The ProForm Pro 12.9 Elliptical Trainer is an upgrade of the earlier Pro 12.0 NE model, and part of the same collection that features their top-of-the-line Pro 16.9 elliptical.
So what can you expect in terms of upgrades, and is the Pro 12.9 really the best choice of elliptical trainer for this price range?
That’s one of the questions we’ll be answering in our review, where we’ll also be making important comparisons between the ProForm and NordicTrack collections, to help you find the best elliptical trainer for your own home gym.
Design and safety features
If you’ve already read our review of the ProForm Pro 16.9 you might want to skip this part and head to our comparison, as the physical design features are all exactly the same.
The 0° to 20° power adjustable incline ramp allows you to quickly switch between the different gradients to increase the focus on specific lower body muscle groups. Increase the incline and your hamstrings and glutes will take on more of the work, while a shallower incline sees the focus shift more onto your calves and quads.
Because the ProForm Pro 12.9 supports Bluetooth telemetry heart rate monitoring (chest strap), it means you don’t need to maintain a grip on the stationary handles if you want to monitor your pulse. This allows you to take advantage of the multi-position upper body grips.
By switching your grip position from the static handles to the moveable workout arms, you’re able to recruit a wide range of upper body muscle groups, such as biceps, shoulders, chest and core, turning your fitness routine into a total-body workout.
To help support a smooth, low-impact running experience that’s less stressful on your joints, ProForm have also fitted the Pro 12.0 elliptical with adjustable oversized cushioned pedals. These can be set to any one of 3 different positions to closely match your natural running stride.
Taking a look inside the front drive system, and the 32 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel is currently the heaviest used by ProForm on any of their elliptical trainers. This, coupled with the 18″ to 20″ power adjustable stride and glide rails at the rear of the machine helps to create a smoother running stride for users to 6ft+.
Add this to the commercial-gauge steel construction and high 375 lb weight capacity, and what you get is one of the most effective elliptical trainers available under $1500. But what’s available through the iFit console, and how does this compare to other ProForm and NordicTrack elliptical trainers?
ProForm Pro 12.9 Elliptical – Features Summary
- Integrated Tablet Holder
- iFit enabled 7″ full-color touchscreen console
- iPod Compatible Audio
- 35 Workout Apps
- 26 Digital Resistance Levels
- 0° to 20° Power adjustable incline ramp
- CoolAire Workout Fan
- EKG Grip Pulse + Bluetooth Smart
- 20″ Power Adjustable Stride
- 32 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
- SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
- Adjustable Oversized Cushioned Pedals
- Commercial-Grade Steel Construction.
- Out-of-Box Easy Assembly.
Display console functions
The ProForm Pro 12.9 is the most affordable elliptical in their Pro collection to offer quick-select buttons for both the incline and resistance levels. In fact, apart from the smaller screen (7″ compared to 10″), it’s exactly the same console as the one you find on their top-of-the-line Pro 16.9 elliptical.
As with the entry level Pro 12.0 NE elliptical, the console is iFit enabled, meaning you don’t need to purchase a wireless iFit module separately. This is a major advantage of buying one of ProForm’s high-end ellipticals, compared to the iFit compatible consoles of the Endurance 520 E, Endurance 720 E, and Smart Strider 735.
Although the 7″ web-enabled full color touchscreen is the same as on the earlier Pro 12.0 NE model, it’s still one of the best displays you’ll find on any home elliptical trainer.
The only difference is that on the ProForm Pro 12.9, the iFit buttons have been completely removed from the console, leaving you to rely entirely on the touchscreen menu.
In terms of entertainment options, you can always choose to listen to your favorite workout music through the built-in sound system via the Intermix Acoustics™ speakers, which supports an iPod® or MP3 player.
If you would rather catch up on your favorite TV series or watch a movie while you workout, the integrated tablet shelf attached to the top of the console can support a wide range of tablets, without hiding important workout information displayed on the touchscreen. This includes distance, workout duration, RPM, resistance level, pulse, and number of calories burned.
There’s even a CoolAire™ workout fan (a feature that was missing from the Smart Strider 535) and water bottle holder to help boost your performance by keeping you cool and hydrated.
Heart rate monitoring
The Pro 12.9 is another of the ProForm ellipticals to support two forms of heart rate monitoring; touch and telemetry (chest strap).
Although our personal preference will always be to rely on a chest strap, you can also choose to hold onto the EKG™ Grip Pulse sensors, which are built into the static handles. The only downside with this method is that you’re limited to a single grip position, meaning you’re unable to recruit upper body muscle groups using the moveable soft-touch grips.
Workout programs and user profiles
Being iFit enabled means the ProForm Pro 12.9 offers you a whole host of personalized workout programs (iFit subscription required), goal-oriented workouts, and preset workout programs to challenge and improve your level of personal fitness.
In fact, it offers you the same 35 workout apps as you get with their top-of-the-line Pro 16.9 elliptical. This is the most we’ve seen on any ProForm elliptical, and includes workouts in the ‘Calorie’, ‘Intensity’, and ‘Performance’ categories, as well as their Manual program.
This is the same basic program that you’ll find on most ellipticals, where you simply step on the pedals and begin your workout. It follows no preset resistance or incline profile, and doesn’t prompt you to achieve any goals or maintain a specific RPM (pedal speed).
