The Precor TRM 243 is the top-of-the-line treadmill in Precor’s Energy series of home gym equipment, with several important upgrades over the earlier TRM 223 and TRM 211 models.
In this review we take an in-depth look at the design, series 40 console, Preva app integration, preset workout programs, and much more, to help you decide whether this would be the best choice of treadmill for your own home workouts.
Reduce stress on joints with Energy Stride™ Technology
There’s little doubt that running has a wide range of health benefits when combined with a balanced diet, such as strengthening muscles and helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A recent study co-published by the International Skeletal Society in the Skeletal Radiology journal even found that aerobic exercise, such as running, led to greater bone mineral density for people who were undergoing caloric restriction.
This exercise was found to offset the dietary restrictions on bone to a greater degree than subjects in the study who were only on a caloric restriction diet without the exercise.
Despite the fact that this study concluded exercise increased bone density, it’s still important to find a treadmill with some form of under-deck cushioning.
Although two of the biggest causes of knee injuries and ligament damage from running are improper technique and lack of experience, there are ways in which you can reduce the impact of your foot fall, regardless of your weight and experience level.
In addition to a well cushioned pair of running shoes, a cushioned running surface is the best way to prevent unnecessary stress on your joints while at the same time providing a solid base on which to run.
This is one of the main goals behind Precor’s Energy Stride™ Technology, which uses a patented running deck design that’s similar to those found on their commercial models. This creates a cushioned surface at the front, with a more rigid section at the back of the belt, providing a solid platform from which to push off from.
Precor TRM 243 – Features Summary
- Energy Stride Technology reduces stress on joints by providing optimal deck cushioning and rigidity underfoot
- Workout data can be automatically uploaded to the Preva mobile app to track your goals and achievements
- 23 preset and 16 user-defined workouts
- Customizable capacitive touch display shows the data most important to you
- Lever style motion controls for deck elevation and speed are responsive, intuitive and easy to use
- Motor: 3.0 HP Continuous Duty
- Deck: Phenolic surface, 1 inch / 2.54 cm fiberboard
- Deck Elevation Range: 0% – 15% Incline
- Speed Range: 0.5 – 12.0 mph / 0.8 – 19.3 kph
- Running Surface: 20 inches W x 57 inches L
- Handrails: Full length
- Heart Rate Monitoring: Touch sensor and wireless with any Polar compatible chest strap transmitter
- Number of Workout Metrics: 27
- User IDs: 4
- Console Display: 7 inches color LCD graphic display
Motor power and incline settings
With the rising popularity of HIIT treadmill workouts, if this is a style of fitness routine you’re interested in, then it’s important to find a treadmill with a motor that can change belt speeds quickly.
The Precor TRM 243 uses the same high quality 3.0 HP continuous duty motor as the top model in their Precision series – a machine that usually retails for around $2000 more than the 243.
Precor also claim that this motor is 100% maintenance-free, meaning you won’t need to arrange service calls and wait at home for a trained technician.
In terms of the running deck’s elevation range, from an incline perspective you benefit from all the same angles as the Precision series models, with a 15% maximum incline.
However, being a treadmill in the Energy series does mean that you lose the 2% decline that you would have gained on a Precision series model, and the 3% decline you could have experienced with their TRM 835 model.
Storage and safety features
When you’re deciding which treadmill to buy, one of the most important factors to consider is how much free space you have. As a rule, Precor treadmills aren’t folding, meaning you will need to be sure that you have a minimum floor space of 101″(L) x 53″ (W) that you can permanently allocate to the TRM 423. This allows 10 inches of free space around the perimeter of the machine, and you may need to increase this to suit your personal preference.
With safety playing such an important role in home workouts, it’s encouraging to know that Precor have included a safety key and lanyard system, to stop the tread belt in the event of a fall.
Despite being a step-up from the earlier TRM 223 treadmill in many ways, it’s important to mention that by doing so you actually lose a safety feature. This is the Safety Code equipment setting, which is a sequence of key presses that enables and disables operation of the console.
You also no longer have the option to set a maximum incline and belt speed, although you can still define the units of measurement used in the workout feedback, and set a default workout duration.
Console design and Apple device compatibility
The Series 40 Customizable Display Console includes many new features that you won’t find on the TRM 222 and TRM 211 machines, from a touch screen display through to the USB software upgrades and responsive lever style controls for controlling deck elevation and belt speed.
But one of the great benefits of the TRM 243 is that you’re kept updated with the same 27 feedback metrics as on the higher priced TRM 445.
