Exercise at Your Desk Part II: Cubii Product Review

The Cubii is an elliptical machine that fits snugly under your desk, allowing you to exercise while you work. Last week they finished a very successful Kickstarter campaign that ensured they’ll add to the growing field of office health products, joining the ranks of standing desks (some with their own successful Kickstarter campains), treadmill desks, and Desk Peddlers. When they asked us to demo their prototype, we asked Zack Whaley, one of our office health ambassadors (see his first entry here) to try it out at his office. Here’s what he had to say:

“When FitYourSpace asked me to review the Cubii, I was eager to do it. I’ve been using a standing desk in my office for a year now, and am psyched to report that I feel more energetic, more productive and overall healthier as a result. But I don’t always want to stand. Sometimes I just want to sit, and if there’s a healthier way to do it, sign me up.

That’s where the Cubii comes in. It’s basically a tiny elliptical machine for your feet. Shivani, a company co-founder, personally brought it to my office so that I could try it and review it on behalf of FitYourSpace.**

The Cubii is very sleek, clean, and sharp. It has a gray, metallic color, with black rubber on the pedals to stay firm against your feet. There is a switch near the front to adjust resistance, with a light indicating which level is currently selected. The handle at the top makes transportation easy, and it only weighs about 20 pounds (Shivani carried it across Chicago to my office with no problem).

HandleIt’s mobile, small, fits right under your desk, and thus has minimal encumbrance on your current work environment.

I was happy to see there was less up-and-down movement in the pedaling and more forward-and-back motion. This made it easy to pedal without hitting your knees against the bottom of the desk, and made the motion more fluid from a desk chair. In fact, a passerby wouldn’t even notice my active legs underneath without paying close attention. The motion was easy, and the forward-back movement was so convenient in my current position that it felt like it could become second nature. I could easily see myself pedaling the whole day without consciously thinking about it.

While the pedaling may be seamless from a difficulty and work-burden level, I wondered about the results. According to their (albeit limited) studies, a user of this device would burn 110-120 calories per hour. This could have a major impact if used every day for eight hours! This was, in fact, my first question when FitYourSpace asked me to try it: “Does it really work? What are the health effects?” The calorie count is nice to know. I hope they release more research to further legitimize this product for the general public and naysayers.

App

There’s also an app that works in tandem with the Cubii. It will give an estimate about the number of calories you burned that day and can sync with other fitness-tracking apps you may use, such as the Nike+ functionalities. This is another key differentiator from other pedaling products, although I didn’t have the app and didn’t test it, so I can’t give any insights other than what Shivani told me.

The development team for Cubii comes from the University of Chicago. Shivani talked while I pedaled – she summarized to me the life stages of the Cubii, from just an outlined idea to a designed prototype to the solid device I currently pedaled. They seem to have a very capable, motivated, and smart crew, and they have built a solid product that solves a real need.

MakerBiz Showcase

The Cubii Team: Arnov Dalmia, Shivani Jain, Royta Sekine

As a finance guy, I live in the world of cost-benefit analysis. The monetary cost of the product is about $300 according to Shivani. The convenience cost is minimal – you hardly even notice you’re pedaling. The benefit is burning up to 1,000 calories a day without changing much of anything. From a Return on Investment perspective, it seems like a no-brainer.

**Full Disclosure – The product I reviewed was a prototype; the real models haven’t come out yet. The pedaling motion of the prototype needed to be tweaked slightly as there was a minor irregularity in the kinetics, but Shivani assured me that the real Cubiis would not have this problem. Thus, I’ve reviewed the product in light of the real model.

From the FitYourSpace team:

Thanks, Zack, for this robust review. For the rest of you: although the Kickstarter campaign is over, you can still pre-order a Cubii directly from their site. And no matter what product you use, remember to #SitLessMoveMore!