The 3 Best “Smart” Treadmills for Your Home, From Certified Fitness Experts
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A dedicated marathon runner and two seasoned fitness pros note that an exciting era for treadmills has arrived. Here are a few of the best smart treadmill options based on factors like product specs and users' impressions of the online classes...as well as the instructors who'll be teaching you on them.
When you consider that Peloton bike membership reportedly quadrupled over the first two years of the pandemic, it may be no surprise that even treadmills are evolving beyond being, well, run-of-the-mill. Indeed treadmill technology has come a long way in recent years, with some of the new higher-tech treadmills famously taking users’ fitness motivation to the next level.
The newest generation of treadmills—quickly becoming known as “smart treadmills”—have evolved to offer the features you’ve come to expect from other Internet-connected equipment for your home gym setup. These features include live and on-demand fitness classes, bluetooth audio, and an HD touchscreen that allows you to navigate between programs, apps, speed control, and fan settings.
Of all these bells and whistles, the classes may be the biggest hook: Bootcamp-style workouts, strength training, core exercises, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are a few of the genres of sessions you can participate in via your smart treadmill. Katie Crewe, CSCS—a certified strength and conditioning specialist—notes that smart treadmills offer “more avenues to work toward [users’] fitness goals” than more traditional machines, as the new higher-tech versions “also serve as a portal to other types of classes and fitness. So while someone may do a cardio workout two or three times a week,” Crewe observes, “they can also use their treadmill for strength training or yoga or pilates.” Possibly best of all, you can take advantage of these offerings at whatever hour of the day suits your schedule.
What else has suddenly put smart treadmills so on-radar? Their ability to help you feel connected during our relatively isolated times. Reda Elmardi, RD, CPT, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian, tells The Healthy: “Smart treadmills come equipped with apps that allow you to connect with friends and family through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.” An added win: “You can even use these apps to keep track of your daily calorie intake and exercise routine.”
So which is the best smart treadmill for your home workouts? Here’s a review of what some shoppers say are the best smart treadmills on the market right now.
(Feeling blue? Discover how walking can boost your mood and help energize your day.)
Users’ impressions of the Peloton Tread suggest this machine is ideal for both novice and advanced runners who are looking for a powerful treadmill that delivers total body workouts. After you purchase your Peloton Tread, you automatically sign up for Peloton’s monthly subscription, which then gives you access to a huge variety of live and on-demand fitness classes led by world-class instructors to help motivate you. All this on a 23.8″ HD touchscreen—impressive—with a user-friendly toggle menu.
A possible downside, depending on your space? You’ll need a dedicated treadmill space as the Peloton Tread doesn’t fold up.
Pros of the Peloton Tread
- Wide range of live and on-demand workouts.
- Option to join a fun and interactive community of fellow Peloton subscribers.
- Beautiful and appealing minimalist design.
- Large 23.8-inch HD color touchscreen for ease of navigation and adjustment of settings.
- Includes a USB-C charging port for charging smartphones and a headphone jack for audio.
- Ability to work out in a group setting from the comfort of your home.
- Excellent for tracking your progress over time, including total distance, speed, and time running. (Coming from a marathon runner: You can’t improve what you don’t track!)
- Option to create multiple profiles on the treadmill so you could theoretically split the monthly subscription cost with another person in your household.
- Easy install! After making your purchase, you schedule a delivery date and time that works with your schedule. Peloton then sends a delivery team to help choose an ideal set-up location in your home. Peloton’s delivery team sets up the Tread, connects it to Wi-Fi, then explains the features before leaving.
- Offers long-distance running workouts to help you train for marathons.
- Don’t feel like joining a class and want to run solo? Select ‘Just Run’ mode which allows you to use the Tread as a normal treadmill, no subscription required.
Cons of the Peloton Tread
- The treadmill itself is on the higher end price-wise, plus a monthly subscription of $39 to access workouts and use the treadmill. (Note: Peloton offers payment installment plan options for your machine.)
- Requires dedicated treadmill space in your home, as it doesn’t fold up.
- Product warranty may leave something to be desired. Peloton offers only a 12-month limited warranty for the touchscreen, and three years for the major treadmill components.
- Doesn’t have a fan, which can be an issue for some users who like to stay cool throughout workouts.
Who the Peloton Tread may be for:
- Those looking for a variety of highly motivating live and on-demand workouts led by fun, enthusiastic, and engaging instructors.
- People who enjoy working out in a group environment.
- Runners of any fitness or experience level who are driven by stats and like to track progress over time.
- Experienced or aspiring marathoners. Try Peloton’s “Road To Your 26.2” 18-week training program designed specifically for marathons.
- Dimensions: 68″ L x 33″ W x 62″ H
- Screen: 23.8-inch HD color touchscreen
- Running surface: 59″ L x 20″ W
- Item Weight: 290 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 3 HP DC
- Max speed: 12.5 mph
- Incline: 0-12.5%
- Folding: No
- Connectivity: Wireless and Bluetooth
NordicTrack T Series Treadmill
A nice perk when you buy this treadmill is a 30-day free iFit membership to stream live and on-demand workouts with elite trainers. (One well-versed iFit subscriber told The Healthy that they found iFit’s instructors more relatable than some of the other “cool kid” instructor personalities who lead other smart gym equipment brands.) So, arguably, you may experience similarly top-notch workouts as competitors to this treadmill, but at a more affordable price.
Worth noting is that the NordicTrack T series beats Peloton is in its compact, simple storage. You’re able to fold up this treadmill after your run so you can easily stow it away under your bed or in a closet. (Check out these 9 treadmill mistakes that make trainers cringe.)
