How to buy a treadmill (Part 2)

As mentioned last week, understanding the key features that treadmills have to offer is essential while on your quest for a treadmill. Sometimes the task of looking at all the brochures, websites, and the variety of prices can seem quite daunting. So what’s the next step?

This brings us to part 2 of a 3 part series on “How to buy a treadmill”. This week we focus on how the treadmills feel, not how they spec out. Try to remember the last time you bought a pair of shoes that were just a bit too small, what happened? You probably wore them a few times, but eventually the comfort and feel outweighed the look and they’re now occupying a dark nook or cranny in your closet. The number one reason why the stereotypical treadmill clothes-hanger is perpetuated is due to people buying the wrong product. So this brings us to the 8-minute treadmill test.

Part II: 8-Minute Treadmill Test

As mentioned above, the 8-minute test is the equivalent to a test drive. I recommend that while out shopping for your treadmill, I advise taking an 8-minute test-run on each treadmill that you may consider purchasing. In addition, be sure to run the programs to the highest speed and incline that you are planning to bring the treadmill to while training. This will give you a good indication of noise and vibration levels that the treadmill will operate while you are using it. Sometimes treadmills may look adequate for your intended usage, but once you are on it you can learn pretty quick that not all treadmills are made alike.

During your 8-minute test, consider these observations:

  • The motor. Does it run smoothly and without eardrum-shattering noise?
  • The Belt. Does it move consistently at your speed setting, or does it sometimes stutter, slip, or slide off-center? Does the treadmill have an orthopedic belt?
  • Surface area. Is there enough room to accommodate your stride, and does the surface feel firm but forgiving?
  • The controls. Are they logically arranged and easy to operate?
  • The display. Is the console designed in an attractive, sensible way that is informative and fun to read?
  • Safety. Are you comfortable with the position of the handrails, and is the emergency shut-off button visible and easy to reach?
  • Response time and smoothness. Does the treadmill respond readily to height and speed adjustments, but not so abruptly that it gives you a hard jolt?
  • Incline and speed. Do the machine’s maximum incline and speed satisfy your training needs? Does the treadmill seem stable at top speed?
  • Customized, preprogrammed, and heart-rate-controlled workouts. Once the treadmill expert gets you started, can you understand and then master the treadmill’s training features?
  • Suitability for runners. Overall, are you confident that the machine was built with a runner’s needs in mind?

To recap, you now know all about the cool features of the treadmills you are considering and you have taken a few models for a test-run. Now what? How much do you spend on a treadmill? What is good value? What does a treadmill cost anyways? These questions and more will be addressed next week in last part of the series on “How to Buy a treadmill“. Until next time, happy training!

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