Editor’s Note: Viewpoints has a new expert contributor: Kate Baldwin. She is a professor at Northwestern University and a certified yoga instructor. She wrote the following helpful guide to choosing a treadmill for interval and speed training at any price point. Be sure to check out her upcoming pieces on treadmills and other fitness topics.
Now that it’s almost summer many people are folding up their treadmills, but there are still rainy days when you want to squeeze in a run and can’t make it to the gym. Even in the off season when everyone prefers to be outdoors, treadmills can be used to supplement a summer workout schedule. Treadmills are especially great for intervals and speed work. These kinds of workouts not only will improve your outdoor pace, they will speed along your workout by turning a humdrum routine into a fun fitness challenge.
A treadmill can be a major fitness investment, so a first consideration in buying a treadmill is price. Reviewer’s top choices for treadmills with interval programming are available at three different price points.
Top of the line: LifeFitness Treadmill (99/100)
LifeFitness is a brand you will see in gyms, and for a good reason. It is industrial in strength and durable. It has a ton of different options, but you’ll pay for these features. Life Fitness is on the expensive end of the range, but many reviewers feel the extra money is money well-spent:
One reviewer comments that Life Fitness is a great overall machine,
“I really like the Life Fitness Treadmills. I use one every day, and I love it.“ —carrie8317, Reviewer since 2010
Others mention the programming options:
“With so many options on this treadmill, I never get bored with it. It is easy to understand and operate, very smooth and a great product!” —SJPerry1985, Reviewer since 2009
“It comes with several programs like hill, random, manual, EZincline, and three types of sports training. You can set the M.P.H. and incline.”—Sunny2, Reviewer since 2007
As someone who has done a lot of training on a LifeFitness treadmill, I can tell you that not only does LifeFitness offer unquestionable quality, it also has an incredibly smooth ride. Even when the belt is moving quickly, the machine remains stable. It’s easy to navigate the adjustable buttons up and down for speed and incline.
While you’ll often see LifeFitness models at the gym, several models are available for home use. They are still professional quality, and they will run you a few thousand dollars.
I agree with our reviewers that the Life Fitness is worth the extra investment. In my own experience, I’ve found the Life Fitness machines to be sturdy, but it has an adjustable belt to soften your impact. This can mean a lot to your joints if you plan to spend a bunch of time on your machine.
Mid-range: NordicTrack Treadmills
With advanced features like the Life Fitness, but for a bit less cash, NordicTrack models also rate high with reviewers. Depending on the model, you can find a NordicTrack from about $500 to about $2000.
One reviewer finds the programing functions of the NordicTrack A2350 model (92/100) particularly appealing.
“It comes with a special magnetized key that turns the machine on. Metal pieces on the grip bar detect your heart rate. There is a plug in that allows you to listen to your MP3 device on speakers. There is a window with five displays that can give you simultaneous feedback. There is also the option to adjust speed and incline with a system of 1-10.”—PeppyBismilk, Reviewer since 2009
Another reviewer agrees, noting that the heart rate monitor helps tally calories expended and keep track of your fitness goals.
“It has several features including manual and programable walking or running speeds, inclines, and a control panel featuring steps walked, calories burned , and time of the workout. It also shows heart rates and has several safety features including a chest strap and a push button kill switch. It is a sturdy unit and was very easy to set up. You can set up personal work out programs for yourself and your family.” —leftyb, Reviewer since 2010
While the NordicTrack line offers great variety in programming, and is great for interval work and changing up the pace, all foldable machines have a maximum speed. For the NordicTrack this is around 10 mph, and this will be fine for walkers and anyone who is not trying to do fast pace training. Foldable treadmills tend to be more compact, so the cushioning is less than on a machine like the Life Fitness.
Bargain: ProForm Treadmills
And for those of us who want to save a little, but still get a fine workout with automatic or manual programs, the ProForm750 (85/100) is a great choice at a lower price point ($699). Even this basic model provides workout customization and support.
“Great product, works well, delivery was really fast and the price was just right. The machine was easy to put together with the easy to follow instructions. The display panel is bright, easy to read, and accessible, and I love the built-in water bottle well. Custom and preset programs make it easy for anyone to get a decent workout without thinking much about it. It has multi incline setting and many speed settings to pick from.it has a attachment that you hook onto your shirt and if you fall off it automatically stops the track from moving. A great treadmill to work out on.” —CammieSorterTurner, Reviewer since 2010
“My husband and I have used this every day for about 2 years and have had no problems with it. Out of all my exersize equipment, this is what we use the most along with riding our bicycles.” —WendyWolfe, Reviewer since 2010
The Proform machine is great place to start if you are beginning an exercise routine that involves a treadmill. For the cost, you can’t do better than the ProForm. Once you build up your fitness level, you can consider upgrading to a more heavy-duty model.
Do you enjoy outdoor workouts, or do you like the ease of a treadmill at home? Leave a comment and tell us about your summer workout routine.
Next up for treadmills: I’ll take a look at how you can use a treadmill’s programs to stay motivated on your workout.
Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with treadmills or fitness equipment, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.