Treadmill Buying Guide – ConsumersLocal
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Treadmill Buying Guide

Finding a new treadmill can be both an exciting and frustrating experience. The exciting part is looking at the treadmills and imagining the treadmill in your own home. However, frustration can mount as you realize just how many treadmills are on the market. From well-known brands like NordicTrack and Sole to treadmill manufacturers you have never heard of outside of Amazon, it is incredibly difficult to sort through the thousands of treadmills available.

Treadmill Buying: Where To Begin

There are many aspects to consider when it comes to selecting a treadmill. The perfect treadmill for a retiree is generally not the right treadmill for an active early thirties professional. To help you navigate our guide more easily, we have broken our review into two sections.

The first section “Treadmill Buying: Where To Begin” has been designed to help you sort through the sheer amount of treadmills out there and to create a short-list of treadmills you are interested in. In our second section “Treadmill Anatomy: Deciphering Treadmill Specifications”, we go over what the different specifications of a treadmill mean for you the users, without all the sales hype that you find when looking at treadmills.  

Set Your Treadmill Budget

It is only natural to start your treadmill search by setting your treadmill budget. You don’t want to fall in love with a particular treadmill only to realize you can’t afford it. So we recommend that you consider your price range before you start hunting for a treadmill.

We rate treadmills according to a basic range of budgets. Thanks to years of research, we’ve found that treadmills in specific price ranges come equipped with many of the same features.

Under $500 – There are currently no treadmills we can recommend in the under $500 price range. We have found that these treadmills are generally made with inferior parts and do not last over a year. If we do find a good treadmill in this price range, we will update our guide.

Between $500 – $700 – This is the lowest price range we have been able to find worthwhile treadmills. They tend to have a max speed of 10 MPH and incline range of 0% to 10%. You also tend to find warranties a bit shorter in this price range. Users hoping to use a treadmill in this price range for years should stick to walking and very light jogging.

Under $1,000 – You can find a wide variety of good treadmills for just under $1,000. There is a clear jump in cushioning quality on these treadmills, many which come with patented cushioning technology. You will also find they can reach the max speed of 12 MPH, though some still only reach an incline of 10%. These treadmills are best for walkers and joggers. They may not last as long if you are a regular runner.

Under $1,500 – Most of our testers are active people and have found that the $1,500 price range is where they can find treadmills to suit their active lifestyles. We like to refer to these treadmills as the “people pleasers” as they are at a great price and can accommodate people with a wide fitness range. Walkers can enjoy a variety of programs and runners finally have a machine that can keep up with their drive.

Under $2,000 – Once you move into this price range, you will find treadmills with more “extras”. Things like touch screens, 35+ workout programs, and incline ranges of 15% are some of the common treadmill extras you receive in this price range. These treadmills tend to be highly durable and constructed with heavier frames so that your treadmill can last you for years to come. Great for walkers, joggers and runners, we like to recommend this price range if you have a household that will have multiple treadmill users who will utilize the treadmill on a daily basis.

Under $2,500 – Most of the treadmills in this price range fall into the light commercial quality range. This means they are up to heavy usage; not quite commercial gym-quality but perhaps a small office gym or hotel gym. There is a big jump in quality and options when it comes to this price range, where you can customize things like your console type and program add-ons. You can also find specialty treadmills in this price range, like NordicTrack incline trainers.  

If you do find that your perfect treadmill is out of your set budget, many of the top treadmill manufacturers have financing options. Brands like SOLE and NordicTrack offer 18 months free of interest, so be sure to consider financing if your perfect treadmill is out of your budget.

Which Treadmill Extras Are Worth It For You

Once you have determined what range of treadmills you are interested in, you will still likely have a large variety to choose from. To help you narrow down that list, consider what treadmill extras are worth it to you.

