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When Choosing a Treadmill, Know Thyself

When Choosing a Treadmill, Know Thyself

In today’s home gyms, some treadmills have built-in television screens, online applications, and a variety of other distractions. Is this fusion of entertainment and exercise brilliant or ridiculous? You be the judge! Figuring out what really matters to you is an important step in choosing the best treadmill.

Treadmill Horsepower

Regardless of what entertainment you’d like on your treadmill, the motor should be your first consideration. After all, the motor powers the machine and helps determine its durability. The horsepower (HP) of newer home treadmill motors is typically between 2.0 and 4.0. Casual trainers can get away with less horsepower, but households with serious trainers or multiple exercisers need treadmills with more powerful motors for speed and long-term durability. Since motors are an important component of overall treadmill price, it’s important to get a good estimate of your power needs.

The non-portable budget treadmills by Horizon, Trimline, and Weslo have at least 2.0 HP motors to support light jogging, but they have few selling points. The ProForm brand manages to combine decent but lower-end motors with appealing treadmill features. For example, the low-priced ProForm 590T and ProForm 980 Audio Trainer combine 2.25 HP motors with nice extras such as motorized inclines and integrated speakers. The ProForm 690T has a high quality Mach Z 2.5 HP motor, an iFit card reader, and a built-in sound system.

Powerful motors of 2.5 HP, 3.0 HP, or more are worthwhile investments if the treadmill will get regular or heavy use. Many of these motors are sold with lifetime warranties while cheaper motors have very short warranties. Some popular treadmill brands with powerful but quiet 3.0 motors include Life Fitness, NordicTrack, and Smooth Fitness.

Luxury treadmill models with commercial quality 4.0 HP motors include the NordicTrack Elite 9500 PRO Treadmill, the Life Fitness Club Series Treadmill, the SportsArt T630, and a variety of machines by Landice.

Exercise Programs

When choosing between treadmills, honestly assess how important exercise programs are to you. All treadmills are sold with some built-in workout programs, but there’s a wide range of program variety and complexity. For instance, treadmills have traditionally displayed simple bar-graph style workout data, but options nowadays include the ability to sync up with Google Maps and
experience natural trails from all over the world.

Also, some treadmills have relatively few built-in programs, with 8 or so being standard on basic models, but many brands offer greater variety. For example, the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 has 30 preset programs, Reebok machines have up to 35, and Landice offers an exceptional selection.

Typically the built-in treadmill programs offer significant workout variety, targeting endurance, weight loss, and other goals. Sometimes they’re integrated with heart rate monitors to help exercisers maintain a healthy blood pressure while exercising. Examples include the Landice L7 Cardio Trainer and the Body Solid Endurance TF3i.

In addition to having built-in programs, some treadmills are sold with iFit consoles or iFit workout card compatibility.  These features let people add to their workout collections, exercise with the assistance of virtual personal trainers, and even sync up with Facebook friends for treadmill racing. iFit is available on treadmill brands manufactured by ICON Fitness: Epic, HealthRider, Image, NordicTrack, Reebok, Weslo, and Weider. Other brands such as LiveStrong Fitness offer digital fitness journals and online guidance.


It’s now common for treadmills to include iPod docks and integrated speakers, and some brands – like BladeZ, Smooth, and NordicTrack – offer consoles with built-in TV screens. The Smooth 9.45 includes one of the largest treadmill TVs available.

Some exercisers are wowed by these features, but others consider them fluff. If entertainment makes the difference and helps you get in shape, then it could be a great investment. On the other hand, it might be a foolish choice if you can easily park your treadmill in front of your regular home TV.

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