The ProForm 530 ZLT is one of the most affordable treadmills in a collection that also features the entry level 5.0 ZLT and top-of-the-line 1350 ZLT. But how do you know if this is the best treadmill for your fitness routine?
In this review we take a closer look at how ProForm achieved this balance between features and affordability, and what this means for your workout experience. This includes a quick guide to the workout programs, console functions, warranty coverage, and design features.
We’ve also made some important comparisons between the 530 ZLT and other ProForm treadmills, such as the 750 ZLT and 1350 ZLT, to help you decide which model best supports your own personal fitness goals.
Note: The 530 ZLT is one of ProForm’s UK treadmills. The closest match from their US collection would be the Performance 400i, which has the added benefit of an iFit™ enabled console and modern Round Watts LED display.
Design and safety features
The ProForm 530 ZLT is designed as an upgrade to the 400 ZLT treadmill, yet shares many of the same design features. This includes having the same 2.0 CHP Mach Z™ motor, 10 mph maximum belt speed, and 10% maximum incline gradient. But one feature that’s a clear upgrade is the length of the running surface, which has been extended from 48-inches to 50-inches, which provides slightly more space for users to build up to their full natural running stride.
However, this is still one of the shortest running areas of any ProForm treadmill, with most having a length of at least 55-inches (Endurance series), or 60-inches (Performance series) for their top-of-the-line treadmills. Your user height determines which length of tread belt you need, with taller users over 6ft in height best suited to treadmills with a running area length of 60-inches or more.
The motor itself has been constructed from high-grade components, and uses an internal cooling system to reduce vibration as well as wear on parts. This helps to create a quieter indoor running environment, and a more energy efficient one thanks to the in-home efficiency booster that’s become a popular feature on ProForm treadmills.
In terms of running deck cushioning, the ProForm 530 ZLT uses the same ProShox™ system that they use on many of their high-end treadmills, including the bestselling Pro 2000. This reduces the impact of your foot striking the tread belt, which limits the stress placed on your feet, ankles, and knee joints. Unfortunately it can’t be disabled like you can with the Runners Flex™ Impact Control system on their Boston Marathon 4.0 treadmill, but it can certainly help you workout more frequently thanks to reducing the stress placed on your leg muscles, which leads to faster recovery times.
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 530 ZLT treadmill is fitted with the features from combination 1.
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 530 ZLT Treadmill – Features Summary
- 2.0 CHP motor
- ProShox cushioning
- 10% Quick Incline™
- 10 mph Quick Speed™
- 18″W x 50″L Running surface
- 16 Workout apps
- Intermix Acoustics 2.0 sound system
- 250 lbs weight capacity
Display console design
The console for the ProForm 530 ZLT really isn’t all that different to the 5.0 ZLT treadmill, with the exception of the smaller display screen, which has more in common with the ProForm 300 LT.
Quick controls for the speed and incline make it easier to switch between settings, but you’re more limited in your workout category selection.
Instead of having a selection of workout categories to choose from, the 530 ZLT has a single ‘workouts’ button on the console for scanning through each of the onboard fitness programs. With no guide in the user manual and a very limited display screen, this makes it much more difficult to find the workouts that are best suited to your specific fitness goals.
After choosing a workout, the LCD with RaceTrack display keeps you updated with important workout feedback, such as time, distance, speed, incline level, heart rate, and number of calories burned.
The rest