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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
A walk at the office
(wgvu) - A walk at the office

Nov. 1, 2007

By Mark Sanchez

It didn't fit any existing product category. So Steelcase Inc.
created a new one FitWork Products, or products that allow office
workers to move while they work and get out of their sedentary habits.

The first introduction is a cross between a traditional work station
and a slow-moving treadmill, or as Steelcase terms it, the Walkstation.

If the unit meets the kind of success in the marketplace that Steelcase
expects, many more FitWork products will follow.

This is the first step, said Bud Klipa, president of the
Steelcase subsidiary Details that developed the Walkstation with Mayo
Clinic physician James Levine.

We envision a whole range of products.

The WalkStation is designed to provide a desk-bound office worker what
Levin terms non-exercise activity that won't work up a sweat yet
allow them to burn calories by continuous movement for an hour or so
each day, eventually helping to improve their health.

Targeted primarily at corporate work environments, the Walkstation
integrates a height-adjustable work surface with a commercial-grade
treadmill that sports a top speed of just two miles per hour.

Levine said his research shows that movement such as walking one or
two mph a day as you work can improve your overall fitness, focus and

The premise, Levine said, is simply to increase movement while
working and for users to enjoy the health benefits of that movement.

In an age where obesity is at epidemic proportions and the escalating
cost for health coverage has made wellness the new mantra for many
corporations, Wendy Wigger sees the WalkStation as an innovative idea
that has potential.

The director of wellness for Grand Rapids health plan Priority Health,
Wigger likes the concept behind Walkstation.

Anything where a company can help embrace wellness as a part of
their culture and we can find new way to help individuals integrate
fitness and wellness into their everyday routine, I'm all for it,
Wigger said. It's one more opportunity for an employer to help an
employee get that incremental exercise.

But the Walkstation is likely not for everyone, she added.
Wigger believes the corporations that are most likely to buy and use
devices like the Walkstation are those that treat employee wellness as
part of their broader corporate strategy.

It's going to take the right corporate culture and the right
employer, Wigger said.

Levine's research into non-exercise activity fits with that conducted
by Steelcase that shows a need for office products that can change
sedentary workplace habits by allowing office workers to move more,
rather than sit at their desk continuously.

Steelcase also has seen an emerging demand from clients for office
furnishings that play into the wellness movement and promote healthy
habits, Klipa said.

We see it as a budding area for architects and designers and how
they think about planning offices, he said.

In ongoing testing at four Steelcase customers, employees use the
Walkstation an average of four hours a day.

Initial customer interest has been strong, Klipa said, with about 100
companies on a waiting list to order a Walkstation, which will cost an
average of $4,000. Steelcase already has begun ramping up additional
supplier capacity to build the units, he said.
Steelcase will begin taking order in late November and begin shipping
toward the end of the year.
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