Treadmill Drive Motors and the Question of Horsepower

The treadmill motor horsepower rating is probably the single most recognizable spec that jumps out at a consumer when he or she begins to do their buying research. It is most likely because we have all heard this term since we were young, and many of us think we know what it means. As tends to be our way of thinking, we usually believe bigger is better. However, the truth is, the ratings and numbers can be very confusing and ultimately incredibly misleading. Here are some tips to help you sort through some of the terms and numbers you may have read about to find out what is really important when trying to understand this integral part of the treadmill.vision treadmill motor

Poor horsepower ratings

Unless the treadmill has a strong motor, you will easily wear it out. First, check to see what rating terminology the manufacturer is using. Terms like “treadmill duty” and “peak duty” have been used to mislead consumers in the past to raise the rating number (remember the assumption that bigger is better). What do each of those mean?

  • Treadmill Duty – somewhere in between peak and continuous. Treadmill duty measures the likely horsepower for an average user at an average speed over an average period of time. But because it is an average, it is not a true representation of power.
  • Peak Duty – Maximum horsepower a motor can generate when working at its hardest. This is only sustainable for a short time. Or Peak duty motors measure power at the highest possible rpm with minimal load. But since an efficient motor is not going to run at this high rpm all the time, it is not an accurate horsepower measurement.

Look for Continuous Duty horsepower

When shopping for a treadmill, look for a Continuous Duty Rating (CHP). A continuous duty motor measures the minimum horsepower delivered at all points during a workout, and is a commercial grade standard applied to treadmills used in health clubs and higher-quality home treadmills. Continuous duty motors are the highest quality available. They are more powerful, they last longer, and they deliver smooth performance.

Minimum recommendations have always been at least 1.5 CHP, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a treadmill with such a low rating these days because of all the marketing hype. However, if done right, a 1.5 CHP motor with an RPM rating below 4000 would satisfy the needs of 90 percent of home users.

The importance of RPMs

Rotations per Minute (RPMs) is really important in motor design. The relationship between continuous horsepower and RPM is torque. This is the most significant factor when determining the best suitable motor for you needs. The lower the RPM of a motor, the more torque it will have – torque being the measure of a tendency to cause rotation; in other words, the power to turn. This allows the motor to last longer. I strongly recommend a motor with an RPM rating of 4000 or lower, but never more than 5000.

This is crucial because this is where a lot of manufacturers begin to play with, and boost, the ratings above 2.5 in to the 3.5 and 4 HP range. In a lot of those cases, if we examine the plate stamped on the treadmill, you will find RPM ratings in the 7000 to 8000 range. This is how they can get away with these bloated HP rating numbers. These motors are spinning way too fast and working way too hard to last the years you should expect out of a quality treadmill. RPM tinkering is only one way in which a manufacturer can boost the horsepower rating of a treadmill motor.

Electrical requirements

Finally, there are the electrical requirements needed to support a larger HP motor. Most homes today have either a 15- or 20-Amp circuit, which you plug the treadmill into.  Most 20-Amp lines will only support 2.4 horsepower from an electrical motor for a continuous period of time. So all the “extra” horsepower, if the rating is true, is nice but totally not needed and never really used.

On a related note, it is nice to have a big, strong, powerful motor in your treadmill, but it is just as important to surround that motor with up to date quality components (more on that later). If done properly, the motor won’t have to do all the work so the load can be shared amongst all the integral parts. They reduce the need for overblown horsepower ratings and produce a much more efficient running treadmill – A sort of brains over brawn scenario.

What this all means is that the customer should be more concerned with how well all these parts of the treadmill work together, rather than with a hyped up horsepower rating placed on a website or printed in a brochure. Look for a solid motor with CHP rating and low RPM’s and go from there.

Running Deck Cushioning – What Sets Vision Fitness Apart

Spring is finally here! You’re not about to start over with your fitness at square one like last year. You’ve set yourself up for success by training all winter long on your Vision Fitness treadmill. Today is the day you are going to go outside and test your winter training. Fast forward one hour later – you may not have done as well as you thought. And your legs ache? You’ve run more miles on than this on the treadmill, so what is wrong?

