The Horizon Fitness Elite T9 treadmill features a 60″L x 20″W running track, Passport video workouts, and compatibility with Horizon’s ViaFit web app.
But as the top-of-the-line model in a collection that also features the Elite T7, is it really the best treadmill for your personal fitness goals?
In this review we’ll compare the Elite T9 to other Horizon Fitness treadmills (folding and non-folding). This means taking a closer look at how well ViaFit integrates with the existing fitness apps and wearable tech you might already be using. Apps such as Fitbit, RunKeeper, and the popular food journal from MyFitnessPal.
We’ll also be comparing the workout programs, entertainment features, and fitness tracking options against similarly priced treadmills from other leading fitness equipment companies. This includes NordicTrack, ProForm, and Vision Fitness.
Design and safety features
The Horizon Elite T9 treadmill is an upgrade of the Elite T7, with a larger, more advanced console, and wider choice of workout programs. But what about the design features?
Both treadmills in Horizon’s Elite series use the same Johnson Drive System, which continuously recalibrates motor power with each footfall. The T7 and T9 treadmills are both fitted with a 2.75 CHP version of the motor, while the Adventure series treadmills are capped at 2.5 CHP.
The extra motor power enables the tread belt to reach the maximum speed of 12 mph, even under a higher weight capacity (350 lbs for Elite series, 300-325 lbs for Adventure series). This also allows you to set the Elite T9 to a steeper incline, with a maximum gradient of 15% (12% for Adventure series).
Another important feature worth comparing is the size of the running area. Unless you buy a treadmill with a long enough running surface, you won’t be able to build up to your full natural running stride.
The Elite T9 shares the same 20”W x 60”L running area as the Elite T7 and Adventure 5 treadmills. But the big difference between Elite and Adventure treadmills is the type of belt used.
Horizon Fitness have integrated synthetic hard wax directly into the belt fibers to eliminate the need for routine lubrication. This serves to increase the durability of the belt, reduce the level of maintenance required, and work with the motor to deliver a smoother, quieter indoor running experience.
Variable Response Cushioning features a three-zone design. At the front of the running area you have an increased amount of flex to absorb the impact of your foot striking the belt. Through the middle you have a firmer section that improves your stability, while the back of the running area features a firm section that preserves the maximum amount of power in each stride.
So what is it that makes the Elite T9 stand out from other Horizon Fitness treadmills? It’s currently the only model to feature Virtual Active, which delivers a more immersive running experience thanks to its large full color console.
Later in our review we’ll look at what this means for your workouts, and whether it’s enough of an upgrade to make the Elite T9 our preferred choice over the T7.
For most treadmill reviews we factor in the quality of safety features in our overall rating. Usually a safety key is enough to prevent against injury when you’re running at home, but some companies have also built in more advanced features.
ProForm and Precor are two of the brands currently using password protection on a selection of their treadmill consoles. This means a 4-digit passcode must be entered before you can set the belt in motion or use any of the console controls.
Unfortunately Horizon Fitness don’t have anything similar on any of their treadmills, but they do have the standard safety key. Unless you have the key inserted you’re unable to start the machine. When you’re running, if you were to fall, the clip detaches from the console and stops the motion of the belt.
Horizon Fitness Elite T9 – Features Summary
- FeatherLight folding frame
- Infinity belt
- 20″W x 60″L running area
- 3-zone Variable Response Cushioning
- 0-15% Incline range
- 2.75 CHP motor
- ViaFit connectivity
- Virtual Active destination courses (Northern Rockies and American Northeast)
- Passport Ready
- 44 Workout programs
- Workout tracking calendar
- Contact heart rate monitoring
- Polar wireless receiver and free chest strap
- 10″ touchscreen display
- 12 mph maximum belt speed
Display console design
Horizon Fitness only have one treadmill fitted with a 10” color touchscreen. That treadmill is the Elite T9, which is also the only Horizon treadmill to have Virtual Active integrated into the console.
The main console layout is virtually identical to the Elite T7, except now most of the buttons have been removed, and you make your selections via the on-screen menu system.
Visually the display is a huge improvement over the backlit screens of the Adventure series treadmills. Not just because of the intuitive menu, but because the workout feedback offers more in the way of customization.
