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
As a CEO, I feel it’s my job to not only drive the business goals and objectives, but to provide a healthy, stimulating workplace where my employees can thrive. Ultimately, for me, the goal of the office environment is to support a productive, energized, and motivated team.
One of the main ways to accomplish this goal is to have a healthy team. It’s no surprise that a healthy, energized team is also a productive team. The way I see it, health and wellness are the new “Green,” as productivity goes hand in hand with healthy habits and a healthy work environment.
At swopper.com we care about the health and wellness of the individual and see this as the key to creating a productive work environment. While corporations are focusing on providing healthy options for employees, like organic lunches, discounted gym memberships and access to outdoor areas, one thing routinely ignored is the actual office set up.
Employees are given cubicles and standard office chairs to spend 8+ hours in a day. They sit in front of a computer for long stretches, straining both their eyes and their backs. All this sitting leads to weak muscles, poor circulation and of course, lowered productivity.
Think about it, when do you feel you are working your best? When you are energized and moving? Or when you are stationary for prolonged amounts of time? The improved circulation from movement provides mental clarity, improved mood and better focus.
One way you can have an immediate impact on your employee’s productivity is through the use of an ergonomic motion-seating chair, like the swopper, Muvman or 3Dee. When fully utilized, these chairs fight the “Sitting Disease” and all the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
The movement, day-after-day, week-after-week, that these chairs encourage, have a cumulative positive affect on your health and wellness. At the end of the day you feel more refreshed, less fatigued, and ready for what comes next. Both your team and the company benefits as the productivity and overall health of your team improve.
To find out more about how you can provide your team with motion seating options, contact us at 1.855.272.5074.
~Chas Hepler, CEO
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
The office is one of the last bastions of conformity. Most often, the workforce is tied to the corporate identity, leaving little room for individuality. Outwardly, this can be seen as everyone sitting in the same type of chair, in the same cubicle set up, with the same desk. It is part of the company culture they say. It allows everyone to be treated the same. It is supposed to support harmony, avoid distractions, and enable everyone to focus.
But does it? We all have different work styles. Some prefer absolute silence in order to concentrate, while others like to listen to music. Some like to move, bounce and tap their feet while concentrating, while others sit completely still. Some like to work alone without distractions of their peers, while others benefit from bouncing ideas off coworkers.
At some of today’s most innovative companies, like Google and Apple, individuality in the workplace is supported and employees are given a plethora of options within the workplace to drive productivity. These options include, wifi enabled shuttle buses, coffee shop-types of lunchrooms were you can work all day, hobby rooms, quiet rooms, and even bars where coworkers can mingle. All these are attempts to adapt to employees individual work styles and work preferences.
At Swopper, we want to take this a step further. Even in companies lucky enough to have the kind of themed work areas listed above, employees still end up spending a lot of time at their desks in front of a computer. At the desk is where we need options, flexibility, and the freedom to choose what we are going to sit on for 8 hours a day. This is where a real difference in productivity is made.
We see an opportunity to help companies work with employees to customize their workspace to improve wellbeing and productivity. Swopper and Muvman provide healthy, productive, fun, and comfortable seating solutions that meet the needs of every type of worker, including those that prefer a traditional office chair with more movement, a height adjustable stool for a stand up desk set up, a light stool that can travel with them around to various rooms and on and on.
In addition to helping provide staff with options for how they want to sit during the day, motion-seating chairs like Swopper and Muvman, provide health and wellness benefits that increase productivity, lower insurance claims and make for happier employees.
Everyone likes to choose and have the freedom to decide what they are going to sit on for 8 plus hours a day, so maybe it’s time for more cutting edge companies to encourage their employees to break the “traditional” office chair mold, and start providing more options.
Just imagine the smiles you’d see at a company where everyone was bouncing, swaying and tilting vs sitting stationary for eight hours a day.
~ Chas Hepler, CEO and workplace non-conformist
We have known for years that the Swopper three dimensional motion stool was light years ahead of its time in North America. While consumers and businesses found it intriguing, it was often viewed as a novelty or just a really cool, fun looking stool.
Well, I’m happy to say that the past few years have started to reveal a whole new appreciation for this funky, fun, yet healthy motion stool. We have seen more and more articles about the dangers of sitting in the media, a mass acceptance of alternative seating options and professional industries begin to think critically about the benefits of motion for their employees.
One industry that has picked up on the motion-seating trend at a faster rate than others has been the healthcare industry. When hospitals start placing orders for hundreds of Swoppers for their nurses, you know tides are shifting in favor of healthier workplaces. We have been encouraged to see that finally, one industry truly gets the health and wellness benefits of motion seating, and is being proactive instead of re-active to their own employees’ health. We refer to it as “Caring for the Caregivers.”
