DIY Treadmill Desk – Under $50 – No Tools Required!

So, this is the year, 2012. My new years resolution, like every other year, is to lose some of the extra flab that accompanies my sedentary life as an IT guy. To facilitate the evacuation of said flab, I went out and bought a treadmill. Now, my purchase wasn’t impulsive, I’ve tried other things in the past. I actually own an elliptical down in my basement; but I decided on a treadmill this time after using one at my employer’s gym room. What I like about the treadmill is that it moves me, I don’t need to motivate it to move… If I don’t move, it’s not like the treadmill is going to stop for me. Unfortunately, there is a motivational problem with any type of exercise machine or regiment; the monotony. So, what can I do? Well, I can watch TV or listen to music, but the problem is both are passive. Unless I’m really engaged in a TV show or my music, the shear fact that I am exerting myself becomes a burden. Now, if I could play a game or do some of my sedentary development actives while in motion, that would be something!  The only problem is most treadmills don’t come with a desk, and the consoles on them offer only a little space to prop up a book, laptop or iPad. Even, then the positioning is not in a place that’s meant for constant usage. Luckily there are some innovative companies that have thought of solutions. 

One such company is TrekDesk, http://www.trekdesk.com/, which makes a relatively affordable desk that sits over a treadmill. The Trekdesk costs $500, not bad for a desk, but still hurts after plopping down $1300 – $1500 for a decent treadmill (I decided on a Nordictrack C1500). So, in an effort to save some money, the engineer in me had to dream up something from the stuff I had lying around the house. The only concession would be a possible trip to Home Depot or Lowes for some parts, if necessary.

Ah Ha! This desk looks like it might work!

After some pondering and poking around, I found a small rectangular folding table I bought from Target a a few years back sitting in my garage. I’ve not used it in a while, but the dimensions of the table top are perfect, 20″ deep, 48″ wide. It’s not too wide and not too deep, as to obstruct my access to the treadmill controls or to take up excessive space in my family room (where the treadmill sits).The only problem with this folding table is the legs are short. Well, at least short when compared to using it while standing on a treadmill. So what to do? I could try attaching the table to the arms with straps; the only problem is the hand rails are short, and they curve. I can just imagine my Macbook Pro sliding off into treaded oblivion… So that won’t work. Ideally the desk should site idendepent of the treadmill, so any walking motion from the treadmill won’t disturb the desk; the legs would need to be proppped up… I needed an additional 26 inches to the existing legs to get the clearance I needed. What about two platforms along side the treadmill? I could then prop the table on that right? But the problem with having two independent items that the table propped on seemed dangerous, since any off motion could make the desk slip off the platforms. Now what? Well, I thought for a moment and decided that the legs would need to be replaced or augmented somehow. Then it dawned on me, PVC pipe! Yes, that miracle technology! My wife and I took additional measurements, and found that if I can find PVC pipe that was about 45 inches in length, and big enough for the legs to slip into , I could do it!

To Lowes I went, with my diameter measurements. It turns out that the legs without the rubber bottom would fit into a 1 inch diameter PVC pipe, and what’s even better is Lowes will cut the pipe for me to the size I want. I bought two 10 feet segments of 1 inch PVC pipe, and had them cut into 45 inch segments, I got two for each 10 foot segment. Total cost was about $7 I also bought some rounded end caps for the bottoms of these new legs, so the total was about $10. 

Once home, I cleaned up the PVC pipe, attached the ends, and took the rubber bottoms off the folding table legs. The PVC pipes slid in and fit pretty well, it has the slightest play, because the legs are a tad bit smaller than the inner part of the PVC pipe. Even with the slight wiggle, the problem went away once it was propped against the treadmill console.

So, how does it work? well, I’m writing this blog entry from my Macbook Pro, on my treadmill on my desk, rocking to my iTunes library. Looking over at my treadmill console tells me I walked at speed 2.2 for almost an hour. Not bad.

For those looking for this type of table, I found these two links to the product at Target and Walmart. 

At Lowes, here are the links for the pipes and end caps:

The table retails for about $30 at both places, and after adding the parts up with tax, this solution costs a little over $40. 

Check out my gallery of images below. Thanks for reading, and please, feel free to post any comments.