The iFit Treadmill: Can a Virtual Coach Step Up Your Workouts?

NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

Working out every day on the same treadmill can be tedious and lonely. Working out on an iFit treadmill can help you combat the monotony of staring at the same four walls every day by virtually taking you to exotic locales as you run.

Whether you're trying to get in shape for the first time or you’re just looking to vary your workouts, iFit treadmills seem like they can help fit the bill. But is it worth it to spend the extra money on an iFit-enabled treadmill and the monthly subscription price?

What is iFit?

iFit Wifi Module w/ 1 Year iFit Membership

The iFit brand includes a variety of different fitness products including the iFit Coach virtual training program, iFit wearable health trackers, iFit Sleep, Altra iQ; and the iFit Nourish brand of nutritional shakes. It's not just a treadmill accessory -- it's a complete fitness and nutritional system. That said, you don't have to buy into every part of it.

The iFit Coach program is an add-on virtual coach that helps you bring your treadmill workouts to the next level. This program allows you to access individualized video workouts created and led by personal trainers. Runners can also customize their workouts on the iFit coach using Google Maps. You can now (virtually) run just about anywhere in the world that Google Maps takes you.

The iFit Coach is available on select fitness equipment and mobile devices.

iFit Wifi Module w/ 1 Year iFit Membership (Model: EXIF12)

iFit Wifi Module w/ 1 Year iFit Membership (Model: EXIF12)
  • Connects equipment to your online iFit account and lets you download workouts directly. Equipment automatically adjusts...
  • Saves data to your iFit.com account. Wireless adapter is only compatible with fitness equipment with the iFit port on...
  • Unit does NOT include USB cord per manufacturer, but these will work with wifi which is the most common way for these to...

iFit Active Band

iFit Active Band
  • LED Screen- Instantly log calories and view the time on the device; Adjustable Wrist Band
  • Accessory Clip Included- Place the smart tracker device in the included accessory clip; Just wear it and forget it
  • Rechargeable Battery- Smart tracker battery has a five-day life and recharges using a USB cable

What's an iFit Treadmill?

NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

An iFit treadmill is a treadmill that can integrate with the iFit Coach program. Popular treadmill brands that can access iFit Coach include Nordic Track and ProForm.

Product Specs

There are different ways the iFit application integrates with treadmills. These include iFit Coach Enabled treadmills, iFit Coach ready treadmills, and iFit compatible treadmills.

iFit Coach Enabled

An “iFit Coach enabled” treadmill has iFit built right into the treadmill itself with touchscreens built in to show workouts. An example of an iFit Coach enabled treadmill is the NordicTrack X22i Incline. This treadmill includes an interactive touch screen, real-time tracking, and automatically adjusting the incline that matches the onscreen workout.

iFit Coach Ready

An “iFit Coach Ready” treadmill does not have iFit built in but can connect to the iFit Coach program using Bluetooth. These treadmills do not include the iFit display, but a user can display iFit on a device like a tablet, smartphone, or television.

An example of an iFit Coach Ready treadmill is the Proform Pro 2000. This treadmill can connect to an iFit app on a tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth.

iFit Compatible

An “iFit Compatible” treadmill is a treadmill does not currently have iFit built-in, but you can upgrade to it. The NordicTrack T 6.5S is an iFit Compatible treadmill. While this treadmill can use iFit Coach programs, you must first purchase and install an additional component.

iFit Coach App

Whether you choose an iFit Coach Enabled or an iFit Coach Ready treadmill, you will need to download the iFit Coach app. The iFit Coach app connects you with the iFit program, delivering workouts, tips, and more. If you have an iFit treadmill, the app will synchronize information from the treadmill with iFit to give you a more personalized workout.

iFit Price and Subscription

iFit Wifi Module w/ 1 Year iFit Membership

IFit Coach is a subscription service with an app to install on your device. You'll receive personalized workouts, goals, nutrition tips, and more. If you choose the yearly installment payment, you'll also receive an iFit wearable device.

The iFit Coach program comes with a free 30-day trial. If you choose to cancel, you can do so directly from the website or app.

Comparison to Other Virtual Training Apps

Since iFit treadmills are different treadmills that integrate with the iFit Coach system, we concentrated on looking at the iFit Coach itself. We specifically looked at comparing other programs that offer virtual running programs.

iFIT Vue Fitness Tracker

iFIT Vue Fitness Tracker
  • View stats and messages on OLED touchscreen
  • Auto-Activity Detection feature detects walking, running, cycling, and sleeping
  • Quick calorie logging - log calories directly on tracker

IFit Graphite Classic Wrist Watch

IFit Graphite Classic Wrist Watch
  • iFit Classic-style Analog-display fitness tracker
  • 3 fitness dials show your daily activity
  • Tracks steps, distance, and calories

How We Reviewed

To compare iFit treadmill programs to other types of virtual workouts, we looked for similar applications that had running programs aimed at treadmill users. We checked what types of platforms these applications are available on if there was any equipment integration possible, and what another fitness program supports the app offers. If any. Lastly, we took a look at what runners have to say about the app.

