Challenging Gravity

The Davinci Stick

By: Megan Pasche

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” is an enduring iconic image. It was created in 1490, and denotes a perfectly proportioned body. To this day, it is still inspiring people; case in point, Jack Villella, creator of, what may very well become the newest exercise craze, the Davinci Stick.

The Davinci Stick is all about building up your core strength, which is important because it not only supports your spine, but it helps with your balance. Your core is made up of a group of different muscles, and they are incorporated in practically every move the human body makes. Positions done with the stick are held for at least 30 seconds each, and you are meant to do that for as many reps as you can. Once you get the basic moves down, it’s all about creating and progressing on your own. You can use the Davinci Stick by yourself, or with an exercise partner.

Villella graduated from the physical education program at Brock University, and also has a bachelor of education from St. Bonaventure University, as well as a PHD in alphabiotics (the science of stress relief). This means, when it comes to the body and movement, Villella knows what he’s talking about. Exercising with the Davinci Stick is all about physical therapy, stress relief, healing and strengthening.

Stick workouts

For the last 11 years, Villella has worked as a painter, and though he loved it, it left him in a lot of pain from the constant bending and climbing. He hurt his back and his knee and the pain was leaving him depressed. He was going for treatments at the chiropractor, and was also doing workouts at the gym. There weren’t many exercises he could actually do successfully given his persistent pain, but one day, he got inspired when he found a workout stick in the corner. He grabbed it and started to stretch with it, and to his surprise, it left him feeling pretty good. He thought to himself, “hey, I’m onto something.” And there, the seeds of for what would eventually become the Davinci Stick were sown. So he continued…every morning, he would go to the gym and do the stretching with the stick, while also thinking about how it could be improved.

One day, during a visit to his chiropractor, he was lying on the adjustment table, when a photo on the wall caught his eye. It was da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”. He relates, “I’m staring at this picture, and I had this epiphany. I had chills. I thought…that’s what I’m doing, I’m going from a horizontal line to a vertical line.” And so the wheels began to turn. The more Villella looked at da Vinci’s picture, the more he realized that he had naturally been mimicking the movements shown in the centuries old picture, though he had never really examined it closely before. He started showing the picture to everybody, and began referring to the stick as a “Davinci” stick, instead of the previous moniker, the “Infinity Stick”, and started working on the refinement of his project. He explains, “if I got a stick my height or higher, and I moved it into vertical or horizontal positions with my body, I could effectively stretch, strengthen and heal my body.”

The stick itself has gone through many incarnations, and the end result is an octagonal stick that is one inch in diameter that comes in lengths ranging from five to seven feet. The ends are capped in rubber, which ensures that the stick can be used on pretty much any surface without slipping. The sticks are produced by Jack,  right in his garage at home. The wood is shipped to him from a company in Richmond Hill already in an octagon shape, then Villella does the rest.

Villella has big plans for the Davinci Stick, hoping to eventually get it incorporated into high school physical education curriculum (it is currently in two high schools in the Niagara area). Much like yoga, exercising with the Davinci Stick is about defying gravity, pushing your limits on the poses you are holding and increasing your flexibility. The exercises can be done anywhere, inside or outside, with the rubber caps ensuring that the stick will never slide.

There are an infinite number of exercises and stretches that can be performed with the stick, with the main goal, as Villella mentioned, being to stretch, strengthen and heal. The intensity of the exercise depends entirely on the position of your hands, feet and the stick itself, but can range from moderate to intense. It provides a full body workout, and users can follow along with the exercises on the Davinci Stick website, or alternatively, can attend a class to get the feel of how to properly use the stick.  For more information or to get your very own Davinci Stick, visit 

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