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Ride an Indo Board

Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page M03

The waves are great today," Priscilla Carver shouts to her husband.

She's in the living room of their home in Northwest Washington tackling her latest obsession: the Indo Board. A balance board developed by surfers to let them ride the waves "indo'" when they can't get "outdo'," the Indo Board is essentially a mini-surfboard atop a metal roller. The goal: To stay balanced and keep the board from touching the ground for an extended "ride" along the floor or while hovering in place.

The North Shore this ain't, but you can still carve "Blue Crush"-esque abs. (Nate Lankford For The Washington Post)

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Carver, an avid jogger, tried a friend's Indo Board in Florida and was "instantly addicted." But whether you're a skier, tennis player or dedicated yogi, fitness experts say balance boards and other "core conditioning" toys are the wave of the future. Balance devices help develop your core -- those midsection muscles that provide strength and stability. And in contrast to many home exercise devices, they're fun. Nice one, dude.

What to expect: Surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders will have no problem hopping on the Indo Board; neither will advanced yogis, who have great core strength. On average, everyone else will take about 10 minutes to achieve a basic balance -- even if they're pretty fit. The key is to bend low. Hunter Joslin, competitive surfer and the Indo Board's inventor, counsels new users: "When you think your knees are bent, go two inches lower. Your mind tells you your knees are bent but you usually stop short of where the power position -- and core strength building -- begins." You may have sore stomach muscles and hamstrings after the first few rides. Tricks such as "walking the board," where you move from one end to the other while balanced on the roller, and ollies, a classic skateboard trick where you jump in the air bringing the board with you, take weeks -- if not months -- of practice. Try them at your own risk.

What you'll need: Start out on a carpeted area. The thicker the carpet pile, the slower the Indo Board will roll. It's also helpful to have someone spot you or to place the board close to a wall or inside a door jamb so that you can hold on. Most surfers go barefoot on the Indo Board, while skateboarders always wear shoes. Either works. Wrist guards and elbow pads are recommended for small children.

cost: At 30 inches long with a 6-inch-diameter roller, the Original Indo Board ($99.95 in natural color; $109.95 in green, blue or orange; all include an instruction DVD, www.indoboard.com) is the easiest model to learn on. Next up is the Mini Pro ($149.95 in natural; $159.95 in yellow); counter-intuitively, it's slightly larger than the classic model and is geared for riders who want to try tricks such as spins and air drops. Three other varieties -- the Surfer Pro and Indo Kicktail and Mini Kicktail, which are geared for skateboarders -- are designed for advanced riders only. Prices range from $63 (board only) to $179.95. Jane Black

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