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Premium treadmill buyer’s guide


Premium treadmill buyer’s guide

Finding which treadmill is the best for you is often difficult, with so much choice available, even at the premium end of the market. This short buyer’s guide helps you to understand more about buying a high-end treadmill for your home, and what you should consider before making any purchase.

Why buy a high-end treadmill?

A high quality treadmill is functional, easy to use and, when used correctly, provides an ideal way to burn calories, manage weight and enhance your cardiovascular system.

How much should I spend?

This depends upon your budget, but generally speaking the more you spend the better your workout experience will be, and the more similar it will be to the experience you would have in a gym environment . The high-end price range of the home treadmill market generally spans from approximately £1,000 to £5,000. Generally speaking, beyond this price-point you are in to the realms of commercial machines.

So am I best to choose a home or commercial machine?

Many of the best treadmill brands manufacture both home and commercial equipment. The benefit of choosing one of these brands is that the technology and design experience garnered from making equipment for commercial gym environments is usually also employed in ‘home’ versions of the equipment.

Whilst a commercial treadmill is undoubtedly the most robust option, these machines are designed for heavy use in a club environment and so, in mostly all domestic circumstances, a high-end home treadmill will suffice.

Where do I start?

Firstly, and importantly, consider your goals and the goals of other potential exercisers in your home.  Most families will have more than one individual that will likely be using the equipment.  For example, ‘under buying’ a low quality, underpowered treadmill that will be used by both a 60kg and a 90kg person is a common mistake.

What are some of the key build features I should be looking for?

Adequate Motor - This has become one of the most confusing points of all. Don't be fooled by the "bigger is always better" rhetoric.  In reality, a 2.0 and above continuous duty HP motor is sufficient for virtually any user if the other components are high quality (continuous duty is a measure of horsepower under regular anticipated use and is far more meaningful than "peak" horsepower).

A good cooling mechanism reduces heat on the motor and other key components - extending the life and wear on these parts. A large motor with a poor cooling mechanism makes for a bad combination that will likely result in premature wear and tear on parts as well as poor performance. Look at the treadmill as a system with matched components, not just a unit with a ‘big’ or ‘quiet’ motor.

Shock absorption system - Look for a manufacturer that provides compelling, research-based, evidence on why their cushioning system works.

In addition to cushioning, some treadmills even go so far as to make automated adjustments to belt speed in order to compensate for minor variations in foot speed during workouts - a technology that proposes to make your session more comfortable and easier on your body. 

What are some of the main console features I should be looking for?

The basics from a fitness point of view when deciding which treadmill are elapsed time, distance, speed, and incline.  Having a measure of calories burned can also be motivating for some.  Consider what additional information or features will help keep you motivated day after day.

Some of the most useful added features include:

  • Heart Rate interactivity -Measuring your heart rate (HR) is the surest indicator of progress and proper intensity.  The best treadmills will actually adjust speed while measuring your heart rate to make sure that you stay within this range.
  • Pre-set and custom programs - One of the leading reasons people quit a program is boredom. Having a treadmill that provides a myriad of programs will help keep a program fresh and full of variety. The ability to customise a program for your specific needs is also a great feature.
  • User Profile / ID  - Separate user Ids, that store data for individual users, are ideal for families or workout partners, and are great for competing against others and yourself.  The best treadmills will ‘remember’ your workouts and even those of other users in your house.
  • Ease of Use –The best treadmills keep it simple.  Big green buttons mean go.  Big red buttons mean stop.  Emergency stops should be well labelled and it should take no more than 2 to 3 ‘button pushes’ to launch a program.
  • Interval training functionality  Interval training means periods of high intensity combined with periods of lower intensity - a very effective means of increasing fitness levels quickly.  Look for programming that offers numerous options for interval training. 

What practicalities should I consider before deciding which cross-trainer to buy?

  • Maintenance - Look for a product that is maintenance-free. A well-designed unit takes normal wear and tear into account, so you don't have to.
  • Warranty - An elliptical cross-trainer is an electronic piece of equipment.  Look for a warranty that provides for at least 1 year of labour and a minimum of 1-3 years coverage on parts.  Be sure your warranty includes electronics and other key components.
  • Space, environment and aesthetics – Obviously ensure that you have enough space.  Naturally this will vary dependent on the dimensions of the particular machine that you choose, but in general, remember to consider headroom, as cross-trainers will elevate your height by 30cm or more.  A space-planner can help you to plan – after all, you don’t want to invest several thousand pounds to discover that your new machine doesn’t fit!

It’s also important to think about the environment your machine is going to be in.  It’s a piece of electrical equipment, so it must be kept in a cool, dry environment, which of course will also be conducive to a good workout for you.

Finally, this new machine is going to be part of your home and so ensure you’re happy with the look and design.  Choosing a machine which is best for you biomechanically is the most important factor, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be happy with how the exercise machine looks in your home.

In compiling this buyer’s guide, grateful acknowledgement is made of the contribution from Gregory Florez, founder and CEO of First Fitness Inc.  Gregory is one of the United States’ leading experts in several health and fitness categories, including personal coaching and training, product trends, and fitness technology.


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