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Sitting can kill you — or so we’ve heard.
While treadmill desks have become more visible in the fitness industry over the past few years, there hasn’t been a store dedicated to selling them until just a few weeks ago.
The WorkWhileWalking retail store, which specializes in high-end treadmill desks, had its grand opening in Bellevue, Wash., the last Friday in September. The event satisfied storeowners.
A week in, business was going strong, Owner Ron Wiener said.
“It’s pretty much a validation of what we expected,” Wiener told SNEWS. “It’s so busy around here.”
Neither Wiener nor Martin Baron, vice president of marketing at LifeSpan, manufacturer of treadmill desks and fitness equipment for both medical and home use, said the treadmill desk store would take business away from specialty fitness retailers.
Wiener added that neither nearby specialty fitness retailers nor furniture stores — the two options to buy a treadmill desk — have extensive knowledge on the topic.
“This is why we came into existence,” Wiener said. For LifeSpan, one of the brands WorkWhileWalking.com sells, this is another option for growth of the segment.
“Our product is still relatively new so it’s about increasing availability to the consumer and appealing to a wider segment of the market,” Baron said.
Treadmill desks are increasing in popularity — one recently was featured on DeGeneres’ talk show — mostly because today’s rising obesity rates and the sedentary office lifestyle have led to a focus on the dangers of sitting.
“People are becoming aware of how bad it is to sit at a desk all day,” said Peter Schenk, president of LifeSpan Fitness.
WorkWhileWalking.com was founded to be a community hub for do-it-yourselfers building treadmill desks. It soon expanded to selling treadmill bases and desks.
Opening a brick-and-mortar retail store was a logical decision for the online retailer, Wiener said. Treadmill desks are expensive products that need to be tested for hours at a time to see if they’re a fit for the customer.
“Would you spend $2,000 on something you’ve never seen or tested?” Wiener asked. “It’s a major work style change, and you’re going to be changing everything you’re doing. Our belief is if they see it and test it, they’ll be much more likely to adopt it.”
WorkWhileWalking.com has provided expert reviews for years, Wiener said, and that expertise will be available to customers who come in and purchase a block of time to test out the desk (prices for testing products varies depending on the time a customer needs).
“We have on our staff three people who have been designing treadmills for 30 years,” Wiener said. “We also have medical professionals, physical therapists, chiropractors and a variety of mechanical engineers.”
The treadmill began in the medical community, LifeSpan’s Schenk said. “Then it moved onto early adopters and business executives and is now moving into the mainstream. One of our customers, Dropship.com, has practically one treadmill desk for every employee.”
Wiener said he expects business will pick up after the company launches its treadmill desk testing session deals on deal-of-the-day sites like Living Social or Groupon.