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PHOTOS: ‘Elliptical’ chair desk meant to let you work out while you work

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Updated: July 14, 2012 6:27AM

Are you tired of just sitting at your desk? Feel so tied to work that you wonder how you’ll ever have time to exercise?

You might find a solution at the NeoCon office furnishing show at the Merchandise Mart.

The LifeBalance Station created by Chris Leonhard combines a sit-down elliptical exercise machine with a height-adjustable desk that can burn some calories while typing up spreadsheets or writing a speech.

Leonhard, a professor in behavioral medicine at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, is marketing the unique “chair” to professionals who spend most of their day sitting at a desk. Leonhard, who counsels patients who suffer from chronic pain, depression and weight problems, said his goal was to solve the common complaint: that people don’t have time to exercise because of their busy work schedules.

“I tried a treadmill first, but I was too uncoordinated to get work done. I tried a bike also but could not get comfortable,” Leonhard said.

First, he found a medical rehab machine in which “the motion worked,” but it cost $10,000. He eventually found a better price on a Japanese rehabilitation machine.

“I modified it,” he said, and began working with Rightangle Products, a Wisconsin-based company, to market and sell the product.

Because the seated elliptical machine isn’t adjustable for height, it comes with an adjustable desk. The desk also features a monitor to display the user’s heart rate and other workout data.

LifeBalance Station units have been purchased in the United States, Germany and Finland. Leonhard says his client list includes a university worker who was told by a physician that if he did not become more active during his workday, he would have to quit, Leonhard said. A demo unit is set up at a law firm at the Willis Tower, he said.

Jacintha Anderson, an interior design graduate from Florida State University who works for Socius Marketing, tried out the machine. Anderson, who considers herself an athlete, said she would use the machine. “This would be a good product for people who might want a softer workout,” she said.

“It is very comfortable,” she said after trying it out. “The fact that you can adjust how hard you work out, I can see it benefitting someone like myself.”

It’s versatile, too, she added. “You can even do it in a dress and heels.”

The 44th annual NeoCon — the National Exposition of Contract Furnishings show — opened Monday and runs through Wednesday. Organizers expect the three-day trade show to draw 40,000 people.

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