"This takes the edge off your exercise panic," says Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, who hops on her LifeSpan treadmill desk when she needs an energy or mood boost. Coles ordered her desk after spotting one in the office of DreamWorks' Stacey Snider in the fall, and while other studio executives are said to have adopted the trend -- including Paramount's Adam Goodman and Sony's Hannah Minghella -- the contraption most famously has caught on at such agencies as CAA, UTA and especially WME, where about 20 agents got treadmill desks after boss Ari Emanuel had one installed.
Depending on the speed, treadmillers can walk while reading, making calls or, like Orange Is the New Black showrunner Jenji Kohan, checking emails. Because the desks aren't designed for running -- many max out at 4 miles an hour -- white-collar walkers need not worry about sweating through work attire or being out of breath while speaking. In fact, "my meetings now probably take 30 percent less time than they did before," says Al Roker, who, like Jimmy Kimmel, has incorporated a treadmill desk into his everyday fitness regimen. Roker was an extremely early adopter of the trend, crediting the Steelcase model he received as a 2008 birthday present from his ABC News correspondent wife, Deborah Roberts, with helping him feel sharper and more alert at work.
The treadmill desk might seem an expensive office fad (prices start at about $800), but advocates are adamant about its benefits. "If I saw me from the outside, I would think, 'What a ludicrous creature,' " says Coles. "I think in 10 years' time, we'll all look back on the office life where we were all sitting in chairs all day and think, 'What were we thinking?'"
This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.