Here at Fitness Brain we certainly know our treadmills, and now it’s time to unveil the F3 from Life Fitness. This treadmill is foldable, which usually means it lacks in something else. But we were immediately proven wrong. Read this Life Fitness F3 Treadmill review and find out what we discovered…
The Life Fitness F3 treadmill is billed as one of the best folding treadmills on the market. Life Fitness do not usually disappoint when it comes to functionality and quality, and so we were pretty excited to be taking the F3 folding treadmill with Track Plus Console for a 30-day review.
There are two versions of the F3: the more expensive model (that we tested) with the Track Plus Console, and the model with the standard console. The main functionality of both is pretty similar, with the Track Plus giving you a little more flexibility in customising your own workouts.
Let’s crack on with our full Life Fitness F3 Treadmill review…
Life Fitness F3 Treadmill First Impressions
The F3 is a thing of beauty to behold and upon the initial installation (which was not nearly as difficult as we envisaged), the quality exterior was befitting of the price tag.
The F3 is not a cheap folding treadmill and although foldable variants are often touted as being inferior to standalone treadmills, the F3 certainly holds its own against its non-folding counterparts. In fact, you wouldn’t think this treadmill could fold when looking at it in its fully unfolded guise.
Weighing in at 120kg and taking up a floor space of 202cm by 88cm, the F3 is a serious piece of kit. It stands at a total height of 146cm when in use and has a generously sized running track of 140cm in length by a 51cm width.
The centre console draws the eye and features an impressive 4″x6″ LCD display that also has iPod, Apple iOS and Android connectivity with the ability to control music from the console itself. The buttons look robust and are oversized, which actually makes controlling the treadmill at speed much easier.
The F3 features Life Fitness’ patented FlexDeck shock absorption system, and this can be seen and felt as soon as you step onto the running track. The frame is extremely sturdy and has a very premium look and feel to it.
F3 Treadmill Tech Specs
The F3 is very well spec’d – especially for a folding treadmill, but even compared to non-folding treadmills it has a real edge over some of its rivals.
It has a maximum running speed of 16km/h (10mph) and has an incline that raises in 0.5% increments between 0 and 12%. All of this is powered by a 3HP DC MagnaDrive motor that has a 6HP peak. The incline is of course mechanically driven and can be controlled manually or controlled via the built-in or programmable programs.
The F3 has heart rate monitors built into the handles, but it also comes with a telemetry heart rate monitor (chest strap) that provides highly accurate heart rate readings with heart rate information fed back to the console. This can even be used to control the workout to enable you to work in a specific heart rate range as per your goals.
In addition to this, the Track Plus Console is compatible with Fitbit, Nike+, Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, Garmin and RunFit devices and apps.
The Track Connect Console is worth the extra investment as it not only allows you the compatibility with your existing devices and apps, but also allows you to utilise up to 12 custom workouts. There are 4 user profiles (instead of 2 with the Go Console) and there are 15 built-in workouts too.
The F3 has a maximum user weight of an impressive 159kg, and it is an ideal training aid for beginners right through to highly experienced and even professional runners.
Using The F3 Treadmill
The Life Fitness F3 Treadmill is a joy to use. It really is as simple as that. From its intuitive and easy-to-use controls through to the powerful motor and cushioned running track, it is one of the best home treadmill experiences money can buy.
The running deck is of ample size and will suit short and tall runners alike. We had a 79kg 6’1″ male testing the F3 and he found it comfortable and had plenty of running track to spare even when using larger-than-usual strides. The impact on joints did feel much less when compared to road running, and although we can’t attest to the claimed 30% reduction in joint impact levels, it was certainly noticeable but not in an unnatural way. In short, it is comfortable and feels ‘normal’ running on the F3.
The front handles are well positioned for taking quick heart rate readings, while the oversized side positioned handles offer excellent stability and support when needed.
From a design point of view, Life Fitness have put everything in the right place with the end user in mind. Two oversized cup holders are useful for more than just drinks, and the controls on the centre console are well positioned with the lower-placed controls being easily accessible and the ones that you will use during most of your workouts. The others offer greater control, but tend to be used to set up your run rather than needing to use them during your run.
The LCD display gives you all the key information you would expect to have at your fingertips and is easy to read at all times. Heart rate, time, speed, calories and the current programme are all visible at all times.
One of our favourite elements of the F3 is the programmes that tie in with your heart rate. You can set programmes to work within specific heart rate ranges, such as 65% of your max heart rate for fat burning or 80% for high-intensity cardio. This will enable the treadmill to adapt the speed and incline to keep you within your target range. All of this is automatic so you can focus on your running and breathing.
If you prefer to control your run manually then of course you can, but even the quick buttons can be customised as per your exact needs. For example, you can alter the incline increments from the standard low, mid and high settings of 1.5%, 3% and 5% to whatever you want, and the speed increments can be changed from the standard 2mph increments for increments of up to 6mph. This level of customisability can be set for each user profile of which there are 4, and makes for a much more personalised experience.
The F3 does have transport wheels and can be moved into different locations without too much fuss – but due to the weight of the F3 we would suggest trying to keep it in one location for the most part. The folding mechanism is impressive and it stands flat, allowing you space in your home gym for other exercises when not using the treadmill.
The F3 is backed up by an impressive warranty from Life Fitness who really do look to live up to their name with this product. They offer a lifetime warranty on the frame and springs, 10-year warranty on the motor and a 3-year parts and labour warranty for everything else.
The Life Fitness F3 Treadmill is one of the best folding treadmills we have ever seen. It is a treadmill that is built to last, has excellent connectivity with mobile devices and apps, and the telemetry heart rate monitor works like a dream when paired with the built-in heart rate program modes. The F3 might not be the cheapest treadmill on the market but it is built to last and is backed by a very impressive warranty.
The F3 is incredibly well made, easy to use, and folds down to give you more space in your home gym when it is not in use. The only problem is that it looks so good you might decide to keep it unfolded all the time.
If you are looking for a one-time lifetime investment in a high-quality treadmill, then the F3 should be high up on your shortlist.