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Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat. I’m not a professional runner, and if I had to guess, neither are you. Sure, I ran cross country a bit in high school, but let’s be honest — that was years ago; the only country I plan on crossing anytime soon will be European and will most certainly involve an elaborate rail system.
I digress. The fact of the matter is, I still enjoy running. It’s my favorite form of cardio exercise because all you need is a good pair of running shoes, and you can do it anywhere. The same can be said for a jump rope, but let’s stay on track.
However, as mentioned, I’m not a pro, and if it’s too hot, too cold or too wet outside to get a run in, I am quick to plop down on the couch with my running shoes at my feet, not on them, and fall asleep watching Netflix.
Then I was offered the opportunity to try out what was billed to me as one of the best treadmills for running: the ProForm Pro 9000 Treadmill. As a typical consumer looking for a daily workout designed for the everyday layperson, I gladly said, “I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much,” and awaited its arrival.
ProForm Pro 9000, Reviewed
When this machine arrived, it was massive. The ProForm website says it’s 263 pounds in the box, but I would have sworn it was closer to 2,000. What made it feel even heavier was that I had to carry it down to my basement, as I would imagine most folks do with a treadmill. Sadly, I don’t have the space in my living room like the euphoric runners shown on TV.
Once I had my spot picked out, I opened the box. This was the moment when things got real. You know when you open an Ikea box, and there seem to be 75 more parts than expected? Well, this was that, but somehow more overwhelming. However, ProForm includes a sheet with relevant contact information if you need help and labels all bits and bobs in bags with the order in which you use them. Additionally, each significant component is labeled right or left if there is any confusion.
Setup was not an arduous process; it just took a long time. It took my partner and me working jointly for two hours to complete the setup. Could I have done it alone? Yes, but it indeed would have taken longer than the two hours we spent on it.
The ProForm Pro 9000 has a hefty footprint, but that was not my concern given its location. I was more focused on having a gym-like experience, and that is exactly what I got. The tread belt measures 60 inches long (one inch longer than the Peloton Stride), which was comforting to me. I have never felt I was getting uncomfortably close to the end, even during faster, higher incline runs.
The Pro 9000 can reach a top speed of 12 miles per hour and features an incline/decline range of 12% down to -3%. I put that incline to the test while watching iFit trainers running fast and uphill on any given run. The 22-inch touchscreen monitor made watching the fitness buffs easy, but what impressed me most was the speakers’ sound. I was shocked into my first workout by the booming voice of Tiki Barber easing me into a jog.
What I have to say was the most delightful surprise, however, was the built-in fan with four airflow speeds. The airflow at my fingertips is an added feature I never knew I needed.
When the workout is said and done, the ProForm gives me the ability to fold it up. However, it does not fold up completely straight. At its completely folded state, the belt sits at about 70 degrees. If you are looking for a foldaway treadmill to roll out with the mood strikes, this is not the one for you.
iFit app, Reviewed
What makes the ProForm stand apart from many other treadmills on the market is its integrated iFit app. By signing up for the fitness service — which is also preprogrammed on treadmills by NordicTrack, Freemoption and Matrix — I could use the ProForm to its full potential. In comparison, other connected devices provide awesome in-studio workouts with engaging trainers, iFit offers that, and so much more. I spend as much time searching through trainers I like as I do locations I’ll be training.
iFit must have a healthy budget to send trainers worldwide, from Alaska to Zimbabwe and up to the summit of Mount Everest and down through the old city streets of Fujiyoshida, Japan, and we get to take advantage of every minute. The app offers straight walking and running courses as well as crosstraining courses requiring a mat and various sized weights. If you have another treadmill, or a bike, rower, elliptical or yoga mat, there are workouts on iFit too. Whereas iFit is integrated onto the ProFrom treadmill, you can use it anywhere with any machine if you pay for the app.
However, with all the great that iFit has to offer, there are some drawbacks. The generously sized 22-inch 4K screen is a bit slow to respond, which is frustrating. That is my biggest complaint when it comes to using the integrated system on the machine. I get geared up to start moving, and then I stand and wait for the screen to get as ready to move as I am… and it doesn’t.
Additionally, the screen doesn’t allow for any other fitness apps or streaming services, so if you don’t subscribe to the iFit service, you have a big beautiful screen to measure your metrics and a limited number of general iFit training programs — and that’s about it.
That said, at $15 per month ($180 per year) for an individual membership, I think it’s worth it. If you aren’t keen on iFit, you may find yourself disappointed in this or any other equipment that has an agreement with the fitness coaching app.
My final complaint is that the screen stays illuminated long after you complete a run. I have to power down my machine each time to feel like I am not wasting electricity. The screen is LED, but I couldn’t find the actual energy guide, so I opted to power down after each run to be conscientious of the meter.
The Bottom Line
Despite my shortlist of gripes, the ProForm Pro 9000 treadmill still hits the mark for me. It lands in the sweet spot between low cost and high performance.
Are there less expensive options? Yes — even some with iFit. The Pro 9000 has a much longer tread belt than most options coming in under the $2,000 price tag.
Are there more expensive options? Yes — even some with long tread belts, but to me, the man who enjoys running as a hobby (and might try a half marathon or something one day), the additional offerings are bells and whistles I likely won’t miss.
After getting acclimated to the screen delay (albeit reluctantly), I have found little else to complain about regarding the ProForm Pro 9000. I guess if I had to find something else, it’s that I’m not actually crossing Portugal while running behind iFit trainer Hannah Eden.
ProForm Pro 9000 Alternatives
NordicTrack T Series 6.5 Treadmill
BEST UNDER $1,000
If you’re looking for the best budget treadmill to get the biggest bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with the dependable NordicTrack brand. With built-in iFit training on a 10 inch HD screen, SpaceSaver design with EasyLift Assist, and thousands of positive Amazon reviews, this is a sound investment.
Over 17,000 Positive Reviews
When folded flat, the Echelon Stride maxes out at 10 inches tall. This low profile means the slim device can stand up against a wall out of the way, or depending on your decor, maybe even under your bed or couch.
GoPlus 2-in-1 Under Desk Folding Treadmill
BEST UNDER DESK TREADMILL
This treadmill’s compact, foldable design is built to move under your standing desk and store under your couch. It’s ready right out of the box and features an optional handrail to make it a great treadmill when it’s not under your desk.