A Simple, Effective Treadmill Desk
Someone asked for details about my treadmill desk, so here they are:
I use an unmodified Horizon T101, purchased from Academy Sports for about $600. It had good reviews and a folding treadmill base–a requirement since I installed it in our game room, where the Xbox Kinnect lives. It also has simple, horizonal handrails, also a requirement for my purposes.
The idea behind a treadmill desk is to WALK while you work (you can’t very well do any work while jogging!), so much of the length of the handrails and deck are unneeded. I simply laid my “desk” across them.
I bought a 4′ length of standard 16″ wire shelving ($9, from the closet renovation section of the local hardware superstore), cut it down to an inch wider than the hand rails, and capped the cut ends with caps sold with the shelf (I used a bolt cutter, but the store has a shelf cutting machine). I laid this across the hand rails (upside down, with the stiffening rib toward me to provide support should I lean on it or trip).
I’m tall, so I topped this with an 18.5″ x 8″ stackable shelf (with folding legs). These legs are meant to clip into the wire shelf and bind a little against the stiffening rib, but with a little wiggling, it went together and hasn’t budged. I still found this a tad low, so I put a handy box on top of this for my netbook (shown).
Not only is this a cheap solution, it’s flexible. I can set the box and the netbook aside when I’m using my gigantic work laptop. To use the Xbox Kinnect, I simply set the whole desk to one side and fold up the treadmill.
If you want more of a proper desk surface, you could add a plastic surface. You could also replace the shelf altogether with one of the a pre-finished pine table tops sold at the hardware store (they come in square sizes and might have to be cut along one edge, but the store will make a cut for you and you can buy a pack of sandpaper).
Now, any treadmill desk requires some consumer diligence. If you try to drink coffee without stepping off the treadmill first, you are not going to have a nice morning. If you don’t manage your cords sensibly, you could get into all manner of trouble. If you work in a cold-dry room, you can generate enough static electricity to damage electronics (I plug in a spare USB cable and tuck it under my shirt. Grounding wristbands are available online and can be grounded to metal on the treadmill). And then again, once you get used to your desk, you’ll step onto it while it isn’t running and lurch forward–expecting it to move. But with common sense and care, it works extremely well and is a damnsight cheaper than a custom made treadmill desk.
Good luck, and remember to keep the manual and tools that come with your treadmill handy. I use mine so much, I had walked a hundred miles in less than a month and had to tighten and lubricate the belt (easy).