Who are the key manufacturers of treadmill desk equipment?
Manufacturers in the treadmill desk sector basically fall into two categories: treadmill makers and furniture makers. Good treadmill makers are rarely good furniture makers, and the desk component will likely be just an afterthought: Manufacturers will often slap on an optional desk that’s aesthetically, if not literally, attached to their treadmill bases. In terms of price, utility, ergonomics, and aesthetics, these second-rate “desks” aren’t as good as the real deal, so we pretty much always recommend that treadmill desk users customize their ideal workstation by selecting the best treadmill base and pairing it with the best adjustable height desk for their needs. You can read our comparison review of walking treadmill bases to learn about and compare specific treadmill models. Also check out our comparison review for electric and manual desks to find the right desk to pair with your treadmill. Here, we’ll be talking a little about the main players in the treadmill desk market today.
The Major Treadmill Desk Manufacturers Today:
The latest player to emerge on the office fitness scene, iMovR is ushering the next stage of evolution for treadmill desks. With the debut of their new ThermoTread GT office treadmill desk, iMovR was the first manufacturer to design a treadmill from the ground up for the corporate environment. Whereas other treadmill manufacturers still remain rooted to the traditional “gym treadmill” DNA of old, iMovR’s treadmill is built with an office-first philosophy. Everything from its frame, its walking deck, and its speed are optimized for work in an office. Even its software and controller are built with an eye towards productivity: Through iMovR’s CloudStation™, users will be able to control their treadmill, desk, and other office fitness equipment from one place, and receive continuous features and updates useful not only to individual users, but large enterprise customers as well. You can read more about the ThermoTread GT here.
In addition to their innovative new office treadmill, iMovR designs a wide selection of adjustable height stand up desks. These desks feature the latest in standing desk technology, with high adjustability, stellar performance scores, and greater durability than other stand up desks with similar prices. iMovR’s desks are also designed with treadmill desk users in mind: Their max heights surpass current standing desk standards to account for the added height of a treadmill, and their Omega line of desks—the Everest, Olympus, and Denali—address treadmill desk ergonomics in a way no other desk has before. More than any other manufacturer, iMovR has created a perfect marriage between a powerful, office-ready treadmill, and a variety of treadmill-optimized desks.
A pioneering Taiwanese manufacturer of cardio fitness equipment – the first to focus so heavily on the office market – Lifespan Fitness has probably done more to elevate awareness of treadmill desking than any other company, through its ambitious television and online advertising campaigns. They offer a line of three different treadmill bases – the TR800, TR1200 and TR5000 – all of them well built, reliable, attractive and user friendly. Prices range from $799 to $1999 for the respective treadmill bases. Compared to the more advanced technology from companies like iMovR, Lifespan’s products are “no frills,” and they haven’t made any enhancements to them since their first introduction in 2011. Still, they’ve managed to sell nearly 50,000 office treadmills in the first four years, according to the company (unverified).
LifeSpan also builds matching desk furniture that are aesthetically and physically well paired with the three treadmill bases – the DT5 manual desk model and the DT7 electric desk model. However, while LifeSpan’s bases are our experts’ favorites and the popular favorites among users, our lab testing has shown these desks to be the least ergonomically desirable of the many choices on the market. Thus we always recommend that consumers mix-and-match a LifeSpan base with their favorite desk equipment from a quality manufacturer, many of which we review in our comprehensive Comparison Review of Electric Desks, and Manual Desks.
In the market longer than any other company, Steelcase was the Mayo Clinic’s original commercial partner in creating the Walkstation and Sit-to-Walkstation treadmill desks. That was in 2007. Although the company is rumored to have sold over 70,000 workstations to Fortune 500 companies the product is somewhat orphaned within this multi-billion dollar corporation, and it has not been updated since its first introduction.
Pressure from new competitors like LifeSpan, iMovR, and InMovement, has shrunken Steelcase’s market share to a very small portion. The Walkstation is rarely found outside large corporate campuses as steelcase has no retail sales channels to speak of, preferring to sell only through “contract furniture dealers.” Steelcase has repeatedly declined to have their products tested at the WorkWhileWalking labs, so our Steelcase Walkstation review is based largely on user reports and Steelcase’s own published specs. Company representatives have told us that they have no plans to enhance or aggressively promote the 2007-vintage product, although they’ll still ship it to anyone who orders one.
This “mom and pop” company has been selling a low cost treadmill base for almost as long as Steelcase has, since 2007, positioning itself against the far more expensive Steelcase unit. The TreadDesk treadmill base is one of the most poorly-rated in the industry due to it being underpowered and underbuilt for the rigors of continuous walking, and really being little more than a repackaged running treadmill. After our detailed review exposed the TreadDesk’s lack of UL certification and numerous safety issues, the company decided to start offering the LifeSpan TR1200 as its primary treadmill base ahead of its own “Original Model.”
LifeSpan’s entry into the workplace solutions market in 2011 sucked all the oxygen out of the room and ever since then TreadDesk appears to have hit hard times, often asking customers to put down 50% cash deposits, which they will hold until they have enough money to purchase another container load of TreadDesks from Southeast Asia.
A brand new “mom and pop” company, Rebel Desk launched late 2013 as a low-end option for the frugal consumer who might also like its smaller profile and metallic silver (plastic) aesthetic that is tuned more to the office environment than to the gym. Rebel submitted their unit for testing at WorkWhileWalking but it unfortunately failed catastrophically in the very early stages of testing.
Until engineering improvements are made the Rebel 1000 treadmill (price slashed to $699) is a unit of questionable reliability, that might perhaps work alright for small, lightweight users but is not recommended for heavier users or situations where multiple people would be sharing the machine. As with the TreadDesk, the value just isn’t there with the Rebel 1000, especially when compared to the robustly-made LifeSpan TR800 ($799), backed by a company with a reputation for quality and service.
Exerpeutic’s first mistake is using a fixed-height desk. This lack of adjustability means that users who are particularly tall or short will not be able to use the desk comfortably. Switching between sitting, standing, and walking is much more difficult as well. The Workfit 2000’s lack of adjustability, combined with the hideous obstruction on the front edge of the “desk top” make the Workfit 2000 an ergonomic nightmare, guaranteed to strain users’ neck, shoulders, and wrists.
The treadmill is ill-suited for use as a NEAT device, and fails every test we have at the WorkWhileWalking labs. For a bit more of an investment, users can find a truly adjustable treadmill desk that they can use comfortably and in a wider array of modalities.
Signature is a wood desk manufacturer that had been making treadmill desks for several years using Pace brand running treadmills. The bad reviews eventually got to them and they dropped the Pace line in favor of the OEMed LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 base. Some people may like the look of a Signature desk but they’re not a very popular option compared to the much more modern adjustable-height desks available from quality manufacturers such as we review on this site.