When they first thought up Rove – the first-of-its-kind unfolding, portable foam roller – entrepreneur Sam Jorgenson and his co-founders Daniel Giordano and Philippos Kyriacou (who also happen to be the founders of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy) were just looking for a way to turn the process of lugging a foam roller around while traveling into less of a production.
Fast forward to today, and the trio of friends-turned-business partners have created what is easily one of the most innovative concepts in foam rolling to date.
The Aha Moment
If you ask the Rove team where the product’s journey began, they’ll all agree that it starts back in February 2015, when Sam was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer.
“I went through chemo here in New York and had to have two major surgeries.” says Sam, who is cancer-free today. It was between those treatments and surgeries that Sam was first introduced to Daniel, with whom he worked on physical therapy at Bespoke. At the time, Daniel recommended foam rolling as a natural way help with issues like circulation and muscle adhesion, but once Sam finished chemo treatments and was cleared to start traveling and moving around again, the process of foam rolling grew slightly more complicated.
“I was shipping rollers all over,” says Sam, “and I just thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this.’ And I was just kind of sitting around one day and I was like, ‘I think I figured something out. I think I found a way to make this thing portable.’
He brought the concept of a portable foam roller to Daniel and Philippos, and, together, the team got to work on developing what was soon to become Rove.
A Fresh Concept
Rove has been a while in the making – exactly a year, in fact, from “taking a foam roller and sticking it together with duct tape” to creating the final prototype of the product, says Philippos with a laugh.
But the finished Kickstarter-backed product, which comes in at just around 2.5 pounds, is about the size of a laptop case when unrolled, is well worth the time it has taken to produce given what Rove has done to change up the foam rolling scene.
For starters, there’s that concept of portability, which was always the inspiration and primary goal of the product.
Then there’s the actual composition of the Rove roller. According to Daniel, one of the biggest problems with a lot of foam rollers on the market now is that they have a flat surface. This means that all they really do is apply constant pressure to an area, which doesn’t actually change the tissue and instead just shuts down your nervous systems to make you feel better.
With a carefully arranged pattern of half domes and small spikes on its surface, though – all of the bumps are spaced out perfectly to allow for blood flow while rolling over the tissue and to enable smooth rolling as opposed to uneven wobbling – Rove focuses on breaking up muscle adhesions and trigger points for long-term relief.
“It’s got a patented design on the outside that will allow the most functional and efficient way of releasing a tissue,” says Daniel.
Even the primary material used to make Rove, EVP foam, plays into its unique benefits.
“It’s a really strong foam that has a little give on it, so it’s not like you’re rolling on a really hard surface. Because sometimes, if it’s too hard, you can actually bruise the tissue.”
While creating a high-quality, innovative foam roller was always Daniel, Sam, and Philippos’ initial goal, the Rove co-founders all agree that it quickly became about a lot more than that.
“There was the decision early on that this would be the kind of product that we would create a community around and that we’d use as a platform to learn about foam rolling,” says Philippos, adding that the he and his partners started hosting classes with Rove, like introductory foam rolling workshops at HUB Seventeen in Lululemon’s Flatiron store.
“We wanted to be able to give you some firsthand experience of what you should be doing with the roller, and how to maximize your time with it, and turn it into a bit more of a holistic workout as well as a recovery.”
That means that in addition to teaching a runner how to roll out their lower extremities (glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings, etc.) or a weight lifter how to roll out tired quads, the Rove co-founders look to show people how they can build an entire workout routine around Rove. Basically, the foam roller can act as something like a bosu ball when you balance on it while doing workouts like pushups and mountain climbers, which in turn give you a major core workout.
The team also educates people on how Rove, and foam rolling in general, comes in handy beyond the world of fitness and athletics. For example, it’s a way to beat back pain associated with sitting around at a desk all day, or it can help relieve headaches by releasing tissue in the upper back. The goal here is really to prove how relevant foam rolling is to anybody, regardless of physical activity.
Moving forward, Daniel, Sam, and Philippos plan to continue fostering that sense of community that they’ve built around Rove by partnering with studios in New York – “Right now we’re partnering with a cycling studio to be able to host rides for everyone,” says Daniel – and using proceeds from classes to benefit a different charity each month.
“We’re really built on this pay-it-forward model. Without people giving us their support, none of this would be possible. So with our product, when we’re in that position, we want to be able to give back however we can.”
Rove is available for pre-order exclusively on Kickstarter. To support the campaign and become a member of the Rove community, visit kickstarter.com.