by Aly Teich | sponsored by NordicTrack
Growing up, I spent a significant amount of time over at my best friend Jenny’s house, where her parents had one of the original NordicTrack machines. I remember finding the contraption, made mostly of wood and cables quite amusing. We would hide behind the door of her parents’ bedroom and watch and giggle as her father sweated through his indoor, cross-country skiing session. When he was done, we would come barreling into the bedroom to take turns for ourselves – sticking our little feet into the foot holders on the wooden skis while trying not to knock them off their tracks, and struggling to reach the arm cables to get the full experience. It was fun, hilarious, and, actually, rather fascinating!
I have to admit, NordicTrack has been pretty much off my radar since then (other than seeing a few of their commercials advertising more modern and less wooden in-home equipment). That was until last month, when I was invited to an event to test out NordicTrack’s new at-home line. Considering my last impression of the brand was sticking my adolescent feet into their wooden skis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Additionally, with the explosion of at-home workout options, I was curious to see where NordicTrack was going to fit in.
Only four words are needed here: I. Was. Blown. Away.
This was NOT the funny looking NordicTrack machine I remember sitting in the corner of the Tompkins' apartment on the Upper West Side. The new NordicTrack is a full line of some of the most beautiful at-home equipment I have ever seen (or just, equipment, period). Machine offerings include a treadmill, bike, rower, strength system, and many more options. I was not only blown away by the equipment itself, but by the iFit content and on-demand workouts that streamed through the large screens attached to the machines. The iFit coaches leading these interactive workouts and the people on the NordicTrack team clearly exemplify the passion, thought, and heart behind the brand.
As I walked into the showroom, I was greeted by several team members from NordicTrack, and was assigned a “workout buddy" who was there to guide and join me for the sample workout at each station for the next hour - the rower, the bike, the strength system, and the treadmill. I was then given a pair of Altra sneakers in my size, a towel, and a bottle of water before heading to my first station. While Chase, my workout buddy, had already grown on me, he was quickly overlooked as I walked towards my first station, the rower, and saw an incredibly familiar and friendly face – iFit trainer Alex Silver-Fagan.
I’ve known Alex since early in her training journey, and have always admired her drive for continued learning and her passion for the science behind exercise (something that often gets lost in the current world of fitness, where an Instagram following or pretty face – although she has both - can often outweigh training credentials, experience, or education). As I ran over to give her a big hug, I saw another familiar face – who, I then found out, was the iFit head trainer for the strength system – Gideon Akande. Gideon is another trainer I have always had immense respect for (and I’m not the only one – as he was awarded “Top Trainer” by Men’s Health this year). Aside from both of these trainers being rooted in science and education, they are also just straight-up good people (which I can also now say for the rest of the coaching lineup).
Again, in an industry where trainers are becoming actual celebrities and egos too often lead the charge, I deeply value fitness professionals who are genuinely kind; are in fitness due to a true passion to help people get healthier; and somehow still manage to check their ego at the door. I hadn’t even touched a machine yet, but judging on how NordicTrack seemed to value good trainers and good people – I was already sold.
I then got to try the equipment, and was geeking out so much over the features, that my hour turned into two hours of play. I mean, we’re talking about a bike that starts to actually “tip up” as you are riding an incline (to better mimic the form of an actual road bike), a treadmill that goes up to a 40 percent pitch (meaning, you could legit go for an intense hike IN YOUR LIVING ROOM), and a strength system that uses magnetic force as resistance. The construction is beautiful, with every knob, button, and screw clearly thought out in detail. The iFit video content screens are big and beautiful, and on the higher-end models, there are even fans to keep you cool(er) during your sweat sessions.
While NordicTrack is not yet offering live-stream classes (stay tuned!), I’m not really sure they even need to go there. The iFit lessons and classes on-demand were incredibly engaging and challenging, and the “scenic workouts” will not only make you want to keep going for hours, but actually offer a portal to discover corners of the world from your house. NordicTrack is investing heavily in this aspect of the at-home line, sending their iFit trainers all over the world to film runs, walks, hikes, and bikes – all for you to follow along and discover the world along with them. When I tried the treadmill, I was able to go on a run with coach John Peel (who was on the screen in front of me) as he (and I) discovered Cinque Terre, Italy for the first time. Even more impressive, the treadmill automatically adjusted its incline and speed according to what John was doing - so all I had to do was watch and follow along. We even stopped for views along the way! However, if the run were to ever get too intense or fast, or if I wanted to take it up a notch and keep jogging while we took in the views, I could easily override the controls and speed it up, slow it down, or adjust the incline. This went for the bike as well – which adjusted itself through the studio class I took, but the resistance buttons were always right there, just under my fingers (literally), to adjust as needed. And if I wanted to get back on the pre-programmed settings, just a simple button and John and I would be back in sync.
With all the beautiful equipment, phenomenal trainers, and worldly content, what blew me away the most was the price-point accessibility. While at-home gyms and equipment have largely been luxury items priced for those who can afford a $3000 price tag, NordicTrack is working to democratize accessibility to getting healthy at home. How do they achieve this? By offering basic versions of each piece of equipment that significantly lower the price. For example, their treadmill, with all the bells and whistles of the attached screen, the fan, and the 40 percent pitch is about as much as you would expect at $2749, plus an iFit content membership. However, they also offer a treadmill with the same build, but with more basic functionality that goes as low as $1099, including the iFit membership. If you opt for the more basic model, you still have access to all the same content, you just have to stream it on your own device. While I know even the lower price point may be far too expensive for many, it is most certainly a step in a the right direction to making at-home workout equipment accessible for all. I have deep respect for NordicTrack for realizing that health should not just be a luxury for the wealthy.
So, all in? As at-home workouts and equipment become more and more popular, I’m giving a big stamp of approval on NordicTrack – both as a product line and as a brand ethos. In an industry full of fads and trends, it’s easy to spot who is the real deal; who is truly out to help people get healthy in a safe and science-backed way; and who will stand the test of time.
While NordicTrack has already proven itself in the last category, I think they are still just at the beginning of a new and exciting phase with a long and healthy road ahead.