Slice of Life

SU alumnus walks Boston to San Fransisco on treadmill desk

Courtesy of Adam Ritchie

Adam Ritchie walked the equivalent distance of Boston to San Fransisco on his treadmill desk.

Syracuse University alumnus Adam Ritchie spent three years walking more than 3,000 miles — the distance between Boston and San Francisco — and it cost him only one pair of shoes and a couple of jeans.

Throughout the journey, Ritchie never stopped working for his public relations firm, Adam Ritchie Brand Direction, and never left his Boston office. He covered the entire distance from his treadmill desk.

Ritchie was given the desk as a gift from one of his clients, Lifespan Fitness. The desk, which replaces the traditional office chair with a treadmill, lets users walk while simultaneously doing their work. Using it allowed Ritchie to better understand the product he was representing.

“If you’re going to be explaining to the media how a product works, it’s really good if you can get some first-hand experience with it,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie began walking about one or two miles an hour on his treadmill desk while working. He decided to keep a spreadsheet of the distance he walked, and gradually the miles began to accumulate. Eventually he was logging about 26.2 miles, approximately marathon distance, each week, and decided it would be interesting to see how long it would take to walk across the country.

Ritchie said walking didn’t hinder his work, but rather reinvigorated it.

“Using a treadmill desk as part of the way you work is a lot easier than you might think,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie received a lot of positive feedback on his experiment — people who encountered him told him they thought what he was doing was admirable.

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Standing desks were just taking off when he started this exercise, Ritchie added, but now they’re starting to gain popularity. He said he enjoyed the curiosity factor that his treadmill desk brought, especially when clients would come into his office and he had the opportunity to explain what he was doing.

Walking while writing or eating got messy, so Ritchie said he usually took a break to do more precise activities. Sometimes, traveling for work and sickness made it difficult to keep up his pace and steadily reach his cross-country goal. But overall, he said the experience wasn’t hard and he gained a lot from it.

“It makes me feel more energized during the day,” Ritchie said. “I never get an after-lunch food coma.”

His unusual method of working soon drew attention from his colleagues and clients, including former employee Rachel Jermansky.

“I was his intern when we first got the treadmill desk in the office, and Adam never got off of it,” Jermansky said. “He used to joke that his working out on this machine allowed him to enjoy a beer or two and not feel guilty.”

Now working at a new PR firm, Jermansky said she still thinks about the treadmill desk and having her own would help her stay focused at work.

“When you’re at a normal desk, it’s very easy to want to fall asleep or be distracted,” Jermansky said. “When you’re walking and typing, you really have to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

One of her PR clients also has a treadmill desk in their office space, and Jermansky said she has begged her firm to install one as well.

Though he has walked the span of the United States, Ritchie plans to keep walking and cover the distance of the earth’s circumference. From his calculations, he’ll achieve the feat in 2037, but he’s not daunted by the long walk ahead.

Said Ritchie: “I feel like I come up with better ideas when I’m on it.”

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