JTX have come on leaps and bounds since they launched back in 2007 and have fast become one of our favourite home fitness equipment brands. We managed to get our hands on their top level cross trainer, the JTX Zenith and we gave it a thorough testing. Although JTX are predominantly known for their home fitness equipment, the Zenith looks to bring commercial quality to the home space – so let’s find out whether it is worth the hype in our JTX Zenith review.
JTX Zenith First Impressions
The Zenith is JTX’s top level model of cross trainer and as such it is also their most expensive. It takes everything that is great about their popular Tri-Fit and goes a step further with a professional standard stride length, commercial gym standard build quality and even having a polar heart strap included as standard.
The JTX Zenith looks incredible. It mixes a moulded black plastic outer with steel components for a striking design that will not look completely out of place in even the most domestic of settings. It will need a dedicated space to live as it weighs in at 82kg and is an all in one unit – that being said, you can move it around easily with the front loaded transport wheels so moving it in to a central spot in the same room is easy enough.
From the moment you assemble the Zenith you have the sense of a high build quality. The foot pads are oversized, there are two sets of handlebars and it all comes with a good level of specification. The only disappointing element of the Zenith is the central display as it does look a little dated. That being said, it has function over aesthetic and although the display does look a little on the basic side, it has everything you need and when combined with a mobile device, tablet or second monitor the Zenith takes on a whole new lease of life.
The Zenith is the largest cross trainer in the JTX range and measures up at 190cm (l) x 87cm (w) x 173cm (h). The maximum pedal height stands at 36cm so be sure to add this to your own height to determine the minimum ceiling height you will need – we would suggest adding a further 5-10cm on top of that at least so you feel comfortable when working out. For most modern homes the height will not be a problem, but if you plan to use it in a garage or a space with a particularly low ceiling it is worth double checking the height available.
The larger dimensions of the Zenith may provide some headaches in terms of finding an appropriate space for it to live but it makes for a much more challenging workout and brings this cross trainer on a par with commercial models. The stride length of the Zenith is 21 inches and most commercial standard cross trainers will have a stride length of 20-21 inches which puts the Zenith in the top echelons of this range. As well as increasing intensity, a larger stride length also provides a greater level of fluidity and a much smooth motion in the stride. The Zenith performs really well in this regard and the oversized foot plates mean you can adjust your foot position to find a position that is comfortable for your height and leg length.
The Q-Factor is a measurement on cross trainers that determines the distance between both feet while you work out. The Zenith has a Q-Factor of 150mm which is seen as an optimal distance and it seems that JTX have made it a priority to focus on comfort and challenge within their design – something we think they have succeeded in achieving.
In terms of what’s under the hood, the other main element to look for in a cross trainer is the flywheel. The Zenith has a meaty 17kg flywheel with 16 levels of magnetic resistance to choose from. JTX themselves suggest opting for a flywheel that is at least 10kg and we would agree with that if you are looking for a cross trainer that will last. The JTX Zenith’s flywheel is exceptionally smooth and it operates pretty much silently.
You will find two sets of handle bars on the Zenith, one pair that is stationary and one pair that move as you would expect. These handles are ideally positioned and have been ergonomically designed so that users of a range of heights can use them comfortably.
There is bluetooth built in as standard and compatibility with a range of running and fitness apps including the popular Kinomap, i-Console and Google Maps. The Zenith also has built in speakers that are a level or two above what you would find on a laptop and this helps when using motivational apps. The Zenith has pulse rate sensors built in to the handles but also rather impressively can be connected with a Polar heart rate strap which beams your heart rate to the centre console and allows you to work out at your target heart rate with automatic adjustments made to the resistance levels.
The Zenith is incredibly well built and is backed by an impressive warranty – there is a maximum user weight of 165kg which is certainly towards the top end of most cardio equipment and is a testament to the quality of materials used internally and externally on this machine.
Using The JTX Zenith Cross Trainer
Upon taking delivery of the Zenith cross trainer your first task is to assemble it. Luckily, this is not a difficult feat and you should be up and running in around 45 minutes. It is a two person job due to the nature of the size of the unit but the instructions are clear and most of the assembly has already been done for you. Once set up you might want to stand back and marvel at your shiny new toy and as far as home cardio equipment goes there is an understated elegance to the Zenith that you really will enjoy just standing and admiring for a few minutes.
Once you mount the Zenith for the first time you will likely be impressed by the feel of all the main contact points (let’s ignore the console for just a minute) as the handles are perfectly designed for maximum comfort no matter where you hold them – making this machine ideal for users of all heights. The foot plates are also incredibly comfortable and allow you to find the perfect position for your feet thanks to the oversized design. They also have excellent grips which mean you can move with confidence and stability right from the off.
Using the Zenith is an enjoyable experience. The 17kg flywheel performs brilliantly and offers a smooth and silent motion. The option of holding on to the stationary or moving handles is ideal as it allows you to focus solely on the lower body if you wish, but when using the moving handles for a full body workout this is again extremely fluid in terms of movement and the handles are well padded and comfortable to grip for long periods of time. The built in pulse rate sensors are optimally positioned but for accuracy we would suggest sticking to the heart rate strap that can be purchased additionally as this syncs with the centre console to display your current heart rate and can also be used as part of the pre-set programmes (of which there are 19 – 4 of which are heart rate modes) to automatically adjust the intensity of your workout to achieve a target heart rate.
The biggest complaint we see of the Zenith is the centre console and although we can see why at face value there could be some concerns in terms of the visual appearance of the display, in terms of functionality it is excellent. It is also worth considering whether you would be happy to be paying an extra £200-£300 for a better screen when you can simply use your existing screens from mobile devices, tablets and laptops. The reality is that the Zenith has all you need in terms of technology and connectivity, it just doesn’t have a large high definition screen built in. There is a convenient device holder to use and this gives the best experience overall, especially when using third party apps to give you real world routes to navigate.
One thing that it is worth considering is the height of the user and the height of your room. The Zenith does have quite a high maximum pedal height of 36cm so we would suggest adding around 41-46cm to your own height and then ensure your ceiling is at least that high before you purchase. Also be prepared that if you opt for the lower end of that range you are going to feel like you are going to hit your head on the ceiling and start to crouch or arch your back which is not going to be good for your long term health. If you do have enough ceiling height though, this bigger size is a godsend as it provides a really natural feeling position for your feet and an impressive 21 inch stride length which brings this cross trainer in line with commercial grade equipment.
There are 16 levels of resistance and these are automatically adjusted when using certain pre-set programmes and you can also adjust them manually. There are quick select keys on the main console but the most convenient way to change the resistance is using the keys located towards the top of the handles. The hardest resistance levels provide a real challenge and whether you are a beginner or a cross trainer veteran you will find plenty of scope for challenge and progress within the Zenith.
We used this machine for a full month and in that time we found it one of the most enjoyable cardio workouts we have experienced. There is almost no pressure on the joints and the smooth and fluid motion is just a joy to experience. It is fully backed up by a 3 year in home parts and labour repair warranty and there is a lifetime warranty on the frame.
JTZ Zenith Verdict
If you are looking for a top range cross trainer for home use but don’t want to pay top range prices then the Zenith should be at the top of your shortlist. If you can live with the mediocre display and have a smartphone or tablet to enjoy the full functionality of this machine then this will be a must buy. The impressive 3 year full warranty gives peace of mind and is a testament to the build quality and in terms of features per pound, the Zenith offers exceptional value for money.
If you are looking for a high quality cross trainer that gives a commercial gym experience at a fair price then the Zenith is well worthy of your consideration.