This includes more basic information, such as incline and belt speed, but also more meaningful feedback that can have a greater influence on your performance during each workout. These metrics include your pace, METs, and current heart rate via SmartRate. You can even map metrics like heart rate and belt speed against each other on the main workout graph to analyse your performance.
Unlike the earlier models the Precor Energy series of treadmills, the display for the TRM 243 doesn’t have fixed labels for its buttons. This is because their function is constantly changing, based on the screen you’re currently viewing. The 4 touch capacitive buttons on each side of the central screen can be used for anything from creating a custom workout to setting up a new user profile.
Aside from these multi-purpose buttons, you also have lever style motion controls for adjusting the belt speed and running deck incline. This is in comparison to the tap style dome keys used on the TRM 223, and membrane switch keys used on the TRM 211, making it much quicker to make changes midway through a workout.
While the 7-inch 16:9 color display is ideal for providing clear feedback of your workout progress, if you’re looking for something more entertaining while you complete your walk, jog, or run, then you can also use the SmartGrip holder and USB port to hold your iPad, iPhone, or iPod device. Although other tablets and phones can be connected via a USB cable, the audio control buttons on the console will only work with Apple devices.
With the SmartGrip™ tablet holder keeping your iPad or phone securely in place, you can then choose to watch your favourite movies or listen to music, with touch sensitive audio controls also available above the central display screen of the console.
If you happen to have the Preva workout tracking app installed on your tablet or phone, then the USB port under the access cover at the back of the console will also let you upload your workout results to your online account.
Preset workout programs
If you’re working towards a specific fitness or strength goal, it’s important to change your workout routine on a regular basis to avoid muscle adaptation (also known as a plateau).
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology documents one of the earliest studies performed in this field, which involved young rats running on a treadmill 5 days per week.
These rats were split into two test groups; one that would maintain a routine involving 10 minutes of running 5 days per week (control group), while the other group were assigned a progressive training routine.
This progressive routine meant gradually increasing the running speed and duration until they were running for 120 min/day up an 8° incline at 31 m/min with 12 intervals at 42 m/min lasting 30 s at 10 minute intervals throughout the exercise session.
After a 3 month period, the run time to exhaustion for the trained group averaged 18 minutes, compared to 3 minutes for the control group.
The study concluded that in order for major adaptations to occur, the training stimulus must be progressively increased. This can be running for longer, increasing your pace, running at higher inclines, or using advanced high intensity techniques, such as interval training.
The Precor TRM 243 workout programs include personalized suggestions, custom, and preset profiles
What does this mean when it comes to choosing your treadmill? Essentially that if you want to continue progressing towards your goals and seeing improvements in your fitness, you need a machine that has a wide range of workout programs (preferably preset and custom), wide elevation range, and high maximum belt speed. The Precor TRM 243 has all three.
The preset workout programs have actually been divided into 5 main categories:
- Be Fit – A collection of 6 programs, half of which are interval training, and the other half follow a ‘rolling hills’ workout profile.
The ratio of intense exercise time to recovery time varies between interval programs, from 4 minutes of intense running and 1 minute of rest, through to 2 minutes of intense running and 2 minutes of rest.
This not only caters for different fitness levels, but also anyone looking to shock their muscles after a long cycle of steady-state cardio.
- Lose Weight – Although each one of the preset workout programs will help you lose weight to some degree, when combined with a calorie-controlled diet, those in the Lose Weight category have been optimised for the most weight loss in the shortest time.
The 5 workouts in this category vary from interval training to cycles of hill climbing, and even a program that adjusts the incline to keep your heart rate at the most effective level for weight loss.
- Push Performance – A category containing 3 programs; 2 being variations on the interval style of training, and one that adjusts the incline to keep your heart rate at a high performance level.
The interval programs differ from those in the ‘Be Fit’ category by reversing the ratio of high intensity work periods to rest periods. In these interval programs, the rest period is longer than the work period, ranging from one minute of intense exercise and four minutes of rest, through to one minute of exercise and two minutes of rest.
- Get Toned – Includes 2 workouts for toning your glutes, and 2 designed to define and strengthen the muscles in your legs.
The profiles for the Glute Toner and Glute Toner Plus workouts offer varying levels of intensity to suit different personal fitness levels, and gradually increase the incline throughout the workout.
Leg sculpting programs offer similar levels of intensity, but are based on cycles of increasing intensity rather than one continuous climb.
