Walking My Way to ‘The End’

feet-on-treadmillI’ve wanted a treadmill desk for years. Writing books requires a lot of sitting, and though I go to the gym regularly, do yoga, and walk Team Sheltie daily, that sitting wasn’t doing me any good. I could feel it in stiff hips at the end of the day. I could see it as my pants got tight. With a family history of heart disease, obesity and diabetes (both my mother and my grandmother) getting off my butt was a priority.  Each passing birthday seemed to underscore my slowing metabolism and my need to increase my activity level. Yet I needed – wanted – to keep writing.

I tried standing up to work for a while. It was incredibly fatiguing and my low back didn’t like it. A treadmill desk seemed a wise solution. Since I read on both the elliptical and stationary bike at the gym, I didn’t think I’d have trouble adjusting to moving and typing.

I started looking at manufactured treadmill desks, but my budget was low and they were expensive so that option was out. Unfortunately the budget wasn’t the only thing that was low.  I also have a low ceiling.

My office is in the basement.  It’s a lovely L-shaped room with charming nooks, a little bay window with an upholstered window seat overlooking my herb garden. But it’s a small space with a ceiling clearance of about six feet.   Treadmills have a base anywhere from five to eight inches off the ground before you step onto the walking surface and I’m 5’4”.  That meant finding a low height treadmill with a reasonably compact set up.   I needed it to fit into my office in such a way that my existing desk remained. I wasn’t sure how I’d adapt and given that I work for about seven hours a day, I wanted the option of toggling back and forth between two work stations. That also meant two monitors, possibly two keyboards as well. As the potential costs and complications ratcheted up, my enthusiasm and determination plummeted.

Enter Mr. Petrol Head AKA The Man I Married who not only loves cars but also loves a challenge. And he yields a mean hammer. He built my window seat and he took it upon himself to figure out a way we could make a treadmill desk work.

He measured and mulled, finally concluding that we could squeak one in if I would move my existing sit-down desk closer to the window seat, if I was willing to buy a low height treadmill, and if I could find one with arms that were short, straight and wouldn’t get in the way of a keyboard (not as easy as you might think).

After a lot of on line research and in person looking at new and used models (and passing on several too-big Nordic Tracks which I seriously coveted), we decided on a mid-range Tempo model from Canadian Tire. The bottom-of-line line model seemed too flimsy and the high end version had bells and whistles I didn’t need. I began saving my pennies and went to work relocating my sit-down desk. At the same time, a good friend switched from a PC to a MAC and she sold me (for a ridiculously low price) her (nearly new) monitor, keyboard and mouse. Thank you, Lea Tassie.    My long-held dream was close.

imgtreadmilldeskstandaloneA few weeks before we were going to purchase the new treadmill, the same model showed up on Used Victoria. It was a year old and had been used maybe a dozen times (funny, that nearly new trend was rampant in virtually all the used treadmills we looked at). We hustled out to take a look.  It was just what I wanted. Same model and in beautiful shape.  I was ecstatic. “We’ll take it,” I told the seller though a niggle of doubt crept into my mind. It looked a LOT bigger by itself than it did in the store beside all the other behemoths.

“Get on,” the seller urged.

So I did. I stepped onto it, raised my arms like I was typing, and I stared straight ahead at a monitor position. They turned it on. And I almost fell off.    “Slow it down.” I grabbed the arms and steadied myself. “I need it on the lowest possible speed if I’m going to be able to work on this thing.”

The seller looked at Mr. Petrol Head. Mr. Petrol Head looked at me. “It’s on the lowest possible setting,” he said. “It doesn’t get any lower than this.”

I didn’t believe him. (Mr. Petrol Head lies). He wasn’t lying then.  It was on the lowest setting.  It was also destined to be ours.  We brought it home that afternoon.

Next week: how we set it up and how it’s working.


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