The Precor 245 Energy Series Elliptical Cross Trainer is the upgraded version of the earlier 225 model of the same collection.
The 245 now features a complete redesign of the console to incorporate capacitive touch buttons, as well as becoming the only elliptical in the series to offer workout performance tracking.
In this review we take an in-depth look at what this means for your training, as well as finding out more about the additional workout programs, user profiles, the new ability to create custom workouts, and what you can expect from the Preva mobile app connection.
If you’re thinking about buying a new elliptical trainer, you may have already come across various front and rear-driven designs, some of which may even have had incline settings.
But in comparing these to the Precor 245, it’s clear there are a number of important differences.
Taking into account the price point, the 245 is around the same level as some of the X8 ellipticals from Life Fitness, and the Suspension trainers from Vision Fitness.
But because their design is so different, the Vision Fitness suspension trainers can only really be compared to something like Precor’s Commercial Series AMT, making the X8 series their closest competitor.
Despite being extremely similar in terms of price, the Precor 245 includes a wide range of more advanced features, including the incline options which aren’t available at all with the X8, SmartRate heart rate tracking, and touch screen console functions.
So apart from being more advanced than its competitors in terms of both technology and design, how does it compare to other ellipticals in Precor’s own Energy Series collection?
After reviewing the earlier 225 model, it’s clear that there isn’t actually a great deal of difference in terms of the physical design features.
The CrossRamp is still motorized, number of resistance levels is capped at 16, and the maximum incline of the ramp remains at 25 degrees.
However, there are also a number of major improvements that have been made in order to make this such a competitive elliptical for its price range.
The new workout programs and console features in particular are changes we wanted to look at in more detail, which we’ll be covering later on in our review.
Precor 245 – Features Summary
- Precor Cross Ramp technology adjusts the shape of the elliptical path your feet travel so you can target specific muscles
- Patented elliptical path perfectly mimics a natural running stride, allowing exercisers to keep their heels down and maintain proper biometrics
- Built-in Work Out Accelerators suggest ways to get more out of your workout
- Workout data can be automatically uploaded to the Preva mobile app to track your goals and achievements
- CrossRamp Movement: Motorized variable
- CrossRamp Elevation Range: 15° – 25°
- Heart Rate Monitoring: Touch sensor and wireless with any Polar compatible chest strap transmitter
- Number of Workout Metrics: 27
- Preset Workouts: 25 + 16 exerciser created
- User IDs: 4
- Resistance System: Magnetic
- Resistance Levels: 16
- Console Display: 7-inch color LCD graphic display
- CrossRamp & Resistance Controls: Lever style Motion Controls
Whenever you’re training on your own, whether it’s with weights or as a cardio workout, it’s even more important to make sure you’re able to do it safely.
With such a large, heavy piece of equipment that can’t be folded or stored away like you can with some treadmills and ellipticals, you also need to ensure that the frame remains completely upright at all times.
This is one of the reasons why Precor chose to get rid of the conventional front base stabilizer, replacing it with the 3 carefully positioned base levellers.
These small platforms help to distribute the weight more evenly around the front of the machine, while at the same time doing an excellent job of preventing unwanted sideways movement.
If you have younger members of the family at home, it’s also possible that they may want to climb on the elliptical when you’re not around.
While the number of moving parts is already at a minimum thanks to the flywheel casing, the Precor 245 also features a locking pin to prevent the pedals from moving.
Although you will have to remember to take this out before the start of each workout and replace it when you’re done, there’s a custom made slot under the pedal for keeping it within easy reach when you need it.
So we know the frame is stable and the foot pedals and handles aren’t moving, but what about the console?
Precor have actually taken their password key sequence function from their earlier 9.3x range of treadmills and implemented it in their Energy Series ellipticals.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t something that you have to take advantage of (disabled by default), but if you do want to, then you can set a key sequence as a password for enabling the console buttons.
Precor CrossRamp Technology
Together with the Precor 225, the 245 elliptical is one of the two machines in the Energy Series to offer a motorized incline, instead of manual.
Having this CrossRamp feature basically allows you to train with all the benefits of a front driven elliptical, while keeping the flywheel out of the way at the back.
