A: Q: My husband and I are looking to purchase a compact treadmill and as we’ve never owned any large pieces of fitness equipment, we’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. I wanted to tap your expertise and hope you can give us some guidance how to go about this. It would be so great to know if there are places where we can get gently used treadmills too. – Padma, Centennial, CO
Great question Padma! With winter refusing to ease its icy grip, we’re reminded that the treadmill is a handy and versatile piece of equipment to own, whether you’re a walker or runner. But treadmills aren’t cheap so it’s important to make a sound decision in your purchase. You get what you pay for, so the cheapest choice or the treadmill on sale is not always your best bet. Here is a treadmill buying plan to guide you in finding the machine that’s right for you.
- CONSIDER YOUR SPACE
Treadmills are around 6.5 feet long and 3 feet wide, some weighing in at 400 pounds. Obviously, you’ll need an outlet nearby and a floor space that can handle the poundage. Some people like to situate their treadmills near windows to look out or a TV for viewing. I always recommend putting the treadmill where you will use it. If you plant it in the basement, for example, and hate being in your basement, you probably won’t get much use out of it. Make the space for your treadmill inviting.
- DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
Are you looking for a lot of bells and whistles such as docking stations, heartrate monitors, virtual running trails and the like — or just a simple unit with handrails and an adequate motor? Would you like a built in TV (extra) or wifi options? Do you need a cup holder, a place for your iPad or a reading rack for your magazine?
Go shopping and compare prices, and be sure to try different models out in the store. You want to look for treadmills with no less than a 1 horsepower, and I recommend at least 1.5 hp. If you will primarily be running, you’ll need a treadmill with more horse power (2.5-3.0) and a longer foot bed.
- Horse power 1.5 best for walking, 2.5 for running.
- Belt 48 inches long, 16 inches wide.
- Look for speed options of up to 10 mph as well as incline capability.
- Does the unit absorb shock and have good stability (no shaking when turned on).
- Check on the noise – if the motor runs loudly, that may be a problem.
- Make sure the control panel is in reach of your hands and the safety button is easy access.
- Does it come with a warranty of 2-3 years on moving parts and 1 year on labor? Save your money on any extended warranty, as these are generally not necessary.
- Are delivery and set up included?
- THE TREADMILL DRAFT
I recommend researching treadmill reviews in Consumer Reports. Most quality treadmills cost a minimum of $1,000. There are many that cost less but they won’t last long.
- Best Quality Home Use
Nordic Track Commercial 1750 – $1,500
Landice L7 $3700 – for serious runners
Proform Pro 2000 – $1,199.00
- Best Inexpensive Treadmills – most have a shorter bed, which is not good for runners, but okay for walkers
Horizon Fitness T101-04 – $799
Sole F80 – $1500 (but see above Nordic)
Pro Form Performance 505CST – $540 (slow service issues reported)
Gold’s Gym Trainer – $420 (wear and tear issues reported after 6 months
This should be enough to get you started. As a coach I prefer quality over savings in purchasing fitness equipment. Craig’s List, eBay or garage sale treadmills may be cheaper, but they won’t necessarily last. I have had my Trotter Treadmill for 25 years and at the time of purchase it was pretty pricy at $3,000 dollars. Again, you get what you paid for – my Trotter’s still trotting – and so am I, after all these years.