UPUA and Campus Rec teamed up to introduce two walking treadmill desks to the White Building this semester, which went live on Monday. After hearing so much about the Tread Desks we decided to be among the first to test them out, so we left our moms’ basements for the evening to see just how user-friendly (or not) the desks could be.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited to try the Tread Desks after hearing about them for a few weeks from UPUA representatives. Probably like most of you, I’ve tried to read and study while using a regular treadmill and quickly given up each time because a) there’s nowhere to put your book and b) if I’m studying while working out then there’s already not much hope for my GPA because I’ve procrastinated long enough.
The Tread Desks were first available for students to use on Monday, so when we checked them out yesterday I was interested to see that there was already someone using one of the two and other names on the list from earlier in the day. The White Building attendant said they’d been getting attention and students are curious to try them, which is cool and a testament to UPUA. I wasn’t sure who to call to reserve the desk (it’s 814-867-2083, by the way) but once I did we were set for 5 p.m., apparently the busiest possible time in White Building history.
After a brief how-to from the While Building attendant and coincidentally running into UPUA Vice President Katie Jordan — who has the Tread Desks on her and President Terry Ford’s platform — I was off. Once you raise the desk to the appropriate height (which is button-controlled and very easy to do) you press go and the treadmill starts at a whirlwind 0.3 miles per hour.
Though the treadmill maxes out at 2 miles per hour, I found that anything over 1.5 made it difficult to focus. It was tough to handwrite anything that had to be neat, which wouldn’t be a problem if you’re taking notes but if you have to hand in an organized calculus problem you might just want to work on it sitting down.
The biggest thing I noticed wasn’t the desk, but the fact that I felt like everyone was watching me. Though surely they were just curious to see the new Tread Desk in action and we thought, for some reason, it would be best to test it during peak gym hour, I felt pretty distracted by everyone walking past, opening their lockers, etc. If the Tread Desks were in a room or out of traffic I would definitely be more inclined to use them, but I understand the benefit of more people seeing them and hopefully wanting to try them.
Overall the Tread Desk was really great — I wish every student could use one whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted, and for long as they wanted. They’re intuitive, comfortable, and easy to use, and if you really have a lot of school work to do and can’t get in a workout it’s really great to still have the option to be active but productive.
As students try the desks I’ll be interested to see if other people actually see themselves using them again. I personally hope that the treadmill desks or other fitness-study environments are implemented, but $8,000 to $10,000 is pretty hefty for a single desk and I can’t help but think they’ll become obsolete in a few years after the “new and flashy” aspect wears off or students don’t know they exist.
I’m certainly not someone who enjoys jogging (or even standing for too long), so I was immediately turned off by the idea of the Tread Desk — the thought of power-walking my way through an entire essay wasn’t very enticing. We came prepared to test the machine’s full power though, so we packed both a laptop and a notebook to see which one worked best.
The tread-desk isn’t flashy — if I hadn’t taken a second look at it, I would have thought it was just a treadmill shoved in a corner. The only thing the desk comes with is a few outlets, which was a definite plus for me. I couldn’t imagine myself (or anyone really) doing a full art project in the White Building, so there was no use bulking up the desk with anything else. The ability to lift and lower the desk was also definitely a useful feature for someone shorter like me.
What amazed me the most was how different the experience was walking at varying speeds. Anywhere under one mile per hour and I felt like I was walking like a chicken, but it was much easier to type and write. Bump it up to maximum overdrive (a whopping 2.0 miles per hour) and I was missing too many keys on my laptop and my words began to look a little too squiggly. The key is to find a happy medium between your speed and the type of work you’re doing.
Overall, this is not something I would reserve time for on a weekly basis, but I could see myself using the Tread Desk again if I need to get my blood pumping on a tight finals week schedule. If you’re someone who likes to multitask or just someone who wants to binge-watch Netflix without feeling too lazy, I think UPUA’s granted you a magical combination.