Friday, 19 April 2024

Elliptical Trainers

ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical Trainer Review

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The ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical Trainer is the current top-of-the-line model in the Smart Strider collection, with upgrades over the earlier 535 and 735 ellipticals.

With a wider range of workout programs, more resistance levels to choose from and having an iFit enabled console, it’s certainly a more attractive option. But how does it compare to the SpaceSaver collection from NordicTrack, and which brand offers better value for money?

In this review we’ll be making some important comparisons between the two brands to help identify any differences that could make one better suited to your workouts than the other.

Design and safety features

When a parent company is responsible for the design and production of fitness equipment for multiple brands, patterns often emerge in the design features and workout options.

This is something we noticed before with Nautilus, Inc., who owns the Nautilus and Schwinn fitness equipment brands. If you were to take the exercise bikes, ellipticals and treadmills from each of these companies and make a list of their features, in many cases the chances are you wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart.

It’s a pattern that we’ve also noticed with the Icon Health and Fitness company, who owns the ProForm and NordicTrack brands.

When we started to review the ProForm Smart Strider 935, we were able to make clear comparisons with the NordicTrack SE9i SpaceSaver elliptical, with its SNAP assembly and folding design.

But the two machines have much more in common than simply being folding ellipticals. They have the same 18″ stride length, 30 workout programs, 24 resistance levels, 18 lb flywheel and 7″ full-color web-enabled display screen.

The ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical folds for convenient storage

In fact, at the time of writing this review, the NordicTrack SE9i was listed as out of stock on the official NordicTrack website, and the ProForm Smart Strider 935 was also listed as out of stock on the official ProForm website.

But surely the two machines are priced the same? In our experience this is rarely the case, and although all features may be listed exactly the same, one machine is always more expensive than the other. In this case we found the NordicTrack model to be $500 more expensive than the ProForm, but it’s worth doing your own comparison if you intend on buying one to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Of course, some of the features may have different names, such as NordicTrack calling their cooling fan AutoBreeze™ and ProForm calling theirs CoolAire™, but they’re essentially exactly the same.

In addition to the 18″ stride length, the ProForm Smart Strider 935 also offers 24 Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) levels, a power adjustable incline to 10°, 3 positions for the oversized adjustable pedals, and an 18 lb inertia-enhanced flywheel for a smoother running experience.

The durable commercial-grade steel frame is capable of supporting up to 325 lbs, which is fairly low for an elliptical this close to the $2000 mark. For comparison, the Sole Fitness E98 (400 lb capacity) and Yowza Fitness Navarre Plus (400 lb capacity) are both priced at a similar level.

ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical Trainer

ProForm Smart Strider 935 – Features Summary

  • 7″ Full-Color Touch Display
  • iPod Compatible Audio
  • Quick Touch Handles
  • 30 Workout Apps
  • Power Adjustable Incline to 10°
  • 24 Digital Resistance Levels
  • 18″ Stride length
  • CoolAire Workout Fan
  • EKG Grip Pulse with Wireless Chest Strap, Soft Touch Upper-Body Grips
  • 18 Lb. Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel
  • Commercial-Grade Steel Construction
  • iFit wireless technology built in, no module required

Display console design

The display console for the ProForm Smart Strider 935 is much the same as the one we looked at during our review of the ProForm 920 E, with the same 7″ size and an identical button layout.

ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical Trainer

The 920 E was the top-of-the-line elliptical in ProForm’s Endurance collection, and the only model in that series to be iFit enabled instead of iFit compatible. This is the same with the Smart Strider 935, which is a top-of-the-line model, and the only Smart Strider elliptical to be delivered with iFit enabled. But it’s not just iFit that the 7″ LCD screen can be used for.

Because the console is web-enabled, you can browse the internet, watch movies, catch up on your favorite TV shows and check social media, all while you workout. Then when you want to view your workout progress, you can simply switch between views and get a summary of your current performance. This includes feedback for the number of calories burned, distance, workout duration, and heart rate if you’re using a heart rate monitor.

Heart rate monitoring
The ProForm Smart Strider 935 offers two different types of heart rate monitoring; touch and telemetry.

EKG touch sensors built into the static handles can be used if you’re looking to monitor your heart rate for a short period of time, but they can be quite temperamental. You need to hold the sensors for at least 15 seconds to get the most accurate reading, and only with a moderate amount of pressure. Changing your grip, squeezing too tightly or too much hand movement can lead to inaccurate readings, or no reading at all.

In comparison we definitely prefer the second option, which is to wear a hands-free telemetry chest strap, such as one of the wireless models from Polar®. This gives you much more freedom in terms of hand placement, and allows you to take advantage of the soft touch upper body workout grips to create more of a full-body workout.

Workout programs and user profiles

Despite the folding design, the ProForm Smart Strider 935 still allows you to experience almost all of the same workout programs as their top-of-the-line 920 E Endurance elliptical.

This means you have access to all 4 different types of workout program, including; Manual, Onboard, iFit, and Set-A-Goal. You can also choose from many of the same onboard workout programs, with 10 Calorie Workouts, 10 Intensity workouts, and 10 Performance workouts.

  • ManualIf you’re simply looking to step on the foot plates and start your workout, this is the program for you.
  • OnboardOnboard workouts can be accessed in two different ways. Either you can use the quick select controls on the console, or navigate the menu using the touchscreen.After selecting your desired workout, the program will begin following a preset profile split into a number of segments. Each segment stores a resistance level, incline level, and target cadence (RPM), which will be indicated by a target zone meter on the screen.

    This target zone meter prompts you to increase, decrease, or maintain your running speed, while the incline and resistance level will change automatically.

    Having the onboard workouts split into categories makes it much easier to find a program that’s tailored to your fitness goal. For example, the intensity workouts use an incline and resistance profile that’s higher than the calorie workouts to help improve your endurance.

  • iFitAs the top-of-the-line elliptical in their Smart Strider collection, the ProForm 935 arrives with iFit already enabled. This means you’re able to start using the full range of features as soon as you setup a subscription, with no need to purchase a separate wireless iFit module.The console has a selection of conveniently place controls to navigate the different iFit functions, such as Map, Train, and Compete, as well as a ‘Track’ option for uploading your workout results straight to the iFit cloud.

    Not only does iFit offer personalized workout programs and support multiple users, but it also allows you to access a high-definition video library of simulated workouts if you need inspiration for a new workout routine. Many of the programs are also integrated with Google Maps, where a virtual map of your course will be displayed on-screen.

  • Set-A-GoalAlthough these are nothing new for ProForm (we’ve found Set-A-Goal workouts on nearly every ProForm elliptical we’ve reviewed), they’re still a nice addition to have.There are 3 variations to choose from; Distance, Duration, and Calories Burned, each of which allows you to take a goal-oriented approach to your training, without having to follow a preset profile.

User profiles
This is another advantage of buying one of the iFit enabled ellipticals from ProForm, as it means you can store training results against different users.

iFit allows up to 4 different profiles to be created. By selecting your profile before starting your workout, your results will then automatically sync to your profile and you can analyze your performance.

As long as you have a premium iFit membership, you can email out invitations to other people you want to be users and they can start training under your subscription at no additional cost.

Comparison: ProForm Smart Strider 935 vs. 735

When you’re thinking about buying a new elliptical trainer, it can be useful to know they advantages of buying one model over another, as it helps determine which features you really want to be paying for. That’s why we wanted to make a quick comparison between the ProForm Smart Strider 935 and the Smart Strider 735 ellipticals.

As you might expect, being their top-of-the-line model gives the 935 a number of advantages.

Compared to the 735, the Smart Strider 935 has 4 more resistance levels, 25 lbs of additional weight capacity, 1 more year on the parts warranty, 8 additional workout apps, a 40% larger screen that’s full color and iFit enabled, and in-handle quick-touch controls for the resistance and incline.

At 18 lbs, the weight of the flywheel remains the same, as does the 10° power incline, iPod compatibility, and oversized, cushioned design of the pedals.

The 935 model also includes a wireless heart rate chest strap, which isn’t supplied with the Smart Strider 735.

Ease of assembly and maintenance required

One of the most attractive features of the ProForm Smart Strider 935 is its folding design, which helps to reduce the size of its footprint when not in use. But this is also an advantage when it comes to the initial setup, with most of the elliptical arriving pre-assembled.

NordicTrack have used an identical system on their SpaceSaver collection, calling it SNAP assembly, but we were unable to find any reference to the same system in the ProForm user manual or on their website.

The user manual itself has only a few steps explaining the setup process, which mostly consists of attaching the base stabilizers, lifting the console upright into position, then rotating and locking the upper body arms and covers.

Compared to the assembly of their Endurance ellipticals, this is a much simpler process, but there’s still a certain amount of heavy lifting involved.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

For this reason we would still highlight the option of having an authorized service technician from ProForm setup the machine for you, or take advantage of the Amazon elliptical home assembly service (use the form above to check if your zip code is included). Both come with an additional cost, but could be a more convenient option if you want to avoid any heavy lifting.

With the elliptical assembled, the front-mounted transport wheels make it much easier to move the machine to a different location if needed. You can also raise the elliptical onto its end for more convenient storage, or use the leveling feet to compensate for any slightly uneven ground.

Maintenance routines tend to be fairly similar across entire product lines, or even entire brands. For example, the recommended maintenance routine will be virtually the same for all WaterRower rowing machines, and Precor have a very similar cleaning and maintenance routine for their Energy and Precision Series ellipticals.

For the ProForm Smart Strider 935 you have the exact same maintenance routine as for the other Smart Strider series ellipticals, as well as their Endurance collection. That is to inspect and tighten all parts regularly, and clean the equipment using a damp cloth and mild soap solution.

The user manual also has some useful information about important tasks that hopefully you won’t have to perform too often, such as troubleshooting the incline system, adjusting the reed switch, and adjusting the drive belt.

ProForm Elliptical Trainer Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 3 years
  • Labor: 1 year

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

So after reviewing the ProForm Smart Strider 935, do we think it's the best choice of elliptical under $1000?

At the time of writing this review the 935 elliptical was priced at just under $1000 on Amazon, with the earlier 735 model available for around $150 less. In our opinion the iFit enabled console alone is worth the price difference, especially when you consider buying the Wi-Fi module separately still costs around $100.

But when you take into account the higher weight capacity, additional onboard workout apps, controls built into the handles, additional resistance levels and the fact that ProForm include a wireless chest strap, the 935 is clearly better value for money.

In many respects it's a rear drive version of their Endurance 920 E elliptical, but with a slightly shallower incline (10° instead of 20°), lighter flywheel (18 lbs vs. 25 lbs), and lack of an integrated tablet holder.

Overall, if you're looking to make the best use of space with a new elliptical trainer and the Smart Strider 935 is within your budget, it's certainly one of the best ellipticals under $1000, in terms of workout variation, performance tracking, and compact storage design.

Product dimensions: 65"L x 25"W x 74"H Product weight: 184 lbs Weight capacity: 325 lbs

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