Stop balancing that laptop on the treadmill -- attach it!


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Hey, all you multi-taskers! Put down your iPhone and your Crackberry and stop reading the paper and turn off the TV and take your ear buds out and slowly step away from the computer. I need to tell you something.

Now you can get even more done.

The SurfShelf is a new device made out of polycarbonate that fits on your treadmill or stationary bike. It holds a laptop up to 15 inches wide, and up to 15 pounds. The shelf will fit on a variety of treadmills, is secured with a strap, and can be adjusted so users can simply look at the screen, or type while walking or cycling.


Are you picturing it? Walking, getting exercise, answering e-mails, walking, watching a TV show, walking, burning off the calories, surfing the ‘net ... you may even be able to squeeze in a couple of other things, like dusting, if you’re truly dedicated.

The SurfShelf is the brainchild of Randy Fenton, a former electrical engineer from Redondo Beach who came up with the concept about a year and a half ago when he realized that he wasn’t spending much time on the treadmill in his office, which is also his garage. It might have been the depressing lighting or the fact that most cardio equipment is stultifyingly boring, but Fenton’s exercise time was waning. He thought about installing a TV in his office, but the time, effort and expense were too much.

‘My desk is about five feet from the treadmill,’ Fenton said, ‘and I have two laptops. I knew there was all this online TV, like ESPN, so everything you could possibly want was right there.’

So, much like the geniuses who combined peanut butter and chocolate or soap and rope, Fenton got the idea to pair his laptop with his treadmill. He made a prototype out of plywood, then decided to market the contraption.

He even went one better, coming up with an Internet site called In-Gym, from which you can immediately plug into a host of online programming, including food shows, sports, news, comedy and music.

Some of you may be scratching your head, thinking this sounds familiar. It should. Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, has long been touting the treadmill/workstation as a way for people to get more movement into their day. He even collaborated with a manufacturer and came up with the Walkstation, a hybrid treadmill and desk.


Fenton’s version may not have bells and whistles, but his shelf is cheaper — $59.95, while the Walkstation retails for $3,500 to $4,500.

Fenton says he’s even lost some weight, since he’s now exercising for 30 to 40 minutes five to six days a week, and does it while catching up on e-mails or watching TV.

‘I find new stuff to watch all the time,’ he said. ‘There’s never a lack of wonderful shows to watch.’

Amen to that.

-- Jeannine Stein