Treadmill Buying Guide
Treadmill Buying Guide
Buying a treadmill is a smart, convenient way to keep your exercise regimen consistent and productive. However, over here at Yowza Fitness, we know how stressful the task can be, especially when looking online. You are not just making a purchase; you are making an investment, therefore research and a thorough understanding of what treadmill is best for you is necessary.
Use our Treadmill Buying Guide to help you to make the right choice and start your new fitness life off on the right foot – no pun intended.
First Things First
Ask yourself these questions when beginning to shop around:
What am I using this for?
If you’re thinking the obvious (to maintain or lose weight, regular cardio), you’re in the ballpark. However, we need to delve a little further. Are you looking for some light aerobic activity, or are you training for a marathon? Will you be walking, jogging, or running the majority of the time?
How often will the treadmill be used?
Will you be using it daily? A few times per week?
Who will be using my treadmill besides me?
This is also important in considering how much the treadmill will be used. It is also a common mistake with buyers to not factor in the amount of weight that the treadmill will need to sustain. If any of the users in your family weigh over 225 pounds then you should increase your budget a bit for a stronger motor and higher grade belt and deck, even if you are only planning on using the treadmill for walking.
Next, start doing your research online. Google is your best bet in finding some of the top direct-to-consumer companies, meaning manufacturers who are selling direct online at wholesale prices – AKA, no “middle man”.
You also want to make sure the URL is the same name as the brand itself. For example, you know that you want to buy a Yowza treadmill, so you navigate to YowzaFitness.com. Or, if you really want to be sure, call the number that is listed on the site.
There are certain features that you also want to look for when purchasing a treadmill. These include:
Folding vs. Non-Folding: The majority of folding treadmills are only suitable for walking. The reason for this is that when you put a joint in the middle-front of the machine and then you add incline to the front end, you no longer have a very stable surface to withstand the constant pounding that regular running will put on the frame, console and lower electronics. However, Yowza Fitness has developed transforming (folding) treadmills that give the typically non-folding base of the machine a way to fold while not sacrificing the durability you come to expect from a non-folding treadmill. This allows you to have the convenience of a space saving machine, but will give you the ability to run with the confidence and quality of a non-folding treadmill.
Non-Folding treadmills offer a better shock absorption system like the Swing-Arm technology found in Yowza treadmills. This system allows the whole deck to move and absorb the force throughout the entire platform, allowing your legs to contract less and keep you running longer. With this absorption system you will reduce initial and rebound impact stress on leg joints while improving your caloric burn rate by up to 23%.
Motor: Well, this is a no-brainer, right? What we mean here is to make sure you have a motor that is 2.5HP or higher, and you want to look for the words “continuous duty” after the horsepower listing. This means that the treadmill can be used for a prolonged amount of time at a specific speed.
Also, check out reviews and make sure “quiet motor” is mentioned. Or, even better, if you are able to test out your treadmill, listen for any whining or clicking. Motor noise is a primary indicator of how long your treadmill will last you.
You should look at the motor warranty to separate the high quality motors. Don’t consider any motor that comes with less than a ten-year warranty.
Electronic Features: Here, you want to find out what electronic features the treadmill will provide you with in order to keep motivated and aware of your progress. Such feature would include:
- Customizable workout plans
- Individual user profiles for those sharing the treadmill
- Fan – enough said
- mp3 and USB ports
- Interval training
- Heart rate monitor
Frame Structure: The frame is the foundation of the treadmill and it is an important and overlooked component when doing treadmill reviews. There are two choices here: steel and aluminum. Although both are strong and last just as long as the other, aluminum frames usually have a deadpan feel, which is bad for runners. Steel frames feel more spring-like when your foot hits the deck. You want a steel frame that is welded together and then powder coated for a nice finish. Rust resistance is the key here.
Running Belts: We have found that two-ply running belts are your best bet in buying your treadmill. The two-ply running belts do not hold heat, which puts less stress on the motor and electronics systems.
The underside of the running belt is the key to quality and longevity. Again, back to the investment aspect of your treadmill. A good test is, like the motor, the sound. A nylon polyester weave is the best type of underside, and will create a very soft sound when in use – almost silent in Yowza machines! If you hear a sound similar to a bee buzzing, you need to keep shopping.
Belt Surface: This should be at least 20” wide for walking and running. Length should also be a consideration for users over 6’2”.
Deck: What you need to consider on a running deck is that it is made of a solid hard- wood, such as ash, oak, or maple that is typically mounted on elastomer rubber grommets on top of the steel frame. This type of deck is often referred to as a “floating deck”.
A composite, or pressboard, deck will more than likely crack over time. You may also want to look for a deck that is reversible. This will actually double how long your treadmill will last. Remember, your treadmill is an investment.
