Thursday, 23 May 2024

Elliptical Trainers

ProForm 12.0 NE Elliptical Trainer Review

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The ProForm 12.0 NE Elliptical Trainer is the next step up from ProForm’s Endurance and Smart Strider collections, with a number of minor upgrades over the Endurance 920 E and Smart Strider 935.

But although it’s one of their latest high-spec ellipticals, are the upgrades enough to make it stand out above these two top-of-the-line ellipticals, or is it better to upgrade to the ProForm Pro 12.9?

This is one of the questions we’ll be answering in our review, by taking a closer look at the design features, workout programs, entertainment options, and warranty coverage.

We’ll also be making some important comparisons between the ProForm 12.0 NE and other ProForm ellipticals, as well as machines from NordicTrack that have very similar specifications, to help you decide on the best option for your own home gym.

Design and safety features

ProForm 12.0 NE Elliptical Trainer

Although the ProForm 12.0 NE is one of the earliest models currently available in their Pro collection, it still offers a wide range of advanced features designed to improve the quality of your workout experience.

The oversized cushioned pedals have been ergonomically designed with a ribbed surface to improve comfort and create a low impact workout, without sacrificing stability and traction control.

These pedals are also adjustable, which means you can switch between several different positions to find the one that best supports your natural running position and ankle flexion, reducing stress on ankle joints and calf muscles.

Taking a look inside the front drive system you have a heavy 32 lb flywheel providing a smooth running motion and effortless transitions between the 24 Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) levels.

As a comparison, this is the same number of resistance levels that you’ll find on the Endurance 920 E and Smart Strider 935 ellipticals, both from ProForm. The only ProForm ellipticals we’ve seen with more are the Pro 12.9 and Pro 16.9, both of which offer 26 levels of resistance.

In terms of the running stride, as with most front drive ProForm ellipticals, this is power adjustable. That means the stride length automatically adjusts between 18″ and 20″ depending on the current incline level, making it the perfect choice for users to 6ft+ in height.

The incline itself is also power adjustable, which is a significant improvement over the Endurance 520 E and Smart Strider 535 ellipticals, where you had to manually set the gradient before stepping foot on the pedals. This can be adjusted between a range of 0° to 20°.

Having this power incline feature is a huge advantage, especially when you combine it with the iFit enabled console. That’s because if you’re following a virtual running route from Google Maps, the program can now automatically adjust the incline to match changes in the terrain of the route you’re running.

This also allows you to switch the focus between different muscle groups, with a steeper incline targeting your hamstrings and glutes, while a shallower incline focuses more on your calves and quads.

You can take this a step further thanks to the multi-position upper body grips, which can be used while running to create a total-body workout experience that also targets your shoulders, biceps, core, chest and forearms.

ProForm 12.0 NE Elliptical Trainer

ProForm 12.0 NE Elliptical – Features Summary

  • iFit enabled 7″ full-color touchscreen console
  • Integrated Tablet Holder
  • iPod Compatible Audio
  • 32 Workout Apps
  • 24 Digital Resistance Levels
  • CoolAire Workout Fan
  • EKG Grip Pulse + Bluetooth Smart
  • 20° Power Adjust Incline
  • 20″ Power Adjustable Stride
  • 30 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • Adjustable Oversized Cushioned Pedals
  • Commercial-Grade Steel Construction.
  • Out-of-Box Easy Assembly.

Display console functions

ProForm 12.0 NE console

The console for the ProForm 12.0 NE is at the cutting edge of what you can expect from modern home fitness equipment, with a 7″ full-color web-enabled touchscreen that allows internet browsing while you workout.

If you would rather keep the console screen for displaying your workout feedback, you’ve also got an integrated tablet holder mounted to the top of the console. This means your tablet is much closer to eye level, and at an angle that makes it easier to view your favorite movies and TV shows.

Although you don’t have any quick-select controls for the resistance level, you do have a set for controlling the incline and accessing the 32 onboard workout apps.

Because the ProForm 12.0 NE is iFit enabled, you also have a selection of iFit buttons designed to enable quick access to the Map, Train, Compete, Track, Set A Goal, Video, and Lose Wt. functions.

As with all ProForm ellipticals, you also have a built-in sound system with Intermix Acoustics™ Sound System that’s iPod® and MP3 compatible. This allows you to listen to your favorite music directly via the console, with volume controls available next to the main screen.

This is where you’ll also find controls for adjusting the speed of the CoolAire™ workout fan, which combines with the built-in water bottle holder to help keep you cool and hydrated during your workout.

Heart rate monitoring
The ProForm 12.0 NE supports both touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring, via the EKG™ Grip Pulse sensors built into the static handles, and through Bluetooth connectivity in the console.

