Going out for a run can be a good, handy way to get your cardio in. It will bring your heart rate up, work your leg muscles and elicit many of the positive hormonal responses associated with exercise.
However, it isn’t always the most pleasant, nor the most practical.
Anyone who has been into running for any amount of time will have experienced some of its associated issues. You pull a muscle halfway through your route and have to limp several miles home. It starts chucking it down, soaking you to the skin. The cold can be an issue, increasing your chance of pulling a muscle whilst ice makes the ground too slippery to run on safely. Or, quite frankly, it can be daunting and legitimately dangerous for some of us to go out after dark.
This is where the treadmill comes in. Treadmills can be great in their own right, as a sole source of cardio, or as an addition to your running regimen for those days and nights when heading outdoors simply isn’t an option. And, if you want to avoid the busy, sweat soaked inconvenience of your local gym, an at-home treadmill might just be perfect for you.
However, these too have their own issues. They can be a burden. Too often, treadmills are bulky and hard to move, meaning you have to devote precious floor space to housing a piece of unsightly kit. As ever, though, where there is an issue, there are hosts of clever people looking to fix it; where there is a gap in the market, there will be companies looking to fill it.
This is how we get to the foldable treadmill. They give you everything you need from a treadmill, but when they are not use, you can simply fold them up and put them away in a cupboard or at the very least save some precious floor space.
Modern technology and company R & D mean that the best foldable treadmills are no longer the flimsy, self-powered contraptions that felt like the second rate hamster wheels they were just a few years ago. They are now a serious piece of equipment, with good quality motors and great usability – or, at least, they should be.
There are still some flops out there. Plenty, in fact. So, how do you find a folding treadmill that will work for you? Well, we’ve done the hard part for you, testing out plenty of pieces of equipment and probably running the equivalent of a dozen marathons in the process. Below, we’ve rounded up our top five picks. There are no flimsy shells, rubbish running belts or weak motors on this list – they are all robust and able to deliver a good workout. Anything from this foldable treadmill buying guide will see you right.
What to Look For In A Foldable Treadmill
As above, there are many issues that most foldable treadmills of yore delivered, and that many still do. We have cut these out entirely. None of the folding treadmills below will give you any of these grievances.
Rather, each one is robust, well designed and well put together. They run smoothly and confidently, consistently. Shock absorption is high on our list of priorities, so that your ankles, knees and hips won’t suffer.
Then there are the added frills you would expect of any treadmill in a commercial gym. Things like displays, mixed media and different interfaces are all worth bearing in mind. So too are operational options such as varying speed and incline settings, as well as programmes and tracks available. All of these are pretty much a must – they are too ubiquitously available not to be.
Good customer care is also important. It may not make or break your decision, but these are pieces of kit that represent a bit of an investment. You want to know that your investment is safe – there should be reputations for decent customer service behind each product, as well as some form of guarantee or warranty should things break.
These all make a treadmill a good treadmill. We are looking for more, however. As the name suggests, they have to be properly foldable. They shouldn’t just flatten down a bit. You should be able to fold them up and properly put them away; they should be compact, easy to use and easy to transport, ideally with wheels.
If a product can tick all of these boxes, we are interested in it. Everything in our list here certainly did so let’s take a look at what we found to be the best folding treadmills in the UK.
Top 5 Foldable Treadmills
Our Top Pick: The Proform Performance 600i
No matter how good the crop, there will always be the cream – for us, this is Proform’s Performance 600i. It has a solid reputation for good quality and customer satisfaction and has recently become a lot more affordable.
First up, it folds easily. It makes use of the popular SpaceSaver design with EasyLift Assist, so you will be able to move it easily and store it basically anywhere.
The frame is also very solid and incredibly well built. This would be true if it were a regular treadmill – the fact that a foldable treadmill is so robust and well put together is remarkable.
It has an advanced ProShox Cushioning System for shock absorption – you really can use it for hours without getting achy joints. It will give you up to a 12% incline, which is enough to challenge most runners, and can go up to 12 mph, which again, is more than enough for most. You get 22 built-in workouts with it if you don’t fancy going freestyle. These include options like interval programs, heart rate based programs, weight loss programs and so forth.
Some might call the console a little basic. Personally, I’m fine with this. I’m here to run, not to marvel at technology or enjoy any bells and whistles. Additionally, it is iFit compatible (an interactive program designed to keep you motivated as you train), so if gadgets are a deal breaker for you, you will be well catered for here. You can also make use of routes powered by Google Maps if you want to get a feel for running through country lanes or mountain passes.
The frame and motor come with lifetime coverage and you get 2 years warranty on parts, and one on labour. That’s a lot for not much now that ProForm have brought their prices down. The Performance 600i is great value for money, does everything you need it to do admirably, and is incredibly well designed and put together.
Bluetooth Nero Pro
Next up, we have the Bluetooth Nero Pro folding treadmill. It is one of our more lightweight, compact offerings, weighing in at just 24kg. However, it is far from fragile – it is made from sturdy steel and the safety arms are very good quality, so that you always run as hard as you like with confidence.
