Fitness Cubed launches Kickstarter campaign for under-the-desk fitness

by Bonnie Fan
June 23, 2014

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While reading this article, you’re likely sitting like I am, parked in front of a desk and squinting at the computer screen, lower torso melded into your office chair. Fitness Cubed is introducing the “Cubii,” a drawer-sized elliptical trainer that is quiet enough to stealthily burn calories while answering a work email about that 3:30 meeting.

The Kickstarter campaign for Cubii launched last week meant to serve as the products first round of pre-orders as well as the platform from which they hope to raise the rest of their funds.

A young startup built from a team of fresh University of Chicago graduates, Fitness Cubed began after taking a Clinton Global Initiative University-awarded idea to second place at the previous College New Venture Challenge (CNVC). Following the competition, the team entered into the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. With the decision to Kickstart rather than talk with interested investors, the team hopes to remain largely independently guided. Prize money from the CNVC and the Polsky Center's accelerator program doesn't hurt either.

The founder of Fitness Cubed Arnav Dalmia hit up on the idea after finding the sedentary work life during a summer internship detrimental to a fitness-centered lifestyle and found that co-workers agreed with him. He hopes to first market the Cubii as a consumer product to similarly-minded members of the cubicle workplace.

“The original idea was not to substitute gym workouts, but to prevent the adverse effects of inactivity in the workplace,” he said. “The past long winter, for example, inspired the desire in many for an easy way to get some exercise indoors.”

The company claims that unlike other elliptical trainers, which can also be bought within the product’s current $300 pre-order price range, the Cubii was specifically designed as an under-the-desk machine with lightweight design and an altered angle of exercise that prevents knee-smash into the desk. The pedals turn smoothly – a design meant to allow for unconscious movement that reduces distraction while exercising. Like a normal elliptical, its resistance settings can be adjusted – at normal settings, the machine burns 120 calories an hour.

Dalmia offers the Cubii not simply as an exercise machine, but as a “lifestyle product.” The machine comes with a built in bluetooth hookup to an app they hope to release, while opening up the possibility of collaborating with the host of other workplace fitness centered applications.

The popularity of these apps and the success of Cubii surrounds the conversation on health and wellness in regards the effects of the sedentary office lifestyle and its health impacts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that employers and insurance companies are paying $1,429 more for an obese employee than those of average weight. With growing concerns to non-communicable helath conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, Dalmia’s “lifestyle product” could also hold promise as a workplace culture changer. Having had conversations with companies such as McMaster and JP Morgan, that adoption will depend on the success of the “proof of concept," aka the Fitness Cubed's Kickstarter campaign.

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