ProForm is the largest seller of treadmills in the world. They focus on budget models and sell through mass merchants, large sporting good chains and the home shopping networks. ProForm is owned by Icon Fitness. In addition to selling ProForm fitness equipment, they also sell Weslo, Nordic Track, Reebok, Image and HealthRider. ProForm along with the other Icon brands dominate the sub $1,000 market.
We know that ProForm offers an attractive price, with treadmills selling as low as $400. The question is, are they a good value? From strictly a price perspective they are an excellent value. When you factor in durability and maintenance, their value may come into question.
Why are ProForm treadmills so popular?
When you compare the price and features, ProForm treadmills appear to be an exceptional deal. Most have numerous bells and whistle, including built-in televisions. And from an outward appearance they appear to be a substantial machine, but it is what is under the hood that is most important.
The majority of ProForm treadmills come with a 90 day parts and labor warranty. Now what does that say about their products? I find treadmill warranties very revealing. It would seem apparent that treadmill companies using inexpensive components would offer short-term warranties. In contrast, those manufacturers that build durable treadmills can afford to offer extended warranties, like 2-5 years on the parts and 1 year labor. Although it should be mentioned that ProForm is now offering a 12-15 year motor warranty on select models.
Recently I was at a fitness specialty store in Wilmington, NC, and was talking to the person in charge of servicing. Although this particular retailer did not sell ProForm, they often service them. He mentioned they were considering discontinuing service on the ProForm treadmills. The problem was once they fixed one problem often the owners would soon came back with the same problem or another service issue.
It should be noted that there are literally tens of thousands of ProForm treadmills sold every year, and the majority of owners are satisfied with their purchase (See http://www.epinions.com for customer reviews). Furthermore, Consumer Reports rated one of the ProForm treadmills as “Very Good” for quality. But it is a numbers game, and whereby other brands may have a minute percentage of mechanical problems, you can expect that percentage to be higher for budget treadmills. When you sell treadmills at budget prices you have to use budget components, and on average those treadmills are more likely to breakdown.
I recommend ProForm treadmills for primarily walking and moderate use. Their high-end models can probably handle light jogging. But if you plan to use the treadmill on a frequent basis, or have multiple users, you may want to consider other brands in the $1,500+ price range.
If your budget is tight, at least spend in excess of $700 for a ProForm Treadmill, and I highly recommend you put out a few extra dollars for an extended warranty. Treadmill repairs can potentially be costly.
For those that have a limited budget ProForm may be your best bet, but as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”