Whether its a Motorised Treadmill a Manual Treadmill a Foldable Treadmill or a Non Folding Treadmill its important to choose the Right Treadmill
If you decide to buy and use a treadmill, it could be one of the wisest health decisions you could make. Treadmills, particularly motorised treadmills are easy to use fitness machines, they will improve your cardiovascular system and they provide the ideal way to burn calories and help with weight management. If you are a runner then its all well and good taking a run during the warm summer evenings but what happens when the winter snow, rain and dark evenings arrive? Well thats easy, you pull down your foldable treadmill from the cupboard under the stairs, plug it in and start jogging and the whole family can use it as well.
But buyers beware!
There are more treadmills on the market than any other kind of fitness equipment leaving you the consumer with a
This is a mixed blessing. There is now a good range of quality treadmills to choose from such as:
- Tunturi treadmills
- Flow Fitness treadmills
- Life Fitness treadmills
- Landice treadmills
but there are many more treadmills out there that you should think very carefully about before spending you’re hard earned cash.
Consider the following. A good motor fitted to a quality treadmill will have a trade price of £250 plus. Yet there are cheap treadmills on the market selling for this price. To be fair even the cheapest treadmills will offer something to those on a tight budget but be warned, they may come with problems. Some of these machines have been designed to last not much more than 6 months because they think that people will not be using them for much longer than that. It sounds unbelievable but true. A lot of these fitness machines are sold on the web. They are bought over by the container from the Far East. The web site sells them off offering all kinds of guarantees then a few months down the line the web site disappears leaving you the consumer with no redress. So if you see a very low priced treadmill its a case of buyer beware.
The following tips will help you maximize your investment, prevent you falling into any traps and also help you reach your desired goals.
Buying your Treadmill
- Consider who will be using the treadmill and what their specific goals are.
It is often the case that there will be more than one person in the family who will be using the treadmill. Discussing each person’s goals will help make sure that you purchase workout equipment that will withstand the use of multiple family members and provide the adjustments to accommodate different size users. For example, going for the cheapest option or buying a low quality underpowered motorised treadmill is a common mistake, but one that can cause considerable problems, particularly if it is being used by both a 9 Stone and a 17 stone person. Also will the treadmill grow with you? In a very short time with regular use you will find your fitness improving and as it does so you will need more from your treadmill. Will it be able to accommodate this?
- Go to a specialist fitness store and test the treadmill.
A specialist fitness equipment store should be able to offer a range of treadmills for you to try. They will also be able to show you how to use the treadmill properly and provide installation as well as show you how to do routine maintenance. Then test the exercise equipment yourself.
Almost any treadmill will feel and seem adequate if you just walk on it for a couple of minutes. Its only when you begin to put the treadmill through its paces by jogging or running on it, adding elevation and using different programmes will you start to see and feel the major difference in quality and comfort, even vibration and noise.
When you go to the store wear appropriate clothing so you can test the gym equipment properly. A good treadmill is a major investment. Take your time.
- Location & Space.
Consider where you are going to site your treadmill. There is no problem with putting a treadmill upstairs as long as you appreciate that someone running hard on it will cause some noise and vibration below. A garage is fine as long as its not damp, which would effect the electronics. Conservatories are popular, but if its south facing it may get to hot. If you have a gym room on the ground floor, which is something that is growing in popularity then you have the perfect solution. Space should not be too much of a problem today now that there is such a large range of folding treadmills available. Don't forget that a motorised treadmill is an electric treadmill and will therefore require power from an electric socket.
Easily Navigable Console
When you look at the treadmill console does it make sense? Do you intuitively know how the buttons work? Is the screen large enough and the workout information easy to read? The sales person will show you the basics but when you get the treadmill home they will not be there to guide you, so make sure you feel comfortable that you will be able to use the console with ease.
This is a major selling point for all treadmills now, but not all cushioning systems are the same. The ideal absorption system should be one that feels firm and stable when you run yet still forgiving. It should not feel soft and spongy and slap back at you. This kind of cushioning could cause knee injuries over time and also wear out quickly. Good quality treadmills from respected manufacturers provide cushioning that is researched based and can show evidence on why their system works. There should be methodology in the system other than simply putting in rubber spacers or dampeners. Some treadmills now come with orthopaedic belts, which subtly enhance the cushioning further. The only way you can be sure you like the feel of the cushioning is to test the treadmill. Remember anything that will make your workout more comfortable will result in you sticking with it and achieving your desired goals.
