LifeSpan Treadmill Desk Review
- Lab tested
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Lifespan’s entry into the treadmill desk market is literally the event that led us to start developing this reviews and advice website back in 2012. As the first commercially-produced treadmill desk offering reasonably priced, reasonable quality alternatives to the first treadmill desk (a severely overpriced one from Steelcase), we know that many thousands of our readers over the years started their foray into treadmill desking with a Lifespan Fitness TR800, TR1200 or TR5000 under their feet. The pandemic has taken many victims in the business world, too, and we’re sad to report that the once-great Lifespan Fitness product appear to have contracted a bad case of “long Covid.” The company is now wholly owned and operated by its former exclusive manufacturing partner in Taiwan, with not even a phone number for retail customers to call in the United States. Prices have been dramatically increased while the treadmill products have had their warranties completely eliminated as a “shrinkflation” tactic to maintain profit margins. (Prepare to include one of their “extended” warranty plans in your purchase price, starting at $270, if you still choose to take a chance on the company.) Specs, photography and other outward indications reveal the company’s complete lack of understanding of the ergonomics of working at a walking workstation, leading customers to set up potentially injurious desk configurations. Not surprisingly, the company’s website traffic and market share is dwindling quickly as the American senior management team that ran the company for 19 years have walked out the door, taking their deep institutional knowledge with them. We’ve had to rescind our buy recommendations across the board on the Lifespan products as for the prices Lifespan they now charge you could step up to a much higher-quality product, with a solid warranty, much higher longevity, far more extensive desk size and color options, and first-rate American engineering and customer support.
|MSRP / List Price||
Lifespan Fitness “Classic” Treadmill Desks (with manually-fixed height desk)
Lifespan Fitness “Power” Treadmill Desks (with electrically height-adjustable desk base)
(New in 2022) Lifespan Fitness “Omni” Treadmill Desks (with electrically height-adjustable desk base and new “OmniHub” desktop controller)
Free shipping to ground level entry. $199 upgrade to “Room of Choice”. $299 upgrade to “White Glove” delivery, which includes unboxing and assembly.
MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY IS NO LONGER INCLUDED IN THE PRICE. See details in the review. An “extended” warranty plan must be purchased from Lifespan within 60 days of purchase of the treadmill. Add this to the base price of your purchase because, trust us, you do not want to ever buy a treadmill with zero warranty protection under any circumstances. Extended warranties start at around $270 but vary by model.
Both manual (set height once and leave it) and electrically-adjustable desks are offered.
“Glowup” treadmills are sold standalone, without a desk. Standard is the “retro” desktop brick that controls just the treadmill. The new OmniHub controller being introduced in 2022 is a newer style with a different shape and a large LCD display, but only available on the TR1200 and TR5000. “Power Treadmill Desks” have the desk height and treadmill controller combined into the arm rest at the user edge of the desk. The controller for the Standing Desk, when sold separately, is a standard LCD readout affair with four programmable height presets.
Desktops only come in 38″, 48″ and 60″ widths, however we’ve noticed that only a few color/size combinations are apparently stocked, so check the website for availability.
Desktop Colors: Bamboo, Birch, Maple, White, Modern White, Cool Gray, Obsidian Black (however we’ve noticed that only a few color/size combinations are apparently stocked, so check the website for actual availability).
Desktops are either of high-pressure laminate or powder coat, but Lifespan doesn’t indicate which is used for each color. Presumably the woodgrain colors are HPL. The solid color tops could be either.
27.5″ to 50.5″ (measured from the floor, not from the treadmill desk, which is 7.25″ high)
Desks are rated for 220 lbs lift capacity, minus the weight of the desktop.
Treadmill user weight limits are:
Note than Lifespan treadmills have a limited number of hours per use per day duty cycle, exceeding which may void your warranty.
|Walking Belt Size||
TR-800: 45″ x 18”
“Retro” console dimensions: 12.5” W x 3” D x 2” H
TR-800: 2.0 HP
Some controllers on some models have Bluetooth sync to a Lifespan Fitness app that’s supposed to work with a lot of their exercise equipment line, but it works very poorly, if at all, with the office treadmill models.
