Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Elliptical Trainers

ProForm 720 E Elliptical Trainer Review

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The ProForm 720 E Elliptical Trainer includes many of the features you would hope to find on a modern crosstrainer, including an iPod compatible audio system, CoolAire workout fan and a collection of 24 challenging workout apps to help keep you motivated.

As the mid-range machine in the ProForm Endurance collection, the 720 E represents a more affordable alternative to the top-of-the-line 920 E model, with a range of impressive upgrades over the entry level 520 E.

In our ProForm 720 E review we’ll be taking a closer look at the design features, workout programs, entertainment options and much more, to help you decide if this is the best front-drive elliptical for your own home gym.

Design and safety features

ProForm 720 E Elliptical Trainer

At first glance the ProForm 720 E appears very similar to the earlier 520 E, with the same front-drive design, 20″ adjustable stride length and commercial-grade steel construction. This isn’t something that we’re surprised about, as they represent some of the best features of any elliptical under $1000.

Although the frame construction is virtually identical between the two ellipticals, the 720 E actually has a higher weight capacity, and is capable of supporting up to 325 lbs (300 lbs on the 520 E). This 325 lb capacity can also be found on the top-of-the-line 920 E elliptical, which has a list price $400 higher than the 720 E.

Another design feature to see an upgrade is the resistance system, which now offers 20 levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR), compared to the 18 levels that were available on the ProForm 520 E. This allows you to make more gradual adjustments.

As well as the resistance system, the casing at the front of the machine also contains a 20 lb flywheel. Unfortunately the weight hasn’t been increased for the 720 E, but still helps to deliver smoother transitions between resistance levels and during the pedal crank rotation.

The footplates themselves are still oversized – as they are on each of ProForm’s Endurance ellipticals – but the 720 E is the first time we’ve seen them as adjustable and cushioned. The extra layer of cushioning helps reduce the impact on your knee and hip joints when running, while the adjustable tilt helps create a more natural running motion and limit the stress placed on your ankles.

In terms of the stride length, every elliptical in their Endurance collection offers a maximum of 20-inches. But the ProForm 720 E is the first model to offer the Power Adjustable feature, allowing you to switch between an 18″ and 20″ stride. This makes it better suited for a wider range of user heights, with the 20″ option capable of supporting a full running stride for users to 6ft+.

If you’re looking for a way to make any of the 20 resistance levels more challenging, you can combine them with one of the preset incline positions, which range from 0-20 degrees. Again, the ProForm 720 E isn’t the only ProForm elliptical to offer an incline ramp, but it is the first in the Endurance collection to let you control the gradient straight from the console. This means no more stopping to make adjustments mid-workout like you had to with the manual incline of the ProForm 520 E.

One final design feature worth mentioning is the Soft Touch upper-body workout arms. Although they don’t offer built-in EKG Grip Pulse sensors like the static handles, they’re an excellent way to recruit more upper body muscle groups. This leads to more efficient calorie burning in a shorter amount of time, and a total body workout experience.

ProForm 720 E Elliptical Trainer

ProForm 720 E Elliptical – Features Summary

  • 24 Workout Apps
  • 20 Digital SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance Levels
  • EKG Grip Pulse sensors
  • 20 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • Soft Touch Upper-Body Grips
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • 20″ Power Adjustable Stride
  • 20 Degree Power Adjustable Incline
  • 5″ Backlit Display, Leveling Feet, Integrated Tablet Holder
  • iFit Compatible Buy an iFit wireless module and receive a free one-year iFit subscription
  • iPod Compatible Audio + USB Charging Station

Display console design

The ProForm 720 E elliptical delivers the same high quality finish and intuitive button layout that we’ve come to expect from an Icon Health and Fitness brand (NordicTrack, Weslo, Weider, etc.).

ProForm 720 E Elliptical Display Console

The buttons have been grouped into 5 different categories; basic settings control, iFit, workout program navigation, quick-select resistance settings and quick-select incline ramp settings. This makes it much easier to make any adjustments you need mid-workout, without sacrificing screen space for all your important workout feedback.

As for the screen itself, the 5″ backlit display is large enough to display the necessary feedback clearly, even in low light. This includes your RPM, time, distance, number of calories burned, and current resistance level. Unfortunately, to keep the ProForm 720 E in a more affordable price range, you don’t have any of the same entertainment options that you might find on one of the ellipticals in NordicTrack’s commercial collection.

This means you don’t have the color touchscreen and it’s not web-enabled, so there’s no internet browsing or watching movies/TV shows through the console directly. There is however an integrated tablet holder, where you can securely mount your tablet and experience the same functions. For many this is the perfect compromise, as you don’t end up paying for features you won’t necessarily use, and a large number of people now own tablet devices.