This Amazon reviewer says, “The iFit membership I think is stunning! Running in another country or hillside with a trainer all while enjoying the scenery while getting a good workout makes using this treadmill so much more enjoyable/pleasant.” (The iFit user we spoke with made the same observation, passionately.)
Pros of the Nordic Track T Series
- Includes 30-day free iFit membership with live and on-demand workouts with elite personal trainers. ($15/month membership after the first 30 days).
- Comes with 20 preloaded workout routines designed by certified personal trainers so you can still use the treadmill, even without the ongoing paid iFit membership.
- With the iFit membership, trainers are able to adjust your treadmill’s speed and incline through a smart Bluetooth connection so you can simply focus on your workout. Truly amazing!
- Equipped with Runner’s Flex cushioning technology to help absorb impact and protect your joints. Important to take care of those knees.
- Easily folds up allowing for convenient storage.
- Monitor your heart rate by gripping the handlebar sensors to make sure your heart rate isn’t too high or too low.
- Has two built-in speakers and headphone jack so you can blast your favorite tunes for extra motivation.
- Budget-friendly and comes with a solid warranty plan of 10 years of frame coverage and two years for parts.
Cons of the Nordic Track T Series
- 10-inch LCD screen size is less than half the size of the Peloton Tread and may seem basic in comparison.
- Shorter running surface compared to most treadmills, so be wary if you’re a tall runner.
- Like the Peloton Tread, the NordicTrack doesn’t have a fan—possibly a pain for cooling off when you need to.
- Not the most ideal pick for marathon training, as there’s no long-distance workout option.
Who the Nordic Track T Series is for
- Users looking for a simple smart treadmill with straightforward design options.
- Those who enjoy working out in a group setting with live and on-demand classes.
- Runners of any experience or fitness level looking for a solid cardio workout.
- Power walkers looking to ramp up their speed.
- Dimensions: 54″ H x 36″ W x 73.5″ L
- Screen: 10-inch LCD
- Running surface: 55″ L x 22″ W
- Item Weight: 203 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 2.6 HP
- Max speed: 10 mph
- Incline: 0-10%
- Folding: Yes
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
ProForm Pro 5000 Smart Treadmill
This model has a 14-inch touchscreen, along with a free 30-day iFit family membership. The iFit membership includes live and on-demand workouts with some of the best trainers in the world. What’s perhaps most impressive is the ProForm Pro 5000 automatically adjusts its speed and incline to match the instructor’s, so you can focus on getting in the best workout possible. So cool!
How does the ProForm Pro 5000 compare to the Peloton Tread? For one, it’s significantly less expensive. It’s also foldable for easy and convenient storage.
If you’re looking for a smart treadmill that can deliver high-quality workouts with world-class trainers at an affordable price, this could be an option for you. Here’s what one Walmart reviewer had to say: “This is [one of the] best items I’ve ever purchased for myself. From the walking space, the large video screen, the storage space for drinks/weights, [and] the ease of folding the treadmill to put away. The absolute best part is how the treadmill reacts to the video/trainer.”
Pros of the ProForm Pro 5000 Smart Treadmill
- iFit trainers can auto-adjust your speed and incline to match terrains and help push you past your goals.
- Has many incline settings with the rare option to set the treadmill to a decline to practice downhill running!
- 14-inch HD color touchscreen for ease of navigation and toggling between settings.
- Includes 30-day free iFit membership, with thousands of live and on-demand workouts with elite personal trainers. ($15/month membership after the first 30 days.)
- Offers a variety of 50 pre-programmed workouts to keep you interested and moving!
- Oversized running surface makes it ideal for taller runners or those with long strides.
- Foldable and easy to store for you to reclaim your living space after each workout.
- Has dual two-inch built-in high-quality speakers for listening to trainers.
- This smart treadmill can learn your preferences and scale every workout based on previous adjustments you’ve made to speed and incline settings.
- Has a built-in fan to stay cool and comfortable during workouts.
- More affordable price point than some competitors, such as the Peloton Tread.
- Offers excellent warranty package with 10-year frame warranty and two years for parts.
Cons of the ProForm Pro 5000 Smart Treadmill
- It’s a larger treadmill that requires a good amount of space to use.
- You have to purchase a heart rate monitor separately to use its ActivePulse Heart Rate Technology.
- The ProForm Pro 5000’s manufacturer frequently gets poor reviews. Reviewers have suggested you should expect long wait times.
- ProForm offers a money-back guarantee, but customers have to pay for return shipping and a 10-percent restocking fee.
Who the ProForm Pro 5000 Smart Treadmill is for
- Joggers or walkers who enjoy a group environment with many live and on-demand classes available.
- Runners of any fitness or experience level who want to stay motivated with a large selection of workout programs.
- Those who enjoy running outdoors but can’t because of inclement weather or schedule.
- Dimensions: 59.6″ H x 35.3″ W x 77.3″ L
- Screen: 14-inch HD color touchscreen
- Running surface: 60″ L x 20″ W
- Item Weight: 261 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 3.5 HP
- Max speed: 12 mph
- Incline: -3% to 12%
- Folding: Yes
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
Want more inspo to get moving? Sign up for The Healthy‘s daily newsletter. Also, keep reading:
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- Reda Elmardi, CPT, RD: Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Dietitian, and Owner of The Gym Goat.
- Katie Crewe, CSCS, CNP: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Owner of Crewe Fitness
- Journal of Sports Science & Medicine: "Psycho-Physiological Effects of Television Viewing During Exercise."