It’s common for the imagination to go straight to treadmills when we think of cardio. They are what many people begin on, defaulting to them immediately as they step foot in the gym. They are the go-to for anyone looking to purchase a piece of at-home equipment.
This is a good thing. Treadmills are great – they are accessible, take no training to use, are safe and comfortable, and cater to a wide range of training styles and fitness goals.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you can use treadmills to burn calories over a number of hours per week. Alternatively, you can use your treadmill to sprint, using hard, uphill circuits to skyrocket your heartrate and blitz energy.
But what makes a good treadmill? How can you choose one?
I like ProForm. I particularly like their Performance series. I had the chance a little while ago to try out the Performance 600i, one of their more inexpensive models, and was incredibly impressed. More recently, I had the chance to play around on the ProForm Performance 800i, one of their pricier machines.
It was fantastic and you can find out exactly what I thought of it right here in my ProForm Performance 800i review.
First Impressions Of The ProForm Performance 800i
You can tell you’ve taken a step towards the higher end with the Performance 800i (pun not intended!). It’s lovely. As above, I’ve been trying out a few ProForm machines recently, and the chance to go with something in this price point was more than I could resist.
It’s not the most expensive home treadmill on the market, not by a long shot. It should set you back around a grand and a half, maybe more or less depending on sales and so on. However, everything about it speaks of artisanship.
It is attractive, built along similar lines to the other ProForm offerings I’ve been looking at. Everything is covered with elegant black, chrome and red moulding, with a very good display and tablet holder. It’s fully foldable, so you can put it away when you’re done with it (a must in home cardio equipment these days, in my opinion), and wheels around quite nicely, making it pretty easy to handle.
There is also a fair amount of media capability to get your head around. This is actually very straightforward and pays great dividends as your training progresses.
I couldn’t wait to jump in.
ProForm Performance 800i Specs and Features
God is in the detail, of course. Where ProForm’s treadmills are concerned, the details are fantastic.
First of all, I mentioned media capacity. This comes courtesy of a generous 14” full colour capacitive touch console that is equipped with iFit technology. This iFit tech gives you access to hours of online coaching and classes, all managed and created by professional trainers. You get a full month’s free iFit membership with the Performance 800i (you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription fee thereafter).
The console tilts and also has a tablet holder (tablet not included), so that you can choose whatever media you like. This frees you from having to subscribe to iFit, though I would still recommend keeping up your membership.
The machine itself gives you great incline and decline options, going from -2 to +10%. This means that you’ll be able to give your legs a very good workout, making use of hill runs and sprints, whilst giving you a great deal of realism as you run the iFit routes available. The incline options are all powered and automatically adjusted, so you can simply jump on and get going.
Their trainers will put you through your paces, should you so choose, including plenty of different terrain styles, all enabled by the above incline options. This is all powered by a heavy 2.75 continuous horsepower drive system that’s guaranteed for life, no matter how hard you push it.
As above, I always look for storability and convenience in a piece of home gym equipment. Again, as above, this often means a folding design, which the Performance 800i manages admirably. It comes with ProForm’s SpaceSaver® Design, which means you can conveniently fold the deck up and out of the way. Their EasyLift™ Assist means that, even though it’s a pretty weighty machine (at 88kg, it is heavier than most athletes), anybody should be able to lift and move it without too much hassle.
This weightiness comes good. The Performance 800i boasts a maximum recommended user weight of 135kg, which should mean that pretty much all athletes are able to use it safely.
The Performance 800i has full MP3 connectivity.
Using The ProForm Performance 800i
Put simply, the Performance 800i was a joy to use. The frame is stable and the tread is comfortable. In fact, it uses ProForm’s own absorption technology to ensure as smooth and impact-free a stride as possible, which really shows. There will be no achy knees, ankles or hips with it, and you’ll be able to keep up your training with an impressive degree of longevity thanks to how safe it keeps you.
The motor is also reassuringly powerful. It feels able to deal with anything, taking you into the higher speed ranges, at the higher incline levels, without seeming to strain at all. It’s soft and silent, too, which is vital for a home-gym cardio machine. If you’re treadmill makes too much noise, you’ll find yourself using it seldom – the disapproval of your housemates and/or neighbours will be more than enough to put you off using it as regularly as you like! There is no such issue with the Performance 800i – it handles near silently, like an absolute dream.
The display is attractive, intuitive, and easy to use, whilst the iFit features do what iFit does. You get a host of fantastic workouts and training options, catering to a very wide degree of needs, all on-demand, at the touch of a button (or touch screen, in this case!).
The machine also features dual EKG pulse grips, which are, seemingly surprisingly accurate – they will give you a good approximation of what your heart is doing at any point, meaning that you can ensure it is hitting the zones you need it to. I was able to consistently get into the ‘Orange Zone’ – perfect for ramping up the metabolism – whilst reliably tracking it.
As I’m always saying, storage is as important a factor as anything else. You might want to leave a treadmill in place as part of a permanent home-gym set up. However, most of us don’t want this, and those who do will always benefit from options and ease of movement. ProForm’s SpaceSaver® Design really does mean that you can conveniently fold the deck up and out of the way. It’s easy and very workable. Their EasyLift™ Assist will also allow all but the smallest, lightest athletes to move it with ease (and even then, it won’t be too hard!).
The Performance 800i is a great all-rounder. It’s fun, safe, and comfortable, aimed at providing a great workout to all users, no matter their fitness level or health concerns. It is easy to live with and store, and is very navigable and user friendly. Ultimately, it’s a great example of a higher end treadmill, with everything that entails.
Alternative: The ProForm Pro 9000
If you want to spend a decent chunk of money on one of the best at-home treadmills going (which you probably do, if you’re considering a grand and a half on the 800i), then it might be worth going a step further and investing in the ProForm Pro 9000. It’s one of ProForm’s pricier models, costing around two grand. However, though it’s expensive, it is still very good value for money.
It handles very well, giving you as soft and smooth a run as anything ProForm put out there. Shock absorption is fantastic, and it features their SpaceSaver® Design and EasyLift™ Assist technologies to make life that much easier. Twenty minute bursts will be unnoticeable through your ankles, knees, and hips – and I tend to suffer through my left ankle and knee, so if I can use it without discomfort, most people can. Longer bouts will be very manageable, too (though you should find yourself getting tired!).
The Pro 9000 offers a generous running space on its track, making it perfect for larger athletes. It gives you a real sense of freedom, no matter your size (I’m a real shorty, but I’ve spoken to athletes who comfortably top six foot and they’ve loved it).
Connectivity is similar to the Performance 800i, with full iFit membership included and a good quality monitor showing you all the media and metrics you could ever want.
The Pro 9000 is as close to silent as any treadmill can get. The motor is smooth and very, very quiet, and the shock absorption keeps heavy footfalls from making too much noise. This, alongside the storability and mobility mentioned above, makes it a perfect at-home machine.
It does everything that lesser models in ProForm’s line do, just souped up a bit. Everything is a little better, a little tighter, a little more polished. It’s a real treat to use and live with.