As someone whose experience with treadmills is limited to the models I’ve been exposed to at the gym over the years, I’ve never really given much thought to their various features or what I’d look for if I were to purchase one for my home. I just scan my membership card, jump on, choose a program, and try my best not to fall off when I accidentally choose a speed that is far faster than my non-running body can handle.
However, these days I’ve been working out at home more often than I have been in the gym, and it got me thinking about what features I would want to–and need to–consider if I were in the market for a treadmill. Let’s be honest, they are one of the most sensible health decisions you can make. They are functional, easy to use, and burn a ton of calories. So, if you are looking to add one to your home, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide on which one is right for you.
How much room do you have?
If you’re purchasing a treadmill for your home, it goes without saying that first and foremost, the style and model you choose will depend on how much space you have available. If you live in a small apartment or condo, or your exercise area is relegated to the corner of your basement, you can choose a mobile model with minimal bells and whistles, like the ProGear 190 Space Saver Treadmill. With smaller treadmills like the ProGear, you’ll still get a great workout, and can make use of features like LCD screens that display elapsed time, distance walked, and calories burned, however, when your workout is over, you can simply collapse your treadmill and roll it out of sight and out of mind.
If space isn’t an issue, elite treadmills like the NordicTrack X22i Incline Trainer Treadmill
aren’t out of the question. With its large 22” x 60” tread deck, and almost 4’ x 6’ footprint, you’ll definitely need a large area in which to use the X22i, but if you do have the space, you’ll be able to take advantage of a huge array of features, including speeds of up to 12mph and inclines of up to 40%.
Who will be using the treadmill, and how?
The size and quality of a treadmill’s motor is directly associated with the maximum weight the machine can handle and the type of activity that it will be used for. If you plan on using your treadmill infrequently or for light walking, a 2.0 horsepower continuous duty motor will suffice. If you’re a jogger, a 2.5 horsepower continuous duty motor should be the absolute minimum, whereas if you are a runner, you shouldn’t consider anything under 3.0 horsepower.
As mentioned, the size and quality of the motor you choose is also influenced by the weight of the users. For users over 200 pounds, the horsepower of the motor should be increased by 0.5 for proper support and to ensure it doesn’t overheat or require unnecessary repairs. So, for walkers over 200 pounds, that 2.5 horsepower should increase to 3.0 horsepower, and so on.
What do you want in a command centre?
Once you’ve determined how much room you’re working with and the minimum horsepower you need to support your activity and weight, you’ll need to give some thought into what it is you want in a command centre or control panel. At the very minimum, most treadmills come with some sort of LCD screen that shows time elapsed, calories burned, and distance walked, as is the case with the ProGear Treadmill I mentioned above.
However, if you’re anything like me and prefer to use a treadmill with more features than you know how to deal with because it makes you feel more engaged in your workout, or if you are actually a serious runner and know how to–and need to–make use of a plethora of features, you’ll want a command centre like the one that comes with the Life Fitness T3 Treadmill with Go Console. In addition to its Quick Start feature that remembers your preferred walk, jog, and run speeds so you can start exercising right away, its Go Console is equipped with workout programs and a smartphone/tablet holder to keep you entertained.
Some additional things to keep in mind when it comes to a console are how easy are the controls to read and use? If the text is small or the functionality is complex, you likely won’t make use of what is available to you. Similarly, does the console feature one-touch button controls like Quick Speed, Quick Start, or Incline? In not, you might want to opt for an easier to navigate and more streamlined interface.
What other features are important to you?
In a day and age where our phones are essentially small computers we carry with us wherever we go, we have access to any piece of information or media at the click of a button, and can even turn our home lights on from thousands of kilometers away, we have become used to feature-rich electronic devices.
As far as treadmills are concerned, if added features are what you’re looking for, you can opt for models like the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 Folding Treadmill, which comes with a plethora of add ons. For example, with its 38 built-in workouts designed by a certified personal trainer, you can achieve maximum performance; and when you get tired of one work out, you can simply switch to another. It also comes with iFit technology that helps you get much more out of each workout and custom-tailor your training to your specific goals with new workouts every day, progress tracking, and real-life runs with Google Maps.
Treadmills like the NordicTrack 1750 and others may also come equipped with workout fans to keep you cool, and wireless Bluetooth-enabled chest straps that send a continue reading to the display, keeping you in the right training zone for your fitness goals.
The bottom line: once you’ve determined what size and motor suits your space and needs, and what you want in a display, you can further narrow your search by selecting additional features you think will help you make the most of your treadmill and reach your fitness goals.