Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Elliptical Trainers

ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical Trainer Review

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The ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical Trainer is an upgrade of the earlier Pro 12.9 model, and part of the same collection that features their entry level Pro 12.0 NE elliptical.

But are the upgrades enough to make this your best option, or does the balance of features and affordability make the Pro 12.9 better value for money?

In this review we’ll be taking a look at everything from the design features and console functions, through to the warranty coverage and workout apps, to help you decide if this is the best elliptical for your own home gym.

We’ll also be making some important comparisons between the Pro 16.9 and some of the top ellipticals from other leading fitness equipment companies, such as NordicTrack and Precor.

Design and safety features

ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical Trainer

The ProForm Pro 16.9 certainly has some impressive features for an elliptical at this price point, but after reviewing their Pro 12.9 model, it’s clearly nothing new (more on this in our comparison).

With the exception of NordicTrack’s Incline Trainers and some of the CardioCore ellipticals from Yowza Fitness, the incline range is about the best you’ll find on a home elliptical (0° to 20°).

The number of resistance levels is also well above similarly priced designs from companies like Sole Fitness and Horizon Fitness, which offers a smoother running motion thanks to their Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) technology.

Its multi-position upper body grips are similar to what you might find on the Sole E55 or E95 ellipticals (minus the built-in resistance and incline controls), but there’s simply no comparison when it comes to the console. Sole has only just started offering Bluetooth data transfer to fitness apps, while iFit have developed an entire product line of wearable fitness tech.

Not only that, but Sole ellipticals are still limited to just 10 workout programs, while the ProForm Pro has 35 workout apps as standard, and hundreds more available to download through iFit.

Back to the design features, and the ProForm Pro 16.9 has a 20″ power adjustable stride, a 32 lb flywheel, and high 375 lb weight capacity, made possible thanks to its commercial-grade steel construction.

Although it’s something that’s available on all their Pro ellipticals, oversized adjustable pedals with an added layer of cushioning still help to reduce the impact on your knee and ankle joints while running.

So what about the console functions? Has there been any change to the control layout since their Pro 12.9 elliptical, and can you access any new workout apps?

ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical Trainer

ProForm Pro 16.9 Elliptical – Features Summary

  • Integrated Tablet Holder
  • iFit enabled 7″ full-color touchscreen console
  • iPod Compatible Audio
  • 35 Workout Apps
  • 26 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 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 and iFit

ProForm Pro 16.9 Console with iFit

Console design is something that NordicTrack and ProForm are exceptionally good at, combining high-tech features with a host of useful functionality while remaining relatively affordable.

No other fitness equipment company has more ellipticals offering web-enabled touchscreens and advanced workout creation through Google Maps and iFit.

Because the ProForm Pro 16.9 is currently one of their top-of-the-line models, the console is already iFit enabled. This means if you already have access to a wireless network and have signed up for an iFit subscription, you can start using the full range of features straight away.

This includes workouts powered by Google Maps™, where the power incline automatically adjusts based on the outdoor terrain of the real-world route you’re following.

You can also upload and track your performance after each workout to any one of 4 user profiles. These profiles will also calculate a fitness score, and allow you to build up a complete overview of your health and fitness routine by logging your daily nutrition.

As for the console itself, quick-select controls are available for both the resistance and incline levels, with an additional set of controls for navigating the 3 categories of workout apps.

A built-in Intermix Acoustics™ Sound System also means you can connect your iPod® or MP3 player and listen to your favorite music without the need for headphones. There’s even a set of controls for adjusting the volume.

The 10″ full-color web-enabled touchscreen is the largest that ProForm currently offer, but they’ve still included an integrated tablet holder in case you want to watch movies/TV shows without losing sight of important workout feedback.

One final feature worth mentioning is the CoolAire™ Workout Fan. Together with the built-in water bottle holder this helps keep you cool and hydrated, with buttons on the console for adjusting the fan speed if needed.

Heart rate monitoring
One advantage that ProForm’s Pro ellipticals have over their Endurance and Smart Strider collections is that they all offer two forms of heart rate monitoring; touch and telemetry (chest strap).

For the Smart Strider collection, this is something that’s only available with their top-of-the-line model (Smart Strider 935), which is the same for their Endurance series (Endurance 920 E).

