Consumer Reports ‘Recommended’ and ‘Best Buy’ treadmills, ellipticals sure to raise controversy

Out just in time for the kick-off of the New Year’s resolution season, Consumer Reports has released its equipment reviews in its annual health and fitness report in the February 2011 issue, featuring rankings of treadmills, ellipticals and heart-rate monitors. Get a SNEWS summary of the always scintillating and sometimes controversial results here.
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Out just in time for the kick-off of the New Year’s resolution season, Consumer Reports has released its equipment reviews in its annual health and fitness report in the February 2011 issue, featuring rankings of treadmills, ellipticals and heart-rate monitors.

With the lack of discipline to exercise, the writers stated, home workout equipment can help, adding that treadmills are still leading sales, while ellipticals have increased their foothold.

“Either type of machine can offer a good cardiovascular workout, but so can inexpensive fitness staples, such as a jump rope,” the article noted. Jump ropes were not rated.

Of 67 treadmills and ellipticals tested and rated, Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) picked two treadmills and three ellipticals to call “Recommend,” defined by the publication as “high-performing models that stand out” for reasons listed. Another seven treadmills and three ellipticals were called “CR Best Buys” -- explained as models “that offer the best combination of performance and price” and are also recommended.

Treadmills 

Thirty-six pieces of equipment were studied for the review, including 10 non-folding treadmills and 26 folding treadmills. One -- a Best Fitness BFT1 made by BodySolid -- fell off the ratings with a “Don’t Buy” warning due to what the magazine called a “performance problem,” in this case an incline that failed on two of three pieces tested. This was the second year in a row for this results, which was interesting because it was worded the same in both articles a year apart.

>> Non-folding treadmills – "Recommended" are the Precor 9.31 (1st) and the Landice L7 (2nd, first two years ago), with the "best buy" list including the PaceMaster Platinum Pro VR, which was again 4th overall. Other Best Buys were the AFG 13.0 AT (7th) and the Vision T9200 Simple (8th).

>> Folding treadmills – Gaining the No. 1 spot was the Spirit XT 485 (which didn't even exist on last year's list), with True’s PS75 in second. No models came in as “recommended,” but four were “best buys.” Those included the Horizon T202 (8th), ProForm’s 590T (11th), Horizon T101 (14th) and the Gold’s Gym CrossWalk 570 CKL (18th).

Ellipticals

Thirty-one pieces of equipment were given the once-over by the CR engineers -- a huge jump from the eight rated just two years ago and even the 19 a year ago.

Two years ago (click here to see that Jan. 5, 2009, SNEWS® story) was a shocker for many when Precor and Octane weren’t even on the list, while Precor's was a mere 5th last year.

This year, coming in as “recommended” and also, in order, taking the top three spots were Diamondback’s 1260 Ef, the Sole E35, and Precor’s 5.31. Further down the list but called out as “best buys” were the Nautilus E514 (8th), Horizon EX-68 (15th) and Schwinn’s 420 (17th).

Heart-rate monitors

Also included in the issue was a page on heart-rate monitors, although the magazine lumped them into one chart rather than braking out those with chest straps and those without as it did two years ago.

Of 13 models tested, seven were called “recommended” and another two were “best buys,” including the top-ranked model, the Timex Personal Trainer T5G971.

Recommended were the Timex Zone Trainer T5J031 (2nd), New Balance N5 (3rd), SportLine Duo 1010 (4th), Acumen Ergo Plus (6th), Ekho E-15 (7th), Polar FT7 (8th) and Bowflex Fit Trainer Plus (9th).

Best buys were the previously mentioned Timex and the Omron HR-100C (5th).

Click here to access the article on the magazine’s website. To access the entire chart and rankings, the publication requires an online subscription.

To help you with the potential onslaught of consumers bearing magazine reviews in hand while shopping, click here to find a SNEWS Retail College piece for retailers, "Tips on dealing with customers bearing product reviews from websites, magazines" in our Sales Training classroom. It offers some tips on how to address all those queries you'll get from customers, whether you carry the equipment recommended or not.

--Therese Iknoian



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