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Where to buy||
Buy on LifeSpan
Buy on Amazon
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||After a decade of reviewing Lifespan Fitness treadmill desks, given recent changes at the company we've had to remove all the positives related to the original line of equipment, and can no longer recommend any of them to our readers - see details in review.|
|Negatives||The pioneer in the democratization of treadmill desks, Lifespan Fitness is under new management now, and things are not the same. Warranties have been completely removed (you now have to buy an "extended" warranty at time of purchase if you want any service on your treadmill). Component quality has been reduced while prices have gone up dramatically on both the "Glowup" standalone treadmill bases and the desks that Lifespan sells to go with them. The desks themselves are commodity-grade standing desks that come in a very limited range of sizes and colors, most of which appear to be out of stock most of the time, yet are priced at a very high premium compared to other, much better desks you can buy to pair with a treadmill base.|
The Lifespan Fitness Backstory
The founding editors of this website got the gumption to launch WorkWhileWalking (and WorkWhileStanding, which eventually merged into this site) back in 2012, specifically because Lifespan Fitness made a bold entry into the treadmill desk marketplace that finally legitimized it. Prior to their arrival there were only three options for someone who wanted to have a treadmill desk: a) Steelcase’s insanely overpriced and unreliable Walkstation Treadmill Desk, b) the now-defunct, incredibly poorly-made TreadDesk or Signature Treadmill Desk alternatives to the $5000 Steelcase unit, or c) taking the DIY route by hacking a rehab treadmill into a reasonably reliable, slow-speed treadmill desk.
Lifespan was the first legit player to commercialize the treadmill desk with a reasonably-priced range of products to suit almost every customer type. These included the flagship TR1200-DT3 office treadmill, the lower-cost TR800-DT3 and the heavy-duty TR5000-DT3, as well as the DT5 and DT7 integrated treadmill desk workstations with their manually and electrically height-adjustable standing desks, respectively. Tens of thousands were sold to corporations, government, education and residential home offices over the past decade. Lifespan treadmill desks would regularly appear in TV shows from The Good Wife to Alpha House.
Lifespan’s foray into active office workstations eventually attracted many competitors into the field (see our round-up review of all the under-desk treadmill bases and all the top-rated treadmill desk systems); most of which, at this stage of the game, have already joined the Dead Pool. Quite a few big brand names in cardio equipment, and a few misguided startups chased this shiny object only to find out that building and marketing a good treadmill desk would take a lot more than just removing the large pedestal console and replacing it with a desktop controller to make room for an actual desk. The only serious competitor Lifespan has ever had since 2015 has been iMovR, which stands stronger than ever with its premium-grade, enterprise-class ThermoTread GT treadmill base, and a wide array of integrated treadmill desk systems build around it such as the Lander Treadmill Desk.
Lifespan’ DNA was definitely formed in the crucible of sports equipment development, though, and this really showed in their rather pitiful offerings on the desk side of the treadmill desk combo. When asked, ergonomists shunned all treadmill desks for a long time because the Lifespan DT5 and DT7 rendition was all they’d ever seen at a trade show. Eventually Lifespan caved, and started to offer an ever-changing variety of standing desk alternatives, sourcing commodity-grade options from their factory peers in China and just bundling them with their treadmill bases. The DT5 and DT7 were eventually removed entirely from the Lifespan website, though they are still being blown out through Amazon.
At present, the only desks sold in bundles with the treadmill bases on Lifespan’s website are the generically-named Lifespan Fitness Standing Desk, which we’ve reviewed separately. Like the DT5 and DT7 desks, the new “Power Desk” line that’s based on this desk commits the same original ergonomic sin. Between the user and their keyboard is situated a deep forearm resting cushion with an embedded console for controlling the treadmill. This forces the user into a shoulder-forward posture as they type with their upper body weight resting on their forearms to maintain stability. At least that’s how the company liked to demonstrate it at trade shows and in videos. Lifespan Fitness’ desk offerings have always been incompatible with the installation of ergonomic keyboard trays, especially the old-school DT5 and DT7 models.
