New treadmill: Signed, sealed, but not yet delivered

Emotion for FreeMotion

Today’s workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

The absence of a working treadmill prompted me to obsessively research replacements for our Sole F63. It’s always a good idea to look at the models around your price range and then find the best value based on your requirements. That doesn’t always guarantee success as evidenced by our Sole. Despite its high recommendation it didn’t live up to its hype.

My starting point was to consider every treadmill brand in the universe (except for Sole) and work backwards from there. I am fortunate to have resources for research that aren’t available to many people and quickly learned that most treadmills priced under $1,000 are really a crap-shoot. I was told that I should be willing to pay $2,000 or more for the quality that I’m expecting. I decided to reject that and focus on machines that are reasonably priced and structurally sound. I don’t need built in fitness programs because we never use them, so why pay for them?

After coming close to pulling the trigger on a LifeSpan TR2000e that I could get for the price of a 1200i, I decided to wait until I had a chance to try out a few in person. We went over to Sports Authority to see what they had to offer. Big box retailers tend to stock the same brands: Bowflex. NordicTrak, Pro-Form, Sole and HealthRider. We had a Pro-Form treadmill before the Sole and we currently have a Pro-Form elliptical. Pro-Form equipment can be a good, inexpensive choice, but they sometimes feel cheap and rickety.

Sports Authority sells FreeMotion treadmills, a brand whose commercial grade units are often found in fitness centers. After looking at the Pro-Forms, we concluded that we’d do better paying a little more for a middle-tier FreeMotion 850 model. The differences in construction between this unit and the similarly-priced Pro-Form were noticeable. For example, the salesperson pointed out how the FreeMotion has shock absorbers all along the tread bed, while the Pro-Form only had them in the middle. That could make a big difference in how long the rollers will last.

I liked that the 850 had a basic interface but was iFIT compatible for people who want fitness features and device connectivity. I also liked the feel of the bed when I ran on it and the fact that this unit can incline  up to 15% and decline 3%. There was free delivery for treadmills at that price and we opted to have them assemble it. A 20% off coupon that I got for buying a box of Girl Scout cookies outside the store made it a pretty good value.

I spent 50 minutes on the elliptical this morning. Although it’s a tedious workout, the session went by fast because my daughter kept me company the entire time. My wife and I are anxious get the new treadmill as we both view the elliptical as an occasional cross training tool rather than a primary means of working out. But until we take delivery, it’s going to be our only option.

Faint praise for the elliptical

ProForm CE 6: I look different in workout clothes

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

It’s been another busy week, but at least tomorrow is Friday. Today was my first opportunity for a morning workout and my intention was to do a treadmill run. I got up this morning and decided that I couldn’t deal with the treadmill’s racket, so I fired up the elliptical instead. Although I’ve never warmed to this unit (it’s far less substantial than its predecessor) the Pro-Form does provide a good cross training alternative.

Compared to the treadmill, using the elliptical is a breeze. Besides the fact that it’s self propelled and quiet, the elliptical doesn’t make me constantly worry about a bad slip and fall. In fact, you can use the elliptical with your eyes closed. That’s something I’d never recommend doing on a treadmill. I ended up getting a decent workout and avoided a noise-related headache.

I always look forward to Friday’s because I can get outside in the morning for a few miles prior to starting my working day from home. Tomorrow will be extremely busy so I’ll need to get out early to fit in a workout. I’m getting mixed messages online about Friday morning’s weather. One prediction calls for morning rain and the other calls for cold but dry conditions. I’m hoping for the latter.

I’d like to avoid the treadmill if possible. And as much as I appreciated it today, I’m not in the mood for another elliptical session.

Spinning companies and flywheels

Getting dizzy

Today’s workout (elliptical): 35 minutes

There is a (supposedly) ancient Chinese curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Interesting is usually considered a positive word, but the curse implies otherwise. 2013 has already turned out to be an interesting year for me and for many of my ex-colleagues. Yesterday, Time Warner announced that it was spinning off its publishing division into a separate company. I worry about my friends who remain at this division and may be affected by this change. I am merely a spectator at this point, but I’m happily watching the stock’s price rise.

Speaking of things both interesting and spinning, I decided to use the ProForm elliptical machine for only the third time since we’ve got it. My wife and kids use it all the time, but I’ve preferred to use the treadmill for most of my indoor workouts. The biggest reason I’ve neglected the elliptical is that I haven’t liked the ProForm’s user experience compared to the prior unit (BH Fitness X1). As disappointed as I was when the X1 broke a main part (and couldn’t be fixed), the unit itself had been solid as a rock.

