This is a discussion of the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill and its use as a treadmill for a desk. There are other treadmill options such as the LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk, mentioned near the bottom of the page, but the confidence treadmill is what I use and it’s the cheapest I’ve found that works for the purpose of a treadmill desk.
UPDATE: My Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill decided to kick the bucket after ~1.6 years of pretty heavy usage. I think that’s a good lifetime of the product, considering I was using it for several hours at least 4-5 days out of my week. My replacement will be of the same model, but with the SquareTrade 3-Year Fitness Protection Plan. I think it’s actually a good warranty deal since they wouldn’t expect users to be “abusing” their treadmills as much as we are likely planning on doing, so it’s priced without that knowledge. I considered the LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk, but the main drawback for me was the weight. I probably can’t lift or move this bad boy around easily by myself. I can pretty easily lift the Confidence treadmill over my head, and I’m not exactly the hulk. Oh, it’s also much more expensive and I’m kind of “graduate student” poor.
There is another slightly more expensive treadmill, the Exerpeutic RG1000 Walk to Fitness Electric Treadmill, that has good reviews as a treadmill desk, but I haven’t used it personally. The confidence treadmill desk setup is good for beginners or for those who want to try it out on the relatively cheap. The lifespan treadmill desk is quite expensive, but has great reviews and comes as a treadmill and desk package. (Once I start making money myself, I think I’m probably going to upgrade). But! For now, being poor, I’m using my sub 300 dollar setup with the confidence treadmill reviewed below.
Let me begin with a review of the positives of the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill:
1) It’s pretty quiet. I’m in an apartment complex and have yet to hear a neighbor complain. It might be annoying if you’re listening to music, but it’s really not that bad at all.
2) It’s small and light. Some might see this as a negative for a regular running treadmill, but I like that I can move it around by myself and that it fits under my desk easily.
3) It’s relatively cheap. At $250, you can’t really beat it for what it does.
4) Most importantly: It works for a treadmill desk. It’s small, rather flat, and you can remove the arms with a bit of minor modifications. After modification, you still have the control panel too. If you get a larger treadmill, you may not be certain that you can detatch the arms easily or re-position the control panel. This is a tried and true treadmill for desks.
Here are a list of the negatives that are common among the amazon reviewers, as well as my review of that review.
UPDATE: After 1.6 years of use, I can pretty confidently (hah, puns…) say that the main drawback of this treadmill is that it can overheat and smell bad after prolonged usage. Even allowing it to overheat, it still lasted me a good amount of time, and it wasn’t the motor that burned out, it was a diode on the power board. However, this problem can be sidestepped with an extended warranty, which is actually fairly cheap considering I’m likely going to burn out another treadmill because of the heavy usage. I’m getting the SquareTrade 3-Year Fitness Protection Plan with my replacement. The “stops every half hour” wasn’t really that annoying and I got used to it. The motor did seem to suffer a bit over time in that I had to set the controller to higher speeds in order to get the same effective speed. But again, it lasted as long as I could have expected, and I’m buying another one to replace it.
1) “It’s fragile.” Yes, it is very light, and definitely not for hardcore running or for individuals who weigh significantly over the rated 250lbs. But it’s more than fine for the 1mph walking that I recommend. You wouldn’t want to be sweating and running at your computer anyways, that’s just silly. I also chose this treadmill BECAUSE of it’s light weight. The top of the line desk treadmills are over 150lbs and seem too troublesome to move around easily. I see this lightweight attribute as a plus, actually.
2) “It stops every half an hour.” Annoying but unavoidable in this price range. Just make sure you don’t walk into your desk when it stops. When it stops suddenly, it gives you a nice cortisol spike, which might actually be beneficial to learning and attention! (I looked into fixing this, but it seems that the timer in on a chip, making it much more complex to change… I guess it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker.) I also noticed that if the wire connecting the treadmill to the circuit board is unplugged, say, if the controller unit falls off your desk, then the treadmill will lose it’s ability to control its speed, and probably also the ability to stop every half hour. If you’re adventurous and know something about electronics, you could probably place some kind of controller unit with an adjustment knob inline with the power and just leave the controller unit unplugged all the time and turn the treadmill on and off with the main switch or with the wall plug. If anyone is able to do this, please let me know! I tried to do this when my treadmill died, but I kind of failed. You can see what I did wrong HERE. However, you can get used to the stopping pretty easily, and once you get used to it, you feel like a ninja whenever you don’t walk into the desk when it stops.
3) “It makes a loud beeping sound when you turn it on and off.” I cut the speaker circuit and show you how to do so that there’s no more sound. This is no longer an issue. You can also disconnect the physical speaker too, basically anything you do to the circuit with the speaker on it will disable it.
