When shopping for treadmills, you'll need to decide whether you want to spend a little more to offer your customers a unit with high-end touchscreens and Bluetooth connectivity, or a cost-effective, durable, barebones machine that will simply keep your members moving. Here's a quick rundown of what to look for as you navigate the treadmill market.
Commercial-grade treadmills start at around $2,000 and can run as high as $10,000. Expect to pay more for additional options (integrated technologies, cooling fans, heart rate monitors, built-in phone chargers, etc.), as well as for faster speeds and more incline gradations.
The dimensions of each unit will affect your gym's overall layout. The length and width of the units may also affect runners and walkers with different strides. You'll ideally want to allow two to three feet of clearance on either side of each unit and around six to eight feet of clearance behind each unit. While a walker's stride might be shorter, you'll want to plan for a runner's longer stride. Runners typically require a track length of about 60 inches.
Treadmills offer a range of features, including media players, cup holders, touchscreens, video screens, automated incline, preset workout programs, biometrics monitors, fans and shock absorption. Balance a unit's feature set against its price, while taking into account how you can best serve a broad range of needs from your clientele.
Treadmills with larger motors will cost more but also provide a smoother experience. Most commercial treadmills will feature a 3.5- to 4-horsepower motor. Manual, user-propelled treadmills are also an option, but not necessarily a cheaper one. Some manual units can cost up to $4,000.
The lifespan of any commercial treadmill will vary depending on a number of factors, including the durability of the unit, how many hours per day the unit is used, and how regularly it's maintained. Treadmill manufacturers typically offer four separate warranties that cover the unit's frame, motor, parts and labor. Average warranties for commercial units are 10 years for the frame, five years for the motor, five years for parts, and one year for labor. That said, it's worth shopping around, as a range of warranties is offered depending on the manufacturer and/or vendor. Many manufacturers and vendors of commercial treadmills offer custom packages that allow buyers to purchase an upgraded warranty package, which might include pre-scheduled maintenance visits.
In a commercial facility such as a health club or rec center, a typical treadmill will last between four and seven years, depending on the model and assuming regular maintenance and upkeep.
This article originally appeared in the January|February 2018 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Purchasing Guide: What you need to know about buying new treadmills" Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.