The 3 Best “Smart” Treadmills for Your Home, From Certified Fitness Experts
Seasoned trainers declare an exciting era for treadmills is here. Here are a few of the best smart treadmills based on specs, user impressions, and what trainers love most about these powerful machines.
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From phone-controlled coffee makers to state-of-the-art smart contact lenses and “smart” COVID tests, all sorts of otherwise ordinary products now boast high-tech upgrades that promise to make your life a little bit easier—and exercise equipment is no exception. But a 2022 study published in Lancet Digital Health suggests that smart fitness gear goes the extra mile still, by motivating people to kick-start, and stick with, a fresh workout routine.
That’s just one reason smart treadmills are taking the fitness market by storm. With built-in smartphone and wearable fitness tracking capability, it’s easier than ever to monitor your movement and record your progress—a practice the Lancet study participants say brings excitement and encouragement to their routine.
Yet of all the bells and whistles, the remote fitness classes may be the biggest hook: bootcamp-style workouts, strength training, core exercises, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are a few of the genres you can participate in via your smart treadmill. Katie Crewe, CSCS—a certified strength and conditioning specialist—notes how smart treadmills offer “more avenues to work toward [users’] fitness goals” than more traditional machines, as the new higher-tech versions “also serve as a portal to other types of classes and fitness. So while someone may do a cardio workout two or three times a week,” Crewe observes, “they can also use their treadmill for strength training or yoga or Pilates.” And according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, participating in these live-streamed workout programs can serve to improve exercise motivation, anxiety levels, and sleep quality. Perhaps best of all, you can take advantage of these offerings at whatever hour of the day suits your schedule.
So which is the best smart treadmill for your home workouts? Some shoppers say these are the three best smart treadmills on the market right now.
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Sleek, stylish, and super compact, the Peloton Tread is certainly an aesthetically-pleasing option for your home gym. And after discontinuing the 2021 Peloton Tread Plus due to design-related safety concerns, reviewers say that with the 2022 model just recently released, the Peloton Tread is back and better than ever.
Users’ impressions of the Peloton Tread suggest this machine is ideal for both novice and advanced runners who are looking for a powerful (yet surprisingly quiet) treadmill that delivers total body workouts. After you purchase your Peloton Tread, you automatically sign up for Peloton’s monthly subscription, which then gives you access to a huge variety of live and on-demand fitness classes led by world-class instructors to help motivate you. All this on a 24″ HD touchscreen—impressive—with an intuitive, user-friendly toggle menu. Plus, if you’re a fan of the classic Peloton bike, the family subscription covers both products.
A possible downside, depending on your space? While the new model has a smaller footprint than its predecessor, you’ll need a dedicated treadmill space as the Peloton Tread doesn’t fold up.
Pros of the Peloton Tread
- Wide range of live and on-demand workouts ranging from 10 to 45 minutes at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
- Option to join a fun and interactive community of fellow Peloton subscribers.
- Beautiful and appealing minimalist design—it’s made from carbon steel instead of plastic you’ll usually find with similar models, making it sleek and sturdy without being bulky.
- Large 24-inch HD color touchscreen for ease of navigation and adjustment of settings, and it tilts up and down so you can stay tuned into classes during floor exercises.
- Includes a USB-C charging port for charging smartphones and a headphone jack for audio (plus, Bluetooth connection for wireless headphones).
- Ability to work out in a group setting from the comfort of your home.
- Excellent for tracking your progress over time, including total distance, speed, and time running. (Coming from a marathon runner: You can’t improve what you don’t track!)
- Option to create multiple profiles on the treadmill so you could theoretically split the monthly subscription cost with another person in your household.
- Easy install! After making your purchase, you schedule a delivery date and time that works with your schedule. Peloton then sends a delivery team to help choose an ideal set-up location in your home. Peloton’s delivery team sets up the Tread, connects it to Wi-Fi, then explains the features before leaving.
- Offers long-distance running workouts to help you train for marathons (as well as beginner programs like training for your first 5K).
- Don’t feel like joining a class and want to run solo? Select ‘Just Run’ mode which allows you to use the Tread as a normal treadmill, no subscription required. (That said, there are no pre-programmed workouts.)
Cons of the Peloton Tread
- The treadmill itself is on the higher end price-wise, plus a monthly subscription of $39 to access workouts and use the treadmill. (Note: Peloton offers payment installment plan options for your machine.)
- Requires dedicated treadmill space in your home, as it doesn’t fold up.
- Product warranty may leave something to be desired. Peloton offers only a 12-month limited warranty for the touchscreen, and three years for the major treadmill components.
- Doesn’t have a fan, which can be an issue for some users who like to stay cool throughout workouts.
- Some users say the dial knobs—while a responsive, convenient way to adjust settings—aren’t as precise as traditional incline or speed buttons.
- Reviews report that the tread belt can make a “thunk” noise at higher speeds.
- Heart rate tracker band is sold separately.
