A gym designer's eco-friendly treadmills recommendations
A number of eco-friendly, nature-inspired and / or manually powered running machines have recently come onto the market, opening up the possibility of integrating this crucial piece of gym equipment into our Biofit nature gym designs without a complete culture clash.
Nature gyms & Cardio equipment
While we still shy away from high-tech machinery loaded up with plasma screens and wifi connectivity that result in a considerably less mindful training experience for the end-user, as gym designers we also recognise that treadmills are a sine qua non of any upscale gym set-up and we have already been integrating them into our forthcoming nature gyms. It’s happening, in other words! So, which models are our current favourites?
The original and, for some, still the best, the Woodway Curve is a non-electric treadmill with a heavily curved belt that feels great underfoot , with just the right balance between rugged foot traction and bounce to make for a comfortable run in a home gym or fitness centre set-up.
It is also perfectly calibrated for sprint training, although it may take 10 minutes to familiarise first-time users with its resistance, once they get a feel for it, there is a whole lot of fun to be had with a Woodway... trust us!
Sprint training is in any case an essential part of our Biofit training method, on the assumption that most clients are looking for maximum bang for heir buck in a minimal amount of time. If that is the case, slow, steady jogs on an indoor treadmill are for rest and recovery days ONLY, unless you are training specifically for long-distances or are a professional athlete. In which case there is a good excuse.
If neither of those apply, then sprints are the way to go as the shorter training time means less overall impact on the joints, massive stamina gains and more all-round power development in your legs. The Curve does this better than just about any other machine out there, so what’s not to like?
Technogym may have come late to the manual treadmill market but they were sure to incorporate a clever innovation or two when they designed the Skillmill and it is now a regular part of our training program in winter seasons.
There is the trademark black and yellow exterior aesthetic as well as an overall quality feel that has become Technogym’s brand in many ways. With this company, there are no questions over build quality, customer service or perception - it is a world leader in the industry and just about every high-end gym we’ve ever seen has at least a few pieces of equipment from them.
In this instance, the Skillmill has a lever on the right that allows a user to calibrate the resistance of the belt as well as multiple hand positions, allowing for several different positions. Crank the resistance right up and lean forward to create the sensation of pushing a sled uphill, or lean back and take the resistance off for your sprints. We like to throw in 10 minutes of slow but steady sled-pushing on an active recovery day as well as 10-minutes of sprints (45secs ON / 30 secs OFF) in a stamina session.
Taking a lesson from indoor cycles, the addition of multiple handles simply offers more training variety and is a worthy upgrade for this type of gym equipment.
This hybrid model’s USP is that it harnesses the belt’s movement to generate modest amounts of energy, enough to charge an iphone, power the display and perhaps give a little back to the grid via an in-built inverter.
Beyond that however, despite its rather old school US-friendly design, it wins points for both mechanical and electrical breaking systems, meaning a user can control the km/hr speed via the control panel, giving regular treadmill users a more familiar method of changing gear during a workout. This is in contrast to, for example, the Woodway Curve and Technogym Skillmill, that both require a bit more getting used to.
SportsArt call themselves the ‘Green Sports Company’ and there is genuine substance behind that claim as they were behind the ECO-POWR eco-friendly treadmill launched in 2007 that gave a 32% reduction in power consumption. Over the last 11 years or so they have also turned their manufacturing facility into a sustainable hub, perhaps recognising that the materials required to build a treadmill are largely plastic and metal rather than natural materials.
As we have often said however, the sports industry as a whole has a long way to go in its efforts to be become more green, natural and eco-friendly; SportsArt may not have solved everything yet in terms of materials but they are way ahead of the rest of the pack so kudos to them.
A new kid on the block, the Sprintbok sits in the upper segment of the eco-friendly, nature-inspired running machine segment, right alongside the Technogym Skillmill in terms of premium pricing in fact. How do they justify that type of price tag?
Firstly, it has category-beating aesthetics that finally integrate some wood panelling into the exterior, something we’ve been asking for for a long time! A manual treadmill with no motor and a Made In France quality guarantee, it does not have multiple handles like the Technogym Skillmill nor does it give electricity back to the grid but it does come with a 10-year guarantee and, did we mention this already, looks darn good!
If you would like to know more about our eco-friendly, nature-inspired gym design services, please contact us at info @ biofit . io or simply press the icon in the top-left corner of this screen.