While the company has never had any certificated ergonomists on staff, and always knew vastly more about working out on cardio equipment than they ever did about office workstation ergonomics, the current marketing team understands even less. Shockingly less. Perusing some of their recent social media postings we found numerous publicity shots, like this one here, that will curve your spine just looking at them. Here we have a a TR800 “Classic” treadmill desk set to a fixed sitting height, with a birch standing desk converter on top of it. For all the hardware in this photo there is no ergonomic monitor to hold up the display so the user’s neck is craning down, while the model is fake-typing in a completely unergonomic posture. What exactly is the point of putting a converter on top of an adjustable-height desk? More importantly, what is the point of using a treadmill desk in such a way as to create multiple potential ergonomic injuries? What is the point of setting a treadmill desk at sitting height, not walking height? So many questions.
Another tipoff that Lifespan’s marketing team doesn’t know the first thing about office fitness is that they’ve rebranded all their standalone treadmill bases from “-DT3”, e.g. the TR800-DT3 which they still sell on Amazon, to “Glowup” as in the TR800-Glowup that they market on their own website. (There don’t appear to be any differences between these other than the fact that the prices on the Amazon listings can be as much as several hundred dollars cheaper on some days.) But the term “glowup” really gets us, because as we’ve long said, “if you’re sweating while treadmill desking, you’re doing it wrong.”
Lifespan marketing materials often refer to walking at your desk as “a workout” instead of what it’s supposed to be: introducing healthy movement into your sedentary work routine. Sweating at your desk is anathema to the goal of treadmill desking, where you want that extra oxygen going to your brain, not your muscles. If you need some cardio exercise you should get it at the gym, not the office. As many years of Mayo Clinic research has supported, the goal is always to keep your heart rate and metabolic rate in the NEAT Zone. Perhaps this is one reason Lifespan Fitness never sought NEAT Certification; they’ve always left the top-end speed of their under-desk treadmills at 4.0 mph, way higher than the recommended 1-2.5 mph speed most office workers use, in order not to turn away customers who literally wanted to jog at their desks—with all the implied injury risks that entails.
Change of Command
Originally founded by ex-IBM sales account manager Pete Schenk after the dot-com bubble burst in the summer of 2000, the company ran with his hand on the tiller for 19 years. Not the actual manufacturer of any of these products, Salt Lake City, Utah-based Lifespan Fitness (technically, Park City Entertainment) had negotiated the exclusive distribution rights in North America and Europe for gym equipment products, and later treadmill desk and cycle desk products—all manufactured by Strength Master, a mid-tier manufacturer of cardio fitness equipment based in Taiwan and China.
It’s unclear how much ownership control the Taiwanese management team had over Lifespan prior to Schenk’s departure, but contrary to impressions the US-based company liked to put out to the world, the Utah contingent never really had much design input into the products they sold. This led to challenges over time. The company was never really in charge of its own destiny, and only had the management bench strength to be a capable distributor, not an actual technology innovation leader in the industry. The company that is always pushing the technology and ergonomic research on treadmill desks has always been, and remains iMovR. (iMovR also partnered with The Mayo Clinic to publish the only solid research on things like How Many Calories Can You Really Expect to Burn Using a Standing Desk or Treadmill Desk?)
Lifespan Fitness itself did not employ any engineers. This led to long-standing problems with some features, especially those around Bluetooth and the smartphone app, which never worked reliably and still don’t. Product reliability was always a concern because the Taiwanese factory wanted to make one treadmill base for both cardio fitness and office workstation applications. In fact, the service manuals for the office treadmills and running treadmills (e.g. TR800i, TR1200i) are exactly the same. This instigated a fundamental conflict as to where to set the gearing ratios on the motor-flywheel-pulley-head roller power transmission system. The consequence of this is that the office treadmills have never had sufficient torque at low speeds, like the 1-2 mph speed that most workstation users are walking at. This led to a shortened useful life span for the costly motor, and mounting warranty claims over the years. (We get into all the nerdy details on this issue in our primer on Do Treadmill Desk Weight Ratings Really Matter? if you want to learn more.)
