ProForm Treadmill: Considerations Before You Buy
About two months ago I purchased a ProForm treadmill. While I have been pleased with the product, I encountered several "surprises" which other prospective customers should know about as they consider a purchase:
* "Space Saver design; folds vertically for storage" (from ProForm's advertisements) -- Really?
** I was disappointed that the treadmill did not fold vertically, as advertised. If it had stored vertically, directly over its base, it would take up about 20% less space than it does. Instead of folding vertically, the deck folds up to an angle of maybe 60 or 70 degrees -- and hangs out from the base into the room. Don't let the size of the small base brackets fool you into thinking that that will be all the space the treadmill will take-up when stored.
** Additionally, the on/off power switch is located on the front edge of the motor shroud -- which means that the front of the treadmill must be located away from the wall so that you can get to the power switch. (If I remember right, the manual says that the treadmill should be placed two feet away from walls and other objects in all directions.)
* You have to unplug the treadmill when it's not in use (from ProForm's user's manual) -- Really?
** The owners manual says that the treadmill needs to be unplugged between uses to prevent the premature failure of the control board. Apparently the on/off power switch on the front edge of the motor shroud is only a soft-off switch -- that is, electricity is still being used to power the control board and perhaps other stuff. (There's no wiring diagram in the owner's manual, so it's hard to know what is still energized when the treadmill is "off".) In any event, you will need an easily accessible outlet to plug and unplug the machine with each use.
Assembly: I didn't have any trouble assembling the treadmill. While not perfect, the instructions are pretty good. If buyers are patient, take time to read the instructions, think about what they are doing, and are not "mechanically impaired" (that is, they don't know which end of a screwdriver to use), they should be able to assemble it without problem. However, it will probably take a few hours (-- I spent about 3 hours, but I was working alone and at a leisurely pace.)
Heart Rate Monitor: The heart rate monitor (built into the handbar) is not reliable. Occasionally it works relatively well (that is, it has accurate and stable readings), while most of the time it fluctuates wildly (for example, with the heart rate being reported as 64, a few seconds later as 176, 154, 97, etc.)
Durability: I've only had the treadmill for a couple of months, so I can't rate durability. I haven't had any problems -- but my expectation is that a treadmill should last at least 10 years (-- my last treadmill was about 15 years old when we moved and left it behind, so I expect I should get a similar lifespan from this or any treadmill).
Ratings are always very subjective. This treadmill meets my needs, but I'm disappointed about the misleading space saving advertising. Additionally I consider the location of "soft-off" switch on the front of the motor shroud as a very poor design (as it could have been placed on the control panel where I would be convenient for users). I am also troubled by the requirement of plugging and unplugging the treadmill between each use; it would have been easy for a "hard-off" power switch to have been mounted in a convenient place on the treadmill. Because of these advertising and design issues, I'm rating this as 3-stars.
Note: ProForm makes many models of treadmills, only a portion of which are advertised on Amazon. The size of the running decks and motors vary from model to model, as well as the electronic console features. The specific model which I purchased (for about $1,000) is not listed on Amazon. However, the engineering design is the same on all of the models. People looking for space-savings and convenience will want to consider the design issues I have identified -- and should watch for similiar issues in treadmills by other manufacturers.