4) “The motor is underpowered.” Yeah, probably. But after 1.6 years of use and having walked my treadmill to death, I think more highly for the motor, since it was not the item to break. The motor does sometimes gets hot and if I let it go without a fan blowing on it, it can start to smell like something is burning. If you plan on using this for large time spans, you may want to consider getting a dedicated fan to blow on it or to work in some kind of circulation into the motor casing. Also, I believe regular lubrication and maintenance can help to prevent this issue.) If you’re really worried about it, I recommend the SquareTrade 3-Year Fitness Protection Plan, which should cover the motor.
5) “The tread slips a little.” Yup, if you really try, you can make it slip. However, if you maintain the treadmill properly, lubricate it, and tighten and center the tread, this isn’t much of an issue. I wrote a post HERE that gives the manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this. You’ll notice that the wrench to make this adjustment came with the treadmill. This is sometimes difficult to do properly, but it is indeed possible, don’t give up!
6) “The lowest speed is 1MPH.” 1MPH is rather slow, so it’s not totally unreasonable. It’s about the speed that I would be pacing back and forth slowly if I were to ponder something. But if you’re in hot climate, walking this pace can make you a little clammy. Although something slower would be nice, 1MPH is perfectly fine. I’m just being nit picky. If you want to get an idea of how fast 1mph on a treadmill actually is, I made a video of me walking here.
7) “The angle is at a slight incline.” Even when you take the bars off, it’s still at a very slight incline. I put a folded up towel at the back end with enough folds to make it level and that solved the problem completely. Some people like the added cardio of the incline, other (like me) have ankle problems that are affected by the incline, so to each their own.
Here’s a picture of my completed treadmill desk:
Here’s a link to a tutorial about how I took the treadmill out of the box and turned it into what you see in that picture. (Taking off the arms, modifying the circuit to disable the speaker.)
I wanted to give you the outline and key points first. Below is more or less an intro to treadmills for a walking desk and how I reasoned myself into using the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill.
The treadmill is probably the most risky item in a treadmill desk setup since it is relatively costly and has moving parts, making it easier to break. After searching around for options, it seems that there are three paths I could take. Go expensive and get something really nice, like the LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk, go cheap with a manual treadmill like the: Phoenix 98516 Easy-Up Manual Treadmill, or go lower mid range with the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill. (Reviewed above) There are lots of other treadmills in between these, but I have not seen them being used successfully as a treadmill desk. Many people can just place a piece of particle board across the bars of a treadmill and have an appropriate setup for their laptop, but I’m hoping to have something more substantial. I need something capable of being used with a desk that supports multiple monitors.
Expensive treadmills are…well, expensive. They’re going to be designed for fast running, although very capable of walking. However, we don’t need to run. In fact, it would be very difficult to work and walk much faster than 1mph. This means you’re paying for something you won’t need, and that seems wasteful to me. Expensive treadmills aren’t exactly the same as custom made treadmill desks. The convenient product that comes with both the treadmill and desk is the LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk. It has great reviews on amazon, and I’ll add this to my reviews once I can afford one. It does seems rather nice and sturdy. There might be an issue with the desk being perfectly flat (no different height platforms for keyboard / mouse), but that might be able to be fixed with monitor stands or hutches.
The problem with the manual treadmills is that you have to essentially “push” yourself along, since it’s not electric powered. Manual treadmills require that you have an incline in order to move. This is non-ideal since you would want to be walking on a flat surface. From my experience with an incline, even on an electric treadmill, it seems that it might hurt your ankles after a while. Additionally, the fact that you have to “push” the treadmill along worries me. It’s potentially adding unforeseen strain that might be bad in the long run. (It’s just not as natural) If cost is the only factor, this seems to be the only option in town, but I would not recommend it. If you’re dead set on this, then you may be able to find a harness that can hook onto the desk such that you won’t have to hold onto anything in order to push forwards, but I personally don’t think it’s worth it since you’ll need a very stable desk to do this (which would add significant cost, most likely).
The “in-between” option is what I will use. These are electronic motor driven treadmills, but the ones on the cheaper end. After extensive searching, I decided at the best treadmill for a standing desk is the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill. It’s small, flat, has removable arms, and the negative reviews aren’t too applicable for our application as a treadmill desk. The only real drawback is that the treadmill stops every half an hour. I’ve been using this treadmill for about 8 months and I can say that you do get used to it. It doesn’t really affect my work and I’ve stopped walking in to my desk when it stops.
Whatever option you choose, make sure to find the proper ergonomics for you before you overdo it! I’ve figured out my optimal ergonomics, and it took me a few months of use. You can see what I’ve determined to be best for me HERE.