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FORTUNE Small Business:

Walk while you work

I've shed weight and stress by running my trading firm from a treadmill.

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Elderwood, CA -- I bought the building where I base my trading business, Access Futures & Options Trading, two years ago. It's a converted country store in Elderwood, a tiny town in central California, about 50 miles southeast of Fresno. I co-founded the company with my wife, Carmen, and most of our clients are individual investors. We employ one trader. Our 2006 revenues were about $250,000.

I'm a futures broker, so my work is pretty sedentary, and gaining weight bothered me. Making matters worse, a knee injury keeps me from being more physically active. It's difficult to get motivated for a bike ride or walk at the end of the workday, and with a population of about 100, Elderwood doesn't have a gym. I was looking for a way to integrate exercise into my daily routine.

Last spring I read about a doctor at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic who works at a desk fixed to the top of his treadmill, so he walks slowly all day long. It seemed like a way to exercise without even realizing it. I already had a treadmill I didn't use. So, with about $25 worth of lumber, I built a stand for my desk that would raise it high enough off the floor to fit over the treadmill, a HealthRider SoftStrider ($1,499).

I rested the hard drives of my two PCs between two pieces of lumber on either side of the treadmill, and placed my desk, which I bought at Staples about seven years ago, on top of the wood. The desk is simple - wood laminate with four metal legs and no drawers. It weighs about 40 pounds. Elevated, my desk measures 50c inches from floor to surface. I positioned the whole thing against a wall to keep it stable.

My desk holds a Dell 20-inch flat-screen monitor and keyboard ($1,199) and a Norstar Meridian six-line phone system ($801) with a Plantronics headset ($130).

I walk 1.1 to two miles per hour. It's about the speed you would walk through an office. I don't want to sound winded during phone calls. To stay cool, I have a six-inch fan from Lakewood on the desk ($17).

I work from about 6:30 to 1:30 p.m., when the S&P closes, and I'm on the treadmill about five hours a day. I can do almost everything I need to do while walking, but to make trades I step off for a few minutes to use my quote machine, which sits on another desk nearby. Working like this, the first thing I noticed was that my posture improved. When I started, I weighed 278; now I'm down to 250. (My goal is 180.) I'm more clear-headed and in a better mood. Now, even when I have a loss, I feel okay. And I really believe I make better decisions.

- As told to Eilene Zimmerman To top of page

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