The Vision Fitness S7100HRT elliptical features a 20″ – 21.5″ stride length, 18% – 37% incline range, and the science-based Sprint 8® cardio workout program. But how does this measure up to the upgraded S7200HRT? Is the S7100HRT really the best elliptical machine for helping you achieve your personal fitness goals?
In this review we’ll compare the Passport™ compatible S7100HRT to other Vision Fitness ellipticals, including the S60 and S70 machines from their Suspension™ series. This means taking a look at what you gain by having the two-stage generator resistance system (S60 and S70) compared to the ECB magnetic braking system of the S7100HRT.
We’ll also be comparing the workout programs (17 with the S7100HRT), entertainment features, and fitness tracking options against similarly priced ellipticals. These will be from a range of fitness equipment companies, including NordicTrack, ProForm, and Horizon Fitness.
Design and safety features
As Vision’s most affordable suspension elliptical trainer, the S7100HRT features a lower step-on height and longer warranty than their folding and non folding models.
The main difference between the suspension ellipticals and more traditional ellipticals, such as the X20 and X40, is the incline range. On the X40 you have no incline at all, whereas the gradient can be adjusted from 18% through to a maximum of 37% on the S7100HRT.
Although this is still a front-drive elliptical, you no longer have the guide rails for the foot plates to glide along. This suspended design creates a smoother running experience that’s more reminiscent of Precor’s AMT collection.
But the comparison between these two collections only goes as far as the suspension design. Unfortunately you can’t adapt the stride length with the Vision S7100HRT in the same way you can with the Adaptive Motion Trainers (0-36″ stride). In this case it’s fixed at 20″ – 21.5″, depending on the incline.
The PerfectStride® motion combines with the suspension to eliminate surges and dead spots. By adjusting the incline gradient you can effectively shift the focus between different lower body muscle groups. Bringing it close to 37% will create more of a stepping motion that’s perfect for targeting your quads. Shallower gradients closer to a flat stride path are better for focussing the hamstrings and glutes.
As with the X40 elliptical, Vision have used an ECB magnetic braking system, where you can switch between each of the 20 levels using controls on the console.
How does it compare to the S7200HRT?
It’s worth bearing in mind that the S7100HRT has several upgrade options available; the S7200HRT, the S60, and the S70, all of which are suspension elliptical machines.
The downside is that the S7200HRT usually costs between $800 and $1000 more than this entry level model. For the extra money you’re getting 4 more resistance levels, an incline range of 13% to 39%, and a slightly wider stride length of 20″ to 23″. You would also enjoy a longer warranty on parts, a 25 lb increase to the weight capacity, and larger front drive system despite having the same 23 lb flywheel.
In terms of the technology behind the console, both suspension ellipticals are Passport™ Ready, and have near enough the same number of workout programs. You also have access to Vision’s unique Sprint 8 fat-burning interval training program, which we’ll talk about more later in the review.
If you were buying a new treadmill, you’d be right to consider the safety features. We’re seeing an increasing number of fitness companies offering passcode protected consoles and almost all now feature a safety key.
But elliptical machines are traditionally a much safer option, with virtually all of the movement imparted at the pedals created by your running motion. There’s no motor and no fast moving belt, which means very few moving parts.
Precor have fitted some of their most modern ellipticals (EFX 425) with a safety pin to lock the foot plates in place when not in use. But this isn’t something you’ll find on Vision Fitness ellipticals. The S7100HRT has no passcode protected console, safety screen timeout, safety key, or locking pins. Yet it’s still an incredibly safe piece of fitness equipment, suitable for family environments.
Vision Fitness S7100HRT – Features Summary
- 20″ – 21.5″ stride length
- 23 lb flywheel
- Front-drive non-folding frame
- 8.5″ step-on height
- 20 magnetic resistance levels
- 18% – 37% incline range
- 17 Workout programs
- Sprint 8® fat-burning interval program
- Contact heart rate monitoring
- Polar® wireless receiver and free Polar® chest strap
- Passport™ Ready
- Charges USB 2.0 devices
- Virtual Active Integrated (Elegant+ and Touch+ consoles)
- 325 lb weight capacity
Display console design
As Vision’s most affordable Suspension Elliptical, the S7100HRT features a cut down version of the console you’ll find on their top-of-the-line S70 machine.
It’s worth mentioning that, unlike Vision Fitness treadmills, none of the consoles are touchscreen. All include a program profile to highlight changes in resistance, and split your workout feedback across multiple screens.
For the S7100HRT, this includes your speed, distance, watts, METs, resistance level, and number of calories burned. The console also includes a fairly basic set of up and down arrows for controlling the resistance and incline, but there are no quick-select functions, and no controls built into the handles.
