Treadmills are among the most popular (and effective) training machines out there. But with so many makes and models on the market, how do you choose what’s right for you? We’ve got the five most important factors to consider when shopping for a treadmill.
- Running Surface. The treadmill surface on which you run or walk-called the deck-is a top consideration. First, be wary of decks that feel too soft underfoot, as they may not provide the support needed to match your goals. Second, look for clinically advanced cushioning systems (like TRUE’s patented Soft System, which provides an orthopedically correct running surface) designed for comfort and minimal impact. Also look for high-quality shock absorbers that can provide a firmer surface and allow for a stronger push-off as you stride. Finally, consider the size of the running surface. A larger area of at least 48″ x 17″ will minimize the possibility of accidental injury and the risk of slipping off the deck during a workout.
- Motor. A solid motor keeps your treadmill operating over the long-term, so don’t skimp. Generally speaking, don’t settle for a motor with less than 1.5 to 2.5 horsepower (HP), and be sure it has a “continuous duty” rating. Also, aim for the longest warranty possible (certainly no less than a year). The best quality machines have lifetime motor warranties, including the TRUE ES900, which also has a 2-year warranty on parts and labor for the motor. The TRUE PS100 has a 2-year warranty on both the drive motor and the motor controller, and one year on labor. But don’t think warranties are based entirely on price: the TRUE M30, with an MSRP of less than $2,000, has a 30-year warranty, while labor for parts and the motor carry a 1-year warranty.
- Belt. The belt, which moves the running surface, ensures that your treadmill operates smoothly. It’s a moving part that will need alignment, adjustment and replaced from time to time, look for a belt made from durable, impact-resistant materials.
- Presets and Programs. A treadmill’s controls an programming vary tremendously by make and model, and range from basic speed and incline controls to complex preset workouts and weight loss programs that can be customized to meet the personal goals of multiple users. The TRUE ES900 even has an HRC cruise-control function that automatically adjusts the speed and incline of the running surface to maintain your heart rate. In terms of the console itself, look for ease-of-use (since you’ll be less inclined to use something that’s not user friendly.) What makes TRUE treadmills so popular is the fact that most controls are conveniently available in touch-screen and LED display.
- Price. When shopping for a quality treadmill, it’s helpful to think about price in terms of purchasing a car. There’s about a 1:10 price ratio between treadmills and cars; meaning, spending $1,000 on a treadmill is like purchasing a $10,000 car (with all that implies in terms of quality, maintenance and repairs). Purchasing a $3,000 treadmill may cost more up front, but you can expect a treadmill that lasts longer and requires less maintenance and repair-even more so if you can spend upwards of $5,000-over the long-term.