From interviews with Lifespan executives over the years we learned that the company was never really on very solid financial footing. The tariffs imposed on China only affected some of the products that Strength Master made in their Chinese factory. But the pandemic, sadly, appears to have dealt a rather significant body blow to the company. In March of 2019, insiders tell us that Schenk simply “walked away from the company.” Clearly the Taiwanese are in charge of what remains of Lifespan Fitness now, with the daughter of Strength Master’s CEO moving to Utah to oversee the operation as its new CEO. More recently, we learned from a wave of departing employees that they were told by the company that they were all being summarily laid off, without warning, “due to covid.”
Ever since Schenk’s departure the company’s reputation has rapidly devolved, sad to say. Many product descriptions and specifications have been dumbed down, well-hidden or completely removed from the website. There is no phone number to call (and when we called the number we had for the company we just went into a hold queue forever before being invited to leave voicemail). Lucy the live chat bot is badly programmed, and doesn’t know how to answer a single question about the treadmill desk products, only classroom products and gym equipment. The only way to communicate with the company appears to be through email, and we’ve read numerous user complaints on various networks like the BBB about customers not getting any kind of response on warranty claims and other issues. Places, that is, where Lifespan couldn’t scrub out bad reviews, as they can on their own website.
Lifespan Fitness doesn’t feel like the same company we knew so well in the formative years of the treadmill desk industry. It is sad to see what remains of its remote controlled husk today. The product offerings appear to have been thinned out and maximally cost-reduced, and the warranties have been completely removed from the treadmills. If you want a warranty on your treadmill you now have to buy it as an “extended warranty” upgrade. Calling it an “extended warranty” implies that there’s some standard manufacturer’s warranty that it is adding more years to, but there is none documented anywhere on the website any longer. What used to be the standard warranty for the first decade that these products were sold in the USA is now the minimum extended warranty you can tack on for $270.
We suppose that’s one way to keep prices down in the face of tariffs and rampant deep ocean freight cost increases since the pandemic, but we simply can’t recommend any product that has no standard warranty at all. These aren’t $20 phone chargers, they’re $1,000 – $3,000 treadmills and treadmill desks. Caveat emptor should you choose to plunk down your cold hard cash on a Lifespan Fitness product today. (Note that we do find the original TR800, TR1200 and TR5000 treadmills, in DT3 (standalone base), DT5 (with manually-fixed height setting) and DT7 (with electric height setting) still being sold on Amazon. It’s unclear whether or not these are sold with an intact manufacturer’s warranty; none is mentioned in the Amazon listings but neither are the extended warranty options. Buying through Amazon may at least give you a modicum of consumer protection if you have a problem in the first 30 days.)
Not surprisingly, Lifespan’s website traffic has also been notably degraded since the pandemic, at a time when fitness equipment, treadmill desk and standing desk categories are all booming. We used to know many of the people in the organization from trade shows and other interactions; almost to a one have moved on to other employment over the past few years. These days we learn much more about goings on at the company from departed employees than from anyone still in active management. It is a bit depressing to see the most recognized pioneer in popularizing the treadmill desk concept fall so far from its perch.
Mix-and-Match is the Better Way to Go
The LifeSpan office treadmill bases used to have had a fairly decent reputation for quality construction and good service before the change in command at the company. Sadly this is no longer the case what appears to have been some redesign for the sake of cost reduction, and the elimination of the warranty coverage they used to provide, as most treadmill manufacturers do, with the original purchase. But their desks have never had a good reputation; it’s just not in this gym equipment manufacturer’s DNA to build office furniture.
More or less copycat designs of the Steelcase Walkstation’s severely non-ergonomic desk design, LifeSpan’s DT5 (one-time adjustable-height) and DT7 (electric adjustable-height) desks were clearly designed by gym equipment engineers, not furniture experts. These are no longer sold on Lifespan’s website but are still being sold on Amazon. The current desk offering on Lifespan’s own site is the generically-named Lifespan Fitness Standing Desk. It is just a commodity-grade, Chinese-made standing desk priced above premium-grade desks made in the USA, with two year warranties and many other shortcomings you can read about in our separate review.
