The ProForm 5.0 ZLT treadmill is one of the most affordable treadmills in the ZLT series, offering a balance of weight loss and performance workouts, iPod connectivity, and 5″ backlit screen.
So how does this compare to other ProForm ZLT treadmills, such as the 730 ZLT with its 8-week weight-loss program, or the top-of-the-line 1350 ZLT, with its iFit compatible console?
As with all of our treadmill reviews, we’ll take an in-depth look at the design features, workout programs, console functions, and entertainment options. This is to help you decide if the 5.0 ZLT is the best treadmill for your own home gym.
We’ve also added comparisons with other ZLT series treadmills, and a quick look at what you’re missing out on if you buy a treadmill without iFit.
Design and safety features
The ProForm 5.0 ZLT treadmill is an upgrade of the 400 ZLT model, with a number of key design improvements that can make your workouts more challenging. You can also enjoy a much more varied exercise routine thanks to an increase in the number of onboard workout programs, which is something we’ll look at later in this review.
We should start off by saying that the ProForm ZLT series is one of their most affordable treadmill collections, which will obviously be reflected in the features. By this we mean the incline is capped at 10% for most ZLT treadmills, compared to 15% for their Pro series, and 20% for their Boston Marathon treadmills.
A similar comparison can be made with the maximum belt speed, where most ZLT treadmills (400 ZLT, 5.0 ZLT, 530 ZLT) are capped at 10 mph. The 730 ZLT is an exception with a top speed of 11 mph, but it still falls short of the 12.4 mph that’s available with their Performance series machines.
In terms of motor power, the ProForm 5.0 ZLT is about average for this collection, with a 2.0 CHP Motor that’s capable of maintaining the 10 mph belt speed at the 10% maximum incline, even under the full 250 lb capacity. This is slightly lower than the 275 lb limit of their Endurance treadmills, and the 300 lb limit of their Performance series machines, but you’re still given a lifetime warranty on the frame.
The running area is also competitive for a treadmill at this price point, measuring 16″W x 50″ (41cm x 127 cm). But considering the 530 ZLT has a belt that’s 2-inches wider than this, and at time of writing was the more affordable model, we’re not sure it’s a key selling point. In fact, to put this in perspective, the ProForm Endurance M7 is usually available for the same price, and includes a 20″W x 55″L running area, which is much more suitable for taller users. For the full 60-inch belt length, one of your most affordable options would probably be the Performance 1450.
One final feature we want to mention is the ProDeck Cushioning system, which is designed to reduce the stress placed on your feet, ankles, and knees when running by up to 15% (according to ProForm).
After reviewing a large number of ProForm treadmills, there’s a clear difference between the collections in terms of safety features. There are really just 2 combinations:
- Combination 1: Safety key, hand rails
- Combination 2: Safety key, hand rails, child-safety passcode, safety screen timeout
The more affordable treadmills, such as those in the ZLT and Endurance collections, are fitted with combination 1. The high-end collections, such as the Pro series, Premier series, and Boston Marathon series, are all fitted with combination 2. The ProForm 5.0 ZLT treadmill is fitted with combination 1 features.
If you’ve never used a safety key before, it’s a short lanyard with a clip at each end. One clip attaches to your clothing, and the other to a slot in the console. This way, if you were to fall while running, the clip detaches from the console and the tread belt quickly comes to a stop, preventing injury.
ProForm 5.0 ZLT Treadmill – Features Summary
- 2.0 CHP Motor
- 0 – 10 mph (16 km/h) speed range with Quick Speed™
- 0 – 10% Quick Incline™
- Large 16″W x 50″L (41 x 127 cm) running area
- ProDeck cushioning
- Space Saver™ technology
- Transport wheels
- 5″ backlit LCD screen
- 16 preset workouts
- iPod / mp3 compatible with Intermix Acoustics 2.0 audio
- EKG Pulse grips for a quick and easy pulse reading
Display console design
The console for the ProForm 5.0 ZLT appears to be a European version of the ProForm 300 LT treadmill, with an identical button layout and same range of entertainment features.
The reason we say European version is that the Quick Speed controls are measured in km/h rather than mph, but there’s one key difference in the fact that the console screen is larger on the 5.0 ZLT model.
This 5” backlit display highlights your most important workout feedback, including time, distance, speed, incline level, heart rate, and number of calories burned. It also includes a RaceTrack display for viewing your progress around a virtual 1/4 mile running track.
In terms of entertainment options, you have an iPod®/mp3 compatible music port for connecting to the built-in Intermix Acoustics 2.0 sound system. This allows you to listen to your favorite workout music via the two 2-inch speakers.
It’s the same sound system that we found on a number of ProForm treadmill collections, including the ZT series, T series, and LT series. These were all developed much earlier than ProForm’s more modern collections, such as Pro and Sport, so unfortunately you don’t have the integrated tablet holder.
The ProForm 5.0 ZLT display is very clean and intuitive, if a little basic. Quick control buttons are available for the onboard workouts in some form, but only so far as the ‘Weight Loss’ and ‘Performance’ categories. Believe it or not this is still an upgrade over the 530 ZLT treadmill, which only has a single workout button with no categories to choose from.
Heart rate monitoring
As with most entry level ProForm treadmills, the 5.0 ZLT only supports heart rate monitoring through the EKG™ Grip Pulse sensors, which have been built into the handles.