  • Workout programs – Plenty of people hop on to a treadmill and only use the manual function. When it comes to cheap treadmills, many of them only have a manual function. However, if you want to push yourself or just have someone else take charge of your workout, then workout programs are a great option.
  • Automated features – Some treadmills have automated features such as autobreeze, which adjusts the fan speed to the intensity of your workout.  
  • Wireless heart rate monitoring – Many treadmills on the market currently have EKG heart rate monitoring handlebar grips. However, these handlebar grips are a notoriously inaccurate way to monitor your heart rate. To combat this, the better treadmill manufacturers have included wireless heart rate monitoring capabilities in their treadmills by creating a wireless, adjustable chest strap with which you can monitor your heart rate. Sometimes the chest strap has to be bought separately from the treadmill and at other times, the chest strap is included in your treadmill purchase.  
  • High incline range – On average, good treadmills have an incline range somewhere between 0% to 15%. Some have decline features, which these treadmills generally start in price just under $1,500. But for those looking for a greater challenge, and/or to burn calories faster, a higher incline range can be a great benefit. Currently, the highest incline ranged treadmill on the market is produced by NordicTrack. These incline trainers can decline to -6% and incline up to 40%. All while performing all the other functions of a normal treadmill.
  • Entertainment options – Many people find it an absolute drag to workout on a treadmill. To help lessen the feelings of boredom, many treadmills have entertainment options. Cheap treadmills may just have some speakers and an audio jack so you can blast your music while you workout. However, from treadmill innovators like ProForm, you can use a 22” touchscreen console to workout with a virtual personal trainer.
  • Bluetooth – For those who want to track their workouts so they can sync it with other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, and other fitness tracking apps. Also, the top treadmill manufacturers have their own apps which can sync with your treadmill to improve your experience. Apps like SOLE Fitness and ViaFit are purely for workout tracking and interfacing more easily with your treadmill.   
  • iFit – This app syncs with several treadmill brands as it is produced by ICON. From the popular gym equipment producer Freemotion to top home gym equipment brands like ProForm and NordicTrack, iFit can add to your treadmill workouts. It is a paid app which offers nutritional coaching, access to virtual courses around the world thanks to a partnership with Google Maps, workout videos, and unlimited personalized workouts which are based on your goals.
  • Sprint 8 – On some of the Matrix, Vision, and LifeSpan treadmills, an interval HIIT program called Sprint 8 is programmed into the console. In 20-minute long workouts, you will sprint for 30 seconds then have 90 seconds of active recovery.    
  • Passport – Some treadmills are enabled with Passport, which is an innovative piece of workout technology. Purchased separately from your treadmill, the Passport player will allow you to take virtual runs through places like New Zealand’s beaches, the French Riviera coastline, and more.

Purchasing Your Treadmill

Once you have reached the purchasing stage, congratulations on finding the right treadmill for you! There is still one more step to consider before you buy your treadmill, which is are you going to buy it from a brick and mortar store or online.

Buying in stores – As brick and mortar locations lose ground to online shopping, this will naturally affect your in-person treadmill shopping experience. Also, since treadmill manufacturers do not have physical storefronts, you will be working with third-party vendors if you purchase a treadmill in-person.

Pros of buying in-store:

  • Potentially find a good deal on your treadmill
  • Can load up your treadmill right after you purchase it

Cons of buying in-store:

  • Your treadmill may be out-of-stock, so you will have to come back to receive it
  • May be upsold more items than you intended
  • Can be difficult to transport a treadmill if you don’t have a truck
  • May need to register your treadmill warranty

Buying your treadmill online –  When it comes to buying a treadmill online, we will almost always recommend you buy directly from the treadmill manufacturer. You will have a better customer experience which will help from the moment you place your order to the time where you may need to call for warranty-covered work. We do encourage you to take advantage of coupon deals as long as they allow you to buy directly from the manufacturer.

Pros of buying online:

  • Can find better treadmill deals online
  • Clear line of support when purchasing from treadmill manufacturer
  • Convenient delivery and assembly options
  • No upselling employees

Cons of buying online:

  • Third-party websites may not offer good treadmill support
  • Treadmill may become damaged during delivery and you will need to make a return to replace it


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