Because LifeSpan is not a world-class office furniture manufacturer we always recommend to anyone considering a LifeSpan under-desk treadmill that they seek an alternative desk to pair with it, and avoid the color/size limitations, poor ergonomic design, and diminished resale value that the DT5 and DT7 desks have become known for. Numerous other manufacturers offer adjustable-height standing desks that can work well in a treadmill desk configuration, and you’ll spend the same money—or less—for a far, far better user experience, not to mention a nicer fit with your space and decor.
The best of those desks will have much higher top-end height adjustment, accommodating the 5″ – 7.25″ inches of treadmill deck height under foot and still having enough stability to work well in a walking desk application. All two-legged standing desks will be subject to some oscillation as the user’s walking sway is transmitted to the workstation, so you want more steel reinforcement and a lower center of gravity in the desk, among other features that improve standing desk stability. Truly ideal standing desks for use with a walking treadmill will also have a built-in SteadyType keyboard tray, such as on the iMovR Lander Treadmill Desk.
Matching a LifeSpan treadmill base with a different manufacturer’s desk also means that your treadmill’s display console will sit somewhere on your desktop rather than be bolted under the front edge of the desktop. That’s a good thing – bolt-on consoles further extend the distance between you and your keyboard and thus increase the potential for “computer hunch.”
While this seems like a minor inconvenience at first, having to reach farther forward to type for long periods of time can be a real pain, and proved quite painful for our stiffening shoulders. It doesn’t help that the DT5, DT7 and current “Power Desk” designs makes it difficult if not impossible to install an ergonomic keyboard tray underneath. (Ironically, all the gym equipment manufacturers chasing the treadmill desk market now – LifeSpan, ProForm, NordicTrak and InMovement (LifeFitness) have mimicked Steelcase’s ergonomically-ignorant design approach by creating a wide barrier of cushion strips and treadmill controls between the user and their keyboard.)
The LifeSpan Desk Options
Lifespan now offers three different options on their website when it comes to a matching standing desk to complete your treadmill desk system. (Again, this is different from what they sell on Amazon, which is the older generation of DT5 and DT7 desks.)
The Classic desks are an extremely simple affair, with a manually-set desk base that is effectively a fixed-height desk. It takes three people to reset the height of the desk—one to hold the desktop at the desired height, and one on each side to move the locking pin—so this isn’t something you’re going to want to do on an ongoing basis. If you plan to share this treadmill desk with any other users, unless they’re your identical twin, you’ll probably want an electrically-adjustable standing desk instead.
The Power desks are essentially the same as the Lifespan Fitness Standing Desks we’ve reviewed separately, but with a built-in arm rest on the user edge of the desk, where the treadmill controls are also embedded. While adding electric height adjustability is a necessary feature for any good treadmill desk workstation, the ergonomic tradeoff of having a deep arm rest between you and your keyboard can have significant ergonomic consequences. This approach to embedding the treadmill controller between the user and their computer keyboard forces their shoulders forward and creates other potential repetitive strain and posture-related injuries that could be avoided by using standalone treadmill base with a desktop controller (e.g. Lifespan’s “Glowup” treadmill) with any suitable standing desk.
The Omni desks are newly offered, with a new desktop LCD controller for the treadmill, and eliminating the ergonomic monstrosity of the deep arm rest that comes with the Power desks. So this is basically a straight bundle of a Glowup base with a Lifespan Fitness Standing Desks. There are no reviews on Lifespan’s website or Amazon yet for either the standalone Standing Desk, nor for this new “OmniHub” controller, which we look forward to lab testing in the near future. The original “retro” controllers still being offered with the Glowup standalone treadmills are fully reviewed in our lab-test reviews of the original TR800-DT3, TR1200-DT3 and TR5000-DT3 treadmill bases.
