1. Stay away from orthopedic belts. We don’t recommend them because 1) a good pair of running shoes provide more cushioning 2) they hold in heat which shortens belt life, motor life, and electronics life 3) the increased weight of the belt shortens bearing life in the rollers.
2. Do your research and get several price quotes from several different stores. Typically, the more you deal with the various companies, the better deals they will come up with such as discounts, free product, financing specials, etc.
3. Tread carefully when buying over the Internet. Some companies, like Landice and True, will void your warranty if bought over the Internet and some have restrictions on delivery distances from an authorized dealer. If in doubt, call or email the factory. Another issue related to Internet buying is delivery. Many of us in the business know how difficult it is to ship a single treadmill or elliptical without having it damaged so deal with a company that has been doing it a long time and has already learned how to do it. Another issue to keep in mind is what you are going to do if you don’t like the machine. Most companies accept returns but the cost to ship the treadmill back to the factory can easily cost hundreds of dollars so it is quite an expensive trial test if the machine is returned. Also curbside delivery literally means what it says…the trucking company will sit it on the curb and it’s your problem to get it into the house, so either pay for inside delivery or have help ready. Another issue is service…some internet companies have good service networks and others don’t but remember that you probably won’t get the type of personalized service you should expect from a local dealer.
4. Do take care of your treadmills. Whether they require quite a bit or little maintenance, keeping the treadmill or elliptical clean and the walking belt lubricated on the treadmill can be the difference between having a great treadmill or a money pit. Refer to our Treadmill or Elliptical Care Pamphlet for maintenance instructions.
5. If you are considering used machines, really do you homework, and then do it again. We do rebuilding jobs for local health clubs all the time and do this work occasionally for people who are buying health club models for the home but to do it right costs quite a bit and if someone is telling you they have a used or rebuilt at an amazing price, you typically aren’t getting the entire story.
6. Since buying a treadmill is a huge investment for most people, choose your dealer and factory carefully. As with any product, a brand new company may not be around in a few years, parts can be very specific to machines and spares may not be available if the factory isn’t around. A dealer for a reputation for high quality and personalized service is necessary for some people. Other people feel confident in servicing their own equipment, so figure out which one you are and buy accordingly. If you know one end of a wrench from the other, you might want to save a few dollars with an Internet purchase. Others may need to pay for the full-service price you should get from a local dealer but if you pay the higher price, demand the higher service level.
7. Treadmills and ellipticals are different than many other home appliances. Remember, we rate a treadmill average if it has a breakdown only once every 5 years…that’s average! Extended warranties can make sense if the manufacturer has a short warranty and if you get it from a reputable extended warranty company. Remember the dealer is typically not the warranty provider and many have gone out of business over the years and others are hard to deal with. For instance, UTS (Icon’s warranty company) is the best we have ever dealt with. If you get an Icon machine, buy the UTS warranty…it will be well worth it. UTS’s number is 800-677-3838. Also, Sears has a good extended warranty program and it typically pays for itself if you use the machine. On the other hand, we have had problems with the company called N.E.W. and many others have gone out of business so do your research on your warranty company if you have never heard of them.
8. A great final tip is if you want to save a bit of money. Due to the influence of Asian parts, the lower end treadmills and ellipticals are getting better and better while the price is holding the line and the ones being made today in the $800 range are much better than the $800 machines made 10 years ago. If you need to save a few bucks and your doctor says it is OK, use a few degrees of incline always when you use your machine. If the machine is well maintained and if you use a bit of incline (on the treadmill), you can get by with a bit less of a machine than you might otherwise need. The incline allows gravity to take over quite a bit of the workload from the drive system. A treadmill used with just a slight incline will last much longer than a comparably cared for treadmill that is used at a flat level.