This means the console isn’t setup to receive signals transmitted from wireless heart rate chest straps. Unfortunately it’s the same situation with the 530 ZLT, but does start getting supported from the ProForm 730 ZLT upwards.
The 730 ZLT is fully compatible with Polar chest straps, allowing you to record accurate feedback of your pulse without holding the sensors.
Workout programs and user profiles
When you’re buying a new treadmill it’s important to find a model that includes enough workout variation to keep your new fitness routine interesting, and with enough intensity to help you achieve your goals.
Despite being one of ProForm’s most affordable treadmills, the 5.0 ZLT offers an impressive selection of 16 professionally designed workout programs, split into 2 categories; Weight Loss, and Performance.
Workout program categories
This is the default workout mode that’s activated as soon as you connect the safety key to the console, and isn’t something that’s unique to ProForm treadmills.
Once the program begins the belt speed and running deck incline can only be adjusted from the selections you make at the console, and doesn’t follow any preset profile like the onboard workouts do.
This is a great choice of program if you want complete control over your workouts, or are looking for a lower intensity walking/jogging workout.
- Onboard Workouts
Having 16 workouts to choose from is practically unheard of for a treadmill at this price range. The only downside is that, being an entry level model, you don’t have any touch screen or advanced menu system to navigate through these workouts. You simply have to press the button that relates to the category you’re interested in, such as Performance, until you find your desired profile.
This is similar to the ProForm ZT6, which has 18 workout programs split into 4 categories. Unfortunately you’re left with the same compact screen, where you have to wait for the program profile to scroll across the matrix display to know what to expect from the speed and incline settings.
We would prefer if there was a quick reference guide to the onboard workout programs, either on the console or in the user manual, but this doesn’t seem to be a feature of ProForm treadmills.
Each of the workouts is divided into 30 one-minute segments, with each segment used to store the incline and belt speed settings. As you progress through the program, the current segment will be flashing to indicate which stage you’re on. If you aren’t finding a segment challenging enough, you can always override the settings by selecting a higher belt speed or steeper incline using the Quick controls on the console.
- Set-A-Goal Workouts
If you’re someone that prefers to work towards a target in your workouts, Set-A-Goal programs can be an excellent choice.
Unfortunately they’re not included on most of the ZLT treadmills, including the ProForm 5.0. If this is a feature you’re interested in, it’s worth taking a look at the top-of-the-line ProForm 1350 ZLT, as they’re not included on the 530 ZLT or 730 ZLT models either.
- iFit Workouts
If you’ve started researching home treadmills, the chances are you’ve already come across iFit. It’s an advanced fitness solution that’s available on many NordicTrack and ProForm treadmills, offering access to hundreds of online workouts that can be downloaded straight to the console.
However, choosing a treadmill from the ZLT collection probably isn’t the best choice if you want to use it in your workouts. There’s no iFit function at all on the first few models, including the ProForm 5.0, and it’s not until the ProForm 1350 that you even get iFit compatibility.
But being iFit compatible just means the console can support iFit. You still have to go out and buy the iFit wireless module separately, as well as the iFit subscription (usually $99 per year, with the first year free when you purchase the module).
Ease of assembly and maintenance
ProForm continue to be one of the best fitness companies in the industry for designing cardio equipment that’s quick to assemble, with clear setup instructions that are easy to follow. Although it’s probably not something you want to base your buying decision around, knowing what to expect from the assembly process can help you get started with your new fitness routine as soon as possible.
Fortunately, the ProForm 5.0 ZLT user manual includes clear step-by-step written instructions, accompanied by exploded diagrams with parts references to show how each part fits together. ProForm even include most of the tools you need, including a hex key that can adjust the walking belt.
It’s important to bear in mind that ProForm recommends two people for this assembly. That’s because having most of the treadmill pre-assembled cuts down on the setup time, but does mean you’re moving heavier parts around, such as the running deck.
If this isn’t possible, an alternative to self-assembly is the ProForm professional assembly service.
Professional assembly services
Many modern fitness companies now offer an in-home assembly service, performed by a trained technician, which is often a more convenient option than assembling the equipment yourself.
ProForm only guarantee curbside delivery, but as part of the initial purchase they do offer an in-home assembly service, depending on your location. As an alternative, Amazon have also started offering their own home assembly service for treadmills.
With Amazon, your options very much depend on your location, but it’s an excellent way to find highly rated local companies that can setup the treadmill for an affordable price. Moving the treadmill to a new room isn’t included, so you’ll need to have the boxes in the location you plan on using the machine. If Amazon don’t have service providers in your area, you can sign up to be emailed when they become available.
Transport and maintenance
As with most of their treadmills, the ProForm 5.0 ZLT is fitted with transport wheels, which make it easier to move between rooms if needed. You can also benefit from the folding SpaceSaver® design, which is fitted with a powerful shock (EasyLift Assist) for reducing the effort needed to raise the deck to its vertical storage position, creating a compact footprint.
For maintenance, the user manual is packed with useful information to keep the treadmill running smoothly. This includes how to:
- Play audio books through the console
- Recalibrate the incline system
- Align the tread belt
- Troubleshoot basic issues
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Motor: 5 years
- Parts: 2 years
- Labor: 2 years