iMovR Birdi Perching Stool Review
- Lab tested
At $159, the Birdi is a well-priced, lab-tested perching stool great for active workstations. The thick, high-resilient foam also makes the Birdi noticeably more comfortable than many of its leaning stool competitors. While a no-back perching stool-style may not be for everyone, the benefits are particularly noteworthy for those seeking to reduce back pain, increase circulation, and promote core muscle activation throughout the day.
|MSRP / List Price||$159|
Free shipping within the continental U.S. Additional charges in, AK, HI, and Canada.
Ships within 5-7 business days of order. Add up to 5 business days for freight delivery anywhere within the continental U.S.
Delays due to COVID-19 are indicated to range between 0-7 business days on iMovR’s website.
3 years on fabric
Navy, Black, Gray, & Taupe
Proprietary high-resilient foam cushion and specially designed non-marking rubberized bottom safe to use on hardwood floors and office treadmills.
|Typical Assembly Time||
A few minutes
|Where to buy||
Buy on iMovR
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||Budget-friendly solution for proper ergonomics at any workstation, including use on top of an office treadmill. The compact design at 13.3" W x 25" H makes it easy to store the Birdi under desks or conference tables as well, even when lowered to sitting heights. With a proprietary high-resilient foam cushion that's significantly thicker than the average office chair, it's noticeably more comfortable than many other options at both equal and higher price-points.|
|Negatives||This is a great option to keep core and leg muscles activated while increasing circulation but can make it difficult to fully relax. And although the adjustable height range accommodates most users, in our testing, we found that individuals any shorter than 5' 3" will have a hard time using the Birdi as a sitting level.|
Full disclosure: iMovR and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest. Learn More.
Many of us spend the majority of the day sitting, whether it be at work, commuting, eating, or relaxing, the hours add up. As a result, it’s worthwhile to consider the health benefits of investing in ergonomic seating for your home or office workspace. Our staff review experts have not just been evaluating various “ergonomic seating” (aka “active seating”) for many years, we’ve been using them ourselves just as long, and have seen many newfangled designs come and go over the years. Some have become mainstays while others have gone the way of the dodo bird – too strange or too expensive to gain market traction.
In the world of ergonomic seating, there are two major categories dividing the offerings: leaning stools and balance chairs. Leaning stools, which iMovR’s new Birdi Perching Stool is classified as, focus on increasing core muscle activation by reducing the points of contact with the ground to just one, and providing a broad range of motion. They are specifically designed to function as a “third leg” and reduce the amount of weight supported by your own legs. Some options take it to the extreme, like Focal’s Mogo—which quite literally looks like a pogo stick. Other options like iMovR’s Tempo Sit-Stand Stool or Focal’s Mobis provide more stability while still requiring increased muscle activation in the core and legs, a noteworthy feature of the Birdi as well.
As you can see upfront, there’s a lot to consider within the leaning stool category alone. Balance chairs, on the other hand, are similar to traditional chairs in providing more stable body support than leaning stools. Where balance chairs differ from traditional options, however, is at the connection between the base and the seat. The CoreChair demonstrates this “multi-axial” pivot point design. Balance chairs of this type permit leaning in every direction, in the CoreChair’s case up to 14-degrees, and oftentimes include a small back section or “pelvic stabilizer” that assists in maintaining an upright position.
At one end of the ergonomic seating spectrum leaning stools provide less support but promote increased leg and core muscle activation, while balance chairs on the other end offer additional support, stability, and are typically more comfortable for extended periods of use. However, finding the “perfect” option on this spectrum largely depends on your desired stability and load distribution at different positions. iMovR’s Birdi Perching Stool blends the comfort of a balance chair with the range of motion of a leaning stool, a unique combination that stood out during our testing, and one that we explore further in this review.
Less Back Pain—Stronger Muscles
While a large part of our review process is focused on proper ergonomics, much of these benefits go by the wayside if the chair just isn’t enjoyable to use. Supporting weights up to 275 lbs, the Birdi features a 4.5” thick, highly-resilient foam cushion with rounded corners, making positions from sitting to perching noticeably more comfortable than many of its competitors—such as the Biofit Bimos Fin, Muvman Leaning Stool or even iMovR’s own Tempo Perching Stool. This is especially beneficial for users with radiculopathy/sciatica, lower back pain, or spinal pain as it effectively reduces the amount of direct pressure on the tailbone and nerves near your glute and hamstring muscles.
Another popular design worth consideration leverages a saddle-style seat. The BackApp 2.0 is a good example of this. Saddle seats typically provide more support than a rounded cushion like the Birdi has, they can literally compel your pelvis in an ideal “horseman’s posture.” . The downside: your overall sitting and leg positions are limited. On the other hand, the Birdi allows for greater leaning flexibility in any direction along its 360-degree plane, which if you’re looking to increase core muscle strength and blood flow to the legs, plays into your favor.
Our suggestion: if you’re able to sit in a traditional chair without using the backrest while maintaining a reasonable amount of balance, it’s safe to consider the Birdi as an option. The majority of its weight is housed in the base and with a slight convex shape is able to provide its signature range of motion while maintaining a stable upright position. At first glance, it may seem like an unstable stool, but with over 100 hours of cumulative testing, we found that this wasn’t a concern for most users.