Today, I found no issues with the ProForm. I started at light resistance and increased that every few minutes until I reached my targeted heart rate. I liked the relative quiet compared to the treadmill that allowed me to focus on other distractions, like the television. The ProForm reports distance as revolutions, so you don’t get a great sense of progress. I was primarily concerned with getting my time in and, by the 35th minute, I was satisfied with my workout.

Today has turned out to be an interesting day. Between company spin-offs and spinning flywheels I had plenty to think about. The snowstorm, part 1, has been a non-event. We’re supposed to see 2″-4″ inches overnight and into morning. If it’s on the low side, I may go for an outdoor run tomorrow. If there’s any accumulation, I’ll want to avoid contention with snowplows. That would make things just a little too interesting.

Frustration mounts with the ProForm CE 6.0

Hey elliptical, you’ve gotta screw loose!

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

Today has been busy. This morning was filled with meetings and this afternoon I presented a technical paper at a W3C conference. I’d had a much different expectation about early retirement. Tomorrow will be even busier. 

This morning I decided to use the new elliptical while my wife ran on the treadmill. It was my second time using the machine and, once again, I was disappointed. I had hoped that this ProForm, that looks a lot like our old X1, would perform in similar way. Aside from the fact that they both provide elliptical motion, the user experience is far opposite.

The difference is in the quality. The X1 had its challenges, but it was a sturdy beast. The ProForm CE 6.0 is a wobbly contraption that squeaks and squeals. The display shows your distance only in revolutions (huh?) and there’s no way to pause the timer during a workout.

Why would need to pause the timer? One reason might be that the bolt that attaches the arm to the center post tends to work its way free. I had to jump off the machine this morning at one point and tighten it with an Allen wrench. Lucky for me, I’d removed the decorative plastic collar last week to get to this bolt. I needed to break the collar’s connecting tabs when I did that, so it’s not going back on.

The rest of my workout went without incident and the bolt stayed in after my mid-session triage. While I consider the CE 6.0 far inferior to the unit it replaced, I still ended up with good workout that got my heart rate to target. It will be back to the treadmill tomorrow. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to using it.

The elliptical is here, but the power is still to come

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Today has been an interesting day and I’ll leave it at that for now. Over the next few days I’ll have some extra time, and I’m planning to get in some long morning runs. I’m really looking forward to that. The treadmill has began to lose its appeal, so I’ve decided to get outside as much as I can over the next few weeks.

Our elliptical arrived yesterday. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the old X1 unit, but it’s cheaper and not of the same quality. The console requires an AC adapter that we’ll need to order separately. Otherwise we’ll have to keep feeding it D batteries. I’ll be glad to have the elliptical option on windy, cold or rainy mornings. In the meantime, I just want to get outside and run.

Going cheap on an elliptical (here’s why)

ProForm CE 6.0. User not included

Most people will agree with the expression, “You get what you pay for”, based on their own personal experience. Most of the time, I’d agree. Expensive items tend to last longer than cheaply made versions. This is theoretically due to their higher level of quality. Our experience purchasing and using a higher end elliptical machine made us rethink the direct correlation between cost and satisfaction.

Four years ago, we purchased a BH Fitness X1 elliptical machine at Fitness Showrooms in Huntington, NY. The machine was compact, had heart rate sensors on the arm poles and seemed to built to last. I’ve written plenty about our troubles with both the machine and the company that sold it to us, so I won’t repeat them here. After three years of moderate use and almost a year of non-use due to broken parts, we trashed the expensive “quality” unit and bought a cheaper replacement.

Sunday afternoon we went to Sports Authority and bought a ProForm CE 6.0 elliptical for about one third the price we paid for the X1 in 2009. The unit was on sale and we had a $50 coupon. Pro-Form is not a premium brand, but but we managed to get over ten years of daily use out of our LT treadmill. The elliptical unit we bought was the 2012 6.0. Even though the newer 7.0 unit was priced the same, we thought the older model seemed sturdier and more stable.

I’m looking forward to (once again) having a cross-training option for my daily workouts. If we only get three years out of the CE 6.0 I’ll be less annoyed than I was with the expensive BH Fitness X1. Ironically, the best reason for buying at Sports Authority over a specialty store like Fitness Showrooms is that I have more confidence that SA will stand behind what they’ve sold.