Designed to Reach Your Fitness Goals!
Team members recently visited Horizon Fitness to view the equipment first hand and to talk with the management about the company’s focus and goals. Visits like this are extremely valuable and allow us to gain insight beyond what you would learn by reading online or testing store models.
To give you some background on Horizon Fitness, they are owned by Johnson Fitness, which is the third largest fitness equipment manufacturer in the world. They also produce Vision Fitness, a premium specialty brand, and Matrix treadmills, which are the fastest growing commercial brand in the world.
During our first full day at the facility, we were given a tour of the entire operation from the customer service call center, to the distribution warehouse, to the in-house workout facility, and finally to the engineers hard at work on the newest innovations.
We spoke with members of the upper management and product management teams to learn about the thought and care that goes into each of the elements of Horizon Fitness products.
In addition, we were presented with extensive explanations of the features on each of their various treadmill and elliptical models. Our entire day was filled with detailed information and extremely friendly staff members.
Excellent Customer Service: Next, Johnson Fitness places high value on customer service. Their knowledgeable representatives are on hand to help field incoming calls from customers with questions or technical issues. This is one area with which many of the competition brands struggle.
Competing directly with brands like ProForm and NordicTrack, Horizon creates a comprehensive line of treadmills that vary in price and features. The prices for Horizon treadmills range from $649-$1,899. They are designed for various types of users from those who want a machine for walking and light jogging all the way up to those who want a machine for serious running.
The Horizon treadmills include some impressive features like ViaFit, an innovative fitness data tracking system, that allows you to record your workout data and integrate with other nutrition and fitness apps. The Passport and Virtual Active features enhance your running experience by allowing you to run virtual courses through scenic landscapes while viewing the path on your TV or machine console.
During our visit, we were walked through the entire design process from concept, to test models, and finally to mass production. Considerable thought and testing goes into each product. All of the Johnson Fitness products are engineered to pass European Safety Standards which are stricter than those required in the United States.
Horizon T101 ($599) – For walkers. 55”x20” walking area. #1 selling treadmill in fitness with ½ million units produced. 4.5” yellow-green LCD screen.
Horizon T202 ($799) – For walkers and joggers, 60×20″ deck, 2.75 CHP motor, Bluetooth connectivity.
Horizon Adventure 3 ($899) – For walkers / light runners. 55”x20” running area. With ViaFit and Passport. 5.75” extra-wide yellow-green LCD screen.
Horizon Elite T5 ($1199) – 20×55″ deck, 2.75 CHP, Built for runners. With ViaFit and Passport. 8.5” extra wide blue LCD screen
Horizon Elite T7-02 ($1,599) – 20×60″ deck, 3.00 CHP, Built for runners. With ViaFit and Passport. 8.5” extra wide blue LCD screen
Horizon Elite T9-02 ($1,899) – 22×60″ deck, 3.25 CHP, Built for runners. With ViaFit, and Passport, 8.5” extra wide blue LCD screen.
Drive Systems — Horizon treadmills manufacture their own heavy duty motors with larger than normal magnets. This allows the motor to run at lower RPMs, keeping it cool and quiet, which extends the life of the motor. All of the models except for the T101 include a digital drive system that responds smoothly and quickly to the user’s commands.
Variable Response Deck — The deck is designed to simulate a running shoe with varied levels of cushioning from the front to the back. The front has increased cushioning to provide shock absorption when you take a step and the back provides a firm surface from which to push off. This helps create a very comfortable running surface.
ViaFit – ViaFit allows your Horizon treadmill to communicate through Wi-Fi with the Internet. It connects with the ViaFit app, which is an interactive web site. With the ViaFit app you can define fitness goals like number of workouts, calories burned, amount of time exercising, or total distance. This allows you to track your progress towards your goals. As you workout, your stats are uploaded to your ViaFit account. In addition, ViaFit is compatible with a number of other fitness and nutrition apps on your smart device so you can combine your stats from various sources into one easy-to-view app. As opposed to similar programs from the competition, ViaFit is free and does not require an ongoing subscription. The overall benefit is that you can track your results, and studies show those individuals that track their progress are more likely to achieve their fitness goals.