You’re also facing limited entertainment options, with no built-in speakers or support for an iPod/MP3 player. If you own a tablet device then the built-in display shelf might come in useful, but there’s no way to avoid obscuring important workout feedback from the console screens.
Although suspension trainers are traditionally more expensive than your regular elliptical machine, we were certainly hoping for more from the console. There’s also no cooling fan, which has become a standard feature amongst most mid-range ellipticals.
But it feels like Vision have focussed the design of the S7100HRT console around your workout performance, which is no bad thing. It’s unfortunate that you have no entertainment features, but what you’re paying for is more advanced workout programs and a more challenging workout with the incline settings.
The console also allows you to input your weight and age to ensure the workout feedback is as accurate as possible. Your age is used in the calculation of your maximum heart rate (Vision have adopted the formula of: 220 – age), and the weight is used in the calories burned calculation.
The S7100HRT Suspension Elliptical is also classed as Passport™ Ready, rather than Virtual Active integrated. But what does this mean for your workout experience?
Passport is something that’s unique to Johnson Fitness, which is the parent company of Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness.
But most of their equipment (including the S7100HRT Suspension Elliptical) is only setup to be ‘Passport ready’, meaning you’ll have to purchase the Passport Player separately (usually $199). The alternative is if you see ‘Virtual Active Integrated’, which means the Passport Player is already built into the console. It’s something that’s reserved for their top-of-the-line machines, such as the Vision T80 treadmill with either the Elegant+ or Touch+ console.
Passport Player can connect to your home entertainment system and display workout data on your television, together with high-definition footage of real-world locations. The resistance and incline automatically adjusts to match a change in terrain for the route you’re following, and you have two destination courses pre-loaded on the Player; Northern Italy and the American Southwest.
If you want to experience different workout locations, you can purchase Passport Packs (A, B, and C), which each include 6 new locations (usually $99 per pack).
Heart rate monitoring
If heart rate tracking is an important part of your workouts, the Vision S7100HRT has everything you need.
Contact grips are built into the static handles, and a Polar™ wireless receiver built into the console. This picks up signals being transmitted from a Polar™ wireless chest strap (included) and is a much more reliable way to monitor your heart rate for longer periods of time.
Wireless heart rate monitoring is also a major advantage over elliptical machines that only have contact grips (Horizon Evolve series). Wearing the chest strap means you can use the moveable handles to create a total body cardio workout, rather than maintaining contact with the static grips.
Workout programs and user profiles
Vision’s suspension trainers use a different type of console to their more traditional ellipticals, resulting in some new and unique workout program categories. This includes Sculptor programs and the ability to create more custom workouts than any other piece of Vision Fitness equipment.
So how can this benefit your fitness routine?
Essentially there are 5 main program categories; Sprint 8, Classic, Sculptor, Heart Rate Target, and Custom. We’ve provided a quick summary of what you can expect from each workout, to help you decide whether a suspension trainer is the best option for your fitness goals.
Classic programs are the workouts you’re probably already familiar with, such as interval training, whereas Sculptor programs are unique to Vision Fitness. Each one of these Sculptor programs has a 25 minute duration and is setup as a form of interval training, with eight 45 second high-intensity sets per workout.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the Vision S7100HRT is their entry level model, so it’s worth taking a look at our review of the mid-range S60 and top-of-the-line S70 machines to see how they compare.
Workout program categories
- Sprint 8
Sprint 8 isn’t available on the Classic console, but is included with the Elegant+ and Touch+ models.
The duration is 20 minutes, and the workouts are designed around an 8-week cardio routine rather than a single program. Each of these workouts involves interval training, where you have 3 minutes of warm-up, 2.5 minutes of cool-down, and a series of 2-minute sprint and recovery cycles (30 second sprints and 90 second recovery) in between.
Before you start you’re able to choose from one of four intensity levels; beginner, intermediate, advanced, and elite. It’s a routine that’s designed to boost energy, reduce body fat, promote lean muscle mass and improve cholesterol.
