Rant About the Precor 956i Treadmill

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I was traveling for work this week, and so I had to try to get some workouts in at the hotel gym.  Like most hotel gyms, it wasn’t great, but you could get your workout done if you were determined to.  That’s not unusual.  But something in this hotel gym got me kind of annoyed, and that’s what I want to write about.

Like most gyms, this one had treadmills.  This one had the Precor 956i.  Every one of the treadmills was facing the windows, yet you could not see the windows from any of them.  Because on each and every treadmill, there was a giant television screen.  Front and center.

Hotel Gym

(wow.  this looks like fun…)

Try as I might, I could not look over, under, through, or around this stupid, giant monitor.  But even worse than not being able to see around it – it was a giant baffle.  Basically all it did was reflect every hot, sweaty, oxygen-depleted breath right back at me.  Thanks, Precor!  By raising the temperature and humidity even further, I think this has got to be one of the worst ideas ever in exercise equipment.

Cardio Theater(emphasis mine)

But I’m upset about more than just the gallon of sweat lost to the “Cardio Heater”.  I’m bugged because I think this says something (terrible) about our attitude toward exercise in this country.  It’s as if Precor is saying to people “Look, we know that getting some activity is about the most awful thing you can do.  Here’s a giant TV so you can watch ‘Real Housewives of Pascagoula Mississippi’.  Maybe that will take your mind off this horrific ordeal called exercise.”

Really?  Is that what we, collectively, think of physical activity?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m exercising, I can’t read a magazine, watch TV, or chat on my cell phone with friends.  I submit that if you can do these things, then you aren’t working out hard enough to provide any meaningful stimulus.  I mean, yes, technically it’s still movement.  But so is walking to the fridge.

Now, granted, my idea of exercise may be more intense than most.  But I’ve seen Stef take 80 year old clients, people with MS, and clients with no skin on large parts of their body onto treadmills, and when she does, trust me – they are not in the mood to watch TV.  So I don’t really think that age, fitness level, or disabilities have anything to do with it.  If you’re working hard, you’re working hard – and whatever is truly hard for you, I bet you can’t keep up with the Kardashians while you’re doing it.

I suppose, in their defense, Precor would say that they’re just providing the features that people want in treadmills.  But if that’s the case, then maybe they shouldn’t call it exercise equipment.  They should call it “guilt mitigation equipment”.  You think you’re exercising, so you feel less guilty – even though what you’re really doing is loafing and watching TV.

Precor might also say that providing entertainment options encourages people to exercise who otherwise wouldn’t.  But they’ve been doing this for a decade now and we’re in worse shape than ever!  So clearly, if that’s the reason, it’s not working.

I probably shouldn’t single out Precor here.  I’m sure they’re not the only ones slapping a stupid 25 inch flat screen on every treadmill.  But it kind of annoys me that the very companies making exercise equipment are passively contributing to the terrible nationwide attitude about exercise.  It seems awfully short sighted of them.  Don’t dread exercise, celebrate it!  That’s the attitude they should be trying to promote.  You don’t need the TV to baby sit you – you should feel like a freaking rockstar when you step onto a treadmill!  Put disco lights on it!  Heck, maybe they could have the treadmill post your workout to social media or something to celebrate.  Am I way off base here?

So, in summary, the Precor 956i is good for TV watching.

But it sucks rocks if you actually want to get some exercise.

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    5 thoughts on “Rant About the Precor 956i Treadmill

    1. Sarah

      Loved this blog/post!!! I’m in the process of trying to find the “right” treadmill. I started off looking at cheaper models because I was afraid to spend the money, but the more I’ve looked into treadmills, the more disgusted I am at how they are basically just entertainment centers built in to a semi decent device. I just want a treadmill without all the bells & whistles, without a tv because I refuse to watch it, and that will hold up to my mileages over 10+yrs! I love to exercise & love to run. It’s not punishment for me at all. Do you have any recommendations for such? I’m looking a precor, life fitness & Landice brands.

      1. James - Post author

        We don’t have any good recommendations, as we bought our home unit a few years ago and it’s still going strong.
        Just DON’T go to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart, or anyplace like that.
        Go to a dedicated fitness equipment dealer. Their units will typically hold up longer.

    2. Alan

      I never have figured out the TV angle on machines like this but maybe it helps if you are just going to run in one spot. My own preference is to head outside for my exercise and I l prefer seeing the scenery go when I am running during my lunch hour instead of seeing nothing but indoors all day. Winter can put a crimp in your motivation to head outdoors but I’ll take running in the 30-40 degree rains of a PacNW winter over watching a TV inside on a machine.

      1. James - Post author

        Amen brother Alan! I knew I couldn’t be the only one. 40 degree rain sounds good now – when I’m looking out on 25 degree snow!


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