Who the Peloton Tread may be for:
- Those looking for a variety of highly motivating live and on-demand workouts led by fun, enthusiastic, and engaging instructors.
- People who enjoy working out in a group environment.
- Runners of any fitness or experience level who are driven by stats and like to track progress over time.
- Experienced or aspiring marathoners. Try Peloton’s “Road To Your 26.2” 18-week training program designed specifically for marathons.
- While compact, it’s rated for people from 4’11” to 6’4” in height (one 6’5” reviewer says he tested it out for both running and walking, finding it suitable for his height).
- Dimensions: 68″ L x 33″ W x 62″ H
- Screen: 24-inch HD color touchscreen
- Running surface: 59″ L x 20″ W
- Item Weight: 290 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 3 HP DC
- Max speed: 12.5 mph
- Incline: 0-12%
- Folding: No
- Connectivity: Wireless and Bluetooth
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NordicTrack EXP 14i Treadmill
A nice perk when you buy NordicTrack’s latest treadmill is a 30-day free iFit membership to stream live and on-demand workouts with elite trainers. “A certified personal trainer will lead you through the workout, taking the guesswork out of it and providing an element of motivation,” says Nicole Davis, ACE-CPT, who reviews fitness equipment for Garage Gym Reviews. The T Series also comes equipped with auto-adjust technology, “meaning that the trainer can adjust your speed and incline for you so you don’t have to mess with it,” she says.
From the user’s perspective, one well-versed iFit subscriber told The Healthy that they found iFit’s instructors more relatable than some of the other “cool kid” instructor personalities who lead other smart gym equipment brands. So, arguably, you may experience similarly top-notch workouts as competitors to this treadmill, but at a more affordable price. And if you choose not to renew your iFit membership, the machine has 14 built-in workout programs.
Worth noting is that the NordicTrack EXP series beats Peloton is in its compact, simple storage. You’re able to fold up this treadmill after your run so you can easily stow it away under your bed or in a closet. (Check out these 9 treadmill mistakes that make trainers cringe.)
This Amazon reviewer says, “The iFit membership I think is stunning! Running in another country or hillside with a trainer all while enjoying the scenery while getting a good workout makes using this treadmill so much more enjoyable/pleasant.” (The iFit user we spoke with made the same observation, passionately.)
The EXP 14i specs cater toward long-distance runners and cross-training athletes alike. But if it still seems too basic for your goals, NordicTrack has no shortage of options for people looking to seriously advance their running to the next level. Stephanie Thomas, ACE-CPT, loves the ease of use and premium functionality of the NordicTrack Commercial X22i, for example. “It checks off all the boxes of what I want in a treadmill, plus so much more,” she says. “I love the large touch screen, auto-adjusting speed and incline, 40 percent max incline, built-in sled push bar, quiet motor, and overall high quality of this machine.”
On the flip-side, the EXP 7i is the most budget-friendly model in the EXP line. It offers the same basic functionality as the 14i, but lacks its premium features and requires small sacrifices in specs like max speed, incline, screen size, and motor power.
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Pros of the Nordic Track EXP 14iT Series
- Includes 30-day free iFit membership with live and on-demand workouts with elite personal trainers. ($15/month membership after the first 30 days).
- With the iFit membership, trainers are able to adjust your treadmill’s speed and incline through a smart Bluetooth connection so you can simply focus on your workout. Truly amazing!
- Equipped with Flex-Select cushioning technology to help absorb impact and protect your joints. But a big difference from similar models on the market is that users can adjust the level of cushioning you want while running—cushioning is great for casual training and protecting your joints, but if you’re training for a race, you’ll want to mimic the outdoor surface as closely as possible.
- It features NordicTrack’s new ActivePulse Cruise Control technology that adjusts the treadmill’s incline and speed based on your heart rate to hit your goal cardio zone.
- Easily folds up allowing for convenient storage (and there’s a hydraulic cylinder that helps offset heavy lifting).
- Includes NordicTrack’s newly designed Smart-Response motor that changes speed quickly, ideal for interval training.
- Fancy a trip to Buenos Aires, Bangkok, or Paris? The machine has built-in Google Maps workout technology that allows you to run the terrain almost anywhere in the world.
- Includes EKG grip pulse sensors on the handlebars and Bluetooth heart rate connectivity.
- Has Bluetooth audio capabilities and built-in speakers
- There’s a pair of dual AutoBreeze workout fans built in.
Cons of the Nordic Track EXP 14i
- Reviewers report that the motor is a bit louder than similar models.
- The Bluetooth heartrate monitor is sold separately.
- At 22-inches, the tread belt may be a bit short for tall runners.
- The one-year labor warranty is a bit limited for the price tag.
Who the Nordic Track EXP 14i is for
- Users looking for a simple smart treadmill with seamless built-in interval training programs.
- Those who enjoy working out in a group setting with live and on-demand classes.
- Runners of any experience or fitness level looking for a solid cardio workout.
