January 15, 2020
A Fluid Business
Ultimateinstability is using water to get people to ‘move well, feel well, do good’
A decade ago, Paul Venner asked himself a simple question as an athlete and movement student: Why do we move so fixed and predictably – with fixed weights, sets and reps in the weight room, on the sports field and in therapy – while movement in everyday life and sports is unpredictable, unexpected and sudden?
In other words, why don’t we move unpredictably and suddenly when we work out? And what could we use to achieve that unpredictability? Venner found the answer to be simple: Water, since nothing is as dynamic and adaptable as water.
Thus was born Ultimateinstability, a company built on the concept that by utilizing the properties of water people could become more adaptable and dynamic as well. From there he developed the first Aquabags, followed by Aquaballs and then, in 2016, the groundbreaking Hydrovest, a patented invention that uses dynamic water weight in a vest and applies it to specific settings ranging from the sports field to elderly fall prevention.
“We are a bit of a strange duck in the fitness market,” Venner admits. “We focus on different aspects than most of the fitness world. Even functional training, which has become a real container word, doesn’t fit what we do. We focus on movement quality and motor learning, but in a very implicit, self-organizing way. This approach is much closer to the nature of how and why we move.”
Ultimateinstability calls it contextual training and, as is evident in the company name, the products it makes and the way it looks at the business of fitness, it approaches this world differently than most.
“Many companies are in the industry to chase numbers and eventually it boils down to money,” Venner says. “But we chase impact on people and the living world around us, we move from the inside out. We believe we are here to explore our edge and learn from nature.
“We want to create a world where people adapt and move freely as water, because this ripples down,” he adds. “When we move better, we feel better and can do more good. Move well, feel well, do good.”
Of course, Ultimateinstability, with headquarters in The Netherlands, has a bottom line focus, too, but Venner maintains making money is not the company’s primary driver — and certainly not at the expense of quality, involved stakeholders or the environment. The company is still a relatively small player, but moving and growing fast. It works with elite sport teams and pro athletes worldwide, from MLB, the NFL and the NBA to teams and players in soccer, tennis, rugby, swimming, break-dancing and free-running. The unifying theme is the same principle of human movement.
Yes, Ultimateinstability certainly looks at the world a little differently than most other companies and to back it up it aims for a climate neutral business model by 2021. It seeks to accomplish this goal by planting a tree for every sold product.
Ultimateinstability is built on the concept of water because, as Venner explains, nothing is as dynamic and adaptable. Leonardo DaVinci said, “Water is the driving force of nature.” Humans are made of 60-70 percent water. And none other than Bruce Lee said, “Running water never grows stale.”
“When we use the qualities of freely moving water as with our training materials we need to become more adaptable ourselves as well,” Venner explains.
His message to health clubs and individuals is to focus on the belief that, as David Suzuki said, “We can’t be healthy without a healthy planet.” The health of our ecosystem and ourselves are intimately related, he believes, so by raising awareness of the importance of water, adaptability and movement variability he aims to improve biodiversity and protect water quality.
Since Ultimateinstability originated in the world of elite sports, that market remains key to its success. But it has expanded its reach to “movement professionals” working in health clubs, sports, therapy and vitality and is targeting a broader audience with specific training tools and programs.
Along with water as a tool comes a sustainability message that is at the core of the company’s philosophy of business. Venner says it is part of its DNA from the beginning.
“I went deep into the study of human movement and the deeper I went the more I studied what movement and coordination actually is within other living systems,” he explains. So he started to look at human movement like an ecologist and became more interested in the functioning of ecosystems themselves as well.
“The realization that our own health and performance is fundamentally related to our global health and performance became more and more obvious to me,” Venner says. “It became an obvious choice to steer the company and our actions in this direction.”
Fitting into Fitness
Venner sees an opportunity in the fragmented world of fitness in 2020. With so many different approaches, the bottom line is that the business is too often focused on outside looks and not inside feeling and functioning. Ultimateinstability sees that at its point of differentiation.
“Our company is helping in re-connecting people with their own bodies, integrating their body parts into better functioning wholes,” Venner says. “And by re-connecting people with their own nature, we are also re-connecting them with nature at large.”
Of course, Ultimateinstability is not all about just doing good and feeling good. It is a business, after all, and it is providing customers and users with the tools they need to be successful.
It offers a mobile app with three months free use with a purchase of one of its products. The app includes training schedules and more specific content and insights. To spread its merchandising message it is working on sustainably produced sportswear and water bottles to launch later this year.
It is also an avid user of social media to inspire with exercises and content and also share content of its global users.
The future is bright and Venner promises some exciting developments in technology, new products and new markets as well as new collaborations that will be launched at FIBO in Cologne.
What’s In A Name?
The Ultimateinstability name itself has a double meaning, says Paul Venner. “To improve stability we need to train with instability,” he explains. “So we provide the ultimate instability to become ultimate in stability.
“To me it also means a new and better way of looking at the concept of stability, looking at it from a more integrated and dynamic perspective.” he adds. “By being able to resist the perturbations and chaos during our exercises, you become more robust and resilient in your movements.”