I spend a lot of time sitting, probably more than I should.
Thanks to a mix of working a job where I spend most of my time at a computer and enjoying several hobbies that encourage sitting, like playing video games, I’ve racked up quite a few hours in office chairs. Coupled with a shift to work-from-home over the pandemic, I also spend more time sitting in the same chair. I’m certainly not alone in this experience.
I’m also likely not the only one who has noticed an uptick in discomfort and back pain related to prolonged sitting. I’ve taken steps to remedy this by moving to a standing desk so I can change up my position throughout the day. However, other factors like poor posture and chairs that don’t provide proper ergonomic support have remained.
At least, until now.
Staples sent me one of its ‘airCentric 3’ chairs boasting an ergonomic design that would help me “work at [my] highest potential.” So, I figured I’d give the chair a try to see if it would help at all with my issues and, for the most part, it help.
First up, let’s run through a few of the features on offer with the chair. The airCentric 3 I tested is a Staples Canada-exclusive variant featuring ‘gry mattr‘ design. The chair itself, however, is made by ergoCentric, a company that makes tons of office equipment. They don’t have an airCentric 3 listed on their website (aside from pointing to the Staples-exclusive one), but ergoCentric does offer a similar airCentric 2 instead, though that’s not available at Staples.
Anyway, the airCentric 3 sports an upholstered “dual curve” backrest with proprietary “airflow molded polyurethane foam.” The backrest features airflow vents on the back as well to help keep it cool. The seat comes in three sizes, standard, small, and extra long — I rocked the standard variant but my long legs might have benefited from the extra long seat.
The armrests have four inches of height adjustment, 360-degree swivel, 2.5 inches of lateral adjustment for arm cap and two inches of width adjustment per arm. The chair also boasts five dual-wheel urethane casters and a 12-year warranty for the casters, pneumatic cylinders, armrests, foam and all moving mechanisms.
Looping back to the adjustments, the airCentric 3 lets users adjust the back height, seat height, seat depth, and more.
A major step up
I actually moved to the airCentric 3 from a different Staples chair — a super basic office chair I grabbed a couple of years ago while it was on sale. That chair was fine, but I always suspected it was at least partially responsible for some of my ergonomic issues since it had limited adjustments and it never was quite tall enough for me.
Going to the airCentric 3 was a significant step up from the other Staples chair I used, and I wish I’d found it back when I bought that other chair. First, the airCentric three was actually tall enough to be comfortable for me. I’m six-foot-three inches, and while that might not be crazy tall, I’ve found it’s tall enough to make most chairs annoying to sit in.
Beyond the height adjustment, though, all of the adjustment options the airCentric 3 gave me really helped me find that ideal comfortable but ergonomic set-up. The chair has four levers that are easy to tell apart thanks to handles with different shapes; the square handle is for seat height, while the circle is for seat angle. The triangular handle is for the back angle, while the oval handle is for the backrest height. Moreover, it’s hard to mix up the circle and oval handles since they’re not close to each other.
Of course, remember which handle shapes do what is a bit tricky, especially after you’ve put away (or tossed out) the manual. Thankfully, the chair includes helpful plastic tabs next to each armrest that denote which handle shapes control what. It may not sound like much, but coming from a chair with identical handles that I could never remember what they did, it’s a major quality of life improvement.
360-degree swivel is a must
The airCentric 3’s armrests are another major win over other chairs. Because I couldn’t get the height quite right on my old chair, and because of how limited the armrest adjustments were, I ultimately removed them from the chair so I could comfortably sit at my desk.
Thankfully, the airCentric 3 armrests are incredibly adjustable and I was able to go back to using armrests comfortably. The height adjustment options are excellent, but far from the best part. Instead, the 360-degree swivel won the love of my elbows and wrists.
By swivelling the armrests, I could make sure that my arms were always supported while also preventing the armrests from smacking the edge of my desk, a major pet peeve of mine. It’s one of those things where now that I’ve tried armrests like this, I don’t think I can ever go back to armrests that don’t swivel.
Better ergonomics alone won’t fix your back
Overall, I’m a big fan of the airCentric 3 and, while it’s definitely been better for my butt and back, it hasn’t solved all my ergonomics problems. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a huge improvement over what I had before and, I think, a great option for a lot of people. But if you’ve got back pain from sitting too much, a better chair will only do so much to fix the problem. Likewise, the standing desk I’ve been using hasn’t totally solved my back issues, though it has helped.
Generally, my back feels better than it did before, but I also need to stay on top of moving regularly, taking breaks, switching between sitting and standing, and other tactics to help keep things loose and moving. The airCentric 3 has been an important part of my wider strategy to improve my back.