The pandemic has turned the world of work on its head. So many millions of people are working from home, but many of them are also unable to go out to a gym on a regular basis. We all run the risk of getting a little overweight if we are not careful. So what can you do about it?
Well the good news is that it’s the 21st Century, so many innovative technical solutions exist to solve almost any problem. Of course, a good idea would be if you could exercise while at home and working, enabling even busy work-at-home types to get some much needed exercise without leaving the safety of their homes – or at least their desk.
The Flexispot Desksize Pro is an innovative combination exercise bike with a desk attachment that you can set a laptop on. It’s basically just like an exercise bike, but instead of handles, you have a desk you can rest your arms on while you pedal – or more importantly, your computer. There is a comfortable bike-style seat, folding pedals and a variable resistance to simulate varying inclines. All this mean you can work, read and create while simultaneously cycling and burning calories.
The sturdy folding bike has adjustable levels for the table and the seat, meaning it fits you and stops your knees from banging the table. The bike has a built-in computer on the top of the bike to show speed and distance and calories expended, and it even has a cup holder for your sports beverage.
The whole shebang folds down neatly into something which could feasibly fit in a cupboard or under your stairs. It’s heavy and sturdy enough to take the weight of an average to heavy person, so it’s not exactly what you’d call portable when folded, more like luggable. It’s the perfect solution for maintaining fitness regimes while doing a fundamentally sedentary job which allows you no time for fitness.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am most assuredly not the kind of person who goes looking for ways to exercise. That said, I am acutely aware how little I exercise, and it does bother me a little, as I know how important it is. This is a common experience, I imagine. While you are aware that exercise and fitness are crucial to health, it’s hard to find the time to break off from work to exercise. This goes double if you are a freelancer.
One solution is of course to bite the bullet and join a gym – and more importantly actually use it. But gyms are expensive, and I can report that every time I’ve paid for one, I haven’t used it. You effectively lose time driving to the gym, warming up, doing your sets, warming down, showering and driving home again. This is not a wedge of time that your average freelancer can easily sanction. So the concept that you can spend that money you would plough into an unused gym membership into something you can use at home while working is an attractive one.
When I first heard about this product, I have to admit to my shame: I laughed out loud, as it sounded like too simple an answer to the problem and definitely not something I would be interested in actually using. The idea of “combination products” used to be a popular joke in my peer group, with things like a toaster-television being the main gag. So my expectations for this product were very low. I expected it to be a gimmick and not of much use.
First impressions were surprising, firstly in how incredibly heavy it was. I was expecting something flimsy, but the bike is heavy and sturdy and feels like it fully means business. The build quality is high and the finish is professional and expensive-looking. Secondly, I like very much how it folds down into a much more compact form for storage. This is not something you’d want to have out all the time because it takes up a lot of room.
Having unboxed it and snapped out the legs and put the table on it’s pole and screwed in the fixing screw, I added some batteries to the computer to make it start counting and fired it up. Adjusting the table and the seat heights for your body shape and the height of your knees when cycling is the next bit.
Ergonomics is something you always have to consider with personal exercise devices. Is the desk high enough to avoid your knees? But is it too high for your arms? You can drop the level of your knees by raising the seat or raising the table. But you need to fiddle about a bit to get this right. It’s mostly common sense, but if it feels uncomfortable or wrong in some way, then you need to adjust it some more.
Having ironed out all the bugs in the adjustments, I could then cycle as I worked. In fact, I’m cycling now as I type this part. Of course, the acid test of whether this bike is good to work on is to write the review while using it. I can report that on its lowest setting and cycling casually while typing is a strangely relaxing and pleasant experience. I had cycled a kilometer or two by the time I reached the start of this paragraph, and I have to say it was easy.
It’s very hard to put forward any negatives about this product, but I’ll give it a solid try. It is very, very heavy, and lugging it up and down stairs is something I recommend you avoid at all costs. It’s more of a workout than you want, I can promise you. It’s too big to leave standing out in your room unless you have a big house. Fortunately it folds away.
Also, it can take quite a lot of fiddling to find the perfect adjustments for the seat and the table. Often, I adjusted it perfectly for the table but realized I’d raised the seat so high I couldn’t get off of it without falling. Then I had to lose all those adjustments to put it away. It was very annoying. I recommend marking the perfect adjustments with a permanent marker so you can fold it up and then later get back to your ideal setup easily. All that said, those are really stupidly minor points, and by this stage, I’m really just nitpicking to find at least some negatives.
The cycle computer on the top of the bike is really fun and motivating. Seeing how far you’ve cycled, how many calories you’ve burned, and the speeds you get up to turns what is ostensibly a chore into more of a game. Despite my grumpy assertions that this was not for me, I can actually see myself using this bike. It’s fun, and it’s as easy or hard as you want it to be – plus, you can be privately competitive and try to better your own scores over consecutive days. Okay, so I’ve done no exercise for months, and the day after getting this thing, my calf muscles and groin tendons were screaming expletives at me all day. But it’s a good pain. It’s your body telling you you’re alive.
Where and how
The Flexispot Desksize Pro v9 is a great invention and one I find to my own considerable surprise really useful and fun to use. You can get it from all major online retailers, and the price is around the £449 mark. If finding time for fitness while working at home is a problem for you, it’s a solution I’d recommend you look into.