In addition to the tablet holder, the 720 E console features a CoolAire workout fan, iPod compatible Audio and USB charging station, built-in water bottle holder and EKG Grip Pulse sensors for heart rate monitoring. This is the first time we’ve seen a CoolAire fan on one of ProForm’s Endurance ellipticals (not built into the 520 E).

As for the heart rate monitoring, this is available through the touch sensors on the static handles or via a chest strap heart rate monitor. The console is actually compatible with all Bluetooth chest straps, which in our opinion is the best way to monitor your heart rate during a workout. That’s because you don’t need to worry about maintaining a certain grip position and you can take advantage of the moveable handles to recruit upper body muscle groups.

Workout programs and user profiles

Because the ProForm 720 E is classed as iFit compatible and not iFit enabled, if you want to take advantage of the personalized iFit workout programs, you will need to purchase an iFit module and subscription in addition to the elliptical itself.

If you want to avoid the additional expense, or simply want to experience what the 720 E has to offer aside from the iFit programs, then you can choose from either the Manual program or any one of the 24 built-in workout apps.

Each of these workout apps has been designed by a certified personal trainer, and has been assigned to one of 4 categories.

4 Workout program categories

  • Calorie
  • Intense

  • Speed
  • Incline

Each program in these 4 categories follows a specific profile of resistance and incline settings. Which profile you choose will depend on your fitness goal, and whether you want to optimize calorie burning, improve endurance, or simply improve overall cardiovascular health.

Every profile is split into one-minute segments, each of which includes a target level for your RPM (rotations per minute – essentially your running speed), resistance and incline. Prompts will appear on the screen to indicate whether you need to speed up or slow down to maintain your target RPM, while the resistance and incline settings will change automatically.

Manual Mode
The Manual mode still provides feedback on important metrics such as distance, incline, heart rate and number of calories burned, but doesn’t require you to follow any preset resistance or incline profile like many of the programs above.

Set-A-Goal workouts
If you already have a specific goal in mind and simply want to monitor your progress without following a preset profile, a good compromise can be the Set-A-Goal workouts.

You can set a goal for either the number of calories burned, distance or workout duration, then start your workout. You can then follow your progress via a display on the LCD screen, which counts down until you reach your target.

Ease of assembly and maintenance

When you’re buying a larger piece of fitness equipment, such as an elliptical, treadmill or home gym, it can be useful to know what to expect from the assembly. How simple is the setup? Does it require more than one person? Is there a professional assembly service available?

Fortunately ProForm are one of the companies that has authorized service technicians that can assist you with the assembly, but because this comes as an additional expense, we would always recommend setting up the machine yourself where possible.

This is actually a lot simpler than it sounds, as the user manual goes into great detail explaining how each of the parts fit together, through a combination of written instructions and exploded diagrams. But because of the weight of the equipment and some of the larger frame parts, they do recommend having another person assist you with the earlier steps.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

Once you have the packaging and parts where you’re going to be using the elliptical, the base frame is upright and stabilizers attached, you should be able to complete the rest of the steps without assistance. This involves attaching the console upright to the front drive system, constructing the moveable arms, threading the wires through to the console and attaching the footplates.

The ProForm 720 E is also fitted with adjustable leveling feet, which can help create a stable platform for your workouts if the machine needs to be placed on ground that’s slightly uneven.

Front-mounted transport wheels have been attached to make moving the elliptical easier if it needs to be stored between workouts, or if you want to change workout location.

ProForm Elliptical Trainer Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 1 year
  • Labor: 1 year

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

The ProForm 720 E certainly has a number of attractive upgrades over the 520 E (which ProForm appear to be discontinuing), but for what often appears as a $200 difference, does the top-of-the-line 920 E actually represent better value for money?

We go into more detail in our 920 E review, but in short you would be getting +5lbs on the flywheel weight, 4 more resistance levels, +1 year on parts warranty, 8 more workout apps, a wider console screen (7" instead of 5") and ProForm include a wireless heart rate chest strap.

If you can find the ProForm Endurance 920 E elliptical for under $1000 then we would recommend buying this over the 720 E if you have the budget. The design for the 920 E is new for 2016, and is currently the only elliptical in this collection to offer a full-color touchscreen. In addition, it's iFit enabled, meaning you don't have to pay any extra for the module and get immediate access to their online workout library and Google Maps courses.

One last important point to note is that we've seen the price for this machine vary greatly between Amazon and ProForm's own website. At time of writing it's available for around $799 on the ProForm site and closer to $600 on Amazon, so it's worth checking both locations before you buy.

Product dimensions: 67.1"L x 25"W x 69.1"H Weight capacity: 325 lbs

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