The LifeSpan Fitness TR1200i treadmill is the entry-model in their extensive range. But just because it's the cheapest doesn't mean to say it's lacking in features. It's well-made, with some nice touches, and you can see the influence of the exercise physiologists involved in the design. These include the ease-of-use, the display of your workout date, plus the wide variation in the pre-set workout programs (21 in total).
So onto the review.
If you're DIY-minded then it should take you no longer than 45 minutes to put together - if not, or you really hate doing this sort of thing, get someone who is. We've heard a few grumbles about some of the screws not being easy to fit, and that no spares are provided, but on the whole the instructions are adequate and it's pretty straightforward. There are only a few parts to assemble as many components come pre-assembled.
The 1200i is classed as a compact, foldable machine (see dimensions below), but has the feel of a larger model thanks to the good-sized running belt and long handles. However, if you're over 6' tall, you may feel the handrails are a little low side - but not enough to put most users off.
The 2.5 CHP motor is quiet and can deliver a top speed of 11 mph with relative ease. The deck is well-cushioned with 6 shock absorbers making it easy on your joints. Higher up in the LifeSpan range you'll find their decks have 8 shocks making them more comfortable still. The 1200i features LifeSpan's Intell-Step™ that acts a pedometer if you prefer to count your steps (remember, 10,000 a day keeps the doctor away!) The number of steps are constantly displayed on your workout screens, and can be useful if you're experimenting with stride-length and different running techniques — or if you're a nerd like me and like to keep a track on all the training data you can!
The belt comes with the safety feature Intell-Guard™ that automatically pauses if it senses you've stopped moving. We know of a few instances where this happens when walking. However, you can actually switch this function off (at your own risk obviously) if it becomes a pain, and you still have the safety-clip or emergency stop button anyway.
The top speed of 11 mph is a little faster than many in this price-bracket. It's also more than enough for the majority of runners as it's practically a sprint for all but elite athletes. The incline is listed as 15 levels, but note, this is not 15 degrees. The top level is approx. 10 degrees, which like the top speed, is ample for most users. The inclines go up in 1/2 degree stages allowing for fine adjustments to the intensity of your workout.
Both the incline and speed settings can be selected by the pre-set programs (see below), which makes it a lot easier as you don't have to keep pressing the buttons yourself while running - unless you prefer manual control.
The console contains a USB charging port for your mobile device, plus there's also a stand to hold most devices.
And when you're done, the deck folds up with little effort to reduce the machines footprint - see the dimensions below.
Not sure what any of this means? Confused by the techno-jargon?
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The touch-screen display is simplicity in itself. Here we see the benefit of using fitness experts and exercise physiologists in the design phase. The manual that comes with the TR1200i has a QR code that links to a video on how best to use your new treadmill - a nice touch :0) But if you're familiar with fitness equipment, you'll soon figure out how to use it. You have a choice of 3 dashboards to display your workout data. We particularly like the track, and the speed-dial style layouts - see right (or below if you're reading this on your phone).
The main benefit of the TR1200i in our view is the variation and design of the pre-set programs. You have 21 to choose from, and within each of those you have options to tailor them to your needs. The pre-sets will control the speed, or incline, or both to keep you challenged. The workouts are split into 4 categories: Weight Loss, Sports Training, Healthy Living, and Custom. These include cardio-runs, steady pace, intervals (some of those are a killer!) and uphill walking.
If you like to stay in control and not be dictated to by a robot, the one-touch buttons for selecting speed and incline settings on manual make it easy to operate while running - it was a joke about the robot, btw :0) We love them really.
The console is compatible with a Bluetooth heart rate chest-strap - the best option if you're keen on using the benefits of heart rate training programs. The two HR programs allow you to choose a target heart rate and it will keep you in that range by adjusting your speed, and/or incline.
Our only beef with the console is it would be even better if the screen was a little bigger. But perhaps we're just finding things to pick at for the sake of it!
The LifeSpan Fitness TR1200i offers really good value for money in our view. It's a compact model but has the feel of a bigger machine. It may lack some of the advanced features of newer treadmills of a similar price, but what it can do, it does very well. The programs and layout of the dashboards are excellent, delivering plenty of options to mix up your training. Treadmill running doesn't have to involve plodding along day after day. This machine should keep you interested for many years with its almost limitless variations. For the price, it's a serious contender to the competition.
Speed / Incline
Click images to enlarge
Max. User weight:
2.5 CHP DC
0.5 - 11 MPH (0.5 interval)
10% - 15 level settings
20" W x 56" L
Unfolded: 70.25" L x 33" W x 55" H / Folded: 39" L x 33" W x 63" H
300 lbs / 136 kg
Frame: Lifetime / Motor: 5 years / Parts: 2 Years / Labor: 1 Year
If you prefer more features such as online, personal trainer-led workouts, the NordicTrack T6.5Si might be for you - but it does cost more.