Complete Round Up of NEAT-Certified Products
Office fitness product manufacturers often make claims that haven’t been tested or proven by any independent organization. They often tend to overestimate the fitness aspect as well. A third-party certification that provides evidence and measures how much energy one can burn on, say, an active chair is exactly what Mayo Clinic offers the companies that want to get an accurate reading on energy expenditure from their products and use the NEAT trademark to rise above the competition.
Envisioned as the “Energy Star of office furniture,” NEAT certification proves that a product enables, motivates, or tracks Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis—the energy we expend through non-exercise movement like walking, standing, balancing, or fidgeting. Only a handful of brands have received the NEAT seal of approval so far.
It All Started With Treadmill Desks
All of this started with the extraordinary man who first conceived of NEAT, The Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology researcher Dr. James Levine, who many consider to be the father of this entire office fitness industry. Levine wrote two seminal books on this subject, which everyone on our editorial staff has read cover to cover and we highly recommend for all our readers:
In addition there are many YouTube videos of James Levine speaking at medical conferences and corporate wellness events that are worth a watch.
The literal inventor of the treadmill desk, Levine is the world’s leading evangelist for walking and standing while you work. Without his contributions to the field, quite frankly this website would not even exist. His work at Mayo Clinic helped prove that walking at 1mph raises energy expenditure by 139.7%, at 2mph by 210.5%, and at 3mph by 319.9%. The increase in energy expenditure during standing is modest in comparison—16.7%, but it is enough to exceed the certification requirement.
If treadmill desks and standing desks are inherently NEAT, there are other ergonomic accessories that also create a benefit for extending the period of time that users can work while standing or walking in comfort, and so the NEAT certification is also bestowed on some of those products, such as anti-fatigue standing mats and ergonomic balance boards.
iMovR, a pioneer in the field of treadmill desking and ergodynamics, developed some of the technology that Mayo Clinic used to gather data from various treadmill desks in order to measure users’ activities which were fed into the research database. You can now read the results of that research in our article on Mayo’s final determinative research on How Many Calories Can You Really Expect to Burn Using a Standing Desk or Treadmill Desk?
Following are abstracts and links to the full reviews we’ve conduction of all the products in the office fitness industry that were testing and certified by The Mayo Clinic for NEAT performance validation.
NEAT Certified Standing Desks
The Lander is clearly more future-proof than any other standing desk we’ve had the pleasure of testing. There have been some gimmicky predecessors that had an iPod built into the desktop (e.g. the Stir Desk) or a smartphone app (e.g. the Autonomous SmartDesk 3, from a bottom-bracket Chinese manufacturer with extraordinarily bad reliability and customer service record). And there have been multiple attempts at building in standing reminder notifications, but the results have been clunky, at best. The Lander is the first desk we’ve seen to put it all together in a clean way, with true ease-of-use, and on a top-tier mechanical platform.
All this comes at somewhat of a premium price, naturally. While the Lander isn’t the cheapest desk on the market, given its premium components, the value is clearly there. Desks built this well tend to last longer and easily justify their higher price by promising lower cost of ownership (purchase price divided by years of use) than cheaper models from China.
iMovR has managed to take the industry’s No. 1-rated, premium-technology standing desk, the original Lander, keep 90 percent of the technology features and significantly lower the entry price with this new Lander Lite offering. It’s a winner because of features like factory pre-assembly, Bluetooth-enabled height control paddle and smartphone app, built-in health coach, and the choice of over 50 colors of Surf(x) 3D-laminated or solid wood desktops resulting in superior value to consumers.
It’s hard to say what we like the most about the Jaxson desk, it has so many distinguishing features over the dozens of “ordinary” commodity-grade standing desks we’ve lab tested over the years. The ultra-reliable brushless motor technology in the base is obviously a standout, the Jaxson being the first standing desk in 24 years not to be built with brushed motors. The unobtrusive yet sleekly contoured handset is as “space age” as it gets in standing desk controls, with built-in Bluetooth, an infrared presence sensor and NFC. But it’s the overall styling that really grabs us, from the chamfered square columns to the ergo-contoured 3D-laminated tops, there are no hard edges to this desk. Where many standing desks have an industrial equipment aesthetic, the Jaxson with its warm colors and softened edges just looks nicer in any home or commercial office environment. And the industry-leading 15 year “top to bottom” warranty and 100-day satisfaction guarantee is classic iMovR. At only a slight premium in price to the most popular standing desks out there today (all of which are made in China), this American beauty is likely to massively disrupt the competitive landscape and finally give consumers the impetus to ditch the cheaply-made foreign goods.
