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I would like to know if someone owns a good quality, yet affordable treadmill that they would recommend. I am thinking about getting one that runs smoothly and quietly. I have two small children at home. The only time I can squeeze in some workout is early in the morning. Any help will be truly appreciated.
Jessica in Charlotte NC
When I looked into my treadmill purchase two years ago, the best place I found for data and comparisons was TreadmillDoctor.com. They provide reviews of all kinds of treadmills. They also provide their "Best Buys" list based on what you'd like to spend. For starters, you need to make out a list of what you really want in a treadmill. There are a lot of side gadgets. Also, decide how you intend to use the machine and where you intend to use it. Then, move forward to comparing the models. If you're into the running and not the gadgets, it'll be best to get a little older model with a good maintenance history, and TreadmillDoctor.com can tell you about any model's maintenance history.
Consumer Reports rated several treadmills. Check it out at the library.
We bought a treadmill a few years ago. It came with all the bells and whistles. You can hook it up to your TV/VCR and watch a video that will show beautiful scenery while you work out. You can monitor your heart rate, count your calories, and use a preset workout or design your own. It's got wonderful shock absorbers, so you don't damage your joints. This treadmill can do everything but fill out our tax return! We really thought we were getting our money's worth with so many extras built-in.
Unfortunately, the only "bells and whistles" that I use regularly are the heart rate monitor, calorie counter, and lap meter. And the machine is very loud. If I had the opportunity to purchase another treadmill, I'd opt for a quiet one with fewer "extras." I'm loath to say the brand name of my machine, because it's been very reliable. (It helped me lose 20 pounds, and I no longer require blood pressure medication!) I just wish it ran more quietly.
I suggest that you insist that the salesman let you "test drive" any and all treadmills. If possible, try to go to the store when it's not busy. The quieter atmosphere will give you a better indication of its noise level. And go for that "test drive" while you're wearing good running shoes. Get the motor up to 6 or 7 miles per hour. Really see what that machine can do! Make it run at faster speeds and higher inclines than you are capable of right now. If you make a wise investment, that machine will get you into better physical condition and someday you will run 6 or 7 miles an hour.
Another avenue you might want to consider is an elliptical machine. I've heard a lot of good things about them, and apparently they run quietly and are less stressful on your joints.
Stacie in Germany
I can tell you what you should not get, namely a ProForm treadmill. We purchased one at Sears, and it was as much as we could afford at the time, about $400. Not seven months into use, the front roller and belt went. We should have had a "lightbulb" moment when we were told the warranty was good for only 90 days. The repair estimates ranged from about $150 to $250. Luckily, we got an over-the-phone diagnosis from a repairman, allowing us to purchase replacement parts directly from the manufacturer. It still set us back $80 in parts to repair the machine. It is working fine now, but it still makes me seethe. My mother also purchased a ProForm treadmill from Sears (before ours began to have trouble). It was a better model that cost about $800. Sears had to redeliver it three times because they kept delivering broken machines to her. If you are serious about your treading, buy some other make of treadmill.
Cathy in Boston
Many times, you can find treadmills at garage sales for only a fraction of the cost of buying a new one. If it is the kind of treadmill without a motor, you could get on it and try it out at the garage sale before you buy it to make sure that you will be happy with it. If it does have a motor, ask the people who are running the garage sale if you may plug it in to see if it works. When you plug it in to see if it works, try it out to make sure you will be satisfied with it before you buy it. Another idea is to pack your kids in a stroller or wagon and walk down the sidewalks around town or in a park. If the weather is cold, you could do this at a shopping mall.
I bought a used treadmill on Ebay two years ago. I restricted my eBay search to treadmills that were for sale within 60 miles of my zip code, so I wouldn't have to pay for shipping. After I won the eBay bid, I picked it up at the seller's location. My winning bid was $530 and the original retail price was $1,500.
My husband and I decided to purchase a refurbished treadmill. With treadmills, one has to be very careful about buying an inexpensive one from a discount store because these machines have a weight threshold. When we decided to invest in a treadmill, we went to a thrift store and purchased a used one. After a few weeks, the motor gave off an odor and eventually stopped working. I called the manufacturer to have it repaired and they put me in touch with a local repair representative who told me that treadmills have weight capacities and the reason that our treadmill had broken was because I was too heavy for it. Well, he put me in touch with a company that sells refurbished models and I was able to purchase a good working treadmill for a fraction of the cost at $200. I have priced the same new models in exercise equipment stores for $700 to $900. These refurbished machines are repaired to factory specifications. I have gotten much use out of this machine and was able to lose over 50% of my excess body weight so far.
About three years ago, I bought a NordicTrack. Though I don't use it all the time, it has stood the test of time. This includes kids crawling all over it and it being in storage for months at a time. It cost us about $850 at the time, but I think today that same amount of money would buy you a much better machine. Believe me, we tried but the cheaper alternatives just did not work for us. We had originally bought a ProForm from Sears, but when we opened it up, we discovered two big problems. First, it was shaky and loud when we used it. Also, it had a weight restriction that was about 75 pounds below my weight. We promptly returned it. The NordicTrack is rhythmic and would probably not disturb kids unless it was on the wall right next to them. The NordicTrack sales people were knowledgeable, and when we lost our "key" they replaced it for free. Ironically, ProForm is made by the same company as NordicTrack.
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