WTF is a "deskmill"? (pic heavy)

It's just my lazy-*kitten* term for a treadmill desk. Some say "tread-desk" but I don't like how that sound. Several of my MFPals have asked me about mine so I figured I'd create this topic to show it and answer questions, if any.

On my current sedentary desk job, I'm a thrice-weekly teleworker. I have the option to do 4 or 5 day teleworking (TW) like most of my teammates, but I like to go on-site semi-weekly to take advantage of the free workplace gym and plentiful stairs for cardio (one of the tallest skyscrapers in the state). Plus, it doesn't hurt that their cafe has killer food that's already preloaded into MFP's database!
I bought a FitBit One (FBO) in early 2013. One thing that the FBO helped me to quickly realized was that when I worked from home, I sat at my desk for 95% of my workday getting up only once for bio-break and lunch. I could go well into the evening with only a couple hundred steps to show for it. I figured that since most of my work is done solo and I often have large stretches of read-intensive tasks, maybe I can stand or do some light cardio while working.
I did some research on treadmill desks and found that they were obnoxiously expensive and were usually tied to a treadmill with little functionality. Since I already had a kick-*kitten* treadmill, I figured that I could just 'MacGyver' something together. I looked around my house for stuff and tossed together this prototype with some clamps, no-skid shelf paper, and an unused closet shelf:



As you see, I used the no-skid shelf paper to both keep the clamps from shifting, as well as keep my laptop and other devices from sliding. It was simple, cheap (stuff I already had), yet functional and I used it successfully for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile I keep periodically searching the Internet for inspiration and ideas. Most of the homemade solutions I found were either too complex (e.g. requiring serious carpentry skills) or were too customized to fit a specific model of treadmill. I kept looking for something simple, inexpensive, yet flexible enough to use on almost any treadmill.

FINALLY I found it! I shamelessly stole my design from this blogger's site:

This guy had the same problems I had, but found a solution and generously shared it with the World. (Ain't the Internet great?)
I followed his advice down to the part # and the whole thing was less than $50 (I'm thinking about $41 in total, but not sure). It's simple, sturdy, and yet easily breaks down to store almost anywhere, like under a bed (FYI: I store mine between the treadmill and the luggage behind it).

Here's what it looked like the first time I used it:




As you can see, I had my work laptop, a 15" LCD screen, and a few other items on the desk. Many months later, even though the desk itself remains the same, my work layout it has changed drastically. I put a LOT more stuff on the desk now than I did back then, all for the sake of convenience. Once I hop on my "deskmill", I don't want to stop for anything other than a bio-break or an emergency.
I now keep a folding chair behind the treadmill to hold a surge protector and my work laptop and docking station to free up some room on the desk. Since my workouts are towards the end of my workday, I like to have stuff on the desk for after work as well since I'll be using it up to 4 hours. Here's a list of the maximum amount of stuff I've had on the desk simultaneously:
• 24" LCD (portrait mode)
• 20" LCD (landscape mode)
• Personal 17" laptop
• Keyboard/mouse (connected to work docking station)
• Fan (8" or 10", I forgot)
• Clip lamp
• Work BlackBerry
• Personal cell phone
• Personal tablet
• Water bottle
• snacks (e.g. trail mix)
• Cordless phone
• TV/CATV remote
• Roku remote
Everything was easily within reach and I could still see the TV. The one downside is that I couldn't see the treadmill screen but that was a non-issue. When I'm working, I'm going steady-state and don't do intervals or anything like that. Also, my treadmill has speed and incline controls on the arms, so I can always reach under the desk to make those changes if necessary.

Lessons learned
1) Stability:
I was fortunate because my treadmill has a small ledge under the display. I put a long strip of non-skid contact paper there and place the "lip" of the table firmly in that notch. That keeps the desk from moving front/back or side/side. If I'm jogging there might be a little wobble but that's to be expected. If you don't have this advantage, then use short bungie cords to attach the
side arms of the table to the treadmill for extra stability.

2) Electrostatic discharge (ESD):
I have hairy arms/legs and usually wear Dri-Weave or nylon/polyester type workout clothes. Between that and walking on a treadmill, I'm basically a living Van de Graaff generator! Obviously that doesn't go well with electronics. My solution was two-fold: I wear cotton shorts exclusively when deskmilling at home and I use an anti-static strap connected to the table. As a habit, I touch the metal part of the table right before touching anything on the table anyway.

3) What you can and can't do while deskmilling:
Just for giggles, I called my Mom on the phone to see whether she could hear the treadmill. She couldn't but she could definitely hear the rhythmic footfalls of my US size 15s! So business-related phone calls are out. However, I can participate in teleconferencing where my role is essentially listen-only. If I had to, I could pause the treadmill and unmute my phone to say something, but that's the exception, not the rule. On the other hand, I can address personal phone calls without issue. Either way, I keep a phone headset within arm's reach
When I use my deskmill, I try to get most/all of my write-intensive tasks (e.g design work, Visio drawings, etc) done in the morning and target my workouts for late afternoons free of any phone meetings so I can focus on read-intensive tasks (e.g. reading email, peer reviews, etc.) Through trail-and-error, I've determined that I can work effectively while walking at speeds from 2.5-3.0 mph and at any incline (0-15%). Any faster than that and either my keyboard/mouse skills deteriorate or I'm bouncing too much to read effectively. Any slower than that and it actually requires my attention to maintain balance while walking that slow (I'm 6'4" and walk fast).

Well, that's all I can think of right now (I know, I know, TL;DR:ohwell: ). I hope this helps someone. Feel free to reply here with questions, comments, etc. :drinker:

*Edited to resize pics and correct some spelling.


  • TakinSexyBack
    TakinSexyBack Posts: 300 Member
    That is just awesome!! Smart and "get your mind offa what you are really doing" at the same time! LOVE IT!!! :love:
  • starlite_79
    starlite_79 Posts: 88 Member
    This is ingenious. An innovative way to incorporate more activity into an otherwise sedentary job. Bravo, sir!
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,263 Member
    You can buy them "pre-made" but love that you converted yours!
  • mamma_nee
    mamma_nee Posts: 809 Member
    How cool is that !!
  • shazzannon
    shazzannon Posts: 117 Member
    Love it. I'm going to swipe the inlaw's treadmill and set up my own. Plan to never leave the house getting closer and closer...
  • WalkingAlong
    WalkingAlong Posts: 4,926 Member
    Nice! I have one of those 'model specific' solutions for mine. A 'lap desk' just wedges between my treadmill bar and console and holds my laptop fine. But to have room for a mouse (hate the trackpad) I have it next to a desk or windowsill where I can put a box.

    I have a 24"x48"x36" stainless steel worktable in the garage, that Costco sells for like $125. I wonder if I put the casters it came with on, if it'd be tall enough and would just roll over the treadmill and off easily?

    Wow, you can walk FAST while working!
  • JazmineYoli
    JazmineYoli Posts: 547 Member
    Awesome way to work. My job is also sedentary. I wish I could get something like that here. BTW, I hope you don't spill that water because everything will be ruined.