The machine itself is very smart and folds and wheels around very easily.
If you’re looking to really pound away, the Bluetooth Nero Pro might not be for you. It has a top speed of only 10km/hour. However, this is perfect for jogging, so will suit anybody looking for longer, lighter runs rather than shorter more sprint based runs.
You can still get your heart rate up though with 3 good incline levels, which will tax your quads quite heavily whilst increasing your bpm rate.
The Nero Pro is also very gadget friendly. It has a tablet holder right under the main console so you can watch movies as you run, and the console itself is top-tier stuff. It will show you all the usual, useful metrics like distance run, calories burned, time and speed, and so forth.
This is a great choice for lighter athletes looking to challenge themselves with some longer distance jogs as well as being pretty budget friendly.
JTX Sprint 9
The JTX Sprint 9 is one of our larger offerings, so buyer beware – you may need to make sure you have plenty of available space if you want it. It is easily stored in the corner of a large, dedicated space like a garage. However, it may be slightly on the bulky side for your airing cupboard.
However, if you have the room, it gives you a lot. First off, it has a top user weight of an impressive 130kg. If you’re on the heavier side and want something for power-walking at home, this is the one for you (I would hesitate to have anybody at this kind of weight go running, as the pressure on the joints will simply be too much and too dangerous).
The Sprint 9 is also good for serious fast runners. Its impressive engine takes the belt up to 20 kph, with shock absorbers and automatic incline capacity. It will tax you quite intensely whilst keeping your joints nice and safe.
The console (as oversized as everything else with the Sprint 9) is pretty decent, with all the data and metrics you would expect readily available. You get the built in heart rate monitor and can purchase a chest-strap heart-rate monitor separately to use with the Sprint 9 that is completely compatible with its console, for accurate, real time info.
If you have the room available and are in need of a serious piece of kit, the Sprint 9 is a worthy purchase and is likely to last for years to come.
JTX Sprint 3
The JTX Sprint 3 is trim and mobile, yet incredibly smooth and with an impressive array of stats, all for a really reasonable price – especially when compared to the other models in the JTX Sprint range. It boasts an impressive top speed of 15 kph, has 12 levels of motorised incline and 48 unique programs. You get shock absorption for safety and comfort, meaning that you can really make the most out of some of those harder levels and higher speeds.
Be careful, though – the belt is really quite slim and is therefore much less forgiving, so faster paces might be a little treacherous.
The Sprint 3 is the Sprint 9’s younger brother and boasts all of design finesse inherent to the range. Sturdy and well put together, with an elegantly neat design whose simplicity belies just how much fun it is to use, the Sprint 3 is a work of brilliance.
The full scope of programming (40 is a lot!) is a little confusing, and perhaps superfluous. Also, for such a small machine, it’s really quite weighty and takes a good bit of patience to assemble.
Other than this, though, you get far more than you pay for with a straightforward, elegant and incredibly well built machine that has an impressive 2 year at home repair warranty.
JLL S300 Premium Treadmill
The JLL S400 Premium Treadmill is a relative newcomer to the market. Big brother to the more basic S300 Treadmill, it comes with a lot of features that make it worthy of a place on our best foldable treadmill list.
As with its little brother, it is well made and solidly built, with good-quality shock absorption. You can pound away as much as you like knowing that the S300 Premium can take it.
You get lots of different settings and programs, so you can be sure that your workouts will always be varied and interesting. The fifteen programs preloaded into its console range from easy to difficult and, with a larger running track than the S300, you can really make the most of the upper difficulty ranges. You can also program your own training, with three options for customisable runs.
With iPod, iPhone, MP3 connectivity, USB interface and some genuinely brilliant speakers, there is plenty of gadgetry to keep things interesting.
However, for such an otherwise impressively techy piece of kit, the S300’s monitors are not very good. The heart rate handles are awkward to use when running, for example, and can be pretty inaccurate. It’s not a big deal, just a bit of a shame when everything else seems so well thought out.
The S300 all comes with an impressive 5-year warranty on the motor and lifetime warranty on the frame.
It’s a fantastic all-rounder, well made with plenty of variety and some really nice technical wizardry at hand.
Whatever space you have available – be it a slight portion of a modest living room or a whole garage to yourself – there will be a foldable treadmill for you. If you have the space, a monster like the JTX Sprint 9 might be worth a look. If not, their Sprint 3 may be for you and if you are looking for a real budget folding treadmill that packs a punch then the Nero Pro is well worth considering.
If you want a generous, techy all-rounder, perhaps the S300 Premium might be worth the investment or, for quality of design and execution, maybe go with our top pick, the Proform Performance 600i.
Whichever you choose, the five items on this list will be sure to deliver. You will have a folding treadmill that will offer a fantastic workout, a range of training options, a good degree of adaptability and a fair range of variability. Most of all, they will be easy to fold away, so that you can match your training equipment to whatever space you have available.
James is a full time personal trainer and an award winning writer with over 10 years of experience behind him. So far, he has helped hundreds of people with their health and fitness through his career.