Treadmill Buying Guide

Shopping for a treadmill can be a daunting task.  There are so many choices and, after a while, they all start to look the same on paper. The choice to purchase a treadmill is an excellent health decision.  They are the most popular piece of exercise equipment sold today, and when used correctly, are an ideal tool to burn calories, manage weight and enhance your cardiovascular system.  The following tips are designed to help you choose the right treadmill for you, protect your investment, and most importantly, help you reach your health and fitness goals.



DETERMINE YOUR GOALSWhen used properly, all treadmills will burn calories, manage weight and enhance your cardiovascular system. Most families will have a “primary user”, but you will want to consider that more than one individual will likely be using the equipment. A common mistake is to purchase a low quality, underpowered treadmill that will be used by both a 130lb. and a 200lb. person.

ONLINE RESEARCHBeware of “rating sites”.  Good reviews can be bought and sold on unscrupulous websites.  Often the best brands also make commercial equipment used in gyms and health clubs, so a quick visit to your local gyms will give you a good indication of the most trusted brands.  Take care not to be blinded by flashy features that don’t necessarily add value to the product.

LOCATE YOUR LOCAL AUTHORIZED SPECIALTY RETAILEROnce you find a few companies and models that interest you, most can be purchased online through shopping sites and through retail stores. For retail stores, better quality equipment is sold through specialty fitness retailers, not discount stores. Do your research ahead of time, as many dealers exclusively sell certain brands.



TRY BEFORE YOU BUYYou wouldn’t buy a car without driving it first! If possible, ALWAYS try before you buy.  Specialty fitness dealers will likely have a more educated staff, higher quality equipment and the ability to assemble and service your product more effectively. Some have financing options. Specialty stores will usually have your treadmill or a similar model that you can take for a “test drive”. Be prepared to spend some time in the store, and be sure to bring your runners and wear workout clothes! Almost any unit will feel and seem adequate if you walk on it for 5 minutes. It's only when you begin to put a treadmill through its paces that you will start to notice major differences in quality and comfort, or even vibration and noise. Don't hesitate to spend 15-30 minutes testing the equipment. A good treadmill is a major investment. Take your time.

AFTER-SALES SERVICEConsider a fitness retailer that also provides warranty service. Purchasing online can be less expensive, however you will often have to carry the item into your home (as much as 400lbs), and assemble the equipment yourself. Good specialty stores will have in-house service departments that will do in-home warranty service and delivery/set-up for your equipment, depending on your distance from the store.  Warranties can be void if the product was purchased outside your area, so be sure to ask!



SHOCK ABSORPTION SYSTEMThis refers to the “feel” of the treadmill while in use. A common mistake is to assume that “all treadmills are the same”.  There are vast differences between treadmills and manufacturers with regard to the Shock Absorption Systems, ranging from very soft (like grass) to very stiff (like asphalt), and everything in between.  Each user will have a different opinion on what feels right for them, similar to choosing a mattress. Ask the salesperson to explain the pros and cons of the different systems. Ideally you will want to choose a system that allows you to achieve your fitness goals without deterring you with things like discomfort or injuries.

ELECTRONIC FEATURESTreadmills today are coming with increasingly interactive options that are designed to motivate, challenge and entertain you. The key is to look at these features subjectively and decide which (if any) will keep you moving toward achieving and maintaining your fitness goals.  These features should be intuitive and easy to navigate.  With higher quality manufacturers, these features are typically offered as options, which allow the user to decide which features will work for them, without having to spend extra money for options you don’t need.

WEIGHT RATINGSWe recommend a unit with a significantly greater rating than the heaviest person who will be using it. Weight ratings are often used as an indicator of heavier components and anticipated hours of use. Ergo, higher weight ratings tend to indicate higher manufacturer confidence and higher quality. It is important to note that there is no industry standard for determining weight ratings, and each manufacturer has their own methods, so weight ratings between two manufacturers are not necessarily comparable.

MOTORHorsepower is a confusing subject. Bigger is not necessarily better, and not all motors are created equal.  A 3.0 HP motor from a quality manufacturer compared to a 3.0 HP motor from a lower priced model will typically not have the same RPM rating, and so one with lower RPM’s will have more “pulling” power than the other.  When you are running on your treadmill, you will want a motor with as much torque, or “pulling power" as possible.



MAINTENANCE Always bear in mind that friction is the enemy. Despite what you may think, Walking on a treadmill creates significantly more friction than running. Regular lubrication is key to reducing friction and preventing premature motor wear and breakdowns. Some manufacturers now build "maintenance free" treadmills that do not require lubrication, so it is important to know which type of treadmill you have. The procedure for lubrication is simple and not time consuming, so it should not be a deterant to purchase. Many treadmills also feature a deck that is reversible - meaning the deck can be flipped when the running surface succumbs to normal wear, essentially doubling the life of your treadmill surface.  Please visit our Treadmill Maintenance Page for step-by-step instructions on how to maintain your treadmill and get the most out of your investment.

WARRANTY A treadmill is an electronic piece of equipment with many moving parts and computer components. Even a quality unit may require maintenance at some point. Most quality treadmills will offer a lifetime warranty on the frame, and most manufacturers offer lifetime on the motor. When it comes to other components, look for a warranty that provides for at least 1 year of labour and a minimum of 2-3 years coverage on parts. Ask your salesperson what components are covered.  Many specialty retailers will offer extended warranties.  These can be a great value when you consider the cost of labour from even a minor issue.  Ask the salesperson about their extended warranty options. Ensure that the dealer from whom you are purchasing has their own service staff who are trained to service your equipment!

CLICK HERETO VIEW OUR EXTENSIVE SELECTION OF TREADMILLS for contact information and store locations and hours.