Seeing that I haven’t belonged to a traditional health club in three-plus years (Whoa — the Fit Pit is like my second home!), I haven’t been on a treadmill or elliptical much recently. And — confession — although I love my burpees, weights and outdoor runs, sometimes I actually kind of miss the big pieces of cardio equipment that you find at a gym. So, ever since my mom got the Bowflex TreadClimber TC20 and put it in her basement, I’ve been sneaking over there every once in awhile to give it a go. And it’s been a fun change of pace!
Bowflex TreadClimber TC20 Review: Pros
First, now that it’s a bajillion degrees outside and humidity in Kansas City is raging, it’s nice to be able to work out indoors. And, although my parent’s basement isn’t exactly a vacation destination, it’s cool, close to my house and the people who are there are pretty darn nice. (Plus, they even hand out bottled water!) Second, my ankle is still a little wonky if I run too much or do too much high-impact activity, and working out on the TreadClimber is great for it, as it’s challenging yet low-impact. Third, it’s kind of like the best of all the pieces of cardio fitness equipment in one: the motion is like being on a treadmill-elliptical-Stairmaster hybrid. The belt moves like a treadmill, while the pedals move like an elliptical, and the up and down almost hiking-like motion is like a Stairmaster.
What I really love about the motion though is how smooth it is and how it really allows for a full range of motion. Unlike ellipticals where your feet never leave the pedals, the TreadClimber requires you to pick your feet up and as you increase the speed of the machine, you really stretch out your legs while you speed up — a motion that reminds me of the Cybex ArcTrainer (another piece of fitness equipment I heart). You also really step out and up, which definitely gets the heart rate up in a hurry. I stayed around a pace of about 2.5 mph for most of my workout, but I’d like to get so that I can rock 3.0 mph or faster (it goes up to 4.5 mph). Just give me time and practice!
Another thing I love about the TreadClimber TC20 is that it comes with a chest strap that monitors your heart rate and actually shows it directly on the console screen, along with the fitness equipment basics of calories burned, speed, distance and time. I love this kind of feedback so much — and I love that it’s just a part of the system. On the console you can also set up two different users and select from different programs. I pretty much just hit start and go, but that’s how I like to roll. (Setting everything up though isn’t hard — just takes a gander at the user’s manual once or twice to get the hang of it.) Oh, and for the workouts, you can even set up them up so that you climb different well-known Seattle landmarks (Bowflex is headquartered in Vancouver, Wash.) like the Space Needle, a skyscraper and Mt. Rainer. The footprint is smaller than that of a treadmill, too, so it doesn’t take up too much room.
Bowflex TreadClimber TC20 Review: Cons
A few cons about the TreadClimber TC20? Although this model has longer food treadles, I still found them to be a bit wider than my natural gait. This meant that a couple of times, when I wasn’t fully paying attention, my feet got a little off and I tripped. Again, not a huge deal but just something to be aware of, especially if you have small hips (I do not, but still found my stance to be a touch wider than I’d normally take).
Second, this puppy is listed at just about $4,000 (other models are less expensive though and it is on sale now for $3,299). Now, that’s in line with other high-end home fitness equipment pieces, but it’s still a lot of change.
Third, although my parents have only had their TreadClimber for a few months, other reviews online do show that proper care and maintenance is required to make this last. It comes with a three-year warranty, but because the piece is rather complex with moving parts and belts, you do have to perform routine maintenance. (It’s not hard to do — but you do have to, you know, do it.)
Lastly, putting it together was no easy feat. Putting anything together is usually a bit of a challenge for me, but there were a few parts of assembly that were super challenging, albeit doable with plenty of patience (read more on that here). Just some things to keep in mind if you’re considering investing in one!
Bowflex TreadClimber TC20 Review: Fit Bottomed Line
That all said, I love it and my mom loves it. I see many, many more TreadClimber workouts in my future! It’s a great low-impact workout and a fabulous option to have at home!
Ever worked out on a TreadClimber? What did you think? —Jenn