When you need a desk as fast as possible, and are willing to pay a little bit more to not have to worry about product quality, reliability, durability or lack of cutting edge features. What you trade off is size and color personalization, but those desks take longer to built-to-order and ship.
If you’re looking for the most elegant and sophisticated standing desk available in the market today, you’ve found it. But be prepared to pay what it costs for this kind of quality workmanship and materials as this desk is made 100% of solid wood, and the most premium select cuts of wood at that. This is a truly bespoke product, with 6-8 weeks of artisan woodwork labor to produce it. Even the delivery experience is exceptional. The lifting base is the strongest we’ve ever seen on any standing desk at 540 lbs, as it needs to support the weight of three drawers, the full-length concealed electronics cabinet, and all the desktop equipment and drawer contents that an executive user might add to their desk. The full-length concealed electronics cabinet is a major innovation, as is the optional 1800W Executive Power Bus that goes in it. Like test driving a Bentley (which we actually did in preparation for this review), when we got to test out the very first Lander Executive units, we were blown away by all the little touches that make it a true luxury product.
Perfected ergonomics and designer furniture panache combined? This desk brings it all together like no other we’ve seen because it allows you to pick the configuration that best fits both your sense of style and your ergonomic needs at the same time. The Scandanavian-styled Red River or Baltic birch top, curved edge option and optional Fly Deck monitor stand together to form one of the most beautiful standing desks we’ve seen. Plus, it has the trusty Lander Lite base beneath it. It’s a desk that forces you to make very few compromises.
If you’re tired of the typical “two legs and a slab of wood” standing desk design, the Captain’s Desk is a breath of fresh air. Packaging that design with the technological features of the Lander Lite base makes for an exceptional desk. You get the warranty, assembly, stability, height range and quality you would expect from a premium, American-made iMovR desk, plus a stunning design and the strong Baltic or Red River birch desktop.
Under Desk Treadmills with NEAT Certification
The Unsit stands apart from the pack in being substantially wider and drastically shorter than conventional walking treadmill bases. Yes, we have reviewed numerous “office treadmill bases” over the years that were simply too narrow to be comfortable to walk on for hours on end. In fact, all the units we ever tested with walking belts 14” to 18” wide are no longer being made, likely for good reason. Recognizing that flaw, the industry standard became 20″ as remaining competitors followed iMovR’s lead in this direction with the introduction of the ThermoTread GT in 2015 (now replaced with the Unsit model). Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the original designers of the Unsit Walk-1, who thought more width would be even better, and created this treadmill with a 30″-wide belt and 38″ overall width. At the same time, where conventional office treadmills have a deck length of 50″-65″, they shortened the deck down to 40″, ostensibly in the name of removing a tripping hazard from tight office quarters. Some trade-offs were made with this unconventional aspect ratio. While the unit takes up less floor space in your office, it can take up all the space underneath your standing desk (be mindful that you need at least 40″ of space between the lifting columns for the Unsit to slip in). The biggest issue some users will experience with the shortened length of the deck is that the placement of the treadmill underneath the desk has to be extremely precise, lest the user’s feet either hit the motor housing or slip off the back of the treadmill. This is fine if you’re the only user and you’re not particularly tall, but for multi-user workstations it may mean frequently having to reposition the treadmill (like a wheelbarrow) to accommodate others in your office or households with different stride lengths and belly contours. Where other units have touch-screen controllers with all the metrics at your fingertips, the Unsit’s minimalistic desktop console is just a simple speed dial and an on-off switch. You’ll need to connect the smartphone app via Bluetooth to get any of the usual statistical readouts, or export their data to their FitBit or Apple Health apps. There are some other challenges when it comes to leveling the unit and lubricating it as compared to more conventional treadmills, but we found some hacks that work around the problems reasonably well. At the end of the day, the Unsit is one of only a handful of office treadmill bases still in production that we can wholeheartedly recommend, except in some very specific circumstances. It is built with quality componentry and should be highly reliable for many years if diligently maintained.
