Treadmill

Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just trying to get some steps in, a treadmill can help you with your fitness goals. No matter the weather, a treadmill can give you the cardio workout you need from the comfort of your own home. And the best part is that buying one for your home is more cost-effective in the long run than a monthly membership at your local gym.

Luckily (and overwhelmingly), there are hundreds of treadmill options you can buy online, ranging from inexpensive machines that cost a few hundred bucks to expensive treadmills costing well over $15,000. You could get a walking treadmill, manual treadmill, running treadmill, smart treadmill, foldable treadmill, a treadmill desk and so many others. 

Through my research, I learned what kinds of features to look for — speed range, max speed, shock absorption, the best kind of running surface, automatic incline and so forth — what price range is best and which are the best treadmill options for the money. Now I’m sharing that with you.

The treadmills that I tested are suited for all fitness levels and give you exercise options ranging from light jogging to an intense cardio workout to get your heart rate going and help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals. So read on to find the best treadmill for you!

Nautilus T618

The Nautilus brand owns Bowflex and Schwinn too, so there were similar designs and features in all three treadmills I tested (see the other two reviews below). Each home treadmill offers built-in workout programs and lets you have up to four different user profiles. Where the Nautilus gets its edge is in rock-solid build quality and premium design.

One thing I really liked about this electric treadmill is that the start, stop, speed and incline buttons are large, rubberized and easy to press. Button design seems like a trivial thing until you’re running at high speeds on a motorized treadmill and need to adjust your speed easily. I also appreciated that the side rails are rubberized, so they’re easy to grip and that they have built-in buttons to adjust the speed and incline of the running deck. The LCD display is easy to read. The machine also has a weight capacity of 350 pounds and a wireless heart rate monitor that straps to your chest to track your heart rate.

After every workout that lasts for more than 10 minutes or has a total distance of more than one mile, you’ll see your Fitness Score on the LCD screen, a proprietary number based on an estimate of your VO2 max and calorie burn over your last five workouts.

You can also use the Pacer feature to compare your current workout session details, such as number of calories burned, to past runs or walks. It’s a neat way to meet your fitness goal and see your progress, especially if you’re focusing on weight loss or training for a specific program and time, like a 10K. 

You can sync all that data to the Nautilus Trainer 2 app, where you can set cardio goals and export your data to workout apps including Apple Health, Google Fit, MyFitnessPal and more.

NordicTrack T 6.5 Si

As of November 2020, the T 7.5 S model I previously recommended is now discontinued, but the T 6.5 Si is a worthy replacement. It has a larger touchscreen and many of the same features, for several hundred dollars less. I’ve left my review of the T 7.5 S model below.

The NordicTrack and Proform machines I tested have nearly identical features, because the brands are owned by the same company, Icon Health & Fitness. 

Both motorized incline treadmills have built-in 7-inch touch screens that let you use iFit, the company’s on-demand workout streaming service. iFit was by far my favorite feature on both machines. You can pick from more than 16,000 guided workouts, including over 1,000 that were shot outdoors on courses all over the world where you follow a personal trainer as they walk or run. You also can choose to have the workout automatically change the settings on the treadmill to match the speed and incline set by the trainer. And of course, you can always override those settings at any time, especially if it moves beyond your comfortable max speed.

Never have I become so engrossed in my cardio workout until using iFit. I almost completely forgot that I was jogging on a treadmill while my personal trainer/guide took me on a hike in Costa Rica, coaching me along the way and throwing out facts about the rainforest we were hiking through. You get a free one-year membership of iFit with the purchase of the treadmill, after that it’s $15 per month — which is less than half of Peloton’s $40 monthly class price for virtual training sessions.

The biggest knock against the NordicTrack treadmill is the build quality. Compared with the design of the other machines, this treadmill model felt less premium. At the seams where two plastic parts were supposed to meet, I noticed gaps and pieces askew.

Proform Smart Pro 2000

Since I initially reviewed the Proform Smart Pro 2000 in 2019, it’s received a makeover. The new model is much sleeker, but keeps the same features as the previous model, minus the dedicated tablet holder. While I haven’t tested it yet, I’d still recommend it. I’ve left my original review of the Smart Pro 2000 below.

This Proform treadmill has all the treadmill features the NordicTrack has, and then some. That includes a -3% decline mode to simulate running or walking up anddown a hill, a large fan to cool you off after an intense workout, and a tablet holder. 

The treadmill is a bit bigger, both in size and how bulky it feels, so if you’re looking for a compact treadmill, it’s not for you. The design seems like it’s best suited for a home gym because of how heavy duty it is.

Like the Proform 2000, the killer feature on the NordicTrack is iFit. If you really dislike working out on a treadmill, the video-streaming workouts can make the process of getting in your cardio and boosting your heart rate much more enjoyable.

Is a bigger machine with a decline function worth it? I think so, especially because the build quality of this machine is better than the NordicTrack.