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Beanbags are the Answer: Treadmill Desk

By Erin Thomas | August 15, 2011

This is my first official “treadmill desk” post. I’m walking as I write this. I still haven’t quite got the brain/body connection going, though. My typing isn’t quite up to par, and I caught myself trying to write “I’m writing as I walk this.” But I’ll get it with practice.

The first treadmill desk-er I met was Arthur Slade. That was less than a year ago; I’ve been thinking about it and working my way up to it ever since. Take a look at Arthur Slade’s treadmill desk here. I haven’t got a fancy helmet like his, though.

I like the idea of walking while I write. I’d been standing at my desk for a few months now (I elevated the keyboard and monitor with pop cans), and it felt pretty natural. I fidgeted a lot, though, and would get a sore back if I stayed in one position too long.

For me, part of the appeal is the energy aspect of it. I want to keep my blood (and hopefully the ideas) flowing, and avoid that mid-afternoon slow-brain period. Walking slowly isn’t a lot of exercise, but it beats sitting in one place. I’m not sure how many calories I’ll burn this way, but I hope it will help me stay at my desk, and stay alert, longer.

My treadmill is a Horizon CT 5.1 It was on sale at Canadian Tire last week. It’s quiet and stable and I have enough room that I don’t need to worry too much about where I put my feet (useful for us clumsy types). It also folds up when I’m not using it — it’s not exactly compact, but at least I can run a vaccuum under it that way. I built the “desk” to work with the treadmill.

My monitor sits on a wall shelf. Since I couldn’t find quite the size shelf I needed, I built it. Same with the keyboard tray. They’re both cut from the same sheet of birch plywood, and I used glue-on wood edging to finish them. My shelf clips came from Solutions.

The keyboard try sits on two large beanbags, also homemade (filled with dried yellow peas, in case anyone’s curious). I had originally planned to stuff them into the cup holders and set the tray on them there, but that covered all the treadmill controls. The handrails were too far back, but with the beanbags tied to the spot where the handrails meet the console, it seems to work. I can reach the treadmill controls and see the monitor just fine, and everything is at the right height.

Eventually, I’ll use velcro to fix the keyboard tray to the beanbags, but I want to wait a while and make sure that this is the way I’m going to keep things. And, of course, my sit-down desk is still intact (with my laptop), because I know there will be times when I want to work that way. I still use paper for a lot of my editing.

It’s only day one, but so far, so good. I’m going to go write a chapter or three now; I feel like my characters should be walking somewhere slowly, on a journey of sorts. Gee, where did that idea come from?

Topics: Miscellaneous, Writing Life | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Beanbags are the Answer: Treadmill Desk”

  1. Lena Coakley Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Erin! If Art Slade told you to jump off a bridge….
    I’m very curious to see how this works out. In particular, I wonder about getting the sort of motion sickness you get when reading in the car AND I wonder if it increases/decreases your overall writing output over time. Keep us posted!

  2. Erin Thomas Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks, Lena! So far, so good. The first couple of minutes felt weird, but now I don’t really notice it. I can’t read in a car without getting sick, but this is nothing like that.

    As for productivity… well, let’s just say that coming off of summer break, there’s nowhere to go but up. But yeah, I’ll be curious to see how it goes over the next few months.

    P.S. I would NOT follow Art Slade off a bridge. First off, he lives in the prairies. Do they even have bridges there?

  3. Susan Sipal Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I LOVE this! Walking seems to really release my brain synapses to function better.

    Plus, it’s just such an effective use of your time to be able to exercise AND write!

    If I can get something like this hooked up for myself, I’d be happy.

    Thanks for posting the pic and how you did it!

  4. Erin Thomas Says:
    August 15th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks, Susan! I really like it so far. Hoping it works out! :)

  5. Geoff Cole Says:
    August 20th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    So cool. I am totally building myself one of these once I get back to Canada. I may drop a line for some construction tips!

  6. Erin Thomas Says:
    August 20th, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    That’s great! I’m not sure mine’s exactly a shining example of construction (most builders don’t rely on beanbags) but it’s working out so far! Please feel free to email, though. I’d love to hear from you.

    This website had some good tips (the linked article, plus the links under “build a treadmill desk” on the right). http://www.treadmill-desk.com/2007/12/49-treadmill-desk.html

  7. aaron.vegh.ca » Blog Archive » Sit. Stand. Walk Says:
    September 20th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    [...] People have found ingenious ways to strap keyboards and displays around that stuff, and I think my wife has the best setup that I’ve seen, but clearly that won’t work for my standing [...]

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