It seemed like a good idea at the time. I'd been meaning to lose some weight for a while and all the recent news about how sitting for extended periods of time is terrible for your health convinced me that a drastic change was necessary. So, the best way to accomplish both goals simultaneously was with a double-duty exercise bike-workstation like the FitDesk 2.0, right? Boy, was I wrong.
To its credit, the FitDesk means well. Its aluminum-tube construction assembles in about half an hour with the included hex key and wrench. I did, however, find myself repeatedly wishing for a proper socket wrench set while putting the test unit together. Other than that, the assembly process was a breeze with instructions that were easier to follow than any Lego set I've encountered.
It operates exactly like the exercise bikes from the gym -- just with a non-slip plastic shelf for your computer bolted to where the handlebars should be. The "desk" includes a pull-out drawer for headphones and office supplies in addition to a padded arm bar to make typing more comfortable. Unfortunately, the bar does nothing to make typing any easier while you're pumping your legs and gasping for breath, which is a big deal when you're trying to carve that beach bod and deliver a reviews feature on time.
A video posted by Christopher Trout (@mr_trout) on Jun 15, 2015 at 4:29pm PDT
The bike, conversely, supports riders up to 300 pounds and collapses to tuck away in a closet. It offers a multifunction stat tracker with speed, duration, mileage and estimated caloric burn as well as an eight-step resistance meter. The gearbox is surprisingly smooth even at the higher resistance levels. Best of all, it even has one of those stretchy rubber tubes for bicep curls. What, bro, you don't lift while doing cardio? Do you even want to get swole?
But do you really need to be getting your sweat on at work? Because I sure don't -- at least not in an actual office environment where other people can see, hear and smell me. Even on the lightest setting, I found myself dripping profusely after just 10 to 15 minutes (told y'all I was out of shape). And at the Engadget offices, this sweatgression will not stand. Not only would I need to bring a change of clothes should I wish to exercise hard enough to actually lose weight, but also I'd need somewhere to shower as well. And that's just from a public hygiene prospective. I accomplished, literally, nothing while riding the FitDesk. Between my labored breathing, wagging knees and swaying upper body, typing was a challenge, to say the least. I simply couldn't take my mind off what my body was doing long enough to focus on the writing task at hand.
This simply isn't a feasible option for the polite workplace. Now if I still worked from home -- far from the prying eyes and nostrils of my coworkers -- yeah, I could totally see the value of dropping $350 on this equipment. But as it stands, the FitDesk 2.0 now serves the same function as the rest of my exercise gear: coat rack.