Slide Boards Are the Most Underrated Home Workout Apparatus We’ve Tried
Hockey players and speed skaters swear by them. Maybe you should, too.
Lately, I’ve wondered if 2021 is conspiring against our best efforts to stay in shape. Gyms are shuttered, or operating at limited capacity, with no end date in sight. High-profile home fitness machines have warned of delays on deliveries until summer. And now, more snow than the country has seen in five years has hamstrung running and other outdoor exercise routines.
It’s always been important to have options in the workout-from-home era. A diverse regimen offers a change of pace from the monotony of quarantine, while “shocking” the body with new challenges is widely considered the best way to build muscle and maintain motivation.
So what’s the best way to find it? That answer’s a little different for everybody. Some of you might just need press play on a YouTube yogi series, or think about your fitness more holistically, by adopting daily wellness resolutions. But for me, these past couple weeks, it’s been sinking my teeth into one of the most underrated pieces of workout equipment out there: the slide board, which has been perfected recently by New York fitness house Brrrn.
The Brrrn Board is an adjustable, five- to six-foot sliding surface. The deck is a custom, USA-made polymer blend, and the underbelly is constructed from a grippy recycled rubber. In line with other home fitness innovations these days, it’s an absolute looker — the glossy black surface and wooden “bumpers” are both sleek as all hell. Since I pulled mine out of the box, I’ve had it set up in the basement for easy, drop-of-a-hat use, but it’s also discreet and portable enough to tuck away under a bed or couch.
How does it work? You pull the set’s booties — they’re similar to surgical slip-ons — over a pair of gym shoes. A flatter outsole works best; I rock with Reebok Nanos. Then you line yourself up, feet pressed together, against one of the bumpers. Then you bend forward, hinging at the hips, and explode to the other wooden panel. Repeat and return, until you’ve worked into a rhythm.
It was awkward for me at first, but that’s mainly because I’ve never used a slide board. They’re usually the purview of speed-skaters and hockey players, as they target the exact muscles needed out on the ice. But there’s a reason that slide boards are popular in physical training facilities, too. It’s a low-impact form of high-intensity training, which reinforces areas that are usually susceptible to injury. Think: muscles in the foot and ankles, stabilizers in the knees and the entire core.
To be clear, Brrrn didn’t dramatically reinvent the apparatus. You can choose from a number of slide boards on Amazon and “free slide” to your heart’s content. The most important movements are all easily learned from tutorials around the web. That said, I will openly vouch for this particular board, and the online platform Brrrn is creating to help you get the most out of it. The brand is in the fledgling stages of adopting a Peloton-esque model, with instructors recording and uploading brand-new classes from Brrrn’s headquarters.
I’ve worked out at that gym, by the way. A couple years ago, long before the pandemic, Brrn had mastered a completely different hustle. Its gym was famous on the ClassPass circuit, and sat among the gauntlet of innovative health clubs situated around the Flatiron Building. Brrn stood out for its creative concept: HIIT in rooms chilled to 50°F or below. There’s research out there that suggests exercising in the cold has body-sculpting benefits, but the novelty of it was enough for people to keep coming in, science notwithstanding. Now, they’re making ends meet with the Brrrn Board. It’s a necessary adaptation to accommodate the home workout era. Not every corner studio could pull this off — capital and marketing expertise help.
A yearlong membership to Brrrn’s on-demand platform is $80. That’s fairly reasonable; Peloton, by contrast, is $470. In the meantime, they offer a healthy supply of “unlocked” content to show you what you’re getting into, plus a variety of videos not associated with the Brrrn Board at all, like strength-training burners and stretching cool-downs.
I recommend getting active on the slide-board content, though. It’s given me yet another active outlet while forcing my body to really hone in on stability and balance, and suddenly consider once-foreign phrases like “leg lead extension.” (Plus, you can even do mountain climbers on your board.) I haven’t moved laterally this much since my college intramural days. These days, we’re willing to settle for some optionality in our workout routines. But discovery, too? Now we’re talking.
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