First of all, do not be discouraged. The smooth cushioned surface of the running deck on a Vision treadmill is actually easier on your joints than running on outside terrain. Although we strive for optimal comfort, we understand you may not be doing all of your running indoors, so with our treadmills, we try and keep realistic design and functionality in mind.

Our deck itself is a firm piece of wood, offering you support, while our deck cushioning where the deck attaches to the frame gives you a softer cushioning that transitions with you with each stride. The deck cushioning on our treadmills is designed to absorb the impact of your foot planting at the front of the deck, and increases in firmness as your stride carries through to push off into the next stride. If you think of how running shoes are designed, it is a similar concept, simulated to give you a comfortable, natural feel.

Some other companies use a flexible deck, which is like a springboard. Running on a trampoline does not compare to running outside, so why do it? Keep it realistic with our Vision Fitness treadmills and our variable cushioning. An active and healthy lifestyle is something you will never regret! Let us help you set yourself up for success and year round fitness with our comfortably realistic treadmills.

Turning Energy Saver™ Mode On and Off

Our Classic, Elegant and Touch consoles include an environmentally friendly feature called Energy Saver™ mode. When the feature is activated, the console will go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity to save power. A small green LED will light on the display alerting you that the machine is in Energy Saver™ mode.

For technical reasons, the Energy Saver mode is set to OFF as a default when the machine leaves the factory. Here’s how to change the Energy Saver setting from OFF to ON.

Treadmill Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the Energy Saver mode (ESM), press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the INCLINE UP button, and the display will change between ON and OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Treadmill Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings.
  5. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  6. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Treadmill Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in and turning on the treadmill.
  2. Step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. Simultaneously press and hold the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button on the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Bike/Elliptical Classic console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. For Energy Saver mode (ESM) press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  4. Press the ENTER button.
  5. Now press the RESISTANCE UP button, the display will change between ON and OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  7. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Bike/Elliptical Elegant console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Now press the top left ATM-style button to select Settings
  4. Once in Settings, press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue.
  5. Using the two middle-left ATM-style buttons select ON or OFF.
  6. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom-left ATM-style button to select Finished.
  7. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Bike/Elliptical Touch console

  1. Start by plugging in the bike or elliptical.
  2. Simultaneously press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  3. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Settings on the left side of the screen.
  4. Once in Settings, press the word “Energy Saver,” then make your selection for ON or OFF with the buttons that appear in the top-right side of the screen.
  5. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top-right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Some of the Best Elliptical Features: Incline and Foldable Frame

There are numerous choices when it comes to Elliptical trainers. But which choice is best for you? There are a number of things to consider when purchasing an elliptical for your home: How does the elliptical feel, what price point are you most comfortable with, which features you require, where will you put the elliptical and how much space do you have to work with. Two extremely popular choices are folding ellipticals and Suspension Elliptical™ trainers. Both choices offer space saving qualities, help you maintain proper form and provide the user with a great feel.

Folding Elliptical

Vision Fitness was the first company to develop and deliver a folding elliptical and recently, we’ve created the next generation of folding ellipticals for those who are ‘tight’ on space. The Vision Fitness XF40 features a highly durable, welded-steel frame design with patented folding pedal arms that allow compact storage. It is easy to fold and offers a hydraulic assist that effortlessly lowers the pedal arms (similar to how a folding treadmill ‘drops’) when it’s time for your workout. When it’s folded, there are four wheels for easy maneuvering from within a room or moving the elliptical to another room.

XF40 folding elliptical trainer

 

The space-saving features are great but I know some are asking, “How does it feel?” Quite simply, the feel is great. The XF40 folding elliptical offers everything that a traditional ellipticals offers and more. Superior motion, zero foot pedal spacing, premium oversized footpads and multiple handgrip options all provide a comfortable fit for multiple users. Of course, not everyone requires a folding elliptical. Perhaps you are looking for something that offers a little more variety but are still conscious of space? Keep reading!

 

Suspension Elliptical™ with incline feature

Most Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical trainers offer a unique ‘incline’ feature that have become very popular over the years.

