by Judy Wilkinson
In late 2016, early in my presidency of the California Council of the Blind, I received a call from Patrick Netter and his associate Joanna Medin regarding a “Sitmill,” a kind of treadmill operated while sitting in a chair.
The entity “OntheMuV” proposed selling these little under-seat treadmills to our members. “Better yet,” I said, “the Council will sell them!” And a partnership was born.
Over the next four years, Patrick, the inventor of these two little treadmills, and Joanna, now OTM’s CEO, had many a conversation with me and my husband, Steve Mendelsohn, exploring the thickets of our proposed partnership.
From the first moment, I was absolutely enthralled and excited! Imagine a way for blind folks to safely and easily exercise in their own homes! Many of our members are older or can’t easily get to a gym (even if they could negotiate the barriers to accessibility — like equipment, gym floors littered with weights, benches, balance balls, locker rooms, etc.). Many face weight issues, not to mention the additional barriers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And how supportive the OTM folks were! They could have gone to other larger, more widely known organizations, but ours was the number they dialed first. And in an instant, a partnership and friendships were born. They never wavered in their determination to make our partnership succeed!
We first brought the device to the CCB convention in spring 2017 in Woodland Hills, Calif., and then to Reno for ACB’s national convention. The original prototype was a sawed-down full-sized treadmill draped over two chairs. We received invaluable feedback from CCB and ACBers.
From then until late 2020 we overcame innumerable hurdles: OTM had to find suitable manufacturing facilities. Several models were tested and refined. CCB had to determine how to operate such a partnership under its 501(c)(3) status. Then COVID struck!
But these obstacles have been overcome, a contract has been signed, and a partnership flourishes.
The CCB/OTM partnership operates as a fundraising project for CCB. A portion of every sale made through the ccbnet.org portal or the direct links below supports our vital work. Currently I am the project manager, and CCB board member Steve Bauer is the associate project manager.
ACB’s Get Up and Get Moving Campaign
Tony Stephens generously allowed us a few moments during the intermission segments of the annual Leadership Conference to present our project to ACB. And we look forward to participating throughout the year with various sponsorships, podcasts and community calls. We realize that a healthy alternative for CCB members could benefit all ACB members as well.
What Is a miniTREAD® or Sitmill® and How Can You Get One?
The miniTREAD® is about the width of an airplane seat and weighs just over 20 pounds. It is an electric miniature treadmill that sits in front of your chair, and is operated with a tactile remote through which you can control speed — from 0.3 to 3 miles per hour.
The “Sitmill®” is totally self-powered. It weighs 13 pounds and is easily lifted by most people with one hand for easy portability. This little device is flexible: you can move your feet in either direction and go as fast as you like.
There is one caveat: OTM is seeking more satisfactory manufacturing accommodations in the U.S. So there are only remaining Sitmill samples available. We do not know when a newer model (with 2 sets of legs allowing 2 different inclines) will be available.
The direct links for these devices are:
1) Electric miniTREAD® moves for you and calculates steps, calories, distance and more. For more information, visit https://onthemuv.com/product/minitread/ref/ccb
2) Self-Powered Sitmill® Samples: https://onthemuv.com/product/onthemuv-mini-tread-lite/?ref=CCB
Feel free to contact us via our dedicated OTM line at (510) 629-1276, or email [email protected].
And what does “muv” stand for? “Movement unleashes vitality.”