By Jeff Hahn
You were up late last night flipping through the channels and saw the infomercial about the Bowflex Treadclimber. The great thing about that is you are now inspired to make a life change and get into shape. The problem is, nobody has the Treadclimber on display for you to try before you buy. Is that by design? Hmmmmm….
The Treadclimber is only sold through the tv and online advertisements. The reason why is that they really don’t want you to try it before buying it. It is an impulse decision based on their infomercial, and by the time you have unpacked it, lugged it up your stairs, put it together and used it, there is no way you will pack it back into the original packaging and pay the freight to send it back. Another clothes-hanger SOLD! Hence, the reason you see so many of them on Craigs List.
The infomercial would lead you to believe that you are doing more work and burning more calories than using a “regular” treadmill. The reality is that they are comparing to a treadmill at zero elevation. If you use a regular treadmill at a similar level of elevation to the treadclimber, you will burn the same amount of calories. The fact that the “treadal” (their term for treadmill/pedal) starts at an elevation and depresses to flat makes no real difference in what you are doing compared to a regular treadmill at elevation. What it does add are a couple problems for treadclimber owners.
The first problem created by the “treadals” is they force the user to spread their feet in order to land on the center of the belts. If you put paint on the bottom of your shoes and walked, your feet want to slightly overlap – which the “treadals” will not allow (otherwise you would miss the landing spot). By forcing you to walk with a wider than natural stance, you are causing undue joint stress on the knees, hips and ankles with each step to overcompensate for the width of the stance.
The second problem is the mechanism that creates the “treadal” movement. They use an adjustable shock (similar to the trunk of a car) to make the “treadal” drop down and come back to the elevation. I can’t tell you how many people call me asking how to fix the many problems they have with this mechanism. They bottom out making excessive noise, and they are a piece that will need to be replaced occasionally if you buy one of these units.
As for the workout it gives, the treadclimber is very limited in its ability to work you hard. Most treadmills have a top speed of 10-12 mph. The max speed of the treadclimber is 4 or 4.5mph depending on the model. So when you buy the treadclimber you are not going to be able to do any running or jogging. Also the belts are not long enough to allow for a running stride.
6 week results guarantee! Hope you read the fine print. What the guarantee states is that you can return the machine within the 6 weeks, but the machine must be returned in like new condition and in the original packaging. Also the refund amount is less the shipping ($199 each way) and assembly fees. If you paid extra to have it assembled, guess what – you are going to pay someone again to disassemble. Not exactly as “risk free” as they make it sound now, is it?
Finally, there are currently 3 treadclimber models available. The TC5 ($999) comes with a 1 year warranty. Comparable treadmills in the same price range come with 3 yrs parts, 1 yr labor. The TC10 ($2199) comes with a 2 year warranty. Comparable treadmills in the same price range come with 5 yrs parts, 2 yrs labor. The TC20 ($3299) comes with a 3 year warranty. Comparable treadmills in the same price range come with a LIFETIME parts warranty. What does that tell you? Also – you will have a hard time finding someone to work on it if you do have an issue.
Save yourself some time, money, and aggravation. Come “try before you buy” a regular treadmill or elliptical today – skip the gimmick that claims to be both!