This is where the confusion really starts. Don’t be fooled by the ‘bigger is always better’ rhetoric. There is more to a treadmill motor than its size. What you should look for is a continuous duty HP motor (continuous duty is a measure of horsepower under regular anticipated use and is far more meaningful than ‘peak’ horsepower). In reality 2.0HP and above should be sufficient for any user as long as the rest of the motorised treadmills components are of a high quality. For example a good cooling mechanism will reduce the heat generated by the motor and other major components, prolonging their life and reducing wear on these parts. A large motor with a poor cooling system is not a good combination as this will result in premature wear and poor performance. However a superior cooling system and quality electronics do not come cheap and this is why there is such a disparity in price of motorised treadmills. Try not to focus on just the ‘big’ or ‘quiet’ motor, instead look at the treadmill as a whole system, with matching components that work together. It is this that makes the difference between a bog standard cheap treadmill and a quality treadmill.
An array of feedback features is available on most motorised treadmills. It is tempting to buy one with everything but before you do, consider what is important to you and the other users of the treadmill and how you will use it. You will certainly need the basic information such as speed, distance, elevation and time. You then need to look for features that will motivate and challenge you such as pace and heart rate.
Folding treadmills use one or two hydraulic pistons to assist with the lifting and lowering of the running deck. Make sure the piston is good quality and does the job. The majority of foldable treadmills have what some brands call a ‘softdrop’ mechanism. This lets the running deck drop slowly and gently without any intervention from you. It was designed to prevent injury to young children who may have accidentally released the treadmill from its raised locking position. These work very well but again the quality of the piston is crucial. The locking device differs considerably from brand to brand. Some have a simple release handle conveniently positioned at shoulder height, others have a pivoting plate at the bottom of the treadmill that you have to push down with your foot and others have an annoying leaver type piston combined support that you have to pull apart. They all work adequately but some are just easier to use.
We are often asked if foldable treadmills are less stable than a platform (non-folding) treadmill. Years ago folding treadmills were very unstable compared with a platform treadmill and cheap treadmills still are today. But buy a quality folder and you will be hard pressed to feel the difference.
- Programmes and Motivation.
You need to consider what information and additional features will help keep you motivated day after day. Only you can decide that. It may help to think about what worked for you in the past-and what didn’t. Was it seeing the number of calories you burned or the interval programme you used on the treadmill at the gym? Remember all that matters in the long term is that you regularly use the treadmill. Some of the most useful features include:
Heart Rate Control Programmes
Measuring your heart rate is the surest indicator of progress and proper intensity. Everyone has a target heart rate, based on age, for which they should train. Too high a heart rate and you risk injury, too low and you will not achieve your goals. The best treadmills will actually adjust the speed and or incline while measuring your heart rate to make sure you stay within your range. This is known as a heart rate controlled programme and is very different to a heart rate display which only measures and displays your heart rate on the console and does not offer any interactivity. To achieve this interactivity you simply punch in your desired heart rate and the treadmill will automatically respond accordingly throughout your workout.
Pre-set and Custom Programmes.
One of the most common reasons a person quits a training programme is boredom. Having a treadmill with a range of programmes will help keep each workout fresh and varied. Being able to customize a programme to your specific needs is also a great feature. Another consideration is the science behind the programmes. Manufacturers of quality treadmills do a lot of research into making sure the programmes are safe and effective.
This is a way of storing data for individual users and ideal for families and workout partners. The treadmill will remember your workouts and you can basically build up a database of workout information and create custom workouts based on your personal preferences and goals. It will even allow you to compete against yourself.
Ease of Use
The best treadmills keep their consoles simple. To start a manual workout look for a ‘quick start’ mode, which basically gets the treadmill moving with one push of a button. To launch a programme 1-3 button pushes should be the most that’s required. The emergency stop button should be clearly visible (usually red) and easy to hit. What you should be looking for is a treadmill that does the thinking for you. This is something you will not find on low priced treadmills.
