Dear Coach, I’m looking for a top-of-the line folding treadmill. I’m confused by all the marketing hype that’s out there. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. T.C. Helena, Mt.
Equipment specs can be so confusing and unfortunately far too many sales folks get wrapped up a stream of confusing techno babble that does little to help match a person to the right product for them. Since you want top-end I’ll assume that you or someone in your household is a runner, since runners – especially ones looking at speed and higher mileage – will need a little more beef “under the hood” to keep it from feeling too wobbly and burning out to quickly.
We have a pretty nice selection of Buying Guides on Adventure Network + Total Fitness Network – either click here to see them all, or pull down Product on the top bar and click on Buying Guides, and then your selected genre.
I’ll call out a couple of key buying points here:
Folding treadmills these days don’t just mean cheap-o. Brands have mostly figured out how to build the folding mechanism to satisfy higher demands. Plus, many have features for lowering and raising the bed that don’t demand muscle, just a one-finger touch. Be sure to try them out in your local stores since the differences are still pretty big.
Speed – Check the highest speed it will go. Some lower-priced units may only hit 10 mph, which for most people is plenty but not for athletes training hard or doing super fast intervals.
Incline – If on the other hand you want to train your hill-climbing legs then verify the range of incline offered on the piece – some top out at 12 percent, whereas others go to 15 percent.
Console and entertainment – These days the options are endless, including some pretty impressive Internet-enabled screens (Tweet how fast your last interval was?), touch screens, vivid color, the ability to “run” trails and race courses all over the world with video, iPhone/MP3 docking, built-in speakers, etc. Of course all of this can add $1,000 to $3,000 to the cost so pick wisely. You may not need Internet and the TV or stereo in your workout area may serve you just fine too.
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The “Coach,” Therese Iknoian, has her Master’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise physiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine-certified instructor. To read more about Therese’s coaching, outdoor and fitness background, click here.
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