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Treadmill Desk Love (or Rhyll’s Deadly Treadly)

Rhyll on her treadmill

Rhyll on her treadmill

As all authors know, writing (and reading, revision, marketing, promotion and networking) requires some serious bum-on-seat time. And because I can be a wee bit obsessive (my inner perfectionist, called Alison, is an utter slave driver), and because I also have a 9-5 office job, I’ve found myself spending stupid long hours on my backside lately. And that backside has grown.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a ginormous backside, despite what many people (people usually trying to sell you something or people who are just ass-hats) will tell you. It does, however, make shopping difficult as going by the hideous floral tents many plus-size clothing retailers offer, designers seem to confuse fatness with blindness.

But clothes issues aside, sitting for long periods makes me feel unwell. Even if I go for a morning walk, and usually a lunchtime walk as well, the long hours of bum-on-seat time in between make me feel lethargic. Lack of circulation? Perhaps. I don’t know enough about physiology to offer an informed opinion on the reasons why it makes me feel crap, I just know that I do feel that way.

Plus, you may have read the latest research (or the media reports about it) saying that the more time you spend sitting, the greater your chances of dying from heart disease or cancer, having a stroke or becoming diabetic. Yes, that’s the media for you, always full of good news.

And while I can be, and often am, highly skeptical of health research (chocolate’s bad for you? Bullshit!) there’s no question that I find sitting for long periods tedious. It gives me the fidgets, and even while writing some fun, saucy scene I’ll often find myself bored and restless after the first 500 words. My solution – not a fabulous one admittedly – used to be amuse-bouche. Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, snacks and more snacks. But then I found a better solution: actually moving my ass. Yes, revolutionary, I know.

The problem is, I’d often traded off exercise (or any other activity) for writing productivity, but with my new desk treadmill I don’t have to. I don’t care if self-help gurus frown upon my need to multi-task—being able to get my 10,000 steps a day in while answering emails, farting around on social media and outlining chapters makes me happier than a pup with two peckers. As a consequence, I think my treadmill desk is the duck’s nuts, and if I’m ever overcome by the need to marry an inanimate object, it will probably be my treadmill desk I propose to.

Since using the treadmill to increase my daily steps, I’m also starting to think that there’s something about sitting still that makes one hungrier. I’m no expert on blood sugar levels and appetite stimulants and whatnot but I do know that during and immediately after I’ve been walking on the treadmill I don’t feel like snacking, whereas bum-on-seat time usually makes me ravenous (even the paper clips start to look tasty).

Before trying the treadmill I was worried that I’d fall over while typing and suffer the indignity of eating tread, especially since I have menieres disease which causes problems with balance. However, I found that resting my arms on the desk to type offers stability and the speed at which belt moves means that if one of my big, fat hooves does occasionally hit the side of the treadmill, it’s not enough to cause me to lose balance and fall.

Since I live in a hotel building I also worried that the treadmill would be noisy. However, since it makes less noise than some fridges I’ve owned it’s not a problem. (If you’ve never owned a fridge, feel free to substitute the word ‘fridges’ with ‘vibrators’).

The biggest advantage of my treadmill is that I don’t have to go outside to walk. Because there are hotel guests and staff inside my building, and the building is located right in the CBD, I can’t really walk out the door with hair unbrushed and the girls swinging free without expecting to get a few sideways looks. Luckily, my treadmill doesn’t care whether my hair is brushed or if there’s chocolate smeared on my t-shirt (yes, that sort of crazy shit can happen at my place).

Plus there’s times when I simply don’t want to go outside because it’s too darn stinking hot. Canberra’s temperature can soar to a balmy 40 degrees in summer and while I’ll walk on my treadmill (strategically positioned in front of the air conditioner) I wouldn’t dream of setting foot outside in that kind of heat. I’m not a fan of sweat. Sweat can eat my bum biscuits.

Nor am I a fan of gyms. At most gyms I can’t type, watch videos (of my choice), read e-books, send emails and use social media while on a treadmill unless I bring a tablet with me (which can be tricky to handle), so I often get bored during my workouts. I also really hate gyms when they’re busy, all those people flailing about (and watching me flail about) and the music that’s too loud. All that stuff kicks any sense of serenity I might have managed to achieve right in the nuts. And there’s usually that annoying moment when someone extra-smelly, extra-grunty or extra-noisy jumps onto the treadmill right beside you. Plus, at my age, all the gym bunnies look about 12 and make me feel ready for a Zimmer frame, and I can usually say the same of the gym staff. 

Looking at my log of daily steps taken, before I got the treadmill I averaged 36000 steps a week (well short of the recommended 10,000 steps a day) and two weeks after purchasing it I averaged over 40000 steps. Not a huge increase but I’m still getting used to using it and I’m not able to use it while in my other office during the day. On the weekends I tend to use it a lot more and get more steps in. My goal, however, is slowly build up to 10,000 steps a day, through a mix of outdoorsy and treadmill walking.

The only initial problem I had with my treadmill was that because I have a weird gate, the treadmill belt kept moving to the right and I’d have to shove it back across after I’d finished. However, Pertti from Office Partners came back on the same day (after delivering and installing it) to help me fix the problem. The fix just required some manual adjustment of the belt and Pertti was very diligent in following up with me until I had the adjustment just right. That was a very different experience from what I’ve had with a certain sporting equipment company that dumped the product (a spin bike) at the reception desk (so I had to haul it upstairs myself), offered no help with assembly and couldn’t care less whether the product worked or not.

The price of my deadly treadly (treadmill desk)? For the standing desk and the treadmill it was $2050 all up. Roughly half for the table and half for the treadmill (one specifically designed to run at low speeds for longer periods of time).

So, now that I’ve got my increased activity sorted, all I need to do is convince the local shops to start hiding their chocolate from me…

(In case you're wondering, this is what my treadmill desk looks like.)