Alum Says, “Get Fit, Be Functional, and Live Pain Free”
Are you among the millions of people who experience back or other chronic physical pain? Todd Langer ’95 (communication) has developed a solution that is designed to help make you functionally fit by restoring true balance and posture. As founder and CEO of Functional Innovations, LLC in Longmont, Colorado, Langer has created the P.A.S.T.™ Core Training System (posture, agility, strength, total body integration) that changes core workouts from horizontal to vertical. The result: a means to help people live pain free.
Langer’s product is the result of his own quest for relief from chronic pain. “I had a botched umbilical hernia operation as an infant and eventually discovered a structural short leg of a half inch,” he says. “My body was set up for muscle imbalances, and over time this led to SI joint dysfunction, four bulging discs in my lower back by age 25, bilateral hip dysplasia, rotator cuff tears and more.”
Always a strong proponent of health and fitness—Langer got his MS in exercise science—this state of affairs was unacceptable. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. He and his wife Dana sold their Brookline, Mass., condo and moved to Colorado. “I attended the Rolf Institute there to study the most comprehensive form of manual/movement therapy. I also tried different alternative health modalities to try to cobble together a theory of my personal health. The light-bulb moment came while standing on a traditional wobble board that was irritating my lower back.”
Langer started researching the theories behind balance boards. “I discovered that a momentum-based product doesn’t allow full expression of the neuromuscular system and doesn’t necessarily improve standing posture—in other words, the hunchback of Notre Dame could stay on a board without ever falling off. So, my growing knowledge of the importance of organizing the body in gravity (e.g. Rolfing) helped me create a product that does just that and offers a complete functional workout as well. To be clear, there is no simple solution or quick fix, but this easy-to-use product makes training for functional fitness more accessible to the average person. It’s great for busy people seeking an efficient workout. Essentially, it trains functional balance, posture, and core strength from the ankles all the way up.”
The P.A.S.T.™ Core Training System features two dynamic balance boards that use proprietary technology to improve your standing posture; so, your core muscles are naturally engaged during each and every exercise. The system also includes attachable exercise cords and ergonomically designed push-up handles that reduce the strain on the wrists. They and rotate and wobble to engage more muscles during exercise and spice up any yoga or Pilates routine. It weighs just over 5 pounds—so it’s portable for those who travel frequently—and allows users to perform a variety of exercises to improve balance, posture, and total body coordination. The company website, www.balance2posture.com, provides useful content and easy-to-follow instructional videos.
It seems Langer is on to something. The P.A.S.T.™ Core Training System has been endorsed by the American Academy Musculoskeletal Medicine and has rave reviews by users across the country. His product has been featured on NBC, CBS, CW2, and Forbes.com, as well as in the Rocky Mountain News, Rehab Management, SHAPE, Ski, Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro, Massage and Bodywork, and American Fitness magazines, and elsewhere. Click here for details.
“My life and job are actually very similar,” says Langer. “The journey to find true health and functional fitness is very intertwined with my company’s mission statement. My wife Dana’s support and trust have allowed me to put so much time and resources into creating this product and not simply licensing out to a larger corporation. After creating the concept for the core training system, I moved into design, engineering, prototyping, patenting, manufacturing, and marketing. These days, I’m on the phone, sending emails, attending tradeshows, and staying on top of the latest Internet marketing techniques. And let’s not forget keeping track of the financials!”
Of his UMass Amherst education, Langer is reflective. “It was a great learning experience and helped me realize that interpersonal communication and relationships matter. It was quite the change from being an image-conscious high-school student. In a way, my informal education was more important than anything else—the UMass Amherst environment really fostered a feeling of openness that made it a great place for me to learn about myself without peer pressure. And it offers students everything they need to be at the forefront of their chosen path, if they’re willing to put in the time needed to excel and grasp the opportunity. For me, it was a great stepping stone to the real world.”
And speaking of real world, Langer attributes his successes “out there” to perseverance. “I simply believe in moving forward constantly and never giving up, period. But my daily dose of balance comes from my two daughters Vanessa, 2½, and Sabrina, 9 months. They are the world to me and a constant reminder that chasing my dreams is a win-win situation.”
October 31, 2007