The ProForm Pro 16.9 features EKG™ Grip Pulse sensors built into the static handles for transmitting your heart rate to the console. But if you want to measure your heart rate for a longer period of time, we would always recommend using a chest strap.

ProForm actually send you one together with this elliptical trainer, which you can wear under your clothing and use to wirelessly transmit your pulse to the console. This leaves your hands free to switch between grip positions, and even use the multi-position upper-body grips if you’re looking for a total-body workout.

Workout programs and user profiles

In upgrading from the Pro 12.9 to the Pro 16.9, you’re not getting any more onboard workouts. 35 is currently the maximum ProForm offer on any of their elliptical trainers, which is the same for NordicTrack.

There are quick-select buttons on the console for navigating through the 3 categories of onboard workout (Calorie, Intensity, and Performance), as well as menu options on the touchscreen if you want to choose from one of the iFit workouts.

  • ManualThis is the standard workout program that follows no preset training profile and isn’t split into segments like the others. Instead you simply step on the pedals and start the elliptical motion, where you determine when the resistance and incline levels change.
  • Onboard workout appsEach of the onboard workouts available with the ProForm Pro 16.9 follows a profile created by a certified personal trainer, and is split into a number of one-minute segments.Segments consist of a resistance level, incline level, and target cadence (RPM), which you can override at any time using the controls on the console.

    How challenging the workout is and how high the resistance/incline levels go depends on the program, but there are workouts designed to optimize calorie burning, increase endurance, and improve your overall fitness.

    By combining the multi-position upper body grips with the running motion in the pedals, you’re able to recruit a wide range of muscle groups, including biceps, chest, shoulders, back, core, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

  • iFit workoutsWith iFit you can actually create a workout schedule ahead of time using your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other internet-enabled device (iFit subscription required).To access workouts directly from the console you also need to be able to connect to a wireless network. If you’re connected and have a subscription, you can then select your user profile and choose from the workouts you’ve scheduled. This downloads them to the console via the Map, Train, Video, or Lose Weight options.

    iFit also allows you to compete in a race or challenge, and can display your progress around a virtual route through Google Maps and StreetView.

  • Set-A-GoalA single workout program that allows you to choose from 3 different goals; distance, workout duration, and calories burned.If you choose the calorie goal, the time it takes to reach your target will adjust based on changes you make to the resistance and incline levels. You’re also shown a target cadence (RPM), with a target zone meter that prompts you to increase, decrease, or maintain your speed. The workout continues until you reach your target.

Comparison: ProForm Pro 16.9 vs. ProForm Pro 12.9

In our review of the ProForm Pro 12.9, we highlighted the minimal differences between that model and the top-of-the-line Pro 16.9 elliptical. Unfortunately we’ve drawn the same conclusions here.

Surprisingly, the ProForm Pro 16.9 is the only elliptical in their Pro collection to feature their SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance technology. This helps to deliver a smoother, frictionless workout experience when running and changing resistance levels.

Apart from this there are no functional upgrades. The stride length (20″), incline range (20°), flywheel weight (32 lbs), number of workout apps (35), warranty coverage, and number of resistance levels (26) is all the same. Even the button layout on the console remains the same.

The only other difference we could find was in the size of the console screen, which now measures 10″, compared to the 7″ screen that comes with the Pro 12.9.

Before making any final decisions, it’s worth taking a look at the price difference between the two ellipticals. The biggest attraction for us is the Silent Magnetic Resistance, which is a basic feature of every elliptical in their Endurance collection (520 E, 720 E, 920 E), but not on the Pro 12.9 or Pro 12.0 NE.

ProForm Pro 16.9 vs. NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
When you’re buying a new elliptical trainer, it’s important to compare any model you’re interested in with others in the same collection, and similarly priced designs from other leading fitness companies.

That’s because a large number of fitness equipment brands are now owned by a larger company, typically either Icon Health and Fitness or Nautilus.

ProForm and NordicTrack are two of the brands currently owned by Icon Health and Fitness, which is why you’ll see clear similarities between the design features, workout programs, and even how the assembly instructions are written.

The closest match we could find to the ProForm Pro 16.9 is the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9, which is one of their top-of-the-line ellipticals, and the highest spec elliptical trainer in their 2016 collection.

Both machines are fitted with iFit enabled consoles, extra-wide 10″ full-color web-enabled touchscreens, 35 workout apps, a 32 lb flywheel, 20° incline ramp and 20″ power adjustable stride.

We were only able to find one difference between the two models, which is that the ProForm Pro 16.9 offers the highest weight capacity (375 lbs vs. 350 lbs. Apart from this they’re identical, right down to the length of warranty coverage and fact that they’re both supplied with a wireless heart rate chest strap.

The 25 lb difference in weight capacity is unlikely to make a big difference to your decision, so we would recommend checking the price of the NordicTrack model against the price of the ProForm model. Even when they’re both on sale the ProForm Pro 16.9 is usually $200 cheaper than the NordicTrack, even though they’re essentially the same machine.

Ease of assembly and maintenance required

ProForm have a couple of different systems that they use to make the assembly process a bit more straightforward, both of which are similar to the SNAP assembly system used by NordicTrack on some of their high-end ellipticals.

The first is the folding design you see with ProForm’s Smart Strider ellipticals, which not only shortens the assembly time, but also reduces the footprint and makes for more convenient storage after setup.

The second is their ‘Out-Of-The-Box’ assembly, which is a similar system but for the front-drive ellipticals in their Pro collection. Unfortunately this doesn’t make it any easier to fold or store the machine once it’s setup, but does simplify the initial assembly.

After removing all the packaging, you’ll find that the base frame, foot pedals, flywheel, resistance system, console, and console upright arrive as a single pre-assembled unit. This means all that’s left is to attach the base stabilizers, raise the upright, connect the upper body arms and console, then attach any covers.

Once everything’s assembled, the base levellers can be used to help improve the stability, and front-mounted transport wheels make it easier to move the elliptical if required.

It’s a simple enough process with concise, easy-to-follow instructions in the user manual, but due to its weight ProForm still recommend two people completing the assembly.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

If this isn’t possible, or if you would like someone to complete the setup for you, ProForm and Amazon both offer professional in-home assembly services for elliptical trainers (use the form above to check if your zip code is covered).

Professional assembly services
There are a number of companies now offering home assembly services for fitness equipment, but two of the best for the ProForm Pro 16.9 elliptical will be Amazon, and ProForm themselves.

Both come with an additional expense and have limitations on the locations they’ll cover, so it’s worth checking if they offer services in your region.

Our personal preference is to go with Amazon, because their service allows you to enter your area code, then choose from a list of professionals local to your area. You can usually choose from a range of prices, with reviews available for most of the top local providers, so you can check the quality of their work based on past customer experiences.

Maintenance required
ProForm ellipticals are typically sold with a very simple and inexpensive maintenance routine, and their Pro 16.9 model is no different.

Their only recommendations are to inspect and tighten all parts on a regular basis, and to clean the equipment with a damp cloth and mild soap solution. The user manual also includes a useful troubleshooting section for calibrating the incline, adjusting the reed switch, and adjusting the drive belt.

ProForm Elliptical Trainer Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 6 years
  • Labor: 3 years

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

ProForm ellipticals have always had an edge over ellipticals from other companies thanks to their iFit consoles. But is the larger screen and Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) system enough to make this a better option than the Pro 12.9 model?

When they're on sale, these two features will usually cost you an extra $200, and it really comes down to personal preference over whether you consider this to be worth the additional expense.

Personally, we find the 7" screen to be larger enough for following a Google Maps route, viewing workout feedback and navigating the menu options. But if you plan on using it more for web browsing then perhaps you would appreciate the larger display.

You still have the integrated tablet holder that you can combine with a tablet for watching your favorite movies and TV shows, so for us having the 7" screen and screen from our tablet is perfectly fine. So from our perspective we would choose the Pro 12.9 over the Pro 16.9.

Because they're such similar machines, the Pro 12.9 still offers all of the same incline and resistance settings, flywheel weight, warranty, etc. as this top-of-the-line model, and maintains its superior weight capacity over NordicTrack's top-of-the-line Commercial 14.9 elliptical.

Product dimensions: 66.24"L x 25.55" W x 79.71"H Weight capacity: 375 lbs

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