This is the standard program that’s supplied with all Vision ellipticals. The resistance level and incline gradient won’t change unless you make adjustments at the console. (Classic: 1 of 5)
A high intensity workout that’s designed to strengthen your cardiovascular system by alternating between short periods of high and low intensity exercise. (Classic: 2 of 5)
- Fat burn
Designed to keep your heart rate at the optimum level for calorie burning, this program maintains a lower intensity than the interval program but with a longer duration. (Classic: 3 of 5)
This isn’t a program that’s included with Vision’s treadmills or traditional elliptical machines, but creates a high level of workout variation for their suspension trainers. The console randomly selects the resistance and incline levels for each segment of your workout. (Classic: 4 of 5)
If you want to focus on the effort you’re putting into your workout and not just on a specific incline or resistance level, this is the program for you. The resistance automatically adjusts based on your strides per minute to keep you at a constant work level. (Classic: 5 of 5)
- Glute burn
The first of four Sculptor programs, Glute Burn is designed to build strength and muscle tone in your glutes and hamstrings by using carefully selected incline and resistance settings. It’s also an effective cardiovascular workout. (Sculptor: 1 of 4)
- Calf toner
Designed to build strength and muscle tone in your calves by using carefully selected incline and resistance settings. This has the same cardiovascular and calorie burning benefits as the Glute Burn program. (Sculptor: 2 of 4)
- Quad toner
As with the Glute Burn and Calf Toner programs, Quad Toner focusses the work on a specific leg muscle, which in this case is your quads.(Sculptor: 3 of 4)
- Total body
Whereas the previous three Sculptor programs were designed to focus the intensity on one or two muscles, the Total Body program uses a wider variation of resistance and incline settings to promote overall strength and conditioning. (Sculptor: 4 of 4)
- Heart rate target (HRT)
The Vision S7100HRT elliptical is pre-programmed with 3 variations of heart rate workout; Target HRT, HRT Hill, and HRT Interval.
Target HRT is designed to improve the endurance of your cardiovascular system by keep you at 70% of your maximum heart rate. HRT Hill uses four heart rate target zones instead of one, switching between 65%, 70%, 75%, and 80% by automatically adjusting the resistance level.
HRT Interval is a slightly simpler version of HRT Hill, where you alternate between two fixed heart rate levels of 70% and 80% of your predicted maximum heart rate. This is designed to maximize the number of calories burned and increase your overall fitness level.
- Custom programs
For most Vision Fitness equipment the most custom programs you can expect is 3, which you can find on any machine with an Elegant+ or Touch+ console (Classic console has 2 custom workouts).
But for their suspension trainers you can create, save, and reuse up to 5 custom programs. Rather than spending time storing the incline and resistance settings manually, the console simply records any changes you make at the console and uses this to create your custom profile. It’s much more efficient than manually creating your profile segment by segment.
Unfortunately the Vision S7100HRT isn’t setup with any form of workout tracking, which means there isn’t really a need for user profiles.
With most of their treadmills, such as the T40 and T80, you can sync workout performance to an online profile through ViaFit connectivity. This lets you share the data with various other fitness apps, including RunKeeper and Fitbit.
The closest thing you have to user profiles here is the custom programs. They prompt you to set your age, weight, and the time, which is then used in the two main calculations; maximum heart rate, and number of calories burned.
Ease of assembly
If you’re buying the S7100HRT elliptical direct from Vision Fitness, their policy is to schedule delivery and bring the boxes inside the first ground-level door or into your garage.
The Johnson Fitness website (Vision’s parent company) has a complete collection of owner’s manuals, diagrams, and other guides for assisting you with the elliptical assembly. Contacting Vision Fitness for after-sales service and support is also incredibly easy, with an email address, contact number, and contact form available through their official website.
But what if you’re looking for more than ground-level delivery? What if you want a trained service technician to assemble your new elliptical machine for you, so you don’t have to worry about heavy lifting and following diagrams?
Professional assembly services
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find any additional levels of home delivery from Vision themselves. This would be where a technician visits your address and assembles the elliptical for you in your room of choice.
However, if this is a service you’re interested in, Amazon have recently started offering a number of home assembly services. This includes home gyms, treadmills, and elliptical machines. To check whether your zip code is covered, please use the form below.
Amazon’s elliptical trainer assembly service already has hundreds of 5 star rated reviews, with customer feedback for the various installers.
The service itself includes assembly of 1 elliptical per product instructions, with a typical assembly time of 4 hours. Amazon have also started offering an ASAP version of the service. If you submit an order before 10am on a business day, a service pro will come to your home that same day.
Vision Fitness include a recommended maintenance routine with each of their ellipticals. These are fairly standard steps to ensure the continued operation of any home elliptical, but still worth a mention.
- Monthly: Clean the display console, frame, handlebars, plastic covers, and footplates.
- Bi-Annually: Inspect all bolts and hardware, frame, and power cord.
The S7100HRT user manual also includes troubleshooting solutions for issues such as lack of illumination at the console, or erratic heart rate readouts.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Brake: 5 years
- Parts: 5 years
- Labor: 2 years