On some of their entry level models (such as the Smart Strider 535) ProForm are still only offering the touch sensor option, so having the ability to transmit your heart rate via a chest strap is a big advantage.

ProForm even include a wireless chest strap when you buy the elliptical, so you can start taking advantage of both heart rate monitoring systems straight away.

Our personal preference has always been for the chest strap option, and we wouldn’t recommend buying any elliptical that doesn’t have it unless you’re on a very strict budget.

That’s because with the EKG™ touch sensors you always need to be holding them, and they’re only built into the static handles. This means you can’t engage any of your upper body muscle groups, and the consistency and accuracy of the pulse feedback is completely reliant on your grip strength and position.

Workout programs and user profiles

The biggest difference between the workout programs on iFit enabled elliptical trainers from ProForm is how many Onboard training apps you have access to.

For every elliptical you’re always going to have a Manual program, and the majority of machines are either iFit compatible or iFit enabled (ProForm Smart Strider 535 being the exception – no iFit). This means that you also have access to the same online library of iFit workouts and Set-A-Goal programs.

As a quick comparison, the ProForm 12.0 NE offers you 32 workout programs, each of which has been designed by a personal trainer. That’s compared to 18 workout apps with the Endurance 520 E, and 35 workout apps with the Pro 12.9 and Pro 16.9 ellipticals.

These are divided into 3 main categories; Calorie workouts (12), Intensity workouts (10), and Performance workouts (10). We’ve also included a quick reference guide to your workout options below.

  • ManualThis is the basic workout program that’s available on every elliptical trainer. You can simply step on the pedals and start your training, without having to follow any preset cadence, incline, or resistance profiles.
  • Onboard workout appsThis is where you can choose from the 32 preset training profiles, which have been pre-loaded into the console and don’t rely on you having an iFit subscription.Each of these workouts follows a profile, which is split into a number of one-minute segments. Each of these segments contains a setting for the resistance and incline levels, as well as a target cadence (RPM) for encouraging you to maintain a certain speed.

    The cadence is the only one of these three settings that isn’t adjusted automatically. Instead you’re given a target zone indicator on the screen, with prompts for whether you need to increase, decrease, or maintain your current running pace.

  • iFit workoutsAlthough the ProForm 12.0 NE is classed as an ‘iFit enabled’ elliptical, this simply means that you don’t need to buy the wireless module, as it’s already built into the console.If you want to download new personalized workouts, watch videos from their online exercise library or sync your workout results to an online profile, you’ll still need access to a wireless network and an iFit subscription.

    If you already have these setup, then the console and touch screen can be used to access a wide range of advanced workout benefits, including:

    MAP: Exercise anywhere in the world with Google Maps
    TRAIN: Download workouts to help with your fitness goals
    COMPETE: Compare progress to others in the iFit community.
    TRACK: Upload your workout data to monitor your progress.
    GOAL: Set Calorie, Time or Distance goals for your workouts.
    VIDEO: Watch high definition videos with simulated workouts.
    WEIGHT LOSS: Download sets of weight-loss workouts.

  • Set-A-GoalIf you’re looking for a goal-based workout without having to follow a preset profile, these are the programs for you.Most ProForm elliptical trainers now have these workouts, and they allow you to set a target for the distance, duration, or number of calories burned. As the workout progresses this number counts down until you reach your target.

Comparison: ProForm 12.0 NE vs. NordicTrack C 12.9

With ProForm and NordicTrack being two of the brands managed by Icon Health and Fitness, it’s no surprise that their product lines often display a number of similarities.

Although this isn’t quite on the same level that we’ve seen with Schwinn and Nautilus, you can often still find a ProForm elliptical with the same design features, entertainment options, and even warranty coverage as one of the NordicTrack models.

For the ProForm 12.0 NE, we found it offered a combination of features from two NordicTrack ellipticals, both from their 2016 collection. These are the NordicTrack C 12.9 and NordicTrack C 9.5.

In terms of their similarities, the NordicTrack C 12.9 and ProForm 12.0 NE both feature an 18″ – 20″ power-adjustable stride, 0 – 20° power-adjustable incline, 7″ web-enabled color touchscreen, 350 lb capacity, telemetry heart rate monitoring (chest strap) and are iFit enabled.

Both ellipticals are also very close in terms of flywheel weight (30 lbs on ProForm, 32 lbs on NordicTrack), workout apps (32 on ProForm, 35 on NordicTrack) and resistance levels (24 ProForm, 26 NordicTrack). They also both share the same warranty coverage (lifetime on frame, 5 years parts, 2 years labor).

So based on these comparisons, there’s no doubt that the NordicTrack C 12.9 is the superior machine. But whether or not it represents better value for money really depends on how much each elliptical costs and whether or not they’re on sale when it’s time for you to buy.