Here are some of the healthcare occupations or industries we’ve seen embrace Swopper recently:
- Chiropractors – Swopper has been recommended for years by chiropractors looking for additional resources to help their clients alleviate low back pain. They love the motion aspect of the chair, and also the fact that using the Swopper maintains the natural “S” curve of your spine while seated, and opens the hip/spine angle.
- Kinesiologists – Kinesiology is “the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.” Based on that, these people truly understand the idea motion and how great it is for the whole body – joints, muscles, mental etc. I recently did a tradeshow for the American College of Sport Medicine, which was attended by many kinesiologists. It was the first show I’ve ever done, where I didn’t have to do much explaining about Swopper. All they had to do was try it and they knew exactly what it could do for the body and mind.
- Physical Therapists – Swopper has been recommended by many physical therapists, especially those with patients who have knee or hip issues. Simple, subtle, intuitive motion can have a dramatic effect for someone rehabbing a knee or hip. If you’re keeping those joints and muscles moving, they have fewer tendencies to tighten up.
- Insurance Companies – We’ve seen an emerging trend from insurance companies that are recommending Swopper and Muvman to their own clients. Their aim is to be proactive to limit workers comp and try to get employees back to work faster and safer. Many times these workers need to adopt a whole new work style and our chairs can help with that.
Swopper has also been endorsed by:
- Dr. Stephen Hochschuler – Orthopedic Surgeon at the Texas Back Institute
- Dr. Dieter Breithecker – World renown expert on posture and motion
It’s been exciting for us at Swopper to see the healthcare industry get behind the benefits of motion seating. The fact that today’s leaders in health and wellness recognize the importance of staying active throughout the day shows that the future of workplace wellbeing is headed in the right direction.
Do you work in the Healthcare industry? If so, have you witnessed a shift in how your workplace approaches health & wellness for their employees? Leave a comment and let us know about your experience.
~ Sandra Bowie, Motion Seating Director
Sitting at work is a modern invention. Up to about 200 years ago, sedentary activities were primarily reserved only for persons of high standing like pharaohs, emperors and kings. The human being moved in the course of work, stood still or squatted. Only about 50 years ago did hours of sitting become part of daily life at work … a development that has taken our bodies off guard.
We move too little and sit too much. Even that well-meant bit of sport in our free time in the evenings and at weekends does not always effectively compensate hours of sitting at the desk or in front of a PC. Research has shown that exercising for 30 minutes per day isn’t enough to offset a typical office worker’s level of inactivity. In the course of a working life we spend about 80,000 hours sitting. Global studies show, on average, we sit 7.7 hours a day, and some results estimate people sit up to 15 hours a day.
So what’s the result of all this sitting? Chronic back pain, slipped disks, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more have all been linked to being sedentary for too long during the day. One 2012 analysis, that looked at the findings from 18 studies, found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.
That’s why businesses around the globe, which are focused on health & wellbeing, have zeroed in on helping their workers incorporate movement into their workday. Studies show, the key to using movement to improve your health, is to make sure you do it frequently throughout the day.
Five Ways to Stay Active While at Work:
- Get up and stand every 15 minutes: The act of standing up from a seated position has been found particularly effective at counteracting the detrimental health effects of sitting. Stretching your muscles once an hour brings blood flow back to all your extremities increasing the oxygen in your body. Think you can’t get up because you are just too busy? Just set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you.
- Buy a chair built for motion: Get active while sitting at your desk with an active office chair, like the Swopper or Muvman.
These chairs offer three dimensions of motion i.e. vertical bounce, lateral sway and forward tilt – all simultaneously and intuitively. Eight hours a day on a Swopper chair can deliver more motion than you would get on a bike ride or a hike at the weekend, with the added benefit of doing it while you work.
- Make your office set-up slightly inconvenient. Take that printer off your desk and put it in the back of the office. While you’re at it, request the desk farthest from the kitchen. Or do some lunges on the way back to picking up your very important papers. In a world of convenience, making things slightly inconvenient in terms of proximity can provide ample opportunities to move throughout the day.
- Create walking meetings. Next time you have a one-on-one scheduled with a coworker, suggest doing the meeting while walking around the building or better yet, outside. You’ll benefit from the increased blood flow, circulation and vitamin D.
- Stretch at your desk. When we sit, our muscles become tight, sore and tense. Stand several times a day at your desk and complete the following five stretches to give your muscles a much needed break from sitting:
- Standing Neck Stretch: Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Round your shoulders, then pull them back and pull down. Repeat for 20-30 seconds.
- Standing Hip Stretch: Holding on to your desk, cross your left leg over your right thigh and “sit down” by bending your right leg. Repeat on the other side.
