Pros: easy to use and adjust workout, good size deck, good readout
Cons: takes up a lot of space, pulse monitor doesn't always work
A few weeks ago I stepped on a scale for the first time in a while (mine got broken in the move. No, really) and just about keeled over. As I looked out the rear windows of my house, I made a commitment to climb what I saw out there by the end of the summer, Mount Chocorua. The issue became getting in shape for that. With winter upon us I had stopped taking the two hour walks I used to take in the morning. The roads were just too icy. Our schedules really dont allow for membership in a gym thats about a 20 minute ride in each direction.
Luckily that weekend Sears was having a sale on treadmills. I went to the one in town and ordered the Proform XP 550e Treadmill as this particular model wasnt in stock. I had it in less than a week.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
When I saw the size of the box and knew assembly was required, I was completely intimidated. I had conned my business partner into doing that for me, but got impatient waiting for him to get around to it. After two days of the box sitting in my living room, I embarked on the task myself.
It wasnt all that difficult. The majority of the Proform XP 550e Treadmill is already assembled. All that needed to be put together were the handles, the wheels, and the brace on the base. Other than that, everything else was set to go. It took me a little while - the first handle took me a half hour - but it really wasnt too long before I was ready to start working out.
I chose the Proform XP 550e Treadmill for a few reasons. One big one was the Proshox Impact Absorption feature. This is designed to reduce joint impact up to 32% when running. Although I plan to use my treadmill for walking, not running, I am concerned as I have knee and ankle issues from my days of running in high school. With this, my legs and feet will be more cushioned than when I walk out on the roads.
The other thing that impressed me when I tried it out in Sears was the ease with which the control panel works. On the left is the speed controls which allow a quick speed jump from zero to 10 miles per hour. My walking speed is about 2.5, so I usually hit the 2 and then bump it up slowly to the half-mile point in .1 increments.
The display readout is very easy to read as well. The colors can be changed so if the default setting isnt compatible with your vision, its easy to make it more readable. This console tells the speed you are going, rate for one mile, distance you have gone, degree of incline, calories, carbs, and pulse if you test it.
There is a place to hold a book on the console should you wish to read while working out. I dont think I could do it. Also, if you perch the book in that spot, youll be blocking the fan. It doesnt have any speeds, just ON or OFF, but sometimes that little breeze when youve walked six miles feels really good. Theres also holders on either side of the console for water bottles. I use one for the water bottle and the other for my remotes and phone.
The Proform XP 550e Treadmill does have a power incline to tale the treadmill from a 0% incline up to a 10% incline. For fold-up storage, it must be brought back to 0% at the end of your workout. Folding up the treadmill for storage is easy and theres a pin that holds the deck in place when its folded. Unfolding it is just as easy.
The Proform XP 550e Treadmill weighs in at 195 pounds, so its not very portable, even with the wheels. It does fold up to be a space-saver, something I also liked a lot. However, even with that it still takes up a lot of space. Its not the type of treadmill you can fold up and wheel into a corner somewhere. Right now its standing in our living room until I can clear out our basement and get our family room set up down there. It takes up a lot of room, even folded.
The size of the tread deck is fine for me. It comes in at 18 inches by 55 inches. I am told this is a very large deck and good for runners. I wont be running on it and the biggest problem I have had is my son trying to get on the treadmill behind me. I was given a good tip by the salesperson of not using the same sneakers on the Proform XP 550e Treadmill that I use outside, as the sand and dirt can get in the belt and ruin it or the motor. I bought a new pair of sneakers that stays just with the treadmill and doesnt go anywhere else. This will hopefully prolong the life of my treadmill.
Maximum user weight is 300 pounds, so its even safe for my husband to use it (just barely). For safety, theres a magnetic key which allows the treadmill to operate. Theres a cord attached to it with a clip. By clipping this to your clothing and adjusting the length of the cord, if you happen to slip the treadmill will stop, hopefully preventing injury.
There are six programs included with the Proform XP 550e Treadmill. I havent tried them yet as I am still building up my endurance again. The programs adjust the incline and the resistance to focus on a variety of goals. Four of them are geared toward weight loss, aerobics, and performance while the remaining two are focused on heart rate. There is an optional heart-rate monitor available from Proform. If you are focusing on heart rate, I would recommend it over the pulse monitor built into the bottom of the display console. I have tried using it and the readings I have gotten have just been all over the place, even only a couple of seconds apart. Sometimes I wont get a reading at all, while other times it seems to take a long time for the reading to come up.
If six programs arent enough, the Proform XP 550e Treadmill is compatible with programs you can download through iFit.com. This means you have to have access to it via your computer. Basic workouts are available free of charge from iFit.com, customized to the shape you are in. Music and scenic workouts come with monthly membership at $9.95. I havent tried it yet, but there is a connection which comes with the treadmill that hooks between the control panel and your computer. The workouts Ive looked at seem to be more geared to running and boost the speed up to 6 mph. If thats the case, I will be sticking with my own workout plan.
The Proform XP 550e Treadmill has a 2.75 hp motor. It seems really powerful and not terribly noisy. I do have to adjust the volume of my television or radio while Im using it but not so much that when I stop I think Im being blasted.
Proform warranties the Proform XP 550e Treadmill with a 90 day parts and labor warranty, plus a 12 year warranty on the motor.
So far Im pretty happy with the Proform XP 550e Treadmill. Its comfortable to walk on and as I need to its very easy to make my walking more difficult, adjusting the incline or increasing the speed. Everything is at my fingertips with the control console and I like that I can keep my water bottle as well as remotes and phone within easy reach so I dont have to stop what Im doing to get that whenever I feel the need.
There are only a few things I dont like about the Proform XP 550e Treadmill. One is the huge amount of space it takes up, even when folded. Its also definitely not portable. Its not like I can wheel it into a corner somewhere and wheel it out again when I want to do a workout. The only other complaint I have is the pulse monitor which doesnt seem to be something I can rely on. If you definitely need to monitor your heart rate during the workout, I would make sure to purchase the optional heart-rate monitor.
Mount Chocorua, here I come!
© 2006 Patti Aliventi