For example, you can customize the time metrics by simply tapping on the screen. This lets you switch between time elapsed, time remaining, total workout time, and time of day. You have similar options available for distance metrics and performance metrics, where you can choose between number of calories burned, calories burned per hour, heart rate, steps, and METs.
From the home screen you have 6 basic options; Virtual Active, Workout Tracking, Settings, Users, Workouts, and Go. Although ‘Go’ is self-explanatory, we wanted to take a closer look at some of these more advanced options, starting with Virtual Active.
Most of the more affordable Horizon treadmills are classed as Passport Ready. This means that if you spend around $199 on a Passport player you can have access to two interactive HD video workouts, filmed at various locations around the world.
What the Elite T9 treadmill does is take away the need to buy the Passport Player separately. Instead the workouts are pre-loaded into the console, and can be selected straight from the main console menu.
This high-definition workout experience combines footage of real-world locations with ambient sounds and an interactive feel, whereby the running deck incline automatically adjusts to match a change the gradient of the route.
If you would like access to more than just the two pre-loaded locations, you can purchase up to three additional packs, each of which contains high definition footage of six real-world running locations.
We’ll look at workout programs in more detail later in our review, but we wanted to mention the workout calendar as the Elite T9 is the only Horizon Fitness treadmill to have one.
By selecting the ‘Workout Tracking’ option from the home screen, you’re able to take a look back at your workout history for each day. This complements ViaFit perfectly, as ViaFit automatically logs your current workout data, while the workout calendar lets you check past performances for added motivation before you start your run.
Rather than making you manually enter your workout stats, Horizon created ViaFit. This syncs your workout performance data straight to your ViaFit account. You can even link other apps and devices to the console so that they receive the same updates. Fitness apps such as Nike+, RunKeeper, MapMyWalk, FitBit and MyFitnessPal.
After syncing workout data to your ViaFit account, you can login via your computer or smart device, then take a weekly, monthly, yearly or even workout level view of how your fitness level is improving.
Challenges are a hugely popular part of the ViaFit community, and have often been completed by over 10,000 participants. You can set yourself a target for the number of workouts completed this month, number of miles walked or run, and number of calories burned by a certain date.
This is similar to the Goal Center feature, which is also available through your ViaFit account. Here you can set a goal for the number of workouts completed, number of calories burned, total time spent running/walking, or the total distance travelled. There’s even a social feed that’s update with achievements from other ViaFit members.
Heart rate monitoring
The Horizon Elite T9 treadmill supports both touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring, which is the same as for the Elite T7. But this is still an upgrade from Horizon’s Adventure series treadmills, which have no built-in receiver for wireless chest straps, leaving you to rely on the contact sensors.
Although the contact grips are useful to monitor your heart rate for short periods, if it’s something you want to track throughout your workout, we always recommend a chest strap. Fortunately the Elite T9 has a Polar wireless received built-in, and even includes a free chest strap.
Unfortunately you don’t have the same quick reference guide on screen for showing your current heart rate range. This was a feature on the backlit display of the Elite T7, but has now been replaced with a heart rate graph, which can be shown in the center of the touchscreen and highlights changes in heart rate as your workout progresses.
Energy Saver mode
If you decide to activate Energy Saver mode, the Elite T9 console will automatically enter standby mode after 15 minutes of inactivity. This is something we first noticed on the Elite T7 treadmill, so while it’s certainly a useful feature, it’s not unique to the T9.
Workout programs and user profiles
Before buying a new treadmill, one of the most important areas for comparison is the workout programs. This is understandable, as not having enough workout variation can lead to boredom, which is one of the top reasons why people skip workouts and even stop their fitness routine.
Fortunately when it comes to workout variation, Horizon Fitness are one of the best companies in the industry, especially when it comes to the treadmills in their Elite series.
In terms of pre-programmed workouts, the most we’ve ever seen built into a console is around 44, which was on NordicTrack’s top-of-the-line X11i Incline Trainer. They also have traditional treadmills with up to 40 workout programs, while ProForm’s Pro 9000 treadmill has a collection of 38 workout apps.
