Walking, jogging and running are all recommended aerobic activities and a treadmill makes all of these possible at home but with so many makes and models available on the market, and prices varying from reasonable to prohibitive, choosing the treadmill that best suits your needs can be a tricky proposition. One of the most popular treadmills at present is the Sportstech F31 Professional but what are the pros and cons of this particular piece of training equipment?
The Sportstech F31 is an effective training aid in many regards and has some very positive features. These include:
• Reliability: Delivering a continuous 2 horse power, and peaking at 4hp, the F31 is dependable and can accommodate a running speed of up to 16km/hr. Powered by a long-life, high quality motor, the treadmill is built to last and better than most competitors.
• Interactive Programmes: The F31 comes with the pioneering iFitShow app which can be run on smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth. The app records all exercise data and is also a valuable tool in planning exercise targets. Users can also chose from 12 pre-installed training programmes including fat reduction, aerobic workouts and interval training modules.
• Variable Levels of Difficulty: The incline of the running surface can be increased by up to 15% thereby increasing the difficulty level. Using a higher running slope improves endurance levels while also increasing leg strength and burning off more calories.
• 6-Zone Cushioning: The Sportstech F31 features a special 6-Zone cushion system to provide support for the ankles, knees and joints while exercising. This cuts down significantly on the wear and tear associated with training on hard asphalt or concrete surfaces.
• Large Running Surface: Longer and wider than many of its competitors, the F31 running surface measures 1200 x 420 mm and can accommodate the longest strides with ease. The surface is composed of five layers of high-tech composite material to absorb shock, provide good grip and deliver an optimal running and training platform.
• Excellent Monitor and Console: One of the outstanding features of the F31 treadmill is the exceptional quality of the monitor. Larger than most at 5.5 inches, the picture quality of the LCD screen is sharp and clearly displays the relevant training information and data. Watching television or listening to music while working out is also easily done and controlled via an integrated wireless connection. Favourite programmes or choice of music can be streamed from a tablet or smartphone and output through top quality speakers.
• Easy Maintenance: The belt drive has an automatic lubrication system which ensures it runs smoothly for longer without the need for regular oiling as is the case with other treadmills. This may seem trivial but is a real timesaver over the life of the machine.
• Silent Running: Well not silent but fairly quiet! The F31 runs at less than 75 decibels despite the 4 horsepower under the hood.
• Easy Storage: Using inbuilt hydraulics, the Sportstech F31 treadmill folds quickly and easily to a handy size making it very suitable for home use.
Other nice little features include holders for a tablet or cup of refreshing liquid.
Electric treadmills, or running machines, are considered one of the best exercise machines and are great fitness aids as well as being beneficial to the heart and overall health. However, paying top dollar doesn’t necessarily equate to a top machine but buying a cheap treadmill may do more harm than good. Before purchasing a home treadmill there are certain factors that need consideration.
• Space. If space is limited in the desired location it is advisable to opt for a foldable treadmill. A fixed treadmill may seem more solid and sturdy but modern foldable machines are, in the main, just as strong and reliable.
• Running Deck. It may seem obvious but the size, quality and construction of the running deck are the most important factors when selecting a good treadmill. A surface size of 1200 x 400 mm or bigger is considered good while anything less will restrict the length of stride allowed and constrict arm and leg movement. Decent padding to absorb shocks is also important as poor deck quality will result in shocks to the ankle and knee joints and possible damage to tendons and muscles.
• Level Adjustment. Basic treadmills have flat running decks and are not adjustable. This is fine for simple fitness routines but not suitable for more serious training or professional runners. Increasing the gradient of the running surface allows the user to increase the degree of difficulty by replicating uphill running and providing more varied workouts.
• Functions. The number and scope of functions on an electric treadmill can vary greatly and usually depends on the price level. For beginners, a basic machine that displays the time, speed and distance covered is probably sufficient. More serious athletes may also want functions that record calories used and a heart and pulse monitor.
• Built-in Programmes. Most treadmills come with a number of built-in exercise programmes and these can play an important role in using the machine to its maximum benefit. Usually sequenced according to level of difficulty these pre-programmed routines can be an invaluable aid in improving stamina and fitness levels.
Sportstech F31 Treadmill Ticks All the Boxes
Although not the cheapest treadmill on the market; the Sportstech F31 is good value for money and suitable for both novice and experienced runners or fitness enthusiasts. The 12 training programmes included take the user from a complete beginner’s level to that of a professional athlete. The running surface is well-designed and sufficiently large to accommodate the largest stride and well padded to minimise impact shocks to the ankle, knee and leg muscles.
One possible drawback is the price! The F31 is not cheap and not a good choice for someone who is likely to give up after a few weeks. That being said, the Sportstech F31 is a good long-term investment for those who are serious about improving their fitness levels and plan to stick with the excellent training programmes that come with the treadmill.