Entrepreneur Ron Wiener says his corporate life was a sedentary one, which didn’t help when it came to his waistline. His newest venture, WorkWhileWalking, was inspired by the growing trend of active workspaces among companies and his own successes using a treadmill desk.
“I would never say to anybody, ‘Get a treadmill desk if you want to lose weight,’ ” said Wiener, who is more concerned with the health risks that come with chair-bound occupations. “It’s not a substitute for working out, it’s not a substitute for bad diet.”
WorkWhileWalking.com launched in April, but today marks the opening of the company’s first physical store, located on Northeast 20th Street in Bellevue.
“This is the grand experiment here,” Wiener said of the multiple tech companies and their respective office workers. “Where we are in Bellevue, we know the clientele is good.”
Wiener said 18 of 20 employees at his now-defunct Equaship company were outfitted with treadmill desks, which gave him insight into how to launch WorkWhileWalking – a business plan four years in the making.
The store comes with a showroom – all models side-by-side – but Wiener said a bigger selling point are the cubicles fashioned with treadmill desk models customers can take for a test walk, rent-to-own or just rent a certain number of hours a week. Models run anywhere from $800 to $8,000.
“It’s a big investment, and everybody knows health equipment, 85 percent of it consumers never use again,” he said. “We do expect that some people are just going to rent it on a regular basis.”
Renting a treadmill desk costs $10 an hour, and Wiener said block time will be available through Groupon and
LivingSocial at a 50 percent discount. Those wanting to take a treadmill home can put their block time payments toward the cost of a unit.
“Just the opportunity to try it has been the main thing stopping it from growing faster,” Wiener said.
While there are copious brands and models of treadmill desks out there, WorkWhileWalking’s inventory is limited to those with 4-5 star ratings. A core team of three employees with expertise in treadmill engineering lend their opinions to models on top of customer reviews sampled from across the web.
“We often give the vendors the first real review they’ve ever had,” Wiener said, adding that means quality supersedes quantity. “Consequently, we have very few items in our store, to be honest with you.”
Treadmill desk users are typically fit people in their 40-to-60s, Wiener said, who are already health conscious and worried about obesity and other symptoms of “sitting disease.”
WorkWhileWalking is located at 13256 NE 20th St.