Quite simply, the incline of the trainer changes the angles of your legs while working out. Benefits of having incline are numerous:

  • Proven to burn more calories
  • Activates & targets more of your leg muscles, which is great for toning
  • Increases intensity, making your workouts more challenging
  • Decrease the effects of ‘muscle memory’
  • Provides the ability to increase length of stride when the incline is increased
  • Ability to change your routine and reduce workout ‘boredom’
  • Provides a customized feel for multiple users (i.e. Families)

Some incline ellipticals require the user to manually adjust the incline. Typically, this can be tedious and frustrating for a user. Ellipticals that have automatic/electronic elevation are generally better since they offer more range and don’t require the user to pause their workout to make the desired adjustment(s).

Another really useful feature of the incline elliptical is the ability to target specific muscle groups quickly and efficiently. When you pedal forward on an elliptical and change the incline, you incorporate different sets of muscles. When you pedal backwards and change the incline, you target the same muscle groups but different parts of the muscle. Going backwards and forwards, while using the incline, is a great way to change up your routine, utilize all of your leg muscles and minimize the dreaded ‘workout boredom’ that most people encounter at some point.Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical Trainer

The Vision Fitness S7100, S7200 and S70 all offer the incline feature as well as the other benefits of a suspension trainer. Although the suspension trainers do not fold, they do take up considerably less space and offer the following advantages over most traditional ellipticals:

  • No track/wheels
  • Superior stability
  • Incline
  • Small footprint
  • 2-inch pedal spacing, which keeps the hips aligned properly
  • Vision’s ‘Perfect Stride’

Whether you choose a suspension trainer that offers incline or a space saving folding elliptical, the bottom line is to choose what feels best to the person(s) who will be using it. Remember, the best piece of fitness equipment is the piece that you will use and enjoy.

Switching From Miles to Kilometers on the New Vision Fitness® Consoles

Product personalization is a key consideration when choosing a product, including fitness equipment. One great feature all new Vision Fitness® consoles have is the ability to switch your speed readout from miles to kilometers. The Elegant and Touch consoles also allow you to see distance in either miles or kilometers at any time in your workout, no matter what your Region settings are. See below for your console, and see how you can start changing the speed feedback in your workout to fit your preferences!

Classic Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the switch function mode on a treadmill, press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3. For an elliptical or bike press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the START button, the display will change between Miles and KM (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Elegant Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode.  At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the third ATM-style button on the left side of the screen to select Region.
  5. Once in Region, you can press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue 3 times to go to the page to switch from Miles or Kilometers.
  6. Using the middle left ATM-style keys, select STANDARD (Miles) or METRIC (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Touch Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Region on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Region, press the word UNITS, then make your selection for Metric (KM) or Standard (MI) with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Having the ability to switch between miles and kilometers allows you to optimize your console’s functionality, train in metric or standard speed and will provide a better overall workout experience.

7 Helpful Tips to Consider When Purchasing Cardio Fitness Equipment

Choosing the right piece of fitness equipment can seem very daunting these days for the average consumer. The Internet is flooded with information, and there are so many choices. The truth is, there are many good options out there. However, there is a lot of misinformation as well. Here are a few tips to help you wade through the overload of choices and information to choose the best cardio fitness equipment for your home gym.

1) Where to Buy

There are essentially three places to purchase a piece of exercise equipment: online retailers, big-box retailers and specialty retailers.

Online Retailers

Online retailers are convenient and may offer a good price. However, there are numerous concerns and potential hassles with buying a piece of fitness equipment online. These include shipping damage, assembly issues and lack of service support, among others. I strongly suggest that you test drive any product at a retailer before making any online fitness purchase. It’s very easy to make something look good on a website or TV (i.e., your typical infomercial), but the final product may not be what you initially thought. Not taking this step of trying a product out in advance can lead to disappointment.

Big-Box Retailers

These retailers typically offer a selection of fitness equipment that is very feature-heavy with varying levels of quality. Usually the products found here stress style and features over quality and durability. The depth and breadth of fitness or exercise equipment knowledge can vary widely among the staff. Don’t expect much on the service side either, as some stores do not have a dedicated service staff, which means you will likely be calling an 800 number if you have problems.