- Go the Distance – The workouts in this category are the only ones where the equipment won’t automatically make modifications to the incline and belt speed.
You can choose from distances of 1 mile, 5K and 10K, then walk, jog, or run at your own pace until you reach your goal.
- Fitness Test – Although this doesn’t fall into one of the main categories, the Precor TRM 243 also includes a fitness test.
The course definition and analysis algorithm were originally developed by Dr. Neil Gordon of The Cooper Clinic, and later calibrated by Dr. Emily Cooper, of Seattle Performance Medicine to predict results through V02 max testing with a high level of accuracy.
This test measures the amount of oxygen your body can take in over a period of time, then converts this into a score. This score can then be used as a point of reference to see how much your fitness is improving over time.
Each of these programs will automatically adjust the incline, with a selection also automatically adjusting the belt speed. In many cases you can adjust the incline and speed yourself as the workout progresses, and you can even design a new training routine based on a preset program as one of your custom workouts.
Custom workouts and user profiles
Although user profile creation is nothing new in the fitness equipment industry, different companies use this information to varying degrees.
While some will simply require your age and weight for more accurate calculations of calories burned and maximum heart rate, others – like the TRM 243 – will use that information to build an accurate picture of your fitness goals, and even suggest personalized workout suggestions to help you reach those goals in a shorter amount of time.
Not only does the TRM 243 enable you to create twice the number of user profiles as the earlier TRM 221 model, but it’s also the only treadmill in Precor’s Energy series to offer custom workout creation.
You can edit settings mid-workout, or store it in your favourites once it’s complete
Each of the 4 user profiles allows you to enter the basic information we mentioned above, but also provides you with a ‘Select Focus’ screen, so that you can define what type of fitness goal you’re working towards.
The options listed on this screen correspond to the workout category names we talked about earlier, and enable you to train for anything from maintaining a healthy lifestyle (Be Fit), to improving muscle tone (Get Toned).
Only once you’re signed in under one of your user profiles can you save your workout to use again at a later date. Providing the workout was longer than 5 minutes, this will store all of the incline and belt speed changes you made during your run, then recreate them when selected from your list of possible workouts.
Preva workout tracking integration
In addition to the personalized workout suggestions, user profile creation, and preset training programs, the TRM 243 is the only treadmill in the Energy series that allows you to connect directly to the Preva workout tracking app.
As well as tracking your treadmill workouts, you can also log exercise you do outside of your home gym, in order to build up a more complete picture of your physical fitness.
While the programs built into the TRM 243 are designed to help you reach specific fitness goals, Preva makes them measurable by building up a history of your workouts and tracking whether you’re on track or falling behind in achieving these goals within a specified time frame.
Workout information is automatically uploaded to your Preva account after every workout, and you can even access the app via your tablet or phone to view and share achievement badges you’ve earned from reaching your previous goals.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
As with other treadmills in the Energy series, the TRM 243 is tested and inspected to ensure everything is working the way it should before being dispatched. Extra care is taken with the packaging, with parts distributed between two boxes to prevent the risk of damage in transit.
When you’re preparing to get the machine setup, you can probably put the smaller of the two boxes to one side, as it contains the display console which will be attached as the final step.
The larger box contains the bulk of the machine, including the base assembly and upright supports. As well as the brackets and safety key, Precor also provide you with all the tools you’ll need to complete the assembly, which will again be packaged separate from the console and main frame to prevent any damage.
The assembly process itself is made simpler by the fact that the TRM 243 features such a minimalistic frame design. With the treadmill base in position, it takes less than 30 minutes to attach the uprights, handrail assembly, and console, then get started with your first workout.
Despite the small number of steps, each one has been described in detail, with exploded drawings, parts references, and useful notes all being used to make the process as quick and pain-free as possible.
Classed as a low maintenance machine
Although Precor report that the running belt is essentially maintenance-free due to its dry silicone lubrication, there are still a few important maintenance tips worth knowing if you don’t want to risk voiding the warranty.
These tasks take no more than a few minutes after each use, and ensure a healthier, longer life for the machine.
Maintenance tasks to increase the life of the TRM 243
- Look for slipping belts and any damage to the power cords or safety key lanyard after each use
- Clean the treadmill after each workout using soapy water and a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt
- Clean underneath the machine to prevent any dust that accumulates from being picked up by the movement of the running belt
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame and welds: Lifetime
- Parts and wear items: 5 years
- Console: 3 years
- Labor: 1 year