- Open Chest Stretch: Sit near the edge of a chair and interlace your fingers behind you, with your palms facing your back. Leaning slightly forward, lift your arms and rest them on the back of the chair. Inhale and lift your chest. Exhale and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Side Lunge: Starting with your feet together, take a step sideways, and bend down as if you’re about to sit. Use your arms for balance by reaching out in front of you. Return to starting position.
Finding ways to incorporate movement into your workday can help offset the physical and health hazards sitting for long periods of time can bring. If you work an office job, making a conscious effort to focus on movement, posture and exercise is one of the most effective ways to ensure your job isn’t hurting your health and well-being.
~ Jenn Lytle, Customer Service Director & Social Marketing
In today’s work crazed culture, we spend a lot of time sitting behind our desks. Probably more than we realize. We all know it is not good to be inactive for long periods of time. There are studies that show it’s even worse than smoking because of what it does to your body, and the years it can take off of your life. What’s worse, is experts say you can’t make up for the damage done during the day by working out in the evenings.
I am a pretty active person – boating, hiking and being outdoors are all hobbies I enjoy. I also happen to work in an office environment, so I know first hand how important it is to incorporate movement into your day.
The best way I have found to date is to bring movement into every moment of your day at the office, by using a motion chair, like the swopper. Now, as the CEO of Via Seating, who distributes the swopper chair and other motion seating products, I certainly am biased, but here are my 10 reasons why a swopper chair outperforms your regular office chair.
10 Reasons Why You Need a swopper Chair
1. It’s fun. Work is serious and often stressful. Almost everyone smiles the moment they sit and bounce on a swopper. At any moment you can have a fun bounce or three dimensional swerve that is much more entertaining than being confined to a normal chair.
2. At the end of the day, You’ll feel better. I always hope to work out every day but I don’t always have the time. Having moved all day on my swopper chair is invigorating. It is not a hard-core workout but rather a continuous motion that keeps my heart more active and my circulation flowing.
3. It’s comfortable. The swopper chair helps me maintain a proper hip-spine angle, keep my back engaged, and my core active. Sitting properly becomes natural and I don’t have those aches and pains I sometimes get from sitting improperly in some chairs.
4. The transition from sitting to standing is effortless. In a normal chair, sometimes when you get up you have a head rush or your legs are wobbly because you need to get the blood flowing. When you go from moving and bouncing on a swopper to standing not only is it assisted by the bounce in the chair, but your body is ready to move and start walking.
5. It keeps your muscles loose. There are studies that show vigorous exercise followed by long periods of inactivity can cause someone to be more prone to injury. In other words, constantly moving keeps everything lubricated and warm vs. rigid, tight, and cold.
6. It is a great conversation piece. Everyone wants to discuss how you like sitting on a Swopper. You are the opposite of a wallflower. When you use a chair like the swopper, people assume you’re on the cutting edge of innovation and are a natural, confident leader.
7. You burn calories. Studies have shown you will burn up to 500 calories a day sitting on a swopper vs. a normal chair. That’s equivalent to Running at 6 MPH (a ten minute mile) for 42 minutes.
8. It’s a lifestyle and commitment to consistently do what is best for your body in a low impact way. Day after day, week after week, month after month this adds up. The swopper chair is not about just sitting and bouncing every now and then. The positive circulation, respiratory effects on your internal organs, sitting properly vs. slouching over your desk, both have an incredible cumulative effect over time.
9. You’ll be smarter and feel happier. Studies have shown that you learn and retain more information when you are active vs. being stationary. There is a positive mental and spiritual impact to having been moving all day vs. being cooped up behind your desk.
10.You don’t have to think about it. When you are sitting on a swopper, no effort is required. You will just move and it will be natural. You don’t have to make yourself do something that will have all these positive effects. You won’t even be aware how much you have moved but you will go home feeling less fatigued and more ready to enjoy the balance of the day.
Do I have you convinced to ditch your regular office chair for a swopper? I can tell you that after sitting on a Swopper myself, I cannot imagine going back to a stationary chair. The change this chair brings to your health, wellbeing and mood throughout the day is truly impressive.
So, try a swopper. Not only will you not regret it, you will be telling your friends all the reasons they should try one as well.
~ Chas Hepler, CEO
All of us over at swopper are buzzing with excitement over the newest addition to our family – the 3dee active-office-chair. In a nutshell, this chair is the perfect seating option for anyone looking to incorporate more movement into their day, but aren’t ready for the full on commitment of a sit-to-stand chair, like the muvman, or a backless chair, like the swopper.
Basically, 3dee allows you to get all the health benefits of movement throughout the day, while blending in seamlessly with your coworkers who haven’t caught on yet.