[Editors Note – Nov 5, 2022: Note that iMovR has discontinued the Thermotread GT and launch the Unsit Office Treadmill in its stead. We leave the original Thermotread GT review intact here for posterity.]
With its introduction in 2016, the ThermoTread GT became the instant category killer with its state-of-the-art technology features and first intentional design as a true “office treadmill desk” (whereas other designs were little more than cosmetic re-skin of existing running treadmills). The years since have proven that all that investment R&D and quality componentry paid off for iMovR, as it has demonstrated more staying power than most of its competitors. The GT features unparalleled powertrain strength, frame rigidity, sound signature, and control sophistication. It is also the only “enterprise grade” treadmill desk in the market, with a built-in click-wrap liability waiver on the touch-screen interface. It’s the only treadmill desk that has made its way into both, the risk-sensitive environments of 911 dispatch centers and NYC apartment buildings with noise-sensitive neighbors. iMovR’s adds a strong North American support network and the industry’s leading factory warranty to its low-maintenance design.
Ergonomic Seating with NEAT Certification
“Active Sitting” is yet another means of fighting the sedentary lifestyle. A healthy work routine involves moving during the day—alternating between sitting, standing, and of course, walking. The CoreChair promises to make your sitting time less sedentary. How well does it perform? Our team of testers tried it out over the last several weeks. Here’s our verdict below.
The Varier Active is an office chair manufactured by Varier Furniture, makers of the excellent Move Leaning Chair, which we encourage you to check out.
Balance Boards with NEAT Certification
The Level by FluidStance has fluid 360-degree motion, stylish deck, eco-friendly high-quality design, and a bunch of certifications, (including Mayo Clinic’s NEAT certification). It neatly beats out most would-be competitors and only falls behind those that have more innovative movement. It is definitely worth the price if you appreciate aesthetic appeal, good quality, and believe caring for the environment is a good cause. It’s best for those who will use the board in shoes since the hard wood surface will be slippery in socks and hurt your feet overtime if you don’t wear shoes.
The Gymba is the category winner for balance boards for standing desk users, hands down. It is the veritable Swiss Army Knife of motion boards, combining features that would cost many times more and take up a lot more floor space to replicate with individual purchases, and thus making its $229 price a relative bargain.
We come to this assessment after many man-months of testing, adding up the many different ways that you can use the Gymba to improve your flexibility and general fitness and health while continuing to maintain maximum typing proficiency and overall productivity at your active workstation.
UnderDesk Cycles with NEAT Certification
If you’re looking at under desks pedals, compact seated ellipticals are definitely the most ergonomic and fit under a desk much better than under desk cycles with their circular strokes. As under desk ellipticals go, Cubii is the Cadillac model.
Sit-Stand Meeting Tables with NEAT Certification
The age of standing meetings is upon us, and iMovR is leading the way with its Synapse line of adjustable-height conference tables. A high-capacity electric base paired with a 3D-laminated blade-edge table top makes Synapse both powerful and elegant. Grommet-mounted electrical modules power even your most tech-heavy meetings, and a wide range of height adjustment can support both sitting- and standing.
Standing Desk Converters with NEAT Certification
The newest competitor attempting to dethrone the Varidesk, the ZipLift+ introduces an ergonomically-adjustable keyboard tray, a silky-smooth and quiet Z-lift mechanism with infinite stops, a grommet hole for mounting an ergonomic monitor arm, and granite-hard stability even at full 20″+ height extension. For the same money as a Varidesk Pro, it overcomes all the deficiencies of its highly popular, yet outdated competitor’s design.
Anti-Fatigue Mats with NEAT Certification
Other Miscellaneous Devices That Received NEAT Certification
The HOVR isn’t just a footrest. The unique leg swing allows for a freer range of motion than a desk cycle or a foot rocker. Designed by a personal trainer and a physician, the device is made to promote activity even as you sit at your traditional office desk. It looks great, but does it do what it advertises?
Price: $99 for Hovr with desk mount $189 for Hovr with floor stand
The activity tracker designed by Gruve Technologies was the very first product to receive NEAT certification when it was introduced in 2013. Unfortunately, since then the company has gone out of business.
As much as it is an important aspect when shopping for office fitness furniture, NEAT certification shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor for purchase. Ergonomics is crucial when it comes to setting up a workstation, active or otherwise.
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