The first treadmill was invented more than 200 years ago by an English engineer in 1817. Back then, it wasn’t even called a treadmill. It was a large contraption that could be used by many people simultaneously and was called a treadwheel. Sir William Cubitt, a celebrated English civil engineer, invented the treadmill to punish prisoners. Yes, you read that right. The idea was to make prisoners do pointless hard labour.
Prisoners on a treadwheel in London in 1825. Source: CBC.ca+Getty Images
Fun fact: While in prison, Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish playwright, had to walk 5-6 hours on a cylindrical wheel every day.
Treadmill Buyer’s Confusion
Even though the treadmill had a questionable start, it has become the go-to piece of equipment for both home and professional gyms. So much so that a whopping $1.5 billion worth of treadmills were sold in the U.S. in 2020. Now, the demand for treadmills has gone through the roof, boosted further by the pandemic.
Treadmill manufacturers have gone all out to develop the most amazing product lineup for treadmills ever. As a consumer, that means choices. A mind-boggling amount of choices. A simple Google search about the best treadmill can make one’s head spin.
From Confusion to Clarity
We get the confusion. With so many treadmills and retailers to choose from, it’s easy not to know where to begin. There are so many factors to consider before buying a treadmill. And every person has a unique fitness goal and unique context that makes it difficult to figure out which is the best treadmill.
The most crucial detail to figure out before investing in any equipment is your fitness goals. Once you know your specific, achievable goals, it is easier to zero in on the treadmill that fits your needs (or to determine whether or not a treadmill is even the best equipment to help you reach your goals!).
When faced with so many options, we often see users buy a treadmill based on the price point. This is NOT the most effective way to achieve your goals and maximize your investment. That is why we carefully curate each and every treadmill that we merchandise to ensure we have a reliable treadmill for any stage and every age.
Let’s look at what you need to consider before buying a treadmill.
#1 Fitness Goal
Fitness goals can vary from preparing for a marathon to just building healthy lifestyle habits. Your fitness goals are directly linked to the intensity and variations of your workout. Modern treadmills are designed for specific workout requirements, so it is critical to know your fitness goals.
#2 Workout Space
Before purchasing a treadmill, you must ensure it will fit in your home or office space. Measure the length, width, and height of the workout area before going on the treadmill hunt. Make sure to take into account clearance space so that you have wiggle room and more wholesome space for your workouts.
#3 Treadmill Type
There are many different types of treadmills available in the market. When thinking about the workout space, the biggest differentiator is the foldable feature. The foldable feature is available now at many different price points.
When it comes to a foldable and cost-effective treadmill, there is nothing better than the LifeSpan TR1200i.
The LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill. Price: $1,499. The price indicated here may change, please go here for more info.
#4 Treadmill Size
When it comes to treadmill size, the first thing to measure is the machine’s physical dimensions to ensure it aligns with the measurements of your workout space. The two other critical dimensions to remember are the belt width and length. Both are important depending on what use you want from the tool.
Ideal belt width & length for walking/jogging & running:
Walking / Jogging
Minimum 50 inch
55 inches (60 inches for 6ft and taller users)
The ideal treadmill size is also dependent on the person using the treadmill. For average-sized folks, the above recommendations work. But for larger-sized or taller users, a wider track is better suited and is comparatively safer. After a 15 min jog, we all tend to run in less of a straight line, and a longer track helps in those situations.
The LifeSpan TR2000i is an excellent choice if you are looking for a feature-rich treadmill that is good for walking, jogging, and light running.
The LifeSpan TR2000i Folding Treadmill. Price: $1,788. The price indicated here may change, please go here for more info.
#5 Treadmill Motor
One of the most critical components of a treadmill is its motor unless you buy a manual treadmill. The potential intensity of your treadmill workout is directly related to the power of its motor. A treadmill’s motor power is defined in CHP (continuous duty horsepower). It means that the treadmill motor will run continuously without burning.
For most people, the treadmill motor power should be somewhere between 2 CHP to 4 CHP. One important thing to also factor in is the weight of the person using the treadmill. The higher your weight, the more important it is to have a motor that packs a stronger punch. The weight capacity to motor power ratio is what decides an ideal motor power. Consider your weight and height to determine the best motor power.
When it comes to motor power, the Precor 425 Treadmill is one of the meanest machines on the planet for personal use.
The Precor 425 Treadmill. Price: $5,588. The price indicated here may change, please go here for more info.
#6 Treadmill Belt Durability
The quality of the treadmill belt is vital for a wide variety of reasons. The more durable the tread belt, the better the shelf life of the treadmill motor. These belts are responsible for transferring the torque from the motor via the rollers and creating the athlete’s motion. The roller diameter also affects the treadmill motor and belts. Recommended roller diameter for a personal-use treadmill is 2.5 inches.
The make of the tread belt is also responsible for friction and your grip on the treadmill. Usually, thicker belts yield a longer life for the motor and a quieter workout experience. The belt and roller assembly also need lubrication to run smoothly, not overload the motor.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of lubricating the treadmill regularly, there are treadmills with silicon-infused tread belts that require comparatively less maintenance. The Precor 223 Treadmill comes with dry silicone lubrication and requires lubrication only once a year.
The Precor 223 Treadmill. Price: $3,588. The price indicated here may change, please go here for more info.
#7 Track Cushioning
The cushioning in a treadmill reduces the chance of joint injuries and is an essential factor in the treadmill buying process. If you are planning to run on the treadmill, then cushioning cannot be overlooked.
#8 Speed & Incline
Treadmill speed is a feature that everybody needs to factor in according to their goals and fitness level. The faster the treadmill speed, the faster you can run. Your height, weight, and personal preference are important in deciding the treadmill speed. Check out how the same speed on a treadmill can be so different for different people in this Reddit post.