My greatest creation and inspiration
Just over 10 years ago I set out to make my work station more comfortable. I mean, if I'm going to be sitting all day, I might as well invest some resources into making it better. Right? At the time I was sitting in a $150 chair from a local office store, I was running two successful businesses and I got to decide which 80 hours I put in a week ;-) I was also seeing a chiropractor monthly because my back was hurting quite a bit. In fact, I seriously hurt my back picking up my sleeping nephew and moving him into his car seat late one night. That's when I knew things needed to change.
My first attempt was to purchase a nice ($1,200) zero gravity chair that would allow me to recline to a position that had my feet higher than my waist. It took all of the pressure off my back and I thought I had finally nailed the perfect solution! I purchased an expensive split keyboard and mounted it to each armrest. I mounted my monitors from the ceiling and brought them down to hover right over where I was working (lying down ;-) I attached wheels to the base of the chair so I could move it around a bit. My employees called it my WALL-E chair from the Pixar movie. I joked, "All I needed was a catheter and I wouldn't need to leave." Funny thing is, one time the power went out and I had to roll backwards off the chair. It seemed like a pretty cool set up, but what I didn't realize is that it was hurting me more than helping. My muscles got weaker and weaker in this position.
Well, my first design took the pressure off my back. But it didn't do what I thought it would do. It didn't make me any better. I had to have a back surgery. Then, two years later I had to have another back surgery! I realized that the only thing that design was doing was weakening my core muscles. So back to the drawing board I went.
This time I spent about $1,500 on a super nice ergonomic chair that had more handles and levers than I knew what to do with. But again, I was sitting and not doing anything good for myself. Simultaneously I had some overweight friends of mine who were starting to walk together every morning. Yes, I was now gaining some weight around the mid section and could afford to lose a few myself. But walking?! I still liked to play basketball and playing/coaching Ultimate Frisbee, but hated jogging just for exercise. And with running two businesses at the same time... I didn't have much time for walking every morning. I've got things to do! But I watched my friends losing weight and thought I would love to lose the weight, but I don't have the time to walk with them each day. What if I could walk while I worked? That's when it hit me! I need to rig up a treadmill that could fit under my desk!
So I got a treadmill and rigged it up under my desk. It was pretty cool too. I could walk and work at the same time! Except, I could only walk for about 3 hours a day to be honest. After the 3 hour mark I started to become what I refer to as "less effective." The other problem is that I would need to meet with clients, customers and employees. Was I just supposed to stand while they sat in my office? That was stupid. So I went back to the drawing board one more time and built a platform on wheels and mounted my chair to the platform. With this design, I could slide my chair back and walk. Then, when I was tired, I could slide it forward, sit and work or talk with people. I thought I had it all figured out.
I soon realized that my platform design wasn't perfect. With wheels that would go in any direction, the platform didn't just go forward and backward. It would shift, rotate and was difficult to line up or slide over the treadmill. After some time, difficult translated into not worth the effort. I found myself sitting more than walking. I needed a better solution once again. And this time, I thought for sure I had nailed it!
I built a track system and had someone weld a frame to run along the track that also attached to my chair. It was brilliant! It was my best design yet. Sure, occasionally it would give me a flat tire on my shoe and scrape up my heal, but overall, it worked quite well. I just had to take shorter steps. No worries. Oh! And that one time my visiting pup dropped a tennis ball at my feet while I was walking. That was a classic Fail Army video. Thankfully no one was recording while the base ate me alive as I tried to get me and my pup off the treadmill. Ha! That was a lawsuit waiting to happen! But I wasn't thinking about selling this, nor suing myself... so why worry?
I used that design for a number of years, but realized I still spent the majority of my day sitting. I wondered if there was something else I could do that would allow me more movement throughout my day... so I tried one more thing I had been thinking about. I built an elliptical onto the hood of my treadmill! Now I could pedal when I was sitting and walk when I wanted. It was the best of both worlds... Except it also came with it's challenges.
I struggled with keeping my chair in place. It would always slide back when I tried to pedal. I tried several different locking mechanisms, but nothing worked well for long. You also need to remember... when something isn't easy, you tend not to use it anymore. I finally gave up on pedaling. Then, things got a lot worse...
I had a freak accident that caused a cardiac arrest. Luckily, the EMT's were nearby and were able to shock me back to life. We're not 100% sure on the time I was "gone," but it was long enough to keep me in a slight coma. I guess most people (90%) that have this happen don't live to talk about it. Then of the remaining 10% who make it, 8% can't walk or talk afterwards. I sure had my fair share of challenges recovering from that one, but nothing like most people. For that, I'm extremely grateful. But in all honesty, I thought I was done in my life. My mind wasn't what it used to be. I couldn't remember things for a long time. Apparently something as simple as brushing your teeth is a memory and I forgot that often for awhile. It was embarrassing and not something you'd expect from a successful business owner. Thankfully I had amazing employees, customers, family and friends who were extremely patient and kind over the next two years while I recovered.
It was Thanksgiving 2017, roughly 2 years after my cardiac arrest. I found myself visiting my wife's family in North Carolina. We were all staying in the same home on the beach and it was a lot of fun. But at the same time, living with all of your in laws and their young kids for a week was taking its toll (don't tell my wife I said that). On Sunday we decided to sneak away to church and I saw a sign that said "Wright Brother's Museum." I thought to myself, that could be a great way to stall before returning back to the chaotic home. While there I read just about every plaque displayed. I was engulfed into their amazing story of creating flight. The one thing that REALLY caught my attention was when Wilbur Wright said, "Not within a thousand years would man ever fly." I couldn't imagine more despair than that during their project. In a way, I could relate. I was feeling a lot of despair myself over my questionable future as well. Thankfully, Wilbur didn't give up. To think, only 66 years later Neil Armstrong would take a piece of the Wright Brother's first plane with him as he walked on the moon! That's just crazy! But it also got me thinking... maybe I too could pull off my own miracle. Maybe there's another comeback inside of me too.
So, for the first time in years... I set a goal. I decided I was going to change the world with something. In all honesty, I had no idea what it would be. I just wanted to do something to prove I still could. I was feeling better, my brain was firing again and I now had people in positions that covered what I used to do in my businesses. I still had the international connections to make things from different parts of the world like I previously had done. I was determined that I wasn't done yet and that I too could bounce back from this despair... and that's when I figured out the final piece that my ultimate work station lacked. It worked so well in fact, that I decided to patent it and the Fitwork Station was born!
It's been 3 years since my cardiac arrest and I'm miraculously firing on all cylinders. Now, I'm looking to turn my goal into reality. I'm down -17 lbs, my legs are stronger than ever and I'm looking to turn this version into a reality for me and for those who find themselves struggling to incorporate more movement back into their lives. Together, we can all create our own comeback stories!
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