Where To Try Out a Treadmill Desk Before Buying One?
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Can You “Try Before You Buy” a Treadmill Desk?
Prospective users might be hesitant to even consider buying a treadmill desk for all sorts of reasons. Maybe they can’t imagine themselves being able to effectively work while walking (or worse, imagine themselves running). Perhaps they wonder if they have the physical stamina for it. Or they worry that they will just end up sitting out of laziness, creating an expensive floor decoration. All legitimate concerns.
Today’s age of online shopping might have even complicated the purchase decision making process, taking away a lot of the personal experience of retail shopping and substituting it for the convenience of buying stuff from your living room couch.
You can read all the articles on the benefits of walking while you work throughout our website, all based in legitimate science (conducted by The Mayo Clinic, among other respected medical research institutions). And while we try to be as informative as possible for our readers, it really isn’t a substitute for planting your feet on a treadmill at a standing desk and trying it out for yourself, especially for those who need that tactile contact to know if they want something.
But where are they to be found?
You can’t find them in retail stores, neither those that sell office furniture or fitness equipment. They would take up a lot of valuable floor space and the salespeople in office furniture stores lack any knowledge of the physiology of treadmill desking, while the gym jocks in the fitness stores don’t know the first thing about workstation ergonomics.
Could You Just Test It Out With a Regular Running Treadmill?
Short answer: No.
The first problem is that running treadmills have a massive plastic control panel right where you would need to have your desktop and computer, even if the safety handrails along the sides didn’t bother you. While there are some extremely kludgy “ergonomic platforms” that you could strap onto those safety handles to create an ad-hoc desk surface (e.g. from VIVO, WalkTop and McBabe), these are anything but ergonomic and will actually introduce potential ergonomic injuries and safety hazards.
The second problem is that a running treadmill and walking treadmill are not built the same.
The motor of a true walking treadmill is made to handle a lot more friction between the belt and the deck, since the user’s feet will be weighing down on it for a much longer time. If you constantly do this with a regular treadmill, you will quickly wear out the motor and ruin the machine.
Despite all this, some people have hacked together parts to create a desk-like platform on their treadmill so they can move while they work. While clever, it still runs into the problem of burning out the motor, and you will also be limited on the kinds of ergonomic accessories that are compatible with that kind of desk, which won’t let you get the full advantages of using an ergonomic standing desk with a treadmill. (If this is the path you want to take be sure to read all our guidance on building a DIY Treadmill Desk.)
That Friend with the Fancy Office Setup
Obviously, the easiest way to test out an office treadmill at a standing desk would be to go to someone’s office that already has an ideal setup for an ergonomic walking workstation. If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a treadmill desk in their office who’ll let you come in for an hour with your laptop to give it a try, that would be awesome.
Don’t know anyone with a treadmill desk? Perhaps try seeking someone out in your social media network, like on Facebook or NextDoor, who might be willing to let you have a go at theirs.
Can You Get to the iMovR Showroom?
Unfortunately there’s only one treadmill desk maker that we know of that has a place where customers can come in and try one, and that’s Bellevue, Washington-based iMovR. Lifespan Fitness does not appear to have a customer showroom at their Salt Lake City headquarters, and their fitness equipment dealers don’t dabble in the treadmill desks at all.
iMovR has a stylish showroom full of the different standing desk models that they make and sell. You can always trial run one of their Unsit Office Treadmills with any of those desks. Plus, they’ll coach you on how to set things up for optimum ergonomics.
Unfortunately for most, they only have one showroom, but if you live in the Seattle area, or happen to be visiting in the near future, you can make an appointment to reserve a treadmill desk to try out.
Or Take The Plunge And Just Buy One
By default, this is how hundreds of thousands of treadmill desk users have done it over the past 15 years. Of course there are some risks involved in case it doesn’t work out for you, but these can be mitigated.
First, you’ll want to make sure you completely understand the trial period and return policy on both the treadmill and the desk. Some have very liberal policies on trialing, e.g. iMovR offers 100 days on everything they sell, treadmill base and standing desks included. Lifespan offers 30 days.
Reading the fine print on return policies (especially when buying anything through an Amazon 3rd party seller that isn’t “Prime”) is paramount. Most every return policy will stipulate that products must be returned in new condition and in original packaging. And this makes sense, since something like a standing desk or a treadmill can get horribly beaten up by UPS, FedEx or a freight carrier if not properly packaged.
Some also charge restocking fees (typically 20%), which basically just covers the cost of shipping the treadmill to you to give it a try in your own office. The sellers still lose money whenever a treadmill or standing desk is returned, despite the restocking fee, and often have to sell them as refurbished units at a deep discount or break them up for spare parts when either the customer abused the product or it got bashed around in transit coming back.
Expect to pay the return shipping cost out of your own pocket, since these are very heavy items that can cost a few hundred dollars to ship, especially if they need to be palletized for shipping back by freight, as opposed to parcel.
Trust Our Experience
We know that there will be lots of shoppers for whom none of these options are viable. And that is what we are here for. With years of experience in the industry, and lab testing out every single office treadmill we can get our feet on, we know what to look for to make the most ergonomically-sound and quality-manufactured workstation possible.
Our different reviews get into as much detail as possible for those that can’t experience a walking treadmill for themselves. So, check out our roundup of all treadmill bases and roundup of all treadmill desk systems we have reviewed so you can find the best way to work while walking.