Passport – Horizon joins several other fitness companies offering the ability to simulate running outdoors through famous landscapes. Your Horizon treadmill can connect to your TV and provide high-definition destination footage displayed on your television. The motion is synced to the speed and intensity of your workout. There is an additional cost for the Passport box. The Horizon Elite T9-02 also has Virtual Active which allows this running course to be displayed directly on your consol’s screen without the need for a TV or Passport box.
Speakers & iPod Input — Music is a great motivator and it distracts you from the monotony of running in place. All of the Horizon machines have speakers through which you can play your favorite music. The sound is not going to match your home entertainment system, but it is adequate.
Gas Assist Folding — Makes it effortless to both raise and lower the deck. We like that the decks on these machines lower slowly without assistance to prevent any injuries.
Built-in Fan — Although this is not a costly feature, it is one of the most popular with customers. The fan is pointed at your core, which is what you want to cool down the most.
Customer Service — During a tour of the operation, Todd Boerboom (National Sales Manager) was particular proud to show off their customer service department. He explained the extensive training their service staff goes through. He also mentioned that many are longtime employees. Like other fitness equipment companies they have to take on temporary staff during the busy winter months. These temps also get extensive training. Todd pointed out that the fitness equipment industry has a poor reputation for service. That is why Johnson Fitness uses other industries with superior service as their benchmark.
Delivery – It’s always good to know your company’s delivery policy before making your final purchase. Horizon Fitness offers free shipping on every online home cardio order. They even bring your product indoors to the first available ground-level door of the house. This is a huge benefit because some companies will leave your (very heavy) machine sitting on the curb or doorstep unattended.
Over the last several years, Horizon treadmills have improved in both quality and available interactive technology. They are more durable, and the stability and shock absorption have improved substantially. Add to that interactive features like ViaFit, Passport, and Virtual Active, and you have some very attractive treadmills at a value price.
Horizon treadmills are built by Johnson Fitness, which also builds the high-end Vision Fitness treadmills and the commercial grade Matrix treadmills. Johnson Fitness is one of the largest fitness equipment companies in the world. Consequently they can offer more value due to economy of scale. If you are considering getting back into shape and want to lose some extra weight, these machines will do the job.
Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the Johnson Fitness operation and different Horizon Fitness models. See a comparison chart of all of their treadmill models here.
Runner’s World rated the Horizon 5.2T as the “most favorite” out of 8 treadmills. A panel of experts and 150 runners conducted the review. (Now the Adventure 3)
CR gave the Horizon PST8 a “Best Buy” rating, giving it an “Excellent” for ergonomics and exercise range. (Now the T101)
In essence, I would highly recommend this treadmill (Horizon T101) if you are looking for qualities similar to what I was looking for. A fairly basic, safe-feeling, folding treadmill with automatic incline that can easily support an average weight for walking and jogging. It has a lifetime frame and motor warranty which makes me feel like it will be durable over the long haul. Definitely GO to the stores and test them out and see what you feel comfortable on & won’t mind looking at in your home. I would also try to find out if there are people who can service a Horizon treadmill near you, if that will ease your mind as it did mine. I am happy with my purchase, which was a large purchase for me, and I will update this review should anything go wrong. Happy treading!
I did a lot of research both online and in person before making this purchase. I used Consumer Reports as a source. I also went to several sporting goods stores, etc. and actually tried some out — I found this to be the most valuable information — first-hand. I was unable to try this actual model, but the T101 was available and I actually liked it even better than many of the more expensive models, so I was confident the T202 would be what I was looking for. The size is great — not too big but big enough, has the right amount of horsepower. The speakers are not great, but I use a stereo or headphones with MP3 player, so not a big deal for me. My husband had no problems putting it together — TIPS: make sure to have it in the actual room in which it will be used before putting it together — it will probably not fit through the door afterwards. Also, make sure to read the troubleshooting tips — I have found the negative reviews about being “shocked” to be from improper assembly. For the price, a very good mid-range treadmill. So far, I am very pleased. Finally, I chose this brand/model due to its cushioned deck — it was so much more comfortable that the higher-priced brands/models!