For anyone who has completed graduate studies while holding down a full-time job, you would know that a healthy work-life balance is seriously disrupted. For Ron, Laurel and Devon this also meant traveling to Kingston every few months for the “Business Boot Camps” that were required attendance for the Queen’s Executive MBA Program. Each evening the students from across Canada would get together to “debrief” in the pub and share stories of long days, lack of sleep and endless hours sitting at a desk. This is where is where Fitneff began in 2013!
One evening Ron was telling Laurel and Devon about how he had made a desk that attaches to his treadmill. With boards clamped to a “barely used” treadmill he had created a way to “walk through the MBA”! From this idea, the WalkTop was born!
Ron using the original WalkTop version 1.0
Ron’s inspiration for building the treadmill desk was more than just long days at the desk. Ron also suffered from back pain when sitting for long hours as he was recovering from a spinal injury. In March of 2011, Ron and his son were on a “guys road trip” when they decided to stop at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Centre to rent ATV’s for an hour. Tragically, Ron ended up in an accident that resulted in a broken neck and arms. Fortunately, his son, the rescue team, EMS, and medical staff did all the right things to get Ron to the hospital in time. That evening he had a complicated spinal surgery that resulted in five vertebrae being permanently fused and surgery on his arm.
Ron on ATV before accident
The road to recovery changed everything for Ron. With time to be thankful to be alive and blessed with the support of his family and amazing wife Sheila, Ron had time to think about what was important in life. With a new perspective on life, Ron’s life trajectory remarkably changed in a positive way. In addition to the decision the take care of his health better Ron decided to enroll in his Executive MBA which started him on the path to meet Laurel and Devon.
In recovery from spinal surgery
The whirlwind began for Fitneff before the MBA even ended. With the last assignment handed in before Christmas, Laurel & Ron met with their professor turned advisor, Dr. Elspeth Murray in January. The goal: bring a new treadmill desk to market in one-year!
Teaming up with Form3 Design and Sle-Co manufacturing and advisor, Henry van der Sloot, the plan was put in place and things started to happen. How did the team ensure that the customer would end up with a product that the customer would be happy with? Ron insisted on functionality, Devon insisted on form and Laurel insisted on simplicity… the perfect combination!
Laurel testing WalkTop design prototype
Amazingly, in September the team took the WalkTop prototype to the Health and Fitness show in Vegas where it was one of the most innovative products at the show. With a turnout of friends, family and supporters the WalkTop were officially launched in January 2015.
Laurel, Ron and 101 year "young" Olive Myhre at Launch Day
Within one year, the WalkTop had been sold in almost every state in the US and most provinces in Canada. With an understanding of how important it is for busy people to make healthy choices by integrating additional healthy solutions into their daily lives, Fitneff decided to grow! Over the next year, Fitneff introduced to Canada InMovement Sit-Stand Desks, Core Chairs, Desk Ellipticals and Garmin Activity Trackers.
Devon being interviewed about the benefits of the WalkTop
Our Fitneff team now includes Heather Lielmanis on the script, Angelique McKenzie on the numbers and Kate Spenst on the tasks!
Heather, Laurel & Ron
How could we just bring movement to the office when kids are sitting all day in classrooms? Studies have found that standing desks increase the focus, improve behavior, prevent obesity and improve collaboration. Fitneff is now introducing Stand2Learn classroom desks into our line of solutions and we will continue to find innovative solutions that allow people to make healthy choices.
New Stand2Learn Classroom Standing Desk