Treadmill Buyers Guide


Running, walking, and jogging feel like fundamentally accessible methods of exercise. Apart from a reliable pair of shoes and a source of hydration, most anyone can use this equipment-free exercise method to build their pulmonary endurance and cardiovascular strength. But sometimes, the weather fails to cooperate, or your neighborhood isn’t optimized for pedestrians. That’s where a purpose-built treadmill comes in.

From the convenience and comfort of your home gym, a treadmill can make it easy to engage in daily running, walking, or jogging workouts without the need to hit the streets or a local track. Treadmills can also make it easy to track progress toward your fitness goals through their computerized interfaces.

All in all, a treadmill is a staple home gym installation that can benefit exercisers of all skill and fitness levels. But not all treadmills are built exactly alike. That’s why it is important to learn about the several different treadmill types and key performance factors before investing in one of today’s top-of-the-line models. Once you are ready to make that final step, though, Sparks Fitness Equipment is ready and waiting to provide you with a great deal on your new favorite piece of exercise equipment.

Types of Treadmills

Exercise Type

Most often, treadmills are categorized based upon the type of exercise they are designed to facilitate. This can have a significant impact not only on the treadmill’s construction ad architecture, but also its capabilities when it comes to tracking the user’s progress and remaining durable through routine use. Be sure to select a treadmill that meets your fitness goals in order to achieve the best possible results.

Running and Jogging

Those who have spent any time at a public or private gym know that treadmills are primarily used by runners and joggers. While it may not be obvious, at-home treadmills can be built with this particular activity in mind. This type of treadmill usually features a motor that can operate at 2 continuous horsepower (CHP) as well as a track length of 58” or longer to accommodate an extended stride.

Running and jogging treadmills also typically include some type track cushioning in order to reduce the functional impact on a user’s ankles and knees.


Walking treadmills are, as their name suggests, designed for those who want to partake in a locomotion-based exercise method at their own pace. Often, models built with walkers in mind include a shorter-than-average track (around 55”) as well as lower average motor output capabilities (often 2.0 CHP or lower).

Walking treadmills also include less emphasis on impact-based durability, allowing them to include more computerized features for a comparable price.

Storage Capabilities

Treadmills are also often categorized based upon their storage capabilities. Namely, modern treadmills will be classified as either fold-up or non-folding. Fold-up treadmills typically include a hinged system that allows a user to fold down the main terminal to create a more storage-friendly form factor. Non-folding models, on the other hand, cannot be compressed and require more devoted storage space, as a result.

Key Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Treadmill

Dimensions and Size

Treadmills can be rather bulky, generally speaking, so it’s important to pick out a model that can be safely operated within your living space. Before purchasing a particular treadmill, ensure that your chosen installation location will have up to 8” of clearance behind and up to 3” to the sides of the unit. Then, you’ll be able to choose a model that features a footprint size that fits comfortably and safely into your existing environment.


If you have an opportunity to test a treadmill before you buy it, be sure to assess whether or not that model is ergonomically designed to fit your exercise needs. In particular, you should ensure that the deck length is long enough to exceed your stride length. In addition, your analysis in this category should assess whether or not that model’s track cushioning will allow you to use it regularly without incurring undue pain.

Computerized Components and Compatibilities

Most modern treadmills include some degree of computerized components, so it’s important to compare individual models based upon what they are digitally capable of accomplishing. At its core, this means that you should find a model that can seamlessly track your speed, distance, calories burned, exercise time, heart rate, and more on a visible digital screen. However, those seeking further diversity in their exercise routine may also find internet connectivity and mp3 player compatibility appealing.

Recommended Models for All Budgets and Exercise Needs

Picking the right treadmill to meet your exercise and budgetary needs can be essential to fully enjoying your new piece of exercise equipment. While you shop, consider several of the following models based upon their affordable pricing and productive features:

Exercising on a Budget

Reliable, budget-conscious treadmill options can be tough to come by, at times. Luckily, Sparks Exercise Equipment offers affordable options such as the Lifespan tr1200i. With 15 incline levels and 6 independent compression shocks, this model can perform and remain durable alongside more expensive options in its class.

The Spirit XT285 is also a great option for those looking to break into treadmill-based exercise without breaking the bank. This model’s 3 HP motor provides an array of speed options as new users become acclimated to the activity. This model’s 10-year warranty also makes it a wise investment in your personal health.

Entry-Level Options

Those in search of an entry-level treadmill with soft suspension should give the Life Fitness T3 a try. This model’s innovative FlexDeck architecture allows it to seamlessly reduce impact stress on the user while they run, walk, or jog. The True Fitness PS300 is also a great option when it comes to soft suspension. That model even includes wireless heart rate monitoring with Polar technology, allowing its tracking features to really shine through.

Best Overall Treadmill

Finally, one of the best overall treadmills available today must be the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series model. Though it comes with a premium price tag, this model also comes with an assortment of premium features such as touch screen access to TV, the internet, popular fitness apps, and Lifescape interactive courses. With a Quick Star feature, you’ll be up and running on this treadmill in seconds, as well.

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