The Horizon Elite T9 treadmill matches the X11i Incline Trainer in terms of workout quantity, with 44 programs supplied as standard. Because the console is Passport Ready, you also have access to a further 20 high-definition destination courses (2 preloaded on the Passport Player and 6 more courses in each of the three Passport Packs).
But these destination courses come at a cost, which if you want all 20 will cost in the region of $500 ($199 for the player, and 3 packs at a cost of $99 each).
So what if you didn’t want the added expense? Can the workout variation compete with NordicTrack and ProForm treadmills in the same way the program quantity does?
Workout program categories
This is the standard program that begins when you press the ‘Start’ button. You don’t follow any preset profile of speed and incline settings, giving you complete freedom over the intensity of your workout.
Horizon’s Elite series treadmills include all of the same workouts from their Adventure treadmills, but with a number of more challenging targets.
With the Elite T9 you can choose from 13 distance workouts, which include targets of 1 mile, 2 miles, 5k, 5 miles, 10k, 8 miles, 15k, 10 miles, 20k, and half marathon. You can also select 15 miles, 20 miles, and marathon as your goal, which aren’t available on the Adventure 3 or Adventure 5 treadmills.
This is another of the workout categories that’s based around goal-setting, only this time you set a target for number of calories burned.
Elite series treadmills have the same options as the Adventure series, which includes targets for 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 calories burned.
10,000 steps per day is widely considered the recommended minimum for a healthy adult individual, which equates to around five miles per day. It’s the default setting for wearable fitness tracking devices like Fitbit, and has been a government target for populations around the world based on scientific studies.
Horizon have taken this into consideration and created a goal workout based around the number of steps taken. These are the same options that you’ll find on their Adventure series treadmills, which includes 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 9000, and 10000 steps.
As with the Steps and Calories programs, Interval workouts follow the same preset profile of speed and incline settings as Horizon’s Adventure series treadmills.
The Elite T9 has 10 intensity levels to choose from for the speed intervals and peak intervals, and 12 intensity levels for the endurance intervals. These are designed as an effective option for fat-burning and improving your endurance.
This is a workout category that’s unique to Horizon’s Elite series treadmills, with a series of sprints, run/walk, and hill training programs.
Each of these targeted performance workouts is available at three intensity levels; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Which level you choose influences the speed of the belt and gradient of the incline. This can range from 2 mph and 0% for a beginner warm up, through to 6 mph and a 10% incline for advanced hill training.
The Elite T9 lets you create up to 2 custom workout programs, where you specify the speed, incline and time combination. The speed and incline are set for each segment, and when you have your completed program you can save it in memory to reuse later.
Up to four users can be saved under a ViaFit account, which connects to the Elite T9 treadmill console.
If you have your ViaFit account setup before starting your first workout, you can select your user ID and begin your run. Your workout results will then automatically sync back to your ViaFit user profile when the workout is complete.
Ease of assembly
If you’re buying the Elite T9 treadmill direct from Horizon 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 (Horizon’s parent company) has a complete collection of owner’s manuals, diagrams, and other guides for assisting you with the treadmill assembly. Contacting Horizon 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 treadmill 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 Horizon themselves. This would be where a technician visits your address and assembles the treadmill 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, elliptical machines, and treadmills. To check whether your zip code is covered, please use the form below.
The Amazon treadmill assembly service already has hundreds of 5 star rated reviews, with customer feedback for the various installers.
The service itself includes assembly of 1 treadmill 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.
Horizon Fitness include a recommended maintenance routine with each of their treadmills. These are fairly standard steps to ensure the continued operation of any home treadmill, but still worth a mention.
- After each use: Check tension and alignment of tread belt. Wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Every week: Clean underneath the treadmill.
- Every month: Inspect all bolts for tightness. Clean the motor and wipe down the belt with a damp cloth.
- Every 6 months or 150 miles: Lubricate the air shocks in the running deck with Teflon based spray. Also lubricate the entire top surface of the running deck.
Full steps for lubricating the running deck and cleaning the motor and internal parts safely are included in the user manual.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Motor: Lifetime
- Parts: 5 years
- Labor: 2 years