Stability certainly isn’t a perk with most leaning stools, but one advantage they all share in common over balance chairs, however, is their ability to open your back-hip angle. This helps reduce stress on your spine, decrease back pain, and promote a more active workstation. While a stool’s height is a key factor in its ability to open/increase this angle, its ability to lean and accommodate wider tripod-leg configurations is equally important (something that most balance chairs aren’t designed for).
There’s a challenge with extensive leaning, though: making sure you don’t lean too far… The Birdi’s sturdy rubber base, which is contoured similar to the tread of an off-road tire, provides ample grip on carpet, hard wood, tile, and even treadmill belts to accommodate greater angles. Naturally, our team was curious and decided to test the limits. We were able to maintain a comfortable perching position at a 45-degree angle, effectively allowing the user to choose how much weight is distributed between the stool and their legs, helping reduce pressure in the right place, at the right time.
Safe for the Office Treadmill
If you use a treadmill desk, or are thinking of adding an office treadmill to your standing desk workstation in the future, the Birdi might be the perfect complement to it—especially if your desk is less than 6-feet wide.
A common challenge when incorporating an office treadmill into your workstation is having enough space to also accommodate a chair at the same time. A common workaround is to purchase an ergonomic chair that’s also safe to use on top of your office treadmill belt. Up until Birdi’s release, iMovR was offering the Tempo TreadTop Sit-Stand Stool and Tempo TreadTop Office Chair for this purpose. Both of which performed very well in our testing, which you can read about here, but the perching stool isn’t remotely as comfortable as the Birdi. Something to consider if you plan to spend hours a day seated low or perching high.
A downside worth noting is that the Birdi does not have an optional footrest like the Tempo line does. This isn’t a big deal for regular use but requires more caution when you’re on top of an office treadmill. Placing your feet on the side rails or top cover will allow the belt and stool to slide out from underneath you—a problem we first noticed with the Mogo stick stool. If you prefer a wide stance then this is a concern, but for most people iMovR’s ThermoTread GT 20” wide belt is just enough space to accommodate comfortable and ergonomic seating positions. Treadmills with narrower 16” and 18” belts may be more problematic in this regard.
A final footnote on treadmill desking: iMovR also makes TreadTop standing mats cut specifically for office treadmills with 18” and 20”-wide belts that makes standing atop your paused treadmill base much easier on your feet and legs—we can’t recommend these enough.
Compact & Versatile
We’ve all seen the clunky, oversized, “executive” office chairs that look great but take up unnecessary space and with prolonged use can lead to back pain and circulatory issues. Ergonomic seating aims to simplify construction, provide better support and comfort, and do so in a manner that doesn’t congest your workspace. In turn, we give these factors special consideration when reviewing a product.
At 25.6 lbs, the Birdi isn’t the lightest leaning stool on the market but it’s one of the easier ones to carry and move around. The hour-glass shape makes picking it up from the middle and carrying it like a regular bag a far simpler task than almost any balance chair, let alone traditional office chairs… It’s compact design is also worth noting for small workspaces and conference rooms where under-desk or closet storage is required.
We note that iMovR in fact positions the new Birdi stool as the perfect complement to their line of Synapse sit-stand meeting tables. Indeed in our own meeting rooms where we use Synapse tables, we find that coworkers generally prefer to perch for a while when needing a break from standing, rather than lowering the entire table down to sitting height and making everyone sit down.
The base measures in at 13” and the seat at 13.3” with a lowest adjustable height of 25” making it easy to place on and off a treadmill, move for cleaning, or stow discreetly when not in use. The versatile design also serves as a great choice for multi-use rooms where the option to sit, stand, or perch is desired. (Note: for users shorter than 5’ 3” we noticed that at the lowest setting of 25” the Birdi is just a little too tall for use as a regular seat.)
Notes on Assembly
During testing, our team noticed that the instructions provided in the box were a tad unclear about a specific step that made assembly particularly challenging. Fortunately, we had ordered more than one for our team to test and were able to find an amendment to the instructions in the second stool’s box that made it significantly easier. The product team at iMovR has been notified of the confusion though and is updating the assembly instructions on their website and shooting an instructional video for customers.
Backed by iMovR’s comprehensive warranty program with 3 years on fabric, 5 years on foam and cylinder, and 15 years on all other components, the Birdi Perching Stool speaks for itself in terms of quality and durability. It’s uniquely broad range of motion is great for users seeking to increase leg and muscle activation, promote blood blow, and reduce back pain. While this same advantage is coupled with a lack of pelvic support that many balance chairs provide, the carefully weighted base provides enough support for most users. All in all, the Birdi is a comfortable, compact, and versatile ergonomic seating solution to seriously consider as an adjeunct to any sit-stand workstation, treadmill desk or sit-stand conference room.
To learn about how the Birdi fares against other seating options read our active ergonomic chair comparison review and subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest, freshest reviews of all new office fitness products.
Full disclosure: iMovR and WorkWhileWalking have mutual ownership interest. Learn More.