Specialty Retailers

They will typically carry products that stress quality and durability over features and fluff. Many specialty retailers have staff that have a background in fitness and are trained by factory representatives on all the key details of the products they carry. Plus, they’re a reliable source to contact if you have any questions or equipment troubles after the purchase. Many offer assembly and delivery to your home. Overall, you can expect a higher level of service after the sale and their prices can be very competitive.

2) Why are you buying cardio equipment?

Things to consider when selecting which piece of equipment will work best for you:

Why are you purchasing it? Are you purchasing this equipment to train for a marathon, and do you need a place to work out safely in inclement weather? Are you looking to rehabilitate from an injury, heart attack or surgery? Or maybe you’re just trying to get serious about your fitness or your family’s fitness? What do you hope to accomplish with the purchase of this machine?

Who will be using it? Are you the sole user? Will it be a piece of equipment used by the entire family?

Where are you putting it? Will it be need to be stored away, or will it be a permanent fixture?

With these things in mind, take a look at the deck length, motor size, folding and non-folding options, program options, etc.  However, don’t get too caught up in comparing the specs of one manufacturer to another because:

3) It’s not necessarily about the specs!

If you plan on buying a treadmill, for example, based only on how big the motor size is versus the other guy, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Different brands and different manufacturers have different philosophies on how to build treadmills. A bigger motor is not necessarily a better motor. A longer deck with a fan and speakers doesn’t mean your treadmill is a better value than one without.

Specialty brands typically will use higher-quality motors that run cooler and more efficiently than models or brands you find at a big-box store. They use thicker, higher- quality decks, better belts and larger, higher-quality rollers. There is less plastic and more steel for a sturdier feel. Get the idea?

Similarly, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers have a variety of flywheel weights, but it’s important to also consider the gear ratio. The faster the flywheel spins, the smoother the ride. With either, it’s also important to consider the feel of the machine, whether it be pedal spacing or seat comfort.

Just remember to ask yourself if you want a product that is loaded up on the specification sheet, or a product that doesn’t sacrifice durability and performance in order to look good on paper. Make sure you see the products in person and talk to a knowledgeable fitness consultant before making your choice.

4) Long Warranty = Best product???

Consider the car industry. The best cars don’t necessarily carry the best warranties, do they? Warranty in the fitness industry can be used for a few reasons:

  1. To maintain market share due to lack of innovation.
  2. To BUY market share because the company or product has not been around very long or they are battling another competitor.
  3. Or they simply make a very good product and are willing to back it up.

My suggestion is to be careful buying a cardio machine based only on the warranty. You may get a long warranty but an outdated product. Also, be aware that the warranty is only good if the company is in business, so be sure to check the history of the manufacturer you are considering to make sure they have a track record and have a good chance be around long enough to honor that warranty.

5) What a great deal

We all love a good deal, but if you think you are getting a “Great Deal,” you should be aware that it is commonplace for many online treadmill brands and big-box fitness equipment brands to inflate MSRP to give you the appearance of a “Great Deal.” The reality is the treadmill that is priced at $1,000 off online or in the Sunday ads of the local newspaper is likely $1,000 off almost every day of the year. That high MSRP and huge discount do not mean the product is not a good product – just understand you are not necessarily getting a great deal.

6) Do your research

However, make sure you understand that those “reviews” you are seeing on the Internet are likely marketing sites that get paid to tell you how great a product is. Many of these sites have disclaimers hidden on the site, which will disclose how that site makes money. It may be a situation where the manufacturers for the products they are promoting pay them commission or fees to promote them. So it is in your best interest to be skeptical. Visit the manufacturer’s website, and visit your local retailer to try out the products and ask questions.

7) Put it in perspective

There are too many customers that don’t put things in perspective when purchasing exercise equipment. Exercising regularly has the ability to improve every aspect of your life, but too many people want to put a $500 price tag on it. Purchasing a piece of exercise equipment is an investment in yourself and your health. There is nothing more valuable than that. If you spend X amount on a treadmill or an elliptical, but it lasts you 10 years, you essentially have invested how much per day? How much do you spend a day on coffee? How much money do you spend on your cell phone bill per month? If you don’t look at the overall picture and try to buy the cheapest product, you are likely to be very disappointed and probably are not going to achieve your goals.

Keep these seven tips in mind the next time you’re looking to add some fitness equipment to your home gym.