Shopping for the perfect home treadmill?
When you start looking for your ideal treadmill, one of the first things you’ll probably consider is the brand.
There are so many treadmills brands out there today however that it can be overwhelming. (The last time I counted, there were over 30 different brands!)
So naturally, one of the most common questions I get on this blog is:
“What are the Best Treadmill Brands?”
After all, if you have 2 or 3 of the best home treadmill brands in mind, you can quickly narrow down your choices and find a high quality treadmill that fits your needs.
Not to worry. That’s what this post is all about.
You’ll find 5 of the top-rated treadmill brands below with a brief primer on each, what they sell, unique features, etc.
But before we get to that, there’s a few things you should know:
A Little Background on the Current Treadmill Market…
There are several different types of treadmill manufacturers out there.
You’ve got the large, experienced treadmill manufacturers like ICON (who own Nordictrack, Proform, Reebok, Freemotion, Gold’s Gym etc), Nautilus (who own Nautilus, Bowflex and Schwinn) and Johnson (who own Horizon, Matrix and Vision).
Then you have the smaller manufacturers that only make one line like Landice or Sole for example.
Then of course, you have the brands you’ve probably never heard of. Stay far, FAR away from these machines.
These “brands” are usually created by some guy in his basement who is slapping his private label brand name on a cheap treadmill product out of China. Good luck with customer service on these treadmills.
The benefit of going with a larger manufacturer like ICON, Nautilus or Johnson?
They have the money, experience and engineering teams to give you a better treadmill for less.
Plus, if we hit rough economic times, they have the resources to make it through an economic slowdown and still be around to service your treadmill, should you need it, in 5-10 years.
The benefit of a smaller manufacturer?
This really depends on the manufacturer and brand.
You might get a treadmill with specialized features that you won’t find on the big guys – for example, the Lifespan desk treadmills.
You also might get a deal or find a hidden gem that nobody knows about. But you really have to know how to spot a great quality treadmill in that case.
The next thing you need to know is:
What Kind of Treadmill Do You Need?
There are generally 4 different kinds of treadmills: starter, mid-range, commercial-grade and commercial.
A good starter treadmill will run you from $800 up to $1200 these days (don’t even think about buying a $400 motorized treadmill if you want something that will last you more than 1 year).
Starter treadmills generally have some good basics – but not a lot of fancy extras. And they also aren’t built with the construction that will hold up well for longer workouts, runners or homes with multiple users.
A starter treadmill is basically good for occasional walking by one or two people. And maybe the occasional jog.
Then there’s the mid-range model which runs around $1100 up to $2300. These are much higher quality as far as construction goes. They’re generally runner-friendly with stronger motors, longer belts and tougher decks. They also might have a few extras like workout tracking, color consoles or a tablet holder.
The next level is the commercial-grade treadmill. These usually run from $2000 up to $4000 – and are very high-end.
Basically, this is the cream of the crop, ultimate runners, walkers or family treadmill. This treadmill is going to give you the highest level construction with high-powered motors, extra-long running belts, solid, shake-free decks and the most protective cushioning for your joints.
These treadmills will also give you the latest in treadmill entertainment technology like streaming workouts, online tracking, full-color or touch-screen consoles and high end speakers with music ports for your phone.
The next treadmill is the commercial treadmill. These start around $4000 and can go up as high as $12,000. These are the kind of machines that health clubs buy for their gyms.
For the purposes of this post, we’re not going to cover commercial treadmills here since they aren’t appropriate for the home environment. You don’t need to spend that much for a high quality home treadmill.
So with that said, let’s dive into the question of “What’s the best treadmill brand?” for you. Here are several options to consider:
What Are The Best Treadmill Brands? 5 Great Options To Consider
While ICON has a lot of brands, Nordictrack is the jewel in their crown.
They tend to put most of their best designs and technology behind this brand. Unlike Proform – which is seen as more of a starter treadmill brand – Nordictrack is seen as a higher-end brand.
Thus, you get a lot more mid-range and commercial grade options. Plus since they outsell almost every other brand on the market, they can sell their treadmills for a bit less than the smaller boutique brands. So that means you get more treadmill for the money.
They make a range of starter, mid-range and commercial-grade treadmills with strong motors, extra-long running belts and tough decks.
A few years ago they also pioneered something quite cool – iFit Coach.
iFit Coach is an online streaming service that you can use on most Nordictrack treadmills. You can stream thousands of different studio treadmill workouts and watch them on the full-color, HD console.
