Monday, July 23, 2012

A Treadmill Worth The Investment - Review of the Nordictrack X9i Incline Trainer

Friends on Twitter and Facebook have already had to put up with my gushing the last 24 hours about my new treadmill. But I wanted to put a more extensive note all together about the treadmill's pros and cons in case anyone is treadmill shopping in the near future!

My old treadmill was several years old that I had gotten cheap from a friend a year or two ago. The motor burnt out on Wednesday. NOOOOoooooOOOO. Yes, I hate the treadmill. But I was using it more lately to try to hit my higher weekly mileage goals. This was a combo of trying to do miles conveniently (during the toddler's naptime, hopping on for just a couple miles to round out a run I gave up on early) and the heat completely sapping my energy and all my hydration.

So this treadmill death was during my big attempt for my first 50 mile week! My coach recommended the Nordictrack x7i Incline Trainer, a twitter friend supported the awesomeness of a very similar treadmill in the Nordictrack line, so I ordered my choice online from Sears midday Saturday, and they delivered it Sunday for an extra $10 weekend delivery charge. Even better, another $10 and they hauled away the old treadmill. And they completely assembled it. Win-win!

I went with the Nordictrack x9i Incline Trainer (generic pictures in this post come from this website).
I know nothing about Jillian Michaels, but it appears she likes this Nordictrack... when there's lots of money involved. (Maybe she likes it anyway. Just being cynical.)

It has a max incline of 40%, which I immediately tried when it was first delivered. I had to set it at like 1 mph but it was very cool. AND it has a max decline of -6%. So you can run uphills, downhills, and more importantly to a race course, rolling hills!

The incline/decline would sell it alone for more people, but the next part is the real kicker. A feature called iFit. It has a 10" touch screen that can actually show you the course you are running. For someone like me who has trouble just zoning out on a treadmill machine, this was a winner. You map a course on Google Maps, or choose one of their popular courses. Then, you choose it on the machine, and it will do the course WITH all the elevation grade changes you would have running it in real life. Then, on the screen, it shows you the Google Maps street view, in pretty darn good resolution, for the course as you run it, moving you along the path and changing the views with the speed you are running.
Not. My. Arm.

My first test was miles 10 to 15 of the San Francisco Marathon course I'll be running on Sunday. I mapped the 5 miles on the computer on the iFit website, then the wifi of the treadmill picks up all the data. A couple miles in I could already tell this was a much harder workout than a standard treadmill. My hips and gluteal medius (hope I said that muscle right!) were more sore like real road with the constant ups and downs of the course. And it was fun to relive the actual race course.
Entering Golden Gate Park at Mile 12 of the SF Marathon
I could imagine this is a great training tool when you have a training cycle designed around a specific race course you can't physically get to for a practice run. 

After those 5 miles of the SF Marathon course, I ended up staying on it Sunday for my whole long run of 16 miles! I ran...

  • 3.2 miles more of the SF Marathon course. Miles 15-18.3. This is smack in the middle of Golden Gate park, has some decent elevation gain, and was good for me to see on the screen because it was a hard section for me last year because you started to feel like you would never ever finish running in that park!
  • 3.3 miles on the canals of Venice, Italy!
  • 2.5 miles on the Monterey Canal. 
  • 2 miles along the road through Zion National Park in UT. That one was more challenging with an 11.5% incline at times!

So while I don't plan to get all my miles on the treadmill, I will add it in more often through the Texas summer and while I'm working on just accumulating so many weekly miles.

Cons for this treadmill? 

  • While it's a little expensive at $2,000, not sure I would really put that as a con since a lot of treadmills people buy new are $1200-1300. 
  • The iFit application they use for mapping could use some improvements. I'd love to import map data that I've exported out of a program like my Garmin or 
  • And you can't start a workout in the middle. So if you just want to run certain miles, you should only map certain miles. Example: I mapped the San Francisco Marathon in 5 mile increments. Because you can't just jump to mile 10 to start if I had mapped it as one big single map. 
  • It will tell you your net elevation gain when you finish but not the split of how much ascent and descent you had. So if you mapped an out and back course, you can only see that you netted 0 ft gain. Sigh.
  • I haven't figured out how to see my average pace. I can see my current speed expressed as pace. I can see my time elapsed and distance covered. But I'd love to see a changing figure for average pace.

Coming up for me on the treadmill... I mapped the first 15 miles of Big Sur Marathon. I can't wait to see the views on the screen. Or deal with the big incline that comes from miles 10 to 12. Known as a challenging course, it should make for a good workout in the near future!

And generally on the treadmill, I'm excited to have this for quick evening 2-3 mile runs. Where it's a pain to completely gear up, sweat to death, and then shower, sometimes for the second time that day. Instead I can hop on and add on a few more miles to my day anytime I want. 


  1. I sell treadmills for a living {I'm a Certified Fitness Trainer at Dick's Sporting Goods} and I WISH we had this one! I'd love to buy and get a discount on this beast--it looks magical!! I'm personally a treadmill LOVER and this would put my home one to shame!! Enjoy!! :-D

  2. Ha ha, oh yeah, you're gonna dig that run up to Hurricane Point. Can you rotate the street view left/right or is just straight on?

  3. I wasn't looking for a new treadmill, but this review makes me think about it. Thanks for the great review!

  4. We have had nothing but problems with our x9i. My wife and I used it and then the Android screen took over and wouldn't allow the machine to work at all. When we finally got it working 5 days later the platform sounded like a diving board. Poor customer service.

  5. Purchased 2 years ago and have had NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS with the x9i. Prior we had a NordicTrak regular treadmill that was awesome and lasted 10+ years with no problems ever. This has been the most aggrivating experience, the customer service has been terrible and I am leary now to use NordicTrak to even go back to a regular treadmill purchase.

  6. Cool product...I want to buy a Adjustable height desk for home use to share with my wife. Please refer me to someone who offers quality product within reasonable price range. No-doubt, your current product is superb but I think it's not convenient to use for Android screen.

  7. How has this machine held up? I've read lots of mixed reviews about it and some pretty bad ones about the NordicTrak company itself. I really like this incline trainer but I'm not sure I want to take the chance based on the reviews where people have had a ton of issues.

  8. I just bought my x9i today. 2014 model. I am in love with it as well. Got it for a smoking deal off CL. Year old. Hardly used. Got it under 1000. It was bought by a woman who swore whe would use it dailey, and didnt, it just sat.

    While I am not and never have been a bonafide runner, I do love to MOVE!!! And I have to tell you, I love this treadmill. It works up a sweat, torches calories like no other. It is on the second floor of my house and when in use can not be heard downstairs. It staves off boredom. It really saves me in the winter when the cold sets in.

    I am a hiker and outdoors girl at heart (when the weather is above 50 degrees) so this keeps me in shape cardiovascular wise through the winter without having to travel out to the gym.

    I have nothing to say but wonderful things about this machine. Best one I have ever had.