At time of writing, the NordicTrack ellipticals are both on sale, with the C 9.5 priced at just under $1000, and the C 12.9 priced just under $1300. When we checked the ProForm website, the ProForm 12.0 NE wasn’t one of the ellipticals on sale, meaning it was listed for the full $1999.

This is why we always try to include comparisons in our elliptical reviews, to highlight very similar designs that could be available with significant savings.

Of course, the prices may have fluctuated by the time you actually come to buy, but we strongly recommend checking the best price on the NordicTrack C 12.9 if you’re interested in the ProForm 12.0 NE.

Ease of assembly and maintenance required

ProForm’s Pro collection of elliptical trainers uses a very similar system to NordicTrack’s SNAP assembly, called Out-Of-Box, whereby the upright and console can be folded down while still remaining connected to the base frame.

Although it’s not quite as efficient as the folding system we’ve seen on their Smart Strider collection, it’s certainly one of the best examples we’ve seen of a folding front-drive elliptical trainer.

But because there are still a number of steps to follow before and after raising the console upright to its vertical position, it’s really more of a time saver during the initial setup, and probably isn’t something you want to do after each workout to save space.

As with all ProForm fitness equipment, the steps in the user manual are concise and easy to understand, with written explanations, tips, parts references and useful diagrams showing how each part fits together.

That being said, it’s still a heavy piece of equipment, which is why we would recommend having someone available to assist you during the process, even if it’s just while you get the base stabilizers attached.

With the stabilizers in place it’s really just a case of connecting the console, raising the upright, and attaching the upper body arms and covers. The whole process shouldn’t take much more than 60 minutes.

Once the steps are complete, you can use the levelling feet beneath the frame and rear stabilizer to eliminate any rocking motion. You can also use the front-mounted transport wheels to move the machine to a new location if required.

Professional assembly services
Although the user ProForm 12.0 NE user manual is easy enough to follow, if you would rather hire a professional to assemble the elliptical then there are a couple of options available to you.

Either you could hire one of ProForm’s authorized service technicians, or you could take advantage of Amazon’s home assembly service for elliptical trainers (use the form below to check for services in your zip code).

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

Both services come with an additional cost, which will depend on the size and complexity of the elliptical trainer you’re buying. Both Amazon and ProForm say that they don’t service all locations, so it’s also worth checking to make sure your region is covered if this is something you’re interested in.

Maintenance required
ProForm currently offer the same advice for the maintenance of all their elliptical trainers, which is to inspect and tighten all parts on a regular basis, and only clean the elliptical with a damp cloth and mild soap solution.

The reason we include the maintenance routine in our reviews is to highlight any special treatments recommended by the manufacturer, such as the chlorine tablets for cleaning the water tanks of WaterRower rowing machines.

The user manual also includes a useful guide for trouble shooting any issues. This always includes adjusting the reed switch and drive belt, but for their front drive ellipticals there’s also a section for how to grease the rollers.

Because the ProForm 12.0 NE uses a poet incline system instead of manual, they’ve also included a section on how to calibrate the incline syste. Ideally these aren’t things you’ll need to worry about, but having solutions listed in the manual certainly helps avoid calling out technicians to fix simple problems.

ProForm Elliptical Trainer Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 5 years
  • Labor: 2 years

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

The ProForm 12.0 NE is clearly an excellent mid-range elliptical for home workouts, and has some minor upgrades over the NordicTrack C 9.5 when both are on sale for under $1000.

There are also some upgrades over the 920 E, which is the top elliptical in ProForm's Endurance collection. This includes a larger flywheel (30 lbs vs. 25 lbs), higher weight capacity (350 lbs vs. 325 lbs) and a longer warranty on the parts and labor.

When the 12.0 NE and 920 E ellipticals are on sale, they're usually both available for the same price, at just under $1000, making the 12.0 NE your best option. But does the next model up in the Pro collection - the ProForm Pro 12.9 - actually represent better value for money?

In our opinion, no. For what usually amounts to a $300 price difference, you're only getting 3 more workout apps, 2 extra resistance levels, a flywheel that's 2 lbs heavier, an extra year on the parts and labor warranties, and 25 lbs of additional weight capacity (375 lb limit).

There's no change to the entertainment options, the screen size remains the same, they're both iFit enabled and the incline range is still capped at a 20° gradient. In our opinion the ProForm 12.0 NE offers the best balance between affordability and features compared to the ProForm Pro 12.9, NordicTrack C 9.5, and NordicTrack C 12.9.

Product dimensions: 80.3"L x 25.7"W x 64.4"H Weight capacity: 350 lbs

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