You can also run famous trails all over the world – from the shores of Hawaii to the canals of Venice.
You’ll see the landmarks pass you by in the screen as you run for a little virtual reality fun. And in some cases the treadmill will actually incline and decline to match the terrain that you’re running. This is next-level training and can turn a dull treadmill workout into a fun, energizing adventure.
Another thing I like about this brand is their incline trainer treadmill. This takes a regular treadmill and turns the incline up. Instead of getting a 10-15% incline like you do on many regular treadmills, you get up to 40% incline and even 6% decline!
High incline walking incinerates calories – so this is the perfect treadmill for losing weight and seeing results very quickly.
It also means you have a LOT of room to grow with the treadmill (you won’t top out at the highest incline and have nowhere to go).
Overall, if you’re looking for one of the best all-around treadmill brands with a mix of starter to commercial-grade treadmills and some of the coolest tech around, they’re worth considering.
Bowflex doesn’t sell as many treadmills as Nordictrack. And they’re mostly known for their Treadclimber or Max Trainer. But they actually make a couple of pretty high-quality treadmills as well.
These treadmills are kind of a hidden gem. I’m impressed every time I get on one of these monster machines.
They’re solid, stable and super-tough with strong motors and extra-long running belts. They also come with media shelves for your tablet or phone.
The consoles are not as advanced as Nordictrack treadmils – but they’re well laid out and easy to read.
Plus, Bowflex has now come out with it’s own online tracking option – JRNY. With the JRNY app you can get custom workouts and coaching through your tablet. They will also be bringing out world trail runs in the new year, which is pretty cool.
The downside is that Bowflex only puts out 2 models – the BXT116 and BXT216. And these are mainly mid-range models. But they’re both ideal for runners, walkers or multi-user families.
If you’re looking for a well-built mid-level treadmill with some fun extras, Bowflex is worth checking out. You can use the link below to get a free promo code on either model.
While I tend to prefer Nordictrack treadmills, if you want a brand that does really well with starter models – then Proform is king.
They put out a range of starter to mid-level treadmills. But they really shine when it comes to treadmills under $1200.
Because they have a huge parent company behind them, they can pack a lot of entertainment features on their starter models that you just won’t find on similarly-priced treadmills.
Like Nordictrack, you can also use these treadmills with iFit Coach to stream studio workouts or run trails all over the world. You can also find treadmills with tablet holders and even a few with full-color touch-screens.
Most of their treadmills also fold up with wheels on the bottom for easy movement. Overall, I wouldn’t look at Proform for a high end or commercial-grade model.
But you can usually find some great starter-level treadmills that give you high value for your money.
Horizon isn’t as well known as some other brands. But they’re actually owned by Johnson – one of the larger manufacturers in the industry. And they’ve been around for years.
Horizon tends to focus on starter to mid-range treadmills and they offer a pretty good variety of options. They’re also coming out with new models – or updated models every year or two. So they’re trying to stay on the edge of what people want, which is great.
While their consoles are not as nice as Nordictrack, Proform or Bowflex treadmills, for the most part they’re well laid out and easy to read. Plus there’s usually a shelf for your tablet and lots of built-in workout programs to challenge you.
They also recently introduced a few higher end treadmills with a new rapid sync motor. This motor responds faster (than their starter models) to your speed and incline changes when running, which is pretty cool.
Overall, if you’re looking for a well-built starter to mid-range treadmill with all of the basic essentials, they might be worth checking out.
Sole is a smaller brand – they only make Sole treadmills (and bikes, ellipticals, etc). These treadmills were very popular about 10 years ago but have since fallen behind a bit.
I’m a bit torn on recommending this brand. While they started out well, I’ve heard rumors about the company being in trouble on and off for a few years now.
And they really haven’t kept pace with other manufacturers over the years. They rarely update their treadmills and seem to be riding on the coat tails of “Best Buy” awards earned years ago.
That said, they do make a solid, well-constructed treadmill. And if you’re a runner, you may want to check them out.
Just keep in mind that the company itself – being so small – may be on shaky ground if we hit a financial rough patch. So servicing your treadmill might be difficult.
So what are the best treadmill brands for you?
At the end of the day it really depends on your preferences, your budget – and what your fitness goals are. The “best” treadmill will get you excited about using it, offer you the programs you want and give you the construction quality that you need (depending on whether you’re running, walking etc.).
The good news?
By sticking with a quality brand, you’re already ahead of most buyers on the market. Now go forth and find your best treadmill!