​BitGym

BitGym
  • iOS / Android / Amazon

Bitgym is a fitness app that takes exercise outside, virtually. A Bitgym user can select from a variety of different indoor exercises, including a treadmill, and then can choose from different maps to explore. Through Bitgym, you can workout in the Swiss Alps, hike through forest trails, or run through cityscapes. You can enable pop-up information to learn more about the environment you are “working out” in as you go through it.

Unlike iFit Coach, Bitgym does not have direct integration or connectivity with your fitness equipment. Instead, it uses the front-facing camera on the device to determine how fast you are going and the video either slows down or speeds up, depending on your movement. You can also opt to set an automatic speed to have the video continue at a constant pace. You can choose to enable nature sounds or use your music.

Bitgym is available on iOS, Android, and the Amazon apps store. You can download it for free but can upgrade to the premium version which will unlock all of the features.

Zombie Running Princess credits Bitgym for keeping her motivated during dreary winters when road running is not an option. Critical app reviews complain about video stuttering and losing unlocked routes during updates.

​Studio

BitGym
  • iPhone and Apple Watch only

For runners that want to “compete” with other runners in a non-linear fashion, there’s Studio. Studio is an app with running audio workouts, led by a fitness instructor. The app tracks the runner’s progress through various biometrics, allowing people to “compete” with their fellow app users through a leaderboard. Non-competitive people can choose to opt out of the leaderboard, too.

Studio is available for iPhone and Apple Watch devices. It is not available for iPad, as it requires HealthKit. It's only available on iPhone and Apple Watch devices. There is no Android version for Studio. The app has a free, two-week trial after which there is a subscription fee.

Reviews of the Studio app are generally positive. Allison Ferrer on Well and Good liked the Studio app, with a wide selection to choose from and a good selection of music. Lifestyle and fitness blogger Sarah Kay Hoffman also liked it, finding the workouts to be challenging and an excellent way to get her runs in despite inclement weather conditions.

Unfortunately, Studio does not interface with a treadmill and is audio only. Another potential con to Studio is that as of September 2018, there no “pause” function during a workout. The developer says that this is due to the way the leaderboard works and their FAQ says that there may be a pause function developed later.

ICON Health and Fitness Axis HR Fitness Tracker, Large/X-Large,...

ICON Health and Fitness Axis HR Fitness Tracker, Large/X-Large,...
  • Integrated heart RATE sensors- tracks continuous heart RATE
  • Auto-activity detection- automatically detects when you are walking, running, cycling, and sleeping
  • Touch screen display- view stats and messages on a LED touch screen

Pros & Cons

Pros

All fitness programs have their pros and cons. When iFit Coach is involved, let’s see how it fares.

The iFit Coach program is generally well reviewed for having great interconnectivity with exercise equipment. It is a wonderful way to vary what could otherwise be a very dull workout. For iFit treadmills that are either iFit Enabled or iFit Ready, the iFit Coach interconnectivity is nearly seamless.

Cons

If you want an iFit Enabled treadmill, be ready to shell out some serious money.

Users that bought iFit compatible treadmills that require another component tended to complain about the additional cost. For example, on Amazon reviews for the NordicTrack 6.5S, multiple users pointed out that the iFit part.

For users that do not have an iFit treadmill, the benefits of iFit Coach are somewhat limited as the treadmill will not respond to the custom workouts from iFit.

Pros

  • Generally well reviewed for having great interconnectivity with exercise equipment
  • Wonderful way to vary what could otherwise be a very dull workout
  • For iFit treadmills that are either iFit Enabled or iFit Ready, the iFit Coach interconnectivity is nearly seamless

Cons

  • Be ready to shell out some serious money
  • Users that bought iFit compatible treadmills that require another component tended to complain about the additional cost
  • Benefits of iFit Coach are somewhat limited as the treadmill will not respond to the custom workouts from iFit

​Verdict

ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill

If you're a runner looking to up your treadmill game, an iFit treadmill is worth a look. An iFit enabled treadmill like the TK is a good option for a serious treadmill runner who wants to vary their workouts and challenge themselves. For those starting out, an iFit ready treadmill may be a better option as you can still use iFit at a potentially lower price point.

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