5 best folding treadmills of 2021: Bowflex, Echelon and more

Diana J. Smith

A treadmill doesn’t have to take up a significant amount of space in your home. In fact, highly-rated and well-established fitness brands, such as Bowflex and NordicTrack, have created foldable treadmills. A folding treadmill lifts the running deck off the ground and locks it in place, which might be particularly appealing for anyone living in a small space. Some models sport wheels for easy transportation and offer upright storage while others, such as the Sunny Health & Fitness Asuna folding treadmill, are compact enough to fit under your living room couch.

SKIP AHEAD Best folding treadmills of 2021

Transforming a portion of your home into your own socially-distant gym has its appeal. You control who has access to your equipment, for one thing, which can help prevent spread of the coronavirus. Plus, you won’t have to tread to your local gym in your leggings (if they are even open, of course) during harsh winter months. Our friends at CNBC reported that 59 percent of Americans don’t plan on renewing their gym membership due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Foldable treadmills aside, we’ve consulted fitness experts about other space-saving pieces of gym equipment, including exercise bikes, kettlebells, under-desk ellipticals and TRX-like suspension trainers. Smart mirrors are especially designed for minimal space, models including Mirror and the new NordicTrack Vault.

Best folding treadmills of 2021

1. Bowflex Treadmill 10

In December, Bowflex introduced a new foldable treadmill, the Treadmill 10 (T10), its name based on its built-in, 10-inch HD touchscreen monitor. It is the most expensive folding treadmill on our list, but it boasts the most features, like a 60-inch running path for those practicing bigger strides. There’s also Bluetooth tech, USB charging ports, an accessory tray and dual water bottle holders to encourage you to stay hydrated. The T10 employs soft drop system for a slow, hands-free unfolding — preventing a hard drop from damaging your floors. You can run up to 12 mph on a cushioned deck and toggle from a negative 5-percent decline up to a 15-percent incline. Additionally, each treadmill comes with a two-month free trial of Bowflex JRNY, which offers on-demand and customized workouts. You can also stream your favorite Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix and Disney+ content on the monitor while you work up a healthy sweat. Right now, you can only purchase the T10 online directly through Bowflex or in-person at select Dick’s Sporting Goods locations.

2. Echelon Stride

Echelon, popular among Shopping readers, introduced the Stride in the fall of 2020. We consider it both one of the best treadmills and best smart fitness gifts, and it costs $400 less than the Bowflex. However, if you want a treadmill with a built-in monitor to stream workout classes (or “Bridgerton”) you’ll need to invest a few hundred dollars more for a different model. The good news: With a push a button, the Stride will fold up into a depth of 10 inches. It can also be wheeled away and placed upright in an unused corner of your room. The Stride features handlebars integrated with a heart rate monitor that displays your vitals on the touchscreen monitor. Anthony Crouchelli, master and founding trainer at Grit Bxng, called Echelon’s premium workout classes — some of which are made exclusively for the Stride — “world-class.” “Echelon offers an extended outreach and connection from their instructors to members daily,” he noted. An Echelon United membership costs $400 a year or $40 per month.

3. Sunny Health & Fitness T4400 Foldable Treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness is another well-liked brand among Shopping readers and the T4400 is the most affordable folding treadmill on our list. It also utilizes soft drop tech where you can push a hydraulic system with your foot allowing the running belt to fall down slowly without scuffing up your floors. It boasts nine workout programs to follow along with, and you can monitor your metrics on the LCD screen — distance, time, calories burned, speed and pulse. Your handrail features a button for controlling your speed — from .5 to 9 mph — and lets you start, stop or pause, the latter of which temporarily saves your stats. There’s also room to rest your tablet of choice and smartphone if you want to stream online fitness courses.

4. XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill

XTERRA Fitness is another popular brand among Shopping readers, and the folding TR150 treadmill features a knob that you pull to fold or unfold the deck. This model sports a five-inch LCD monitor that displays your speed (you can run up to 10 mph), time, distance, calories burned, pulse and incline level. It also features12 preset workout programs and three incline settings. Crouchelli previously recommended this folding treadmill for novice runners who are on a budget.

5. Horizon Fitness T101 Folding Treadmill

Horizon Fitness is well-liked and highly-rated, and the T101 treadmill utilizes a hydraulic-assisted lift to fold the deck up for easy, upright storage. The motor can rev up to 10 mph and the shock-absorbing and cushioned deck is supportive for your joints. It also features Bluetooth speakers, which allows you to enjoy your go-to treadmill playlist without bothersome wires getting in the way. You can also stay cool while working out as the T101 sports cooling fans.

Before finalizing your foldable treadmill order, you may want to consider investing in a warranty plan for peace of mind. While extended product warranties aren’t necessary for most products, as tech expert Whitson Gordon argues, Shopping readers have gravitated toward opting for warranties when buying at-home fitness equipment, as well as other peripherals like an exercise mat to help prevent your floors from scuffing up.

And before you hop on your foldable treadmill, be sure to invest in the right pair of running sneakers. Personally, I’ve been buying Hoka One One sneakers since 2015 — the brand recently introduced a new pair of breathable kicks made for cross-training dubbed the Carbon X2.

Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

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