If things are complicated you will only get frustrated or intimidated and if that’s the case you will never use the equipment.
This is a special type of programme that consists of training periods of high intensity combined with periods of low intensity. It is a very effective means of increasing fitness levels quickly. They also make a workout pass swiftly.
There are a number of different interval programmes available but you should be looking for a treadmill that allows you to easily adjust each intensity period simply and quickly. Once set up the treadmill takes over from there but you should also be able to interrupt and change the intensity at any point in the programme if you need to.
This is a great way for anyone to measure his or her progress and for the more serious exerciser a great motivational tool. It is essentially a pre-set programme based on a scientific set of principals that ‘tests’ your fitness level at any given time. The programme is based on heart rate, distance and speed etc. Research has shown that the second biggest reason people quit an exercise programme is lack of results. Doing a fitness test on a periodic basis will help you see your progress.
Remember the must haves when buying a Treadmill
• Easy to read and easy to use treadmill console
• Cushioned Deck
• Programmes and features on the treadmill that are meaningful to you
• An adequate continuous duty HP motor, 2HP or above is best
Safety and Maintenance
Running and walking on a moving piece of exercise equipment is very effective and simple, but for the raw beginner it can also feel unsafe and fraught with quality issues if you don’t choose wisely.
Look for an emergency stop button on the treadmill that is easy to see and accessible, no matter what speed or incline you are running at. There should also be a safety tether key. This is a key that plugs into the treadmill console and has a cord that runs from it that attaches to your clothing. If this key is pulled out the treadmill will automatically stop. Therefore if you fall or faint then the treadmill will not continue running which could cause serious injury. A tether key is ideal for a beginner. Has the treadmill got heart rate features, feedback and interactivity? All these help towards a safe and effective workout. Make sure the treadmill has handrails that are comfortable to hold but are not intrusive. Can you run or walk without your hands or arms hitting them? Testing in store for several minutes will help decide this. Finally the belt speed should rise and fall in gradual increments, guaranteeing you are always in control. When buying fitness equipment, gym equipment or any type of workout equipment safety must always be a priority.
A treadmill will always require a little maintenance, after all a treadmill is a mechanical and electronic piece of moving exercise equipment. However on a quality treadmill the maintenance should be minimal. Once set up you should not be centring the belt or lubricating the running deck after every workout. A well- designed unit should take in normal wear and tear. Ask the salesman what is required. Some treadmills have reversible running decks. This means that if normal wear and tear takes it course on the running surface the deck can be flipped over, basically doubling the life of the running deck. This is something that can be done by a competent owner but it is always worth asking the store what they will charge to do it professionally. If you have bought quality, professional gym equipment then it may be worth paying that extra to get a professional to look after it. However on a quality treadmill this is something that will not be require for many years.
Today treadmill warranties are almost used as a marketing tool. Companies now compete to offer longer and more comprehensive warranties. This is all well and good as long as the manufacturer is still in business in 10 years time. You have of course got to make sure that the treadmill has a good warranty but if you buy a treadmill from a manufacturer with a history and a brand name then you are half way there. At minimum the treadmill should have a 3 year motor warranty, 1 year electronics and 1-2 year labour cover. As with everything else and this is probably more so with a treadmill, you get what you pay for. A treadmill has to take an enormous amount of punishment compared to other fitness equipment. For anyone who has regularly visited a health club they have probably found that the one piece of equipment that is out of order more than any other is the treadmill. Therefore the better the quality the less likely you will need to use your warranty.
Equally as important, does the dealers from whom you are purchasing the exercise equipment, have their own service staff that are trained and authorised by the manufacturer to service your fitness equipment. At Fitness Options we have our own dedicated service engineers who have years of experience.
Why you should buy your treadmill from Fitness Options
- We offer an extensive range of treadmills, covering all budgets
- Your treadmill warranty: All treadmills come with a minimum 1 year parts and labour warranty. Many far exceed this with 3 and 5 year warranties depending on manufacturer
- Treadmill delivery: Delivered direct to your door
- Treadmill installation: Treadmills can be very heavy that is why we would recommend our installation service. Installed by our own engineers.