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What Is The Best Folding Treadmill For Home Use?

I’ll be honest, before I started researching for this topic I thought “folding treadmills” where the cheap, motor-less contraptions that people used to have from the ’70s or ’80s. You know what I’m talking about, you could maybe walk on it with some effort, but there was no way you would try running on this thing. Well, I’m happy to say that the times have changed! Now you can basically get commercial quality treadmills that fold to save space. Hotels use them. Resorts use them. But what is the best folding treadmill for home use? Let’s find out.

First Things First, What IS A “Folding” Treadmill?

folding treadmill

Good question. A folding treadmill is just what it sounds like. The running track can fold up vertically to meet the console when not in use. This can be a huge space saver. Most treadmills take up a foot print of about 3 ft wide and 7 ft long. Folding the track up can more or less cut that foot print in half. Great for home gyms that are limited in floor space. Also nice if you have a home with small children who may try to climb and play on treadmill…or spill milk on treadmill…or jam farm animals in the treadmill’s track…

Is A Folding Treadmill Right For Me?

A big question to ask yourself when researching treadmills before purchasing. For most home gyms, the treadmill will be the most expensive purchase. Will probably take up the most real estate as well, unless you are lucky enough to have a serious cable system or Smith machine.

checklistTreadmills can be a great addition to any home gym. For those who love to run it’s a no-brainer if the space and budget allow it. Having the freedom to run indoors, not having to worry about the weather outside, being able to watch your favorite movie or tv show while running. Treadmills can be great for the non-runners as well. Walking is a great alternative if pain or preference limits your ability to run, especially with many treadmills offering incline options.

The benefit of a folding treadmill is obviously it’s ability to be stored while not in use. However, in order to provide the consumer this benefit, the manufacturer typically has to give up a little in the stability department. When compared to non-folding treadmills, folding treadmills tend to be lighter-weight which can affect overall durability.

It’s important to look at the user max weight limit when researching treadmills. Folding treadmills tend to have a smaller weight limit than their non-folding counterparts. Again, anytime you increase mobility (in this case the track’s ability to fold up), you have to give up a little stability. Unfortunately, there is no “perfect” treadmill. That said, a nice folding treadmill can handle a user weight in the 300-375 lb range.

Another important thing to think about when looking at treadmills is where you are planning on using/storing them. If you are planning on moving it around within a room or home, make sure your model has wheels (most do) because even though these machines are lighter than the non-folding versions, they are still pretty heavy…200-300lbs.

Price Ranges

Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Don’t be surprised when your $200 treadmill doesn’t perform like your favorite treadmill at Gold’s. Any treadmill you find for under $500 is generally considered a budget treadmill. These treadmills are easier on the wallet, but you really never know what you’re gonna get.

dollarThere’s a reason a treadmill is so affordable- it doesn’t provide you with the stability/durability and options of the more expensive machines.

Cheaper treadmills usually have weaker motors, shorter tracks, and less console features. They may have very limited warranties. These treadmills will almost always be very light weight and may or may not have incline abilities.

But, you may not need the features provided by the more expensive treadmills. If you have a smaller frame and are only planning on walking on the treadmill, a budget machine may work fine for you. Just be careful and be prepared for disappointment.

There are many high quality, folding treadmills in the $700 – $1500 range. I know this is a sizable amount to spend on exercise equipment, but you want to make sure you are getting something that will last. The last thing you want to happen is to buy a $400-$500 treadmill and have to replace it in 3 months.

Consider this, a high end non-folding treadmill can easily cost $6000-$7000! These machines are the commercial grade treadmills the gyms are using.  $1000 for a nice folding treadmill isn’t too bad in comparison.

Let’s take a look at some very well reviewed options.

The 6 Best Folding Treadmills For Home Use

ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill 


Best Price: Click Here To Check On Amazon

Motor: 3.5 CHP (continuous horse power)

Deck: 22″ x 60″

Speed: 0-12mph

Incline: 0-15% with 3% decline

Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor; 5-year parts; 2-year labor

Dimensions (L x W x H): 80″ x 39.5″ x 63″

ProForm is a well known home fitness equipment company owned by ICON, a very successful fitness equipment manufacturer. The Pro 2000 is the lowest priced unit in the “Pro” series. The more expensive Pro 5000 and Pro 9000 offer more features including touchscreen, nicer belt, more powerful motor. The Pro 2000 however is well-priced and highly reviewed as one of the best foldable treadmills on the market. ProForm offers the iFit interactive fitness coach app that is paid for separately.

Pros

  • Quiet belt
  • Power incline and decline (-3 – 15%)
  • iPod Compatible
  • 2  3″ speakers with digital volume control
  • 350lb weight capacity
  • iFit Compatible
  • 32 workout programs
  • Grip heart rate monitor
  • Included chest strap wireless heart rate monitor
  • Fan

Cons

  • Tablet not included to use iFit, have to use your own or purchase separately
  • Customer service can be slow
  • Large footprint

Overall, a great treadmill for the price! Very sturdy frame and belt with plenty of features. Produced by a well known manufacturer.

