Mention the word treadmill to a runner, especially a long-distance runner, and they will cringe. They also will tell you that there are no such things as treadmills, only deadmills, a reference to the mind-numbing boredom you experience when walking or running for hours on end with only your wall for scenery.
NordicTrack is trying to change this negative perception by bundling its treadmills with iFit, an immersive video-training program featuring real-life trainers who work out alongside you and the ability to virtually run in stunning locales around the globe. Does iFit cure you of the treadmill blues? We hit NordicTrack’s latest treadmill, the NordicTrack x32i, in our home gym for six months to find out.
The NordicTrack x32i treadmill is a dream to run and walk on. It has a wide and long deck (22-inches by 65 inches) that gives you plenty of room to run, walk, and even sidestep your way to fitness. It doesn’t fold for storage, so make sure you have ample room wherever you plan to use it.
Meant for high-impact exercise, the deck has NordicTrack’s Reflex cushioning, which provides a slight bounce to absorb the impact of every step. The reinforced steel frame is solidly built and the 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor has plenty of power. It goes from zero to 12mph and supports up to 300 pounds. I never once felt like I was pushing the machine to its limits.
One standout feature of the x32i is the incline. It ranges from a -6 percent decline to a whopping 40 percent incline that’ll challenge even the fittest mountain runner. During a preprogrammed workout, the treadmill adjusts the speed and incline automatically, but you can make adjustments based on your fitness level. The slope adjusted smoothly upward and downward, even against the impact of running. It was the same for the speed. Changes were applied and felt immediately.
The NordicTrack X32i is designed for performance and ease of use. The controls are smartly placed on either side of the display and on the control panel in front of you. On the left side of the treadmill is a series of buttons that let you manually increase the incline, while the buttons on the right side control the speed. You change the speed and incline in small or large increments via these buttons.
Speed and incline are not the only parameters you can change. You also can adjust volume of the integrated speakers and the speed of the dual fans with the press of a button, as well as enjoy Bluetooth audio support. The buttons are easy to press, allowing you to make the changes without stopping your workout.
Other extras include three different bars that you can hold when you need some extra support and a chest strap to measure your heart rate while you work out. Lastly, there is a magnetic safety switch in case you fall.
The NordicTrack x32i is both smooth and quiet. Even at running speeds of 5mph or higher, I still could hear the music and iFit trainer instructions over the integrated speakers. If you wanted to be even more stealthy, you could connect a pair of headphones using the treadmill’s built-in Bluetooth connection.
There’s also a fan to keep you cool. You can change the speed and the angle of the fan during the workout. The fan works well at lower inclines, but is blocked by the handrail at higher inclines. Speaking of handrails, there are plenty of them for you to hold onto, which is especially important at the higher inclines.
With a massive 32-inch display, the NordicTrack X32i hardware is ideal for iFit. The beauty of the surroundings is always on full display. I didn’t have to adjust my view or turn my head — I could see the entire screen contents edge-to-edge just by looking forward. The display is a touchscreen that lets you control the iFit software by tapping and swiping on the screen. The layout is intuitive and I never had any problems moving between the workout library, the home screen or the calendar view.
When working out, you simply tap on the screen to access the workout controls or pause a workout. The buttons are plenty big, so I never had any problem making changes while exercising or when pausing a workout. My only gripe with the display is that you can not use it to connect to an Apple TV or Roku for streaming videos. It was added to the treadmill for iFit content and iFit only.
Over the past few months, I’ve hiked Mount Fuji, ran in the Grand Canyon, and summited Mount Kilimanjaro, all from the comfort of my home in Maine.
Accompanying me on these adventures are trainers hired by iFit to produce a series of immersive training videos in exotic and unique environments. Hiking or running with a camera person, the iFit trainer draws you into each exercise by talking to you as if you were right there with them.
They not only encourage you during the workout, but also share personal stories, educate you about the culture and history of the region, and provide useful training tips.