BAIE VERTE, NL — Mike Shelley doesn’t believe in luck.
He attributes hard work and determination to the fact that an invention that could potentially alter physiotherapy landed in his lap.
To the Baie Verte physiotherapist’s credit, he recognized the potential of the concept proposed by Ross O’Keefe of St. John’s — what would eventually be known as Nexxbar — and had some ideas to improve it.
Shelley bought a share and owns a percentage of the self-therapy device that he says transforms a widely used product in the industry known as a foam roller.
Over the ensuing months, a prototype of the self-therapy device was concocted, and 3,000 have been built at a plant in Montreal for the initial marketing and sales phase.
“You grow up dreaming of inventing a product or coming up with an idea that is often a pipe dream,” he said. “To actually be involved in the process, to be sitting down with like-minded individuals with an actual goal of trying to sell millions of these … to be involved in developing this and seeing a big manufacturing plant get set up to make these, it has obviously been a pretty exciting process.”
Shelley was in St. John’s on work-related business when a mutual friend suggested he meet with O’Keefe. The man who created the makeshift device that launched the Nexxbar product pitched his idea to Shelley, and things evolved from there.
“As soon as I saw it and tried it, instantly this strap system separated it from anything else that was available today,” Shelley said.
“The science supports the benefit of foam rolling, massage and those sorts of things.”
Foam rollers are a huge market, with millions of units sold annually throughout North America alone, according to Shelley. The owner of Bodyworks Fitness and Physiotherapy says he has prescribed hundreds himself out of his clinic, the same as clinics all over.
The key now is to land a piece of that market.
The physiotherapist said the foam roller is challenging for many of the elder population because it requires a certain element of strength and balance to use. He also said many people don’t continue to use them for the same reason.
“This enables anybody, any age and any fitness level, to get the benefits of foam rolling without having to lie on the floor,” he said. “For me, as a therapist, I saw this opening the door to millions of treatment options for patients alone.”
Shelley also considers Nexxbar an asset to elite athletes. Besides the additional benefits of the device itself, he said, its compactness allows for easy transport during travel. It also brings the added benefit of treating all muscles throughout the body.
“There is no question in our mind this is the best foam roller you can get on the market,” he said. “I put my 15 years physio experience behind that. I have seen every gadget you can think of.”