Horizon Fitness Elite T7 Treadmill

Best Price: Click Here To Check On Amazon horizon fitness elite t7

Motor: 2.75 CHP

Deck: 20″ x 60″

Speed: 0.5 – 12 mph

Incline: 0-15%

Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor; 5-year parts; 1-year labor

Dimensions: 77″ x 36″ x 60″

Folded Dimensions: 44″ x 36″ x 60″

Horizon Fitness is part of the company Johnson Health Tech (JHT). JHT has been around for over 30 years, selling products to high-end health clubs and sporting good stores alike. The company is based out of Taiwan and sells commercial grade and home fitness products to over 60 countries worldwide. The T7 is the lowest price treadmill in the “Elite” series, but shares most of the perks of it’s big brother the T9. The T9 has an upgraded touch screen and a few Virtual Passport workouts built in (a program that gives you scenery to run to, makes you feel like you are running through a country side or through the Rockies, etc).

Pros

  • Integrated wax on belt virtually eliminates need to lubricate
  • Track has variable response cushioning system- 3 different zones designed to reduce strain on joints during use
  • iPod compatible with speakers
  • 350lb weight capacity
  • 42 workout programs
  • Passport capable (for the Virtual Active workouts), Passport sold separately
  • ViaFit compatible
  • Grip heart rate montior
  • Included chest strap with wireless heart rate monitor
  • 8.5″ blue LCD display screen
  • Very quiet

Cons

  • Not a touch screen display
  • Large machine when not folded
  • Small speakers

Overall, it was hard to find cons for this product. For the price, easily one of the best folding treadmills on the market. Average rating of 4.4/5 on Amazon.

LifeSpan TR5500i Treadmill

Best Price: Click Here To Check On AmazonLifeSpan TR5500i

Motor: 4.0 CHP

Deck: 22″ x 60″

Speed: 0.5 – 13.5 mph

Incline: 13 levels incline, 2 levels decline

Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor; 5-year parts; 2-year labor

Dimensions: 73″ x 34.5″ x 55.5″

Folded Dimensions: 40.5″ x 34.5″ x 65.5″

LifeSpan has been creating quality home fitness and commercial grade equipment since 2001. They are also known for their involvement in the active workspace movement, creating treadmill desks and bike desks to keep people active while at work. The TR5500i is really designed with serious runners in mind. It’s durability can stand up to an intense workout with high speeds and an extra wide deck for comfort.

Pros

  • Powerful motor able to keep up with sprinters at 13.5 mph
  • Extra wide deck (22″, many stop at 20″)
  • All-steel folding frame
  • 43 workout programs
  • Built-in USB charges your accessories while you exercise
  • 8 shock absorbers for extra comfort during running
  • 350lb weight capacity
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Built-in pedometer
  • 3-speed fan
  • Extra thick tread belt (2.8 mm, 3x as thick as many belts)

Cons

  • 6″ LCD display with only 1 color
  • Heart rate monitor sold separately

A very well received treadmill by the running community, this model was voted “Best New Treadmill for Runners” by Runner’s World Magazine  and “Best Buy Under $1500” by Fitness Professor in 2017. Awesome treadmill for a great price!

Life Fitness T3 Treadmill


Best Price: Click Here To Check On Amazon  

Motor: 3.0 HP DC motor

Deck: 22″ x 55″

Speed: 0.5 – 10 mph

Incline: 0 – 12%

Warranty: Lifetime frame and deck; 10-year motor; 5-year parts; 1-year labor

Dimensions: 78.5″ x 34.5″ x 58.5″

Life Fitness is a powerhouse in the fitness equipment world. Odds are, if you have ever worked out in a commercial gym, you have worked out on a piece of equipment produced by Life Fitness. They have been in the game for about 45 years now and are well know for producing high-quality commercial grade equipment. The T3 is known for it’s durability and reliability. Considered one of the higher quality folding treadmills on the market, it provides many of the advantages of a non-folding treadmill with it’s strong motor and superior cushioning system. Currently on sale at Amazon, you can now get an excellent treadmill at a significantly better price.

Pros

  • Flex Deck Cushioning- reduces impact to joints by as much as 30% as compared to other treadmills
  • Powerful, smart motor that adjusts power output based on user’s weight
  • Rack for magazines or tablets
  • 350lb weight capacity
  • Choice of 2 consoles: each has 13 pre-loaded workouts (1 is also iPod and phone/tablet compatible)
  • Can save quick start preferences for 2 different users
  • Grip heart rate monitor
  • Wireless heart rate receiver
  • Extra large cup holders
  • Energy saver mode

Cons

  • Large footprint when in use
  • Smaller track (only 55″ long) may be difficult to run on for tall folks
  • Upgraded console will cost extra
  • Slower top speed, incline only to 12%

Life Fitness is a great brand and the T3 is a powerful, durable machine. If you are looking for something that you can trust to deliver year after year, this is a good bet. Taller runners and sprinters may do better with a different model with a longer track. The durability and quality construction on the T3 are definitely it’s highlights.

