benefit of improving my posture even when I was not sitting on swopper, because when I was sitting I was exercising and getting stronger.
The best part of all was that I was doing this unconsciously. I mean I didn’t have to think about it, I didn’t have to adjust anything, I just had to sit on Swopper.
3. All of the movement; bouncing, forward tilt and lateral movement was intuitive. If I moved it moved with me. I couldn’t sit still for long as it encouraged me to move. This movement kept me from being static, it kept me from locking up or feeling stiff. I always felt that way when I sat in an office chair.
As a result of this experience, I developed a need to learn more and became a certified ergonomist. Now I have the opportunity to share my experience but also help educate others on the healthful benefits of swopper.
My main message for those considering using swopper – Try it! Even if you don’t have back pain, it will prevent you from getting it. At the very least, it will change the way you work and change the way you think about how you work. But who knows, it could very well change your life too!
Nora Fenlon – CAE