As swopper’s Director of Sales & Marketing, I’ve gotten a lot of first-hand experience sitting on the 3Dee before it’s been released, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I love about this chair.
1. “The Most Innovative Chair in the World!” That statement isn’t just a tag line…it’s the truth. The first thing that caught my eye with 3dee is the design. It’s sleek, contemporary, fun, sexy and makes a bold statement. It’s unlike any chair you’ve ever seen. It belongs in a James Bond movie with a martini on the side.
2. Obviously, with its swopper-based inspiration, you’re getting the same health and wellness benefits with 3dee and you are with the swopper, but within a more mainstream looking chair. You can tell a lot of thought and engineering went into 3dee. Everything is designed to promote the movement and comfort of the person sitting it. Even the back and lumbar are completely adjustable to make the chair suited to your preferences.
3. When you sit on 3dee for the first time, you will know immediately it’s unlike any other chair you’ve tried before. The smooth (and I mean smooth!) lateral and vertical motion feels great and is just plain fun. Who knew that something as simple as a chair could actually make your work day a little bit more fun and be healthy for you at the same time?
The response we received, when 3dee had its North American debut at Neocon last month, was amazing. First off, every person who sat on it immediately smiled and said how comfortable the motion was and how “free” they could move on it. The chair follows you instead of making you conform to it. The old saying “The best position is your next position” is spot on here. In fact “Every position on 3dee is your best position”.
The 3dee active-office-chair exemplifies our philosophy here at swopper:
– Combating static postures (sitting and standing)
– Working those core muscles that we abuse all day long when stuck sitting behind a desk or computer
– Creating ongoing intuitive healthy motion
– Bringing some FUN into your workday!
We were meant to move, and with the addition of 3dee, you now have three easy ways to incorporate movement into your workday. Learn more about the 3dee chair over on our website, or leave a comment here and I’ll respond personally.
~ Sandra Bowie, Director of Motion Seating
Innovation comes slower to the office furniture industry than others. Its common place now, but it took 30 years for the industry to adopt height adjustable chairs. The main reason being:
- Early height adjustable desks were expensive. If a company was outfitting new offices, something like an adjustable desk was a cost that couldn’t be justified even though many employees probably would have preferred to work that way.
- The idea that sitting 8-10 hours behind a desk could be bad for you was an unforeseen problem that has since turned into an epidemic in the workplace.
- There weren’t a lot of options to choose from. Now you can get different mechanisms, sizes and finishes and easily design them to work within an existing environment.
Sit to stand desks have been prevalent in Europe for many years, but the U. S. has been slow to adopt this work style until recently.
People and corporations are finally paying more attention to the health implications of the way their employees work as it’s having a significant impact on their business i.e absenteeism, workers compensation claims, presenteeism, employee retention etc.
As advocates of motion seating, we, of course, stand firmly behind this trend and support the adoption of height adjustable workstations as the benefits of sit-to-stand desks contribute to the active office.
What’s frustrating is seeing these desks being used with a standard chair or drafting stool. Reason being:
- If using a standard task chair, the user is being forced to either sit or stand (nothing in between). Research has shown that standing for long periods of time can be just as bad as sitting for long periods of time.
- If using a drafting stool, the user is still sitting in the same static posture, just at a different height.
The beauty of an height adjustable desk is it has all the range of motion to encourage the user to change positions all day. But typically without a height adjustable chair, the user eventually doesn’t bother changing the desk height at all and goes back to their old bad habits.
This is where muvman comes in! Welcome to new heights…and everything in between.
The muvman stool is the ideal sit-to-stand companion. This stool has a 13” travel range from 20”-33” which means you can go from sitting, to perching, to standing and every level in between. This is ideal because you are not limited on how much you move and change your position throughout the workday. In addition to the great height range, muvman also offers:
- A pre-set 4 degree forward tilt – this ensures that you’re always sitting/perching in a proper posture and at the proper angle to work at hand. Eliminates “hunching” over your work.
- The muvzone – where the column meets the base – is where all the lateral and forward motion occurs. It’s a safe movement, as your feet are always on the ground (think tri-pod), and you control how much motion you want. The nice thing is, with that subtle motion you are working your core abdominal muscles, legs and back. You’re also keeping circulation moving which helps concentration and focus…not to mention it’s also FUN!
- And that height range mentioned previously, well that’s controlled by two cleverly designed buttons (no knobs or paddles to break off!) integrated into the seat pan on both the right and left side, so you can use either one.
Bottom line, the muvman is the ultimate companion to height adjustable tables. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it because research has shown it’s a healthier way to work.
~ Chas Hepler, President & CEO