- Competitive runners who value adjusting the tread belt cushioning to mirror outdoor running conditions.
- Power walkers looking to ramp up their speed.
- Dimensions: 65″ H x 38″ W x 80″ L
- Screen: 14-inch LCD
- Running surface: 55″ L x 22″ W
- Item Weight: 340 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 35 HP
- Max speed: 12 mph
- Incline: -30-15%
- Folding: Yes
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
ProForm Carbon T7 Smart Treadmill
The leading treadmill company ProForm offers several high-end models comparable to the NordicTrack best-sellers. But in 2020 ProForm released its mid-range Carbon series that are more affordable, striking a great balance between value and performance.
“One of my favorite treadmills for all around [use] is the ProForm Carbon T7,” says Garret Seacat, CSCS, a personal trainer and owner of Absolute Endurance. He says you can often find it on sale for under $1,500 and comes with premium features like a large running platform, a powerful (and, according to reviewers, very quiet) motor, and interactive iFit classes—in fact, your purchase includes a three-year iFit Family Membership. “It also has other features you’ll be glad to have such as the ability to bluetooth your own music to the speakers and multiple fans built into the unit.”
As a mid-range model, the Carbon T7 does lack a few upscale features designed for seasoned, competitive, or professional runners. If you’re looking for some extra functionality, Thomas points to the ProForm Pro 9000 that boasts a huge 22-inch HD touchscreen, a longer treadbelt, speed up to 12 miles per hour (versus the T7’s 10 MPH), and the ability to set the treadmill on a -3 percent decline. It also packs heavier horsepower than its mid-range counterpart. If you’re a walker, jogger, or planning to use your treadmill for HIIT and strength training classes, the T7’s 2.5 CHP motor will do the trick. “[But] if you’re a serious runner and whill be using the treadmill for hours each week, you’ll want something closer to 3.5 CHP (like the Pro 9000), Davis explains.
The Pro 9000 downsides? You lose out on that 3-year iFit membership (though it does include a 30-day trial) and those extra perks make for a heavier, larger, and pricier machine.
But for the recreational runner or workout class lover, the T7 design fits the bill perfectly, according to one Amazon reviewer: “If you ever thought you wanted a Peloton but can’t stomach the price, then this is the treadmill you want. It’s high-tech enough, the cushion is amazing, great for the amateur runner. Best investment I’ve made in a while!”
Pros of the ProForm Carbon T7 Smart Treadmill
- Includes 3-Year iFit Family Membership, with thousands of live and on-demand workouts with elite personal trainers.
- iFit trainers can auto-adjust your speed and incline to match terrains and help push you past your goals.
- You can set the include up to 10%
- Includes 30-day free iFit membership ($15/month membership after the first 30 days.)
- Foldable and easy to store for you to reclaim your living space after each workout.
- Has dual two-inch built-in high-quality speakers for listening to trainers.
- Equipped with low-impact cushioning and shock-absorbers that reduces stress on your feet, knees, ankles, and hips
- Has a built-in fan to stay cool and comfortable during workouts.
- More affordable price point than some competitors, such as the Peloton Tread.
- Offers excellent warranty package with 10-year frame warranty and two years for parts.
Cons of the ProForm Carbon T7 Smart Treadmill
- Its treadbelt is 5-inches shorter than the Pro model, which may be uncomfortable for taller athletes (reviews say it’s best for runners at or under 6-feet-tall).
- The 7-inch HD touchscreen is high quality, but on the small side for smart treadmills.
- You can use the Carbon T7 in manual mode, but there are no pre-programmed workouts.
- The 10-year frame warranty is on par with industry standards, but the one-year parts and labor warranty falls a bit short. Seacat recommends opting for an additional extended warranty.
- ProForm offers a money-back guarantee, but customers have to pay for return shipping and a 10-percent restocking fee.
Who the ProForm Pro 5000 Smart Treadmill is for
- Joggers or walkers who enjoy a group environment with many live and on-demand classes available (including HIIT-style and strength training workouts).
- People with joint pain or working with a physical therapist, thanks to the treadbelt’s soft cushioning.
- Recreational runners who won’t be limited by the treadmill’s 10 miles per hour max speed.
- Those who enjoy running outdoors but can’t because of inclement weather or schedule.
- Dimensions: 57″ H x 33.5″ W x 66″ L
- Screen: 7-inch HD color touchscreen
- Running surface: 55″ L x 20″ W
- Item Weight: 205 lbs
- Max weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Motor: 2.6 HP
- Max speed: 10 mph
- Incline: 0% to 10%
- Folding: Yes
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
Want more inspo for healthy living? Keep reading:
- Reda Elmardi, CPT, RD: Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Dietitian, and Owner of The Gym Goat.
- Katie Crewe, CSCS, CNP: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Owner of Crewe Fitness
- Journal of Sports Science & Medicine: "Psycho-Physiological Effects of Television Viewing During Exercise."