Once upon a time, purchasing a folding treadmill meant you had to compromise. If the treadmill folded, chances were good that its stability was lacking. Did you want to give up stability for the convenience of a space saving exercise machine? And, not only were you compromising stability, the overall durability and quality of components would be inferior to those that you would find in a stationary treadmill.
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Over the last several years, considerable design improvements have been made on folding treadmills.These improvements make folding models comparable to their stationary equivalent. In fact, some treadmill companies use the exact same frames for both their folding and stationary models. The company I worked for did this, and I couldn’t tell any difference between the frames of the folding models and the frames of the stationary models.
Treadmills can take up a lot of space. An average treadmill with a 20″ wide belt can be 3.5′ x 6’0″. If you don’t have a great deal of living space in your home, and you do not want to sacrifice a good portion of a room to exercise equipment, then a folding treadmill makes sense. Not only can you fold this type of treadmill to make more floor space, but many folding treadmills are easy to move, and can be stored.
What are some factors you should consider when buying a folding treadmill?
- As with any treadmill, you want a solid and stable feel. Many less expensive folding models will lack stability. They simply are not structurally built well. It is a good idea to test the treadmill in person. Try both walking and jogging. Jump up and down on it. The ideal treadmill will absorb your impact without slipping and bouncing around. It should be a smooth ride!
- How much should you pay for a good folding treadmill? If you want a treadmill that will be around through years of regular use, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a fairly generous amount of money for it. I generally recommend that you pay around $1,000 for a machine that will be primarily used for walking. Expect to pay $1,500 or more, if you plan to buy a treadmill that will be used mostly for jogging or running.
- How difficult is it to fold the treadmill? Most of today’s folding treadmills are equipped with hydraulics, which make it a breeze to fold up or down. There are, however, some that require power lifting. Regardless, remember to always lift with your legs to prevent back injuries.
- Will you be moving the folding treadmill after each use? Almost all folding treadmills are designed to be moved. There may be a big difference in the amount of effort required to move one model versus another model. If you plan to constantly move the treadmill, check it out for ease of movement before you buy. A heavy treadmill, that requires tilting it on two wheels in order to move it, means that you may need some strength training in addition to a cardio workout. Some models, when folded, have four recessed wheels that pop out, making it simple to move them.
- Find out the machine’s weight capacity. You can presume that all manufacturers are going to exaggerate the weight capacity of their treadmill. It is a standard practice. Whatever the capacity states, subtract at least 50 lbs. You certainly want a machine that can withstand the impact of your weight or the weight of the heaviest user. If the weight capacity is inadequate, the motor, belt, rollers and bearings will burn-out prematurely.
- The warranty is typically a good indication of the quality of the treadmill, whether it’s folding or stationary. It’s best to steer clear of models that have 90 day warranties, unless you don’t plan to use your treadmill. Such a warranty suggests an inferior product. I recommend a folding treadmill that has a minimum 1 year service, 2 year parts and 5 year motor warranty.
There are a number of good brands of folding treadmills. I would recommend you check out the Sole Folding Treadmill Reviews and Smooth Folding Treadmill Reviews. Sole folding treadmills are used by the Hilton hotel chains for in-room service and come with a 2 year service warranty. If they can hold-up under that type of environment, they should do well in your home. Smooth has a good reputation for quality machines and customer service.