NextDesk, FitDesk, Buoy: Metro staff reviews work station alternatives

“Sitting is death,” a colleague likes to remind the Metro newsroom on a weekly basis. Morbid? Yes. True? Unfortunately, also yes.

The studies are in, and they are all horrible. A damning report from the journal Diabetologia, which looked at 18 studies involving nearly 800,000 people, found that the average adult spent 50 to 70 percent of his or her time sitting, and that those who sat the most had “a 112 percent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes, a 147 percent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease and a 49 percent greater risk of dying prematurely — even if they regularly exercised.” See? It’s bad.

So, what is a chronic sitter, aka the average office worker, to do? We need to change how we work. So, Metro looked at three alternative office chairs and work stations to see just how realistic they are in a professional environment.


The Buoy

Blue Buoy office chair
The Buoy swivels, turns, tilts and moves up and down to adapt to whatever it is you’re doing – keeping you in motion as you go through the motions of your day. Credit: Buoy

Overview: If you’ve always wanted to sit on a stability ball at your desk but think you need something a bit more professional, the aptly named Buoy is your chair. The Buoy (starting at $199) is basically a wobbly stool with no back, so unlike your current desk chair it encourages movement and a straight back. It is not scientifically proven to be healthier for you, per se, but if you take the chair’s hint — Get up! Walk! Move your legs and straighten your back! — it can be very beneficial. It’s also fun and colorful: choose from six colors for the paneling and 25 for the “cap,” which is the fabric on top of the Buoy  that you sit on.  

Review: While attractive and fun, the Buoy isn’t an all-day desk chair. After a few hours, my backside would get sore and I’d have to move back into my old office chair of death. But for brief periods, it’s great. Ideally, I’d love to use Buoys around a small conference table for more casual meetings.


FitDesk X

Fit Desk X
FitDesk X 2.0 is a lightweight folding exercise bike with sliding desk platform that allows you to securely type on your laptop, tablet or smartphone while staying active.

Overview: This is a bike desk — so basically a stationary bike with a desk platform in front of the handlebars. The FitDesk X is streamlined so it doesn’t take up too much space. Its workstation has room for a laptop and is tilted so that typing while biking is possible, although I primarily used it to look at social media (for work, of course). As bike desks go, it’s comfortable, quiet and, at around $250, within most budgets. Plus, it folds up easily so you can stash it out of the way if you need the room (or the boss comes to town). Frankly, it’s a great invention, one that will help a lot of people make sure they don’t die an early death while updating their Facebook accounts. It is the work station that offered the most cardio benefits by far.

Review: We all felt that the FitDesk X would be our savior. Work out while at work? It was too good to be true. And it was. The FitDesk was novel but it’s hardly been used. Why? Because it’s awkward to be huffing and puffing next to your coworker and then go into a meeting slightly sweaty. It’s just kind of … unprofessional. Although I will say it’s perfect for home while surfing the net and watching TV. But in an office environment?  Not so much. However, if you are in the market for a bike desk, we highly recommend the FitDesk X.


NextDesk Solo Plus

NextDesk Solo Plus
The Solo Plus ranges in price from $997 to $2,016, depending on the materials, extra features and finishes. Credit: NextDesk

Overview: NextDesk is the Mercedes-Benz of standing desks, made in the good ol’ USA using sleek, sustainable materials such as natural bamboo and recycled aluminum. Sure, it’s stylish, but what makes it so great is that it has a quiet internal motor, letting you go from seated to upright in seconds. There are many different models to choose from — some very large and beautiful — but we tested one of the smallest versions, the NextDesk Solo Plus. Although the NextDesk Solo Plus can be used on its own, we set it up beside our normal desks so it could be shared among coworkers (just expect crying when they have to give it up). A simple press of a button lets you cycle through 200 height positions so you can sit when you need to. And unlike many standing desks, the NextDesk Solo Plus provides plenty of room for your desktop computer (not just laptop) and keyboard.

Review: Our art director called the NextDesk Solo Plus “the greatest thing to ever happen to Metro.” Our movie critic said he felt “refreshed and lively” at the end of the day as well as “hyperfocused.” This is the revolution office workers have been waiting for. There is only one (very big) drawback: the price. The one we’re trying out comes in around $1,000, which is a lot for a workstation. A lot. But if you have the means and want to live a long life while typing away and presenting yourself as the professional you are, this is the desk for you.


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