I admit, I was skeptical of running is the OG cardio workout, it can be a rather monotonous experience, especially on treadmills, which can open a wormhole where every minute lasts an hour. But that wasn’t my experience at all with the Commercial X22i, which offers a suite of features like a calorie-burning 40-degree incline, a shock-absorbing cushion, and a gorgeous 22-inch monitor that makes running indoors an absolute pleasure, even on days when I initially didn’t feel like working out at home.While
After a few days testing it out, I started to like it, and after a couple of weeks, love it. Day after day, workout after workout, I found myself looking forward to my time in my garage as mile after mile of rubber passed below my feet. After a month with the machine, I can honestly say that I’ve come to enjoy treadmill runs more than the real thing. Sold at $2,999, it’s one of the pricier treads on the market, but with all of its premium offerings, we’d argue that it’s worth the investment. Here’s why.
Just at first glance, the NordicTrack Commercial X22i is a knockout, thanks to its streamlined steel construction that’s as functional as it is beautiful. For example, while most run-of-the-mill treads feature motors that sit at the head of the deck, Commercial X22i’s 4.0 CHP motor sits underneath it, which gives you extra leg room and allows for longer strides.
Speaking of space, the 22-by-60-inch belt feels expansive (compared to other similarly priced machines which are usually only 20 inches wide), while the cushioning under it, called Reflex cushioning, is a spring-supported system that helps absorb the impact from each stride, which is a Godsend for guys like me who have ache-y knees after a few miles on the concrete. Even during my longer runs on the Commercial X22i, their impact on my joints was minimal. Figuratively speaking, you’ll have more wear and tear jumping on a pillow. Sturdy 2.5-inch rollers provide a durable base to run on.
When it comes to incline, the Commercial X22i has the range, which has a 40-degree incline and 6-degree decline. To put in perspective, that’s nearly double the incline and decline range of other similarly-priced treads on the market (the Peloton Tread+, which retails for $4,565, only has a 15 degree incline). Yes, altitude hounds will find plenty of challenge with the Commercial X22i’s incline, and it’s also an efficient way for walkers to burn more calories without adding stress on their knees.
The machine is flanked by two curved beams that connect the Commercial X22i’s console, a sleek interface with two sides of one-touch buttons that quickly adjust incline and speed, and it tops out at a not-unusual 12 miles per hour. At the center of the console is the tread’s pièce de résistance, a 22-inch HD touchscreen that features crystal-clear graphics, and an intuitive interface that lets you switch between workout programs and adjust the machine’s settings with ease.
The greatest appeal of this treadmill has to be its digital component. Short of spending millions of dollars and tens of hours flying around the world, there’s no better way to stay engaged in your workouts minute by minute and day to day than with the treadmill’s iFit integrated software, which gives you access to thousands of streamed workouts. (Each machine comes with a year’s worth of the service for free.) Once connected through Wi-Fi, a 22-inch HD touchscreen beams back your trainer in some of the most beautiful locales in the world, creating a cinematic experience as well as a challenging workout. As these Instagrammable scenes unfurl, your trainer keeps pace just ahead in your field of view, offering encouragement or talking about the locale. Of course, as the terrain and location changes, so does the machine, shifting speeds and incline or decline to match the display.
It doesn’t feel like a workout, but rather an experience in a beautiful place that also happens to burn calories. If the pace or incline is too easy or hard, you can easily press the numerical buttons flanking the screen, which will override and adjust the pace to your preference.
The sheer variety of locations is incredible, spanning every continent and ecosystem from rainforest to desert. My personal favorite course was by legendary trainer Tommy Rivers Puzey in the Bolivian mountains. On its own, the arid scenery and lung-busting intervals were great. But while one-off workouts are available, many, including this, are part of whole training evolutions. At the end of Puzey’s four-week half-marathon training program, you’ve not only surveyed a country but are ready to race, not run, the distance. Since we’re all socially distanced IRL, my iFit trainers have become my running partners, coaches, and support crew.
Combining iFit’s cinematography with the Commercial X22i’s speed and incline capabilities is a feast for the senses. But even without its iFit component, the X22i still has plenty of features to make it worth the sticker price. It also has a training sled feature, where users can hold the machine’s vertical grips and, with the belt moving at one mile per hour, push the belt a la a training sled.
While you can connect it to Bluetooth earbuds when you need to keep it down or when a partner is sleeping, its three-inch speakers pump out tunes or workout instructions, making headphones purely optional. Another great feature for apartment-dwellers: quiet incline and motor drives. Unlike that hotel gym machine, this one starts with a whisper and increases grade with a sigh. The most your neighbors will hear is your heavy breathing. Finally, the console’s dual fans work wonders pushing humid air around, making it a great choice for small spaces.
Yes, $2,999 for a treadmill is a hefty price tag, but given that a luxury gym membership can cost over $3,000 a year, guys who are in the market for a top-of-the-line machine with a suite of virtual trainers (thanks to iFit) will find the Commercial X22i a worthwhile investment. Plus, even when gyms eventually open back up for good, we’d bet that you’d probably prefer to just workout out at home, given iFit’s expansive virtual training offerings.
Beyond its workout benefits, the Commercial X22i has been a boon for my mental health. COVID concerns have blocked many, including myself, from our usual travel schedules, and a long, gray Portland winter doesn’t make it any easier. The NordicTrack X22i and its iFit interactive programs certainly alleviate some of the cabin fever that I and many others are feeling. Granted, no matter how refreshed you feel, you’ll still need to supplement your vitamin D, but it’s about the closest I’ve come to an actual tropical holiday in the last year. So after the first month, where do I stand? There are a lot of negatives to the coronavirus lockdown, but my running has never been better.
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