NordicTrack C990


Best Price: Click Here To Check On Amazon

Motor: 3.0 CHP

Deck: 20″ x 60″

Speed: 0-12 mph

Incline: 0 – 12%

Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor; 3-year parts; 1-year labor

Dimensions: 78.3″ x 35.75″ x 56.4″

You probably remember NordicTrack back in the day with their skiers all over tv. They were popular, and for good reason: they provided a solid full body workout, where kinda fun to use for awhile…kinda goofy looking too though. Well, NordicTrack eventually added treadmills, steppers, and all kinds of other fitness equipment to their repertoire and started selling high-quality fitness equipment around the world. The C990 is considered to be one of the best treadmills on the market for under $1000. Provides many features other similarly priced machines don’t. Beware, the NordicTrack customer service has been known to be less than stellar.

Pros

  • Customizable cushioning system (increase or decrease cushion of track to your preference by turning knob)
  • 7″ full color touch screen on console
  • iPod compatible
  • iFit enabled
  • 300lb weight capacity
  • 32 built-in workouts
  • Convenient accessory tray
  • Long track (60″)
  • Quiet, smooth belt
  • Grip heart rate monitor, compatible with wireless chest strap
  • Auto breeze fan, adjusts fan to your workout

Cons

  • Probably best for walking or jogging, might not support heavy running
  • Slow customer service
  • Large footprint when in use
  • Treadmill unusable if computer malfunctions

The NordiTrack C990 is a solid machine at a good price. Produced by a trusted brand in fitness equipment. This would be a good option for people who are looking for a treadmill primarily for walking, or for lighter weight runners. May not hold up in the long run with heavy running use. But, for the price, gonna be hard to find a better option.

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill


Best Price: Click Here To Check On Amazon  

Motor: 2.25 CHP

Deck: 20″ x 55″

Speed: 0.1 – 10 mph

Incline: 0 – 10%

Warranty: Lifetime frame and motor; 1-year parts and labor

Dimensions: 70.8″ x 33.1″ x 54.6″

Folded Dimensions: 45.5″ x 33.5″ x 61″

I included this last treadmill as an example of a machine that falls more in that “budget” treadmill category. That said, depending on how you are planning on using your treadmill, this model might suite you just fine. This, like many lower priced treadmills, would be better suited for walking, maybe light jogging. Not gonna give you the durability of a more expensive model. The Horizon T101 is considered one of the nicer budget treadmills and was rated by “Treadmill Doctor” as one of the “Best Buys” for the price range.

Pros

  • Price
  • Built-in speakers and mp3 compatible
  • Light-weight
  • Easy to fold
  • Smaller foot print
  • Grip heart rate monitor
  • 30 pre-programmed workouts
  • Good deck cushioning
  • Quiet motor

Cons

  • Complaints of broken parts on delivery
  • Questionable durability
  • Warranty doesn’t cover deck
  • Shorter track length (55″)

Overall, a good option for the price. Considered one of the best “budget” treadmills available. As with all treadmills in this price range, don’t expect all the bells and whistles the more expensive models offer. I would recommend this machine for walkers.

A Few Last Thoughts…

If you are reading this, odds are you are thinking about purchasing a treadmill for your home. Kudos to you for doing your homework. There are thousands of treadmills on the market and it is important to figure out which one is going to be right for you! Before purchasing, make sure you know the answer to the following questions:

  • Do I want a folding treadmill or non-folding treadmill?
  • What is my price range?
  • Am I going to be primarily walking or running on this treadmill?
  • Will I be using incline regularly?
  • Which features will make my workout more enjoyable?
  • Where am I putting this thing in my home?
  • Will there be 1 user or several?

Answering the above questions will help guide you toward the correct option for you. Consider your size, personally I like a longer track for comfort (I’m 6’1″). Notice the major differences between the more expensive models and the cheaper models: the more expensive treadmills tend to have: stronger motors, better warranties, more sophisticated console, higher weight capacities, and improved durability.

Will’s Pick

 

Considering the options above, personally I like the ProForm Pro 2000 and the LifeSpan TR5500i… long tracks, strong motors, and higher weight capacities.

I hope this review helped in your search for the perfect folding treadmill for your home!

Hit me up with any questions or comments. If you have a different model that you love or hate it, let me know.

Will

2 Comments

  1. Hi Will! Thanks for the detailed information on treadmills! I have always wanted on for my house but was worried about space, storage and cost and this was very helpful on eliminating all of those questions! I had no idea you could get a quality piece of equipment for under $3000! I am also interested in learning about other home gym equiptment such as stationary bikes and leg press type machines. Do you have any suggestions on those?

    Thank you,
    Katie

    • hey Katie! thanks for reading. yeah there are some really nice treadmills out there for a good price. the folding models are a great fit for most homes. You read my mind on the stationary bikes! I am doing some research and I am planning on writing a post soon looking at some of the bike options out there. In the future I will definitely write about other home equipment and will make sure to include cable machines and leg press machines. thanks again for the interest and check back soon to see some info on stationary bikes.

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