Since belts and decks are designed to wear out at about the same time, if you do ever have to change your deck you should also change the treadbelt at the same time. The deck and treadbelt on a quality treadmill usually last for a few thousand hours of use. Some high-end manufacturers, like Yowza, use triple-laminated phenolic resin coatings on their decks. These reversible decks offer twice the life-span of ordinary decks since they can be turned over before they need to be replaced.
Grommet: Most companies will have a shock absorption deck/system built in. The common system amongst most manufacturers including Yowza, is the eight point rubber grommet system. This system places rubber grommets at even points on the deck to separate it from the treadmill frame. Doing this allows the deck to “float” and helps with shock absorption.
Swing-Arm: Yowza Fitness was the first treadmill manufacturer to introduce Swing-Arm shock absorption in its higher grade (non-fold) treadmills. Swing-Arm shock absorption dramatically reduces impact and rebound stress on the leg joints, hips and back by allowing the force from the user to be absorbed evenly across the entire running surface. This gives you the absorption you need on landing and the firm push-off you need on takeoff.
Rollers: Look for a roller that is at like 2”-3” in diameter. More importantly than size, however, is bearing size and type. All treadmills have two screws in the rear of the machine which are used to adjust the tread belt tension. High-end treadmill machines have several features like crowned rollers, rubber-coated front rollers, or even auto-tracking computerized rollers.
During your treadmill’s break-in period, the tread belt may stretch. If you notice the belt slipping, you may need to tighten the rear roller. Cheap treadmills become very difficult to keep the belt centered on the rollers – you’ll find yourself continually having to adjust the rollers. Essentially, you want to look for the right sized rollers with good bearings that are designed to keep the belt in-line and properly tensioned.
Optional Features to Consider
Downloadable mobile/tablet apps: Most treadmills in todays’ market will have optional apps you can download to your treadmill. These apps can help track workouts, progress, meals and diets. Using these apps can provide motivation during workouts and also keep that motivation going when you are not using the machine. Yowzas myLiveLight™ application will sync with the IWM™ scale and programming to provide this information in real time so you can stay on top of your workouts and stay motivated.
Wireless Heart Rate Control Programs (HRC): Typically, there are two ways that treadmills can monitor your heart rate: handgrips or with a wireless heart rate strap. Cheaper machines usually only have handgrips for pulse monitoring which is both convenient and less expensive to manufacture. However, it is not as accurate as wireless strap.
A treadmill equipped with HRC will come with a rubber chest strap that you wear against the skin just below your rib cage and above your upper abdominals. The belt transmits a wireless signal to a receiver built into the treadmill console. The treadmill is able to adjust its speed and/or incline automatically to keep you in your target heart rate zone. Most high-end treadmills have this feature and many allow you to save your preferred target zone or calculate the correct zone based on your age (check out the American Heart Association’s web site for more information on target heart rates).
Orthopedic Belts: There are two types of orthopedic running belts in the marketplace today. The original style has a two-ply belt, which has the same nylon/polyester weave layer on the bottom side as a regular tread belt. The top layer is replaced with a very thick, rubber layer, which is heavy in weight and soft on the feet. The added weight causes the treadmill to run at a higher amperage level than a conventional thinner belt and therefore should always be used on a 20-amp circuit breaker with a dedicated line. These high quality orthopedic belts will hold up just fine if paired with a larger motor and top-grade deck.
You may need to lubricate orthopedic belts a bit more often (monthly instead of quarterly) since they run a bit hotter. The other styles of orthopedic belt that you may see are really not true orthopedic belts at all. We are seeing that some unscrupulous manufacturers are putting a waffle stamp design into a thicker nylon belt and calling it an orthopedic belt. Two of the lower priced manufacturers have had recalls on their machines recently because of these cheap belts. One has even had an issue with motor fires that were caused by excessive heat generated by the belts.
Extended Warranties: You should always look for a three-year warranty on all key components: motor, electronics, belt, deck, and rollers. You will find longer warranties available on certain components. A ten-year warranty on the motor is evidence of the manufacturer’s confidence that the choice of components will stand the test of time. Yowza offers Lifetime Frame and Drive System (motor) on most of its treadmills. However, extended warranties do not usually cover the wear items, like the belt and deck, which is why we recommend avoiding purchasing an extended warranty, and instead purchase a treadmill with a great standard warranty.
Most importantly, you want to make sure that your treadmill is safe. Make sure to look for a safety key, where you can immediately stop the belt if needed. Also, you will want a treadmill where the belt gradually speeds up. Your workout should be worry free and you should feel safe and secure on your fitness journey.
We hope that our treadmill buying guide provided you with some insight on your newest addition to building a better and healthier lifestyle.