Last spring saw the introduction of an alternative to ordinary studying: Fit Desks. Described by Mona Chamberlin, director of marketing and communications, as “a stationary bike equipped with an adjustable desktop that can hold an electronic device as large as a laptop,” Fit Desks offered the perfect combination of learning and exercise. At least, that was the goal. It’s now been almost a year since the Fit Desks in the library were installed, and, while they were created with best of intentions, are they proving to be a good investment? Students and administrative staff across the campus provide insight into whether the Fit Desks are living up to expectations.
The Fit Desk initiative was started by the TU Riding Network, or TURN for short, to help promote a healthy lifestyle. It was also started in part due to the Fit Desk’s popularity on campuses across the nation, including Harvard, UCLA, Florida State, Mississippi State and Clemson. “There were a lot of factors that fell into place that made it the right time to put this initiative into action: TURN had the idea, SA provided the funding and the library provided the space,” TURN Manager Lauren Wagner explains. “It was the perfect opportunity.”
Furthermore, there are many benefits associated with the Fit Desks that added to the initiative’s appeal, as Wagner explains. “Working in a little activity while studying isn’t only good for the body but also good for memory retention,” she says. “You get to work your brain while working off that freshman 15!”
Three desks were installed: two are located in the west underground wing on the browsing level and the lower level and the third is in the Gray Student Commons, just up the big staircase from the Court and Martha Dietler Café.
The desks have since been generally well received by the library staff. “We saw how well they were benefiting other campuses, so we were happy to provide a home for them,” Dean of the Library Adrian Alexander explains. “My staff who work at the reference desk in the west wing tell me that the two bikes down there get used regularly.”
But are they really being used? Students and staff who are regularly at the library offer varying opinions. Some believe the Fit Desks are being used, like Dean Alexander, while others don’t share that opinion. Many work study students have not noticed any activity on the bikes. “I don’t really see a lot people using the Fit Desks when I’m working,” says work study Jessica Maas, “but I know some people do like to use them.”
All in all, while the Fit Desks may not have had quite the popularity expected, they do offer a unique approach to studying. As to whether or not they are a good investment, Dean Alexander is sure they are. “It’s always nice to see someone making use of one of the bikes while in the library,” he says. “I probably should do it more often myself!”