While the standing desks do have warranties, they are only two years long. Commodity-grade in quality, yet priced like premium-grade, American made standing desks that come with 15 year warranties, these desks are of a categorically poor consumer value, and come in so few sizes and colors that you’re not likely to find one ideally suited to your space or decor. Considering the many other options on the market, including standing desks from iMovR with optional height extensions and built-in SteadyType keyboard trays for treadmill users, there are way better desks out there for the money if you’re looking to pair appropriately with an under-desk treadmill.
The Bottom Line
(See out individual reviews of the seven different treadmill base models for details on their performance. This review addresses the combination of any of those with any of Lifespan’s desk offerings.)
The most important thing we have to caution consumers about when considering any Lifespan Fitness treadmill desk equipment is that the treadmills are no longer sold with any standard warranty coverage. This is extremely deceptive in their marketing. As tariffs and the pandemic-related global supply chain issues have caused treadmills to go way up in price, Lifespan has chosen both a cost-reduction and shrinkflation strategy to maintain their margins. This means the quality of components has been reduced, while they’ve surreptitiously removed some things from the product, like warranty coverage.
To get any warranty coverage at all you have to buy an Extended Warranty Coverage package from Lifespan. Treadmills are highly mechanical devices that are much more prone to needing occasional maintenance than something like a laptop computer, so warranty coverage is super important. We’d never recommend buying a treadmill without warranty coverage, so be sure to check what Lifespan is charging for an “extended” warranty (really the only warranty) on the model you’re considering, and factor it into the price you should expect to pay for the system.
We’d like to come up with a single good reason why someone should consider a Lifespan desk to pair with a LifeSpan treadmill base, but we can’t. The company’s DNA is clearly from the cardio equipment world, and despite being a forerunner in the burgeoning treadmill desk industry, a furniture maker they are not.
Far superior adjustable-height desks and treadmill desks are available from many of the vendors we review on this site. Of all those, our favorite treadmill desks by far are the SteadyType-equipped treadmill desks from iMovR, which offer the best ergonomics and stability for a treadmill desk user, maximizing their typic proficiency while avoiding ergonomically injurious postures. All the desk reviews on this site cover the basics a treadmill desk user will want to focus on, such as:
- Whether the maximum height of the desk is sufficient to overcome the 5″-7.25″ treadmill height under your feet (depending on the walking base model)
- Lateral and longitudinal stability to resist oscillations transmitted into the desk by the sway of the user’s body as they walk
- Clearance for treadmill base, and suitability for multi-user and sit-stand-walk configurations
- Bluetooth connectivity will become increasingly important as single-tap control of the desk, treadmill base and even monitor arms will be coordinated through a smartphone app (coming in 2022)
Be sure to check out all our reviews of the Best Treadmill Desks and Best Standing Desks on the market today. Before receiving your treadmill desk we highly recommend reading our helpful primer on What to Expect When You’re Expecting Your First Treadmill Desk.
Recommended Accessories for Treadmill Deskers
It’s worth mentioning that iMovR’s EcoLast TreadTop Standing Mat is a must-consider add-on accessory for any office treadmill. When you want to take a pause from walking the last thing you want to do is stand on the cushion-less hard deck of a treadmill for very long, lest your feet start to suffer. These TreadTop mats are premium-quality, 100% polyurethane standing mats that are shaped specifically to fit the 20″-wide belt tracks of the most popular office treadmill models. They can be used atop the desk or astride the treadmill if you have a sit-stand-walk workstation, or both.
LifeSpan offers their own lubricant, and recommends applying it to the deck after every 40 hours of use. However, we recommend the iMovR Treadmill Lubricant (100% Silicone) for its superior formulation and ease of application. See our primer on How to Lubricate A Treadmill for easy video instructions on how to keep any treadmill in tip-top running condition.
To protect your floors and your equipment, and reduce noise, static and vibration, an under-treadmill equipment mat is a great investment to consider as well. You’ll also want to check out reviews of the most stable monitor arms for treadmill desks to address one of the most important concerns of working at an active workstation, proper monitor height for avoiding next strain.