Tag Archives: Treadmill Desk

Beanbags are the Answer: Treadmill Desk

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?

Standing Up

I’m trying something new this month. Following in the footsteps of Arthur Slade and many other writers, I’ve decided that Bum In Chair is no longer the way to go. I’m standing up to work.

There are supposed to be lots of health and energy benefits to this. It’s a bit soon for me to tell, but so far, I report no ill effects (at least, not once I caved in and started wearing shoes). I like standing up to work, when I think about it. Most of the time, and it’s only been a couple of days, I don’t even notice. Not once I get going, at least.

I didn’t want to make a big investment, and the jury is still out as to whether a treadmill desk is even practical for my office (although it would be really cool), but I used a couple of abandoned bookshelves and some cases of pop to bring my monitor and keyboard up to the right heights. I didn’t want to look at pop cans for the next few months, hence the wrapping paper.

And why, you ask, does a writer have spare bookshelves hanging around? I know, I know, it’s wrong. But here’s the thing. We had this cat. He was a wonderful cat, but he was nervous (he’d been bullied as a kitten, we think. These childhood traumas are difficult to overcome). And his nervousness came out in unfortunate ways. Like spray.

Too much information, you say? Yes, well. That happens on blogs.

Anyhow, this one bookcase bore the brunt of it. We loved him enough to deal with the constant clean-up, but I’m afraid there was no saving the bookcase. Still, the top shelves were fine.

But I digress. If you don’t happen to have a spare bookshelves lying around, I’m sure you can work something out with a lumber store.

The top of the monitor, apparently, should be about level with your eyes. A good typing height is when your arms are somewhere past ninety degrees. I dunno. Two layers of mini pop cans plus a couple of Jane Austen novels feels about right for me, and I’m five foot six. Not my favourite Jane Austen novels, obviously. Those ones, I need regular access to.

And there you have it. A homemade standing desk. It’s not very original, I’m afraid. You can find examples of this sort of thing all over the web. I like to think of the wrapping paper as my own personal touch, though.

Is it working? So far, so good. I like it. If you want to try it yourself, though, I recommend wearing a good pair of shoes. And buying a brand of pop that you won’t be tempted to drink.

Just for fun: my first attempt was with Lego. I couldn’t find enough of the really big-sized Lego, and it didn’t feel stable enough. But it sure was colourful.