Jun 262009

We recently had the opportunity to take The Comfort Store’s Pedal Exerciser for a spin. The concept is simplicity itself: tuck the device under your desk or set it in front of your television-watching or console-gaming seat, and put all those hours of chair time to work with some light lower-body exercise.  It can also be employed for arm work by setting it on a table, but this would obviously preclude more involved activities, so it’s better suited to watching NatGeo and FX than playing NeoSteam or FFXII.

We spend eight hours a day at the office; even with modest resistance (it’s fully variable via the knob on the central cylinder) and low pedal speed, the calories you can burn using it up should really add up.

So, how does it perform? Step behind the curtain to find out!

Shipping and Assembly:

Shipping is free, and it arrives in a robust box-in-a-box container.  The fasteners are chilling in a plastic bag, along with a single sheet of assembly instructions.

It’s billed as easy to assemble, and it is.  Two bolts affix the legs to the pedal unit, so have a crescent wrench or two handy.  The resistance knob screws in, the pedals and rubber feet slip over their respective mounting points and hold fast, and that’s it. Honestly, it makes assembling Ikea furniture look complicated by comparison. Kudos to simple, effective design.

In Action:

In operation, it took a little fiddling around to figure out where the sweet spot for resistance was — too little, and there’s no challenge; too much, and it’s either tough to move the pedals, or, even with the grippy rubber feet, it’ll slip or buck against the floor.  I tried it on both carpet and hardwood, and it was equally at home on either, but you will want to make sure that it’s on a level surface to keep it from rocking back and forth.  Again, simple and straightforward are the name of the game.

Unfortunately, despite the great concept and design execution, I found the Pedal Exerciser tricky to use, but not for the obvious or expected reason.

Putting it under my desk at home took some spatial wrangling, due to the presence of both a hefty battery back-up and subwoofer being there already.  Once I got everything situated, I ran into, quite literally, an issue with my sliding keyboard tray — namely, I was smacking my thighs against it as I pedaled. Lowering my chair’s seat meant I had to scoot further back from the desk, not to mention look upward more to see what was on my screen, both of which led to sub-optimal ergonomics. Rats.

Okay, my desk at the office is higher, and doesn’t have a keyboard tray. I’ll take it there!  Frustratingly enough, I encountered exactly the same issue as I did at home — to maintain good postural position, I just couldn’t find a good way to coordinate my seat, keyboard, monitors, and the pedal exerciser.  Also, as I found out, pedaling while sitting in a wheeled chair with a swivel can lead to some very interesting rotational mechanics, not to mention a little bit of fore and aft movement.

I don’t spend a lot of time on my couch, but, since it’s one of the implementations pictured on The Comfort Store’s page, I wanted to give using it a try there, too.  This worked better than either office chair did, but my penchant for slouching hampered efforts, and, not being all that tall, if I scooted back to sit up more, my heels met the front of the couch.

Ultimately, what I found to be the best way to use it for leg exercise was to sit on a dining room chair while watching television (or playing with my  Xbox360). And, once you get situated, it works really well. You can zone out and almost forget you’re exercising until you go to stand up and remember your feet are tucked through the pedal straps.

In Summary:

The Pedal Exerciser is quiet, easy to transport and put away (at about six pounds, and under 2 feet in any direction), and, at under $40, is a durable, inexpensive exercise option for someone without a lot of space or cash. It’s a great concept that is, unfortunately, hampered by the logistics of the computer desks beneath which many of us would put it to use.

Our thanks to Lisa at The Comfort Store for hooking us up with the review sample!

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  3 Responses to “Review: The Pedal Exerciser”

  1. Isokinetics offers a unit that looks like this, and an adjustable one as well. The video makes it seem as though it could adjust to a lower level. Could this maybe be your solution? I’m considering buying it to use at my desk. I have 20 in. of space and no clutter underneath. I would have to switch chairs, as my desk chair rolls. I’m only 5’4″, so I think I’d have the same problem at the couch.
    My real concern: will I actually use it after the first few days…

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