- Onboard workout apps
Out of the 35 workout apps available with the ProForm Pro 12.9, 34 of them are Onboard workouts that follow preset training profiles. Each of these profile is divided up into one-minute segments, where each segment contains a resistance level, incline level, and target cadence.
Although the resistance and incline levels will adjust automatically, the target cadence is something that depends on your own pedal speed. To make sure you’re always at or near your target RPM, there’s a target zone indicator on the screen, which prompts you to speed up, slow down, or maintain your current pace.
- iFit workouts
Unlike the Onboard workout programs, iFit workouts don’t differ between ellipticals. Instead the elliptical model will either be listed as ‘iFit compatible’ or ‘iFit enabled’.
Fortunately the Pro 12.9 is one of the iFit enabled machines, which means you don’t need to purchase the iFit module separately. But you do need to have access to a wireless network, and have activated an iFit subscription.
If this is all setup, then you can download personalized workout programs from their extensive online library, watch exercise videos, and even follow real-world virtual running routes with Google Maps and StreetView.
If you don’t want to follow a preset profile but need a target to help motivate you, your best option will be the ‘Set-A-Goal’ programs.
There are 3 to choose from, which allow you to set a goal for the distance, workout duration, or number of calories burned.
Comparison: ProForm Pro 12.9 vs. ProForm Pro 16.9
When we wrote our review of the ProForm Pro 12.0 NE, we made a comparison with the ProForm Pro 12.9, where we concluded that it was the 12.0 NE model that actually represented better value for money in terms of workout benefits.
But how does the Pro 12.9 compare to the top-of-the-line Pro 16.9, and is there any NordicTrack elliptical that offers the same features for a lower price?
The most important thing to note is that the price difference between the Pro 12.9 and Pro 16.9 ellipticals ($200) is usually less than the difference between the Pro 12.0 NE and the Pro 12.9 ($300). This is because you’re really not getting much more for your money by choosing the top-of-the-line machine.
Every single feature on the two ellipticals is actually the same, from the weight of the flywheel through to the number of workout apps, and even the length of the warranty coverage.
The only difference we could find was that the console screen measures 10″ on the ProForm Pro 16.9, compared to 7″ on the Pro 12.9. But is this alone worth an extra $200? It really comes down to your own personal preference.
If you’re using the touch screen while working out, the larger icons that come as a result of the larger screen will also be easier to read and navigate. So we can certainly see how this upgrade could be worth the additional expense. It’s just not something we would spend the extra money on ourselves.
ProForm Pro 12.9 vs. NordicTrack C 12.9
The NordicTrack C 12.9 from their 2016 collection was the closest we could find in terms of price and features, with both ellipticals having the same number of workout apps (35), same number of resistance levels (26), same incline range (0° to 20°), same 32 lb flywheel, and same iFit enabled consoles.
In fact, the only differences we could find were in the weight capacity and warranty coverage, with the ProForm Pro 12.9 being the best option in both cases.
On the ProForm model you’re getting a 375 lb weight capacity compared to 350 lbs with NordicTrack, and for the warranty coverage you’re getting an extra year on both the parts and labor.
Considering these ellipticals are both usually available for the same price, the ProForm Pro 12.9 is clearly a more cost effective option than the NordicTrack C 12.9.
This isn’t the only time where we’ve noticed a ProForm elliptical having a very similar spec to a NordicTrack machine. The guide below is designed as a quick reference for how the 2016 collections from these two leading fitness companies match up.
- ProForm Pro 12.0 NE -> NordicTrack C 9.5
- ProForm Pro 12.9 -> NordicTrack C 12.9
- ProForm Pro 16.9 -> NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
Ease of assembly and maintenance required
ProForm’s Pro collection of elliptical trainers uses a similar system to NordicTrack’s SNAP assembly, which is something they call ‘Out-Of-The-Box’. This refers to the design feature whereby the console upright can actually fold down on top of the front drive system and base frame.
This means that when the elliptical gets delivered, most of the machine has already been pre-assembled, including the resistance system, foot pedals, base frame, console upright, and static handles.
The result is an assembly time of just a few minutes, during which time you only need to attach the base stabilizers, raise the console upright, then attach the upper body workout arms and covers.
Each one of the steps is accompanied by clearly written instructions, together with parts references, diagrams, and useful tips for completing the assembly in the shortest time.
Our only recommendation is to have another person available to assist with the initial heavy lifting. ProForm only guarantee curb-side delivery as standard, so it can be useful to have some help carrying the box to the room where you’re going to use the elliptical, and to attach the main unit out onto its base stabilizers.
Professional assembly services
If you don’t have someone that could assist you with the assembly, or simply prefer to hire an authorized service technician to do it for you, this is an option that’s available.
Given the simplicity of the Out-Of-The-Box assembly, it’s not something we would recommend for this elliptical, but ProForm and Amazon both have services where someone can come to your home and get the machine setup ready for you to use.
Just be aware that there’s an additional expense for this service, and that Amazon and ProForm won’t cover every location. If you’re interested, we recommend checking your area code using ProForm’s website or Amazon’s elliptical assembly page.
ProForm keep their maintenance routine very simple for each piece of fitness equipment, including their elliptical trainers.
Their recommendations are something we would expect to see on any new elliptical, which is to check and tighten parts on a regular basis, and to clean the equipment using a damp cloth and mild soap solution.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 6 years
- Labor: 3 years