This has given Precor the ability to shift the pedals forwards and create a more natural upright running posture that lets you increase your workout intensity without any unnecessary strain on your knee or ankle joints.
YouTube video showing Precor’s innovative CrossRamp feature in action:
In terms of the elevation range, this is kept the same throughout the series. The only difference is in the size of the increments, with the Precor 245 offering 8 compared to the 3 offered by the ellipticals with a manual incline.
However, due to the change in display console software and design, you can’t adjust the maximum CrossRamp setting and pause time the same way as you could with the earlier 221 and 225 models.
Despite having a maximum incline of 25 degrees, these options allowed you to override this maximum and set your own value, providing you kept it below the 25 degree limit.
With the 245 model, Precor have actually chosen to remove these options, but you can still adjust the default workout duration and units of measurement.
Display console design
If you were to compare the Precor 245 with the earlier 225 model, one of the biggest differences you’ll notice is in the design of the display console.
Instead of having to rely on button presses to adjust the CrossRamp incline and resistance level, you are now presented with a set of responsive motion controls, which are much easier to use.
The 245 is also the only elliptical in the Energy Series range to incorporate a touch screen, as well as a series of buttons that can directly control the music playing from your MP3 player.
Note: The playback controls above the display screen will only work in conjunction with an Apple device.
Software upgrades and multimedia connectivity:
If you did want to listen to music or watch a movie while you workout, the Precor 245 also includes a reading tray at the top of the console which can be used to support your iPad, iPhone, or iPod.
Any of these devices can then be held securely in place using the SmartGrip holder, and connected to the console via the USB port concealed at the back of the console.
This USB connection is different to the input jack you would find on earlier Energy Series ellipticals, and allows for software upgrades as well as connecting multimedia devices.
The buttons on either side of the main display allow you to enter personal information (weight, age, etc.) in much the same way as the standard buttons did on the 221, 222, and 225 models.
However, rather than labelling these buttons with any set names, each button face remains blank. This is due to the fact that their functions will change depending on which screen you’re currently looking at.
Which function each button performs will instead be shown on the actual display screen.
As with the 225, you also have a set of small screens that act as level indicators, keeping you informed of the current incline level and resistance setting.
Workout feedback metrics:
One of the main benefits of being able to switch between a range of different interactive screens is the ability to display additional workout information.
Whereas the earlier Energy Series ellipticals were limited to mostly time, calories, heart rate, and distance based metrics, you now have 14 extra types of feedback.
This includes the following:
- Segment time
- Finish time
- Elevation gain
- Distance remaining
- Calories burned per hour
- Time spent in current heart rate zone
- Max. heart rate
- Total strides
While most of these are fairly self explanatory, we were surprised to find Precor had included METs (metabolic equivalents).
If it’s not something you’ve come across before, METs is essentially a concept that expresses the physical cost of activities as a multiple of your resting metabolic rate.
This makes it a useful way to measure the intensity of your workout, particularly as running in place is listed as one of the highest ranking activities on the MET scale.
User profiles and SmartRate Heart Rate Tracking
After reviewing the Precor 225, we felt that there were really only two things missing – a way to track your workout performance, and a wider range of user profiles.
Fortunately the Precor 245 represents a solution to both, being the only elliptical in the Energy Series to offer 4 user profiles instead of 2.
If you’re going to be the only one using this machine for your workouts then you probably won’t notice much of a difference. However, having this many user profiles available does make it an ideal option for small groups and families.
This is because the ability to store your weight and age against your user will result in workout feedback that’s much more accurate.
That being said, even if you are the only person using this elliptical, you can actually still benefit from multiple user profiles.
By setting all profiles up with your own details, this creates 4 profiles that all match to your specific body type. You can then take advantage of 4 additional custom workouts per user, which in effect provides you with an extra 12 workout programs that you couldn’t have created by using only one profile.
So what you actually get with the Precor 245 is 16 custom workouts from the different user IDs, and an extra 24 workouts from the preset options stored in the console.
When you compare this to having zero custom workouts and 10 preset programs available on all other Energy Series ellipticals, and it starts to become clear why this particular machine still represents excellent value for money.
If you want to take advantage of the preset Heart Rate Controlled (HRC) workouts, you can choose between touch (heart rate hand sensors) and telemetry (chest belt) transmission.
This will also provide feedback of which heart rate zone you are currently in via the SmartRate Zone Bar. Which of the 4 zones your heart rate falls into is determined by your current heart rate range.
Having such a clear visual indication on the screen makes it much easier to adjust your workout intensity to a level that keeps you within your target range.
Preset workout programs
Whether you’re just starting your first fitness routine or are looking for a high quality elliptical that will withstand years of workouts, one of the most important things you can do to ensure you achieve your goals is keep your training varied.
With outdoor running this can be anything from a different route to a longer distance in a faster time, which is essentially what preset workout programs are trying to recreate.
Fortunately, the number and variety of workout programs is another of the areas that Precor have really improved upon when they made the transition between the 225 and 245 ellipticals.
As the highest spec machine in their EFX Energy Series, you can now choose from 24 preset workouts instead of 10, which also for the first time includes a fitness test.
This has been designed as a multi-stage test for measuring your current fitness level, which gradually increases in intensity to determine your maximum aerobic capacity.
Once the test is complete, a score will be displayed which relates to a specific level of fitness for each age group. This can then be used as a way of measuring future improvements in your fitness.
In terms of the core workout programs, Precor have divided these up into 5 categories tailored towards helping you reach specific fitness goals.
- Be Fit (8 programs) – This is the category that contains most of the workouts you may already be familiar with, including various intervals, Rolling Hills, Hill Climb, and Mountain Peaks.
The intervals in this category are your best option for improving both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, with the hill and mountain programs designed to simulate running over uneven terrain outdoors.
- Lose Weight (4 programs) – As the name suggests, these are workouts based almost entirely around optimizing fat loss. This includes an interval (4 minutes of rest followed by 3 minutes of work), Fat Burner, and Precor’s Aerobic program.
These are designed to maintain a steady-state, lower intensity level of exercise too keep your heart rate in the most efficient range for burning calories.
- Push Performance (3 programs) – Contains the main Heart Rate Zone workout that takes advantage of the SmartRate feature, as well as 2 reverse interval programs (longer work periods than rest periods).
These 3 programs are tailored towards improving the strength in lower body muscle groups, including your calves, hamstrings, and quads.
- Get Toned (4 programs) – Glute toning and leg sculpting programs that are designed to help improve muscle tone and endurance.
- Go the Distance (3 programs) – 3 programs that are ideally suited to anyone that likes to train to specific distances. In this case the distances you have to choose from are 1 mile, 5K and 10K.
For these distance controlled workouts, the segment bars on the display screen represent 200 meters of distance, instead of the usual 1 minute of time.
Preva workout tracking integration
The Precor 245 is the first time we get to experience a level of performance tracking that has been missing from the earlier 3 models.
This not only allows you to track your performance, but also set daily and weekly goals, monitor lifetime totals, and earn badges for specific achievements.
Ease of assembly
Being one of the larger pieces of fitness equipment for home gyms, it can often take several hours just to get the machine setup the first time.
Precor have tried to avoid this by doing as much of the assembly for you as possible, without impacting on the cost of shipping.
This has meant that bulk of the assembly is carried out at the actual factory, including the lower link arms, base frame, and flywheel casing.
The remaining setup is detailed in the accompanying user manual, which includes full instructions and exploded diagrams to walk you through the remaining steps.
In fact, there are so few parts required to complete the assembly that Precor haven’t needed to assign them reference numbers.
Once you have all the parts unpacked, all that’s needed is to attach the left and right stabilizers, console bracket, console, and handles.
While this might sound like a lot, none of the steps are particularly complicated, resulting in a recommended assembly time of less than 60 minutes.
Although the entire machine weighs over 200 lbs once it’s setup, there actually isn’t much heavy lifting required once you have the base frame in position.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame and welds: Lifetime
- Parts and wear items: 5 years
- Console: 3 years
- Labor: 1 year
Over the past 30 years, Precor has become one of the world leaders in terms of designing and building premium fitness equipment for a range of commercial (health clubs, spas, etc.), light commercial, and home environments.
Their focus on ergonomic motion, proven science, and superior engineering is driven by their ability to study and anticipate what people need from a workout, helping to continually redefine the levels of innovation, quality, and service necessary to deliver the very best fitness experiences.