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Cubii Move Review: Simple, Effective Under-the-Desk Workouts on a Budget

If you want to keep moving at work, and you're not a fan of standing desks, this is a solid alternative.

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Russell Holly mirror selfie
Russell Holly
Russell Holly is a Managing Editor on the Commerce team at CNET. He works with all of CNET to assemble top recommendations as well as helping everyone find the best way to buy anything at the best price. When not writing for CNET you can find him riding a bike, running around in Jedi robes, or contributing to WOSU public radio's Tech Tuesday segment.
Expertise 7 years experience as a smartphone reviewer and analyst, 5 years experience as a competitive cyclist Credentials
  • Author of Taking your Android Tablets to the Max
Russell Holly
4 min read
Cubii Move Elliptical Machine
Russell Holly/CNET

There are a ton of ways you can stay active even when you're stuck at a desk. While standing desks have become more popular over the last couple of years, they're only practical in some workspaces. If you find yourself sitting at a normal desk for several hours a day, the folks at Cubii have been making under-desk elliptical machines for a while now, but the budget-friendly Cubii Move wants to be something everyone can use in as many different spaces as possible. 

I've been using the Cubii Move for just over a month now, and have quickly gone from skeptic to believer. 

7.5

Cubii Move

Like

  • Very quiet
  • Cubii app is great
  • Surprisingly effective workouts

Don't like

  • Grip surface is not great on hardwood flooring
  • Display could use a backlight

As someone who typically starts his day with at least a 10-mile bike ride, the notion that an under-desk elliptical machine I wiggled around on all day to accomplish the same results seemed unlikely. This isn't supposed to replace a full-size elliptical machine, after all. In order for something like this to be useful to me all day long, I needed to be able to use it delicately enough that nobody in a Zoom call noticed I was moving my legs. Compare that to the more intense pedaling you do on an indoor bike, and it's not hard to see how I drew that conclusion. And to Cubii's credit, none of the language around the product promises more than the potential to burn around 150 calories an hour. But even that little bit of movement promises to be more effective than a standing desk if your goal is to burn calories while you work. 

As workout equipment goes, the Cubii Move physically couldn't be more simple. You attach the two foot plates to the big wheel at one end, set the 18-pound machine under your desk and go. The whole thing took 10 minutes to assemble and figure out, and at least a third of that was moving around to get situated correctly. As you pedal, your time and number of rotations are displayed on the small screen next to a large reset button you can hit with your big toe. 

You can adjust resistance with a big knob in the center of the machine, with settings from 1 to 6 (more advanced Cubii machines offer greater resistance levels). The most complicated part of using this thing was keeping it in the right place, because the rubber feet designed to keep my Cubii Move in place aren't great on my hardwood floor. I find myself needing to adjust where it was positioned every couple of hours, where on carpet my Cubii Move may as well have been bolted to the ground. Cubii does sell a separate grip mat for situations like mine for $24, if you feel like you need it.

The number of rotations captured on the display resets at 10,000, which means if you pedal a lot during the day you'll need to check your progress occasionally and document that work. What do those rotations mean in terms of calories burned? Your answer lies with the Cubii app, which allows you to input your progress after every session. More advanced Cubii models offer Bluetooth connectivity so you don't need to input your progress, but the trade-off for the price drop is fairly minor. The app asks you to input your total number of rotations, the resistance level you were set at and how long you were at it. 

Cubii App

Cubii's app doesn't connect directly to the Move via Bluetooth, but it does give you access to great data and a solid social scoring platform. 

Russell Holly/CNET

With the resistance maxed out, I found myself reaching an astounding 967 calories burned after 16,450 rotations, which apparently is the equivalent of 3.17 miles. Cubii's opt-in social clubs also let me compare myself to other Cubii users around the world, which engaged a nice competitive urge to see myself in the top 10 of my chosen groups.

Naturally, I needed to know how it was Cubii got to that figure and how accurate it was. I clearly felt like I had been working out most days, in fact on more than one occasion realized I'd gotten a little on the sweaty side and was compelled to change my shirt, but that calorie count still felt a little high. According to Cubii, the calorie calculation in the app don't take into account weight or heart rate of the user, but instead is a custom calculation, which averages to roughly 150 calories burned based on a steady activity rate of 60rpm. 

It's also worth pointing out the Cubii app doesn't have a way for you to indicate whether you're wearing the ankle weights sold separately at Cubii, so that extra effort isn't ever part of the calculation. Put differently, the faster you pedal the greater the chance this calculation is actually under-counting calories burned.

I wouldn't say the Cubii Move has replaced my desire to get a workout in every morning, but it's a fantastic addition to my day. Pedaling even a little during the day kept me focused, the added workout felt great without being a lot of stress on my body, and the machine is quiet enough that I could use it anywhere without feeling like I'm disturbing anyone around me. If you find yourself in an environment where you're regularly seated and want to move a little, the Cubii Move is a solid starter machine to help keep you active. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.