Friday, 19 April 2024

Elliptical Trainers

Vision Fitness S70 Elliptical Trainer Review

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The Vision Fitness S70 Suspension Elliptical™ features a 20″- 23″ stride length, 15 – 37% incline range, and the science-based Sprint 8® cardio workout program. But how does this measure up to the S60? Is the S70 really the best elliptical machine for helping you achieve your personal fitness goals?

In this review we’ll compare the Passport™ compatible S70 to other Vision Fitness ellipticals, including the S7100HRT and S7200HRT machines from their Suspension™ series. This means taking a look at what you gain by having the two-stage generator resistance system (S60 and S70) compared to the ECB magnetic braking system of the S7100HRT and S7200HRT.

We’ll also be comparing the workout programs (22 with the S70), entertainment features, and fitness tracking options against similarly priced ellipticals. These will be from a range of fitness equipment companies, including NordicTrack, ProForm, and Horizon Fitness.

Design and safety features

The Vision S70 Suspension Elliptical is an upgrade to the S60 model, and the second to feature a self-powered, two-stage generator resistance system.

But what sets the S70 apart as its own unique machine is the way it combines this self-powered resistance with an incline range of 15% – 37%. That’s because the S60 had no incline settings, which in itself is unique for a Vision Fitness Suspension Elliptical (the S7100 and S7200 models have a similar gradient to the S70).

So apart from adding an incline range, what else has been upgraded?

The moveable upper body handles have returned to being multi-position. This is in keeping with every other Vision Fitness elliptical, except the S60. Having this extra set of grips lets you make subtle adjustments to your hand position, allowing you to shift the focus between different upper body muscle groups.

Weight capacity remains the same, but at 400 lbs it’s well ahead of anything Horizon Fitness can support (350 lb limit on their high-end Elite E9 elliptical), and the most we’ve seen from Vision.

Stride length is once again variable, after being made static for the S60 model. The 20″ – 23″ variable stride supported by the S70 is the same range as their S7200 elliptical, which relies on an ECB magnetic resistance system.

You can also benefit from Vision’s PerfectStride® elliptical motion, which is designed to eliminate surges and dead spots to create a smoother run and more enjoyable workout experience. This is a feature that’s available across all Vision Suspension ellipticals.

The step-on height for the S70 is also slightly lower than the S60, measuring 8.5″ compared to 9″. Although it may not seem like much of a difference, this makes it the lowest of any Horizon Fitness or Vision Fitness elliptical.

But what about the technology at the console? How does the Vision S70 compare to the more affordable S60 in terms of entertainment options, workout variation, and workout feedback?

These are a few of the questions we’ll be answering in the next section of this review.

Safety features
Because the S60 and S70 ellipticals both use a self-powered resistance system, they also benefit from the same unique safety feature.

Safety Mode keeps the S70 at its highest resistance level while the machine is not in use, to help prevent the pedals from being moved. But there is a slight difference, in that the S60 requires a pedal speed of 20 revolutions per minute (RPM) to generate power, whereas the S70 requires 25 RPM.

This has similar benefits to the safety features fitted to Precor’s Precision series ellipticals. These have a passcode protected console and locking pins under the foot plates to prevent unwanted movement when not in use.

Vision Fitness S70 Elliptical

Vision Fitness S70 – Features Summary

  • 20″- 23″ variable stride length
  • 2″ pedal spacing
  • Suspension Elliptical™ frame design
  • Self-powered two-stage generator system
  • 8.5” step-on height
  • 20 resistance levels
  • 22 Workout programs
  • Sprint 8® fat-burning interval program
  • Contact heart rate monitoring
  • Polar® wireless receiver
  • Easy-to-read LED display
  • 400 lb weight capacity

Display console design

The Vision S70 has a similar console to the S60, with a dot matrix profile display of the current program, and a message window for displaying workout feedback. This includes your speed, distance, watts, METs, resistance level, and number of calories burned.

As with their other Suspension Ellipticals, there are no quick select controls for the resistance level, meaning you have to rely on the basic set of arrow buttons. The big difference between the S70 and the S60 is that the S70 has incline adjustment controls, which allow you to set the gradient to one of 20 levels between 15% and 37%.

Despite being one of their premium elliptical machines, there’s still no sign of any entertainment options. This is compared to NordicTrack FreeStrider trainers, where even their mid-tier FS7i model has a 7” web-enabled color touchscreen, two 2-inch speakers, and an iPod compatible sound system.

The FS7i also benefits from an adjustable stride of up to 38” in length, and OneTouch™ controls for adjusting the incline and resistance levels with a single button press. All for what can be less than half the price of the Vision S70.

However, if you take a look under the Vision S70 console you’ll find a Cardio Port hidden under a removable cover. This means it’s compatible with entertainment systems such as Cardio Theatre, where you could purchase a freestanding E-Zone Personal Viewing System and have a 15” or 17” wide HD screen setup above the console.

Unfortunately this tends to be geared more towards commercial health clubs than home gyms, and when you take into account the additional cost, you would struggle to justify the expense over something like the NordicTrack FreeStride FS9i.

So what about tracking your fitness goals and creating an immersive workout experience? The Vision S70 doesn’t have the same ViaFit workout tracking as their treadmills, but has been classed as Passport™ Ready.

Passport Ready
Passport is something that’s unique to Johnson Fitness, which is the parent company of Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness.

But most of their equipment (including the S7200HRT Suspension Elliptical) is only setup to be ‘Passport ready’, meaning you’ll have to purchase the Passport Player separately (usually $199). The alternative is if you see ‘Virtual Active Integrated’, which means the Passport Player is already built into the console. It’s something that’s reserved for their top-of-the-line machines, such as the Vision T80 treadmill with either the Elegant+ or Touch+ console.

Passport Player can connect to your home entertainment system and display workout data on your television, together with high-definition footage of real-world locations. The resistance and incline automatically adjusts to match a change in terrain for the route you’re following, and you have two destination courses pre-loaded on the Player; Northern Italy and the American Southwest.

If you want to experience different workout locations, you can purchase Passport Packs (A, B, and C), which each include 6 new locations (usually $99 per pack).

Heart rate monitoring
If you need to keep track of your heart rate during a workout, it’s important to find an elliptical machine that’s compatible with wireless heart rate monitors. Contact sensors are useful, but restrict your upper body movement too much to have much benefit unless you only need a quick reading.

The Vision S70 features contact sensors built into the static handles, with a receiver built into the console for picking up the signal from wireless chest straps. Your current heart rate is then displayed in the HRT feedback window, together with the percent of your maximum heart rate, and target heart rate when you use one of the HRT® programs.

Workout programs and user profiles

Vision’s suspension trainers use a different type of console to their more traditional ellipticals, resulting in some new and unique workout program categories. This includes the ability to create more custom workouts than any other piece of Vision Fitness equipment.

So how can this benefit your fitness routine?

We’ve provided a quick summary of what you can expect from each workout, to help you decide whether a suspension trainer is the best option for your fitness goals.

The self powered S70 actually combines many of the best programs from Vision’s other suspension ellipticals. This includes the return of one of the ‘Sculptor’ programs which was available on the S7200HRT but not the S60. That’s because the S70 is fitted with an incline system, which was missing from the earlier model.

Because the Vision S70 is their top-of-the-line self powered elliptical, we recommend taking a look at our reviews of the more affordable S60 and S7100HRT machines. This will help to ensure the model you’re interested in represents the best value for money, based on your fitness goals.

Workout program categories

  • Sprint 8Sprint 8 isn’t available on the Classic console, but is included with the Elegant+ and Touch+ models.The duration is 20 minutes, and the workouts are designed around an 8-week cardio routine rather than a single program. Each of these workouts involves interval training, where you have 3 minutes of warm-up, 2.5 minutes of cool-down, and a series of 2-minute sprint and recovery cycles (30 second sprints and 90 second recovery) in between.

    Before you start you’re able to choose from one of four intensity levels; beginner, intermediate, advanced, and elite. It’s a routine that’s designed to boost energy, reduce body fat, promote lean muscle mass and improve cholesterol.

  • ManualThis is the standard program that’s supplied with all Vision ellipticals. The resistance level and incline gradient won’t change unless you make adjustments at the console.
  • IntervalA high intensity workout that’s designed to strengthen your cardiovascular system by alternating between short periods of high and low intensity exercise.
  • Fat BurnDesigned to keep your heart rate at the optimum level for calorie burning, this program maintains a lower intensity than the interval program but with a longer duration.
  • RandomThis isn’t a program that’s included with Vision’s treadmills or traditional elliptical machines, but creates a high level of workout variation for their suspension trainers. The console randomly selects the resistance and incline levels for each segment of your workout.
  • TrailsThe Vision S7200HRT suspension elliptical had a series of goal-based workout programs, one of which allowed you to set a target distance. It looks like the S70 has replaced these goal programs with ‘Trails’ which is available in 3 variations; Trail 2k, Trail 5k, Trail 8k.These are shorter than the ‘Trails’ programs you’ll find on the S60 (Trail 5k, Trail 15k, Trail 20k), and unfortunately you’re unable to set targets for the number of calories burned or your workout duration.
  • Glute BurnIdentical to the Sculptor program we saw on the Vision S7200HRT. Glute Burn is designed to build strength and muscle tone in your glutes and hamstrings by using carefully selected incline and resistance settings. It’s also an effective cardiovascular workout.
  • Summit HikeAlthough the profile isn’t entirely random, it doesn’t follow a set pattern like Fat Burn or Intervals, instead acting as a variable incline program to target your muscles from different angles.
  • Mountain TrekRolling Hill style programs switch between a maximum and minimum work rate, but more gradually than interval training. Mountain Trek is designed as more of a continuous climb, where you set your desired incline and resistance levels then begin your workout.
  • Stair ClimbWorks in a similar way to the Mountain Trek program, but applies more of a focus to your quads.
  • Heart rate target (HRT)The Vision S70 elliptical is pre-programmed with 4 variations of heart rate workout; Target HRT, HRT Weight Loss, HRT Interval, and HRT Hill.Target HRT is designed to improve the endurance of your cardiovascular system by keep you at a preset target heart rate. HRT Hill uses four heart rate target zones instead of one, switching between 65%, 70%, 75%, and 80% by automatically adjusting the resistance level to build cardiovascular strength.

    HRT Interval is a slightly simpler version of HRT Hill, where you alternate between two fixed heart rate levels of 70% and 80% of your predicted maximum heart rate. This is designed to maximize the number of calories burned and increase your overall fitness level.

    The final heart rate controlled program is HRT Weight Loss, which replaces the ‘Fat Burn’ program that was available on the S7100HRT. This is designed to keep you at 65% of your predicted maximum heart rate to burn a higher percentage of calories from your body’s fat reserves.

  • Fitness TestWe’ve seen Vision include a fitness test with their equipment before, most recently on the Classic console of their treadmills (T40 and T80 models). With their treadmills this is based on the Gerkin protocol, but in this case it’s a simple 5 minute test that calculates your fitness level based on a calculation using your V02 level and maximum heart rate.
  • Custom programsFor most Vision Fitness equipment the most custom programs you can expect is 3, which you can find on any machine with an Elegant+ or Touch+ console (Classic console has 2 custom workouts).But for the Vision S70 suspension trainer you can create, save, and reuse up to 5 custom programs. Rather than spending time storing the incline and resistance settings manually, the console simply records any changes you make at the console and uses this to create your custom profile. It’s much more efficient than manually creating your profile segment by segment.

User profiles
Unfortunately the Vision S70 isn’t setup with any form of workout tracking, which means there isn’t really a need for user profiles.

With most of their treadmills, such as the T40 and T80, you can sync workout performance to an online profile through ViaFit connectivity. This lets you share the data with various other fitness apps, including RunKeeper and Fitbit.

The closest thing you have to user profiles here is the custom programs. They prompt you to set your age, weight, and the time, which is then used in the two main calculations; maximum heart rate, and number of calories burned.

Ease of assembly

If you’re buying the S70 elliptical direct from Vision Fitness, their policy is to schedule delivery and bring the boxes inside the first ground-level door or into your garage.

The Johnson Fitness website (Vision’s parent company) has a complete collection of owner’s manuals, diagrams, and other guides for assisting you with the elliptical assembly. Contacting Vision Fitness for after-sales service and support is also incredibly easy, with an email address, contact number, and contact form available through their official website.

But what if you’re looking for more than ground-level delivery? What if you want a trained service technician to assemble your new elliptical machine for you, so you don’t have to worry about heavy lifting and following diagrams?

Professional assembly services
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find any additional levels of home delivery from Vision themselves. This would be where a technician visits your address and assembles the elliptical for you in your room of choice.

However, if this is a service you’re interested in, Amazon have recently started offering a number of home assembly services. This includes home gyms, treadmills, and elliptical machines. To check whether your zip code is covered, please use the form below.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

Amazon’s elliptical trainer assembly service already has hundreds of 5 star rated reviews, with customer feedback for the various installers.

The service itself includes assembly of 1 elliptical per product instructions, with a typical assembly time of 4 hours. Amazon have also started offering an ASAP version of the service. If you submit an order before 10am on a business day, a service pro will come to your home that same day.

Maintenance required
Vision Fitness include a recommended maintenance routine with each of their ellipticals. These are fairly standard steps to ensure the continued operation of any home elliptical, but still worth a mention.

  • Weekly: Clean the display console, frame, handlebars, plastic covers, and pedals.
  • Monthly: Inspect the display console, handlebars, plastic covers, and pedals.
  • Bi-Annually: Inspect the console mounting bolts.
  • Annually: Inspect the frame.

The S70 user manual also includes troubleshooting solutions for issues such as lack of illumination at the console, or erratic heart rate readouts.

Vision Fitness Elliptical Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Generator: 5 years

  • Parts: 5 years
  • Labor: 2 years

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4.5 / 5

So how does the Vision S70 Suspension Elliptical compare to the S60? Which machine offers the best balance of features and affordability?

When we reviewed the S60 and compared it against their S7200 model, the big disappointment was that the S60 didn’t have an incline range. This is something that was included on the S70, with a gradient range of 15% - 37% that sits somewhere between the S7100 and S7200 ellipticals.

By choosing the S70 over the S60 you’re also getting an extra 3 years on the parts warranty, and 7 years warranty on the brake, together with a variety of muscle toning workouts that weren’t available on the S60.

But the price difference between these two self powered ellipticals is usually around $1200, so is this enough to justify the additional cost? Especially considering there’s no upgrade to the console and you’re still unable to log workout feedback due to a lack of ViaFit connectivity.

With this kind of price tag we maintain the same view we had over the S60 model, which is that it’s best suited to family environments and commercial gyms.

In terms of balancing costs, the S7200 has electrical requirements of 120V on a 15 amp circuit, which means running for 1 hour will consume 1.8 KWh. It depends on the price of your electricity, but if 1 KWh costs 12 cents you’re looking at 22 cents per hour of elliptical use. Now multiply this out across 5 years. At 3 hours use per week the S70 saves you $170. But consider commercial gyms or family environments that might see one of these machines used for 3 hours per day everyday, and that cost saving becomes $1204.50 over the same 5 year period.

In summary, the Vision S70 elliptical has one of the best warranties in the industry, and is perfectly constructed for high-use environments. The workout variation (interval training, fat burning, target heart rate, weight loss, glute burning, mountain hiking, stair climbing, etc.) and incline range are excellent, and the self powered nature of the drive system has the potential to save you a lot of money in the long run.

But if you’re looking for a suspension elliptical that features a similar incline range, collection of workout programs, and warranty coverage, where it’s used for a few hours each week, it’s more cost efficient to save $1000 and choose the S7200.

Product dimensions: 75"L x 35"W x 68"H Product weight: 352 lbs Weight capacity: 400 lbs

Related articles:

Elliptical Machine Reviews Guide 2017
Vision Fitness S60 Elliptical Machine Review
Vision Fitness Elliptical Machine Reviews

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