Review – NordicTrack Commercial 2950 and What to Consider When Buying a Treadmill

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NordicTrack 2950 Console Screen
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It was probably worth the purchase, but many other treadmills would have done just as well. Read on if you plan to purchase any kind of treadmill in order to consider questions to ask and what certain features really do.

This won’t be a review using the manufacturer’s brochure. You can read the list of features at the NordicTrack website. I’m going to tell you what we use, what is useless, and how well it all works for us — and the swindling that went on.

What We Wanted

Primarily, we wanted a sturdy treadmill with the basics: variable speed (walking and running) and incline. We wanted mechanical durability and a wide running surface with shock absorption to make it better than running on pavement. Our goal was to get clients doing more aerobics with their strength training and allow clients to come in and run on their own time, as well.

We also wanted a foldable treadmill since our studio is small and space for our Rogue equipment is the priority.

Buying the Treadmill – We Were Swindled

We ordered this treadmill at the end of 2016 and received it in early 2017. Due to the sale and lack of stock, we received the 2017 model for the 2016 sale price.

That’s the good news. The bad news is we bought the extended warranty plan for several hundred dollars more, expecting to deal with significant wear-and-tear in the studio. Trouble is, when we received the warranty papers, we actually read the fine print. The fine print said the warranty does not apply to the equipment if it is used in a commercial facility.

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2950 open in the studio

Huh. Imagine that. A business bought a commercial product and the salesman sold us an extended warranty to cover it, only to find that it explicitly states the warranty does not cover commercially used products. Nice, NordicTrack. READ THE FINE PRINT.

As of this publication, we have not received a response, nor our refund on the warranty, though we emailed and snail mailed them before the 30 days to cancel.

iFit – More Swindling and Useless

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iPad with BitGym running, above the 2950 display

We went ahead and purchased the monthly iFit plan for the advertised rate. We wanted to see what it did. We purchased through the tablet interface on the treadmill, which links to the web through wifi. Step-by-step, we confirmed the purchase, credit card, etc. The next day, we discovered the bill was 30% higher than we had authorized! We bought the monthly plan for $10/month and they had taken out $15.

Through several searches online, I discovered the rates had increased this year and the $10 is no longer available. But that isn’t what the website said or what we authorized. I canceled immediately. This is not a tech glitch but a purposeful disinterest in good business practices.

However, we still had 30 days of use. So I tried out some features.

iFit is a way to track your fitness activities. This is primarily what it is. Useless for us, since we’re a commercial studio. Staying logged in as New Moon Fitness won’t be meaningful for any client. They will need their own plan to log in and track, which they can do regardless of ours. Besides, we track work outs with paper. Yes, old school…and easier to discuss and evaluate.

I had purchased iFit with the thought of doing runs while watching trails and nature. That is, the screen on the treadmill is a tablet that connects to the internet, and through apps, you can watch visuals of the places all over the world. I imagined running through the streets of Spain or the Rocky Mountains.

Wrong.

iFit is linked to Google Maps. Yes, you’re provided street views of anywhere in the world, but as you run, there is no video, only photos that update every few minutes. The effect is jerky and distracting and not at all like looking on a natural scene. No sounds associated with it, either. It does adjust the elevation to the map, which one client liked.

It’s Got “Bluetooth” – But Not Really

NordicTrack and every damn reviewer out there tells you this treadmill has bluetooth. It does! Only for the heart monitor. In other words, you cannot run the sound from the treadmill (the web, music, or app sounds) to your bluetooth headphones.

In fact you can’t even use headphones! Yes, the treadmill offers a subscription music service and the mixes are good, but they have to play through the treadmill’s speakers. You can’t listen through headphones — no bluetooth and also NO HEADPHONE JACK.

Let me get this straight: you sold me a commercial treadmill for a commercial facility and gave me no way to listen to its sounds privately? Sure, you brag about the great speakers — they are — but who cares? I’m not going to be jamming to loud music or nature sounds while several other people are nearby with their own music and work outs.

There is a place to plug IN your music player, so you can hear it through the speakers, but why? I’m going to use my headphones. We’re all going to use our headphones.

The Embedded Interval Work Outs

Even if you don’t purchase monthly iFit service, you have many onboard work outs. Intervals and aerobics that incorporate incline and speed changes and runs that use Google Maps.

The interval work outs are great. Well, I think.

See, I haven’t tried all of them because I don’t have hours to waste running through each one. Nowhere have I found what these intervals entail. That is, I see “beginning,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” interval work outs, but the little symbols that shows the general incline and speed don’t tell me how high or how fast any of them go.

When I select one, I can see only the duration. So, until I take the time to work through each one on my own, I can’t recommend any to anyone. Why aren’t these described in the brochure or on the web somewhere?

The Heart Rate Monitor – So What?

Don’t use it. Likely never will. As a trainer, I know how difficult it is to truly know the correct max heart rate for anyone that is necessary to calculate a good and safe effort. Knowing the effort means knowing how beneficial or dangerous a work out is. A heart monitor is unnecessary to determine that.

I’ve written about it before, that the ACE Talk Test is more efficient and simpler than using any heart monitor. This method was tested in a lab and compared against using high tech equipment that measures actual lung capacity and heart rate. Unless you measure a specific person’s capacity, you can’t know whether 170 is a good heart rate or not (despite the equations we’re taught to use).

The Talk Test can be administered in a variety of ways, including reciting something familiar such as the Pledge of Allegiance, or reading from a text. After the recitation, if they can answer “yes” to the question, “Can you speak comfortably?”, then their intensity level is below VT1. If the client hesitates or answers equivocally to this question, their intensity is probably right at VT1. If the client answers no, they are probably close to or above VT2

You want to stick to the VT1-V2T area.

What the 2950 gets Right – Durable

We’ve been using the treadmill for less than a month, but so far it is sturdy and serves us for what we really need — intervals.

We use almost exclusively the Manual Work Out, which shows you a 400 meter circle and tracks your progress with an orange and blue bar. We use this for intervals during our integrated work outs (one interval of strength training sets followed by one interval of a 400m run) or Murph (1 mile run at the start and finish of the work out).

The manual work out is fast to start and adjustable with speed and incline. It works well for small group training. Everyone gets a mile of running in each work out using the interval method.

Other features we like are the onboard fan and console height adjustment. We have both short and tall clients. The runner’s flex — the shock absorbing system for the base, is helpful to our knees. Some of us are old.

What Makes It Better – iOS Apps

Thing is, those clients who already run prefer to be outside, and we have 1 K, 1/3 M, and 1 M parameters marked for our neighborhood and park. The treadmill is rarely a substitute for them.

Those who don’t enjoy running usually choose the Concept 2 Rower for aerobic activity. Like biking, it allows you to sit so you’re moving less of your bodyweight and the movement is less intense. For that reason, I’ll often require a few intervals on the treadmill, too, suggesting a goal of at least 4 mph.

Even better, I’ve discovered BitGym. It’s an iPhone app that we can run on an iPad above the console. It truly IS video and sounds running through nature, and at $7.99/month, much less expensive than iFit for what we want.

The Bottom Line – Probably Still a Good Choice

I assume the biggest part of the 2950’s cost is in the motor, running shocks, and belt. They seem durable and well worth the money if they last us 5+ years.

The electronics are mostly useless. We would have been happy with just the speed and incline controls. No one is going to look at the onboard screen at Facebook, FOX Sports, or read a novel — if they do I’m going to bark at them to work harder. If you’re doing these recreational things when you exercise, you’re not exercising. I want to see sweat and heavy breathing,

In researching treadmills, we looked extensively for high quality mechanics and didn’t care about the tech, but we never found the good mechanics without all the tech features.

I’ll let you know in 5 years if this is still a hardy piece of equipment.

About This Review

I wanted to post this review on Amazon, but the 2950 is not available there — only part replacements are, which sightly worries me. Then I looked at posting the review on the NordicTrack site but read this:

Your comment should not include references to other retailers, pricing, personal information, profanity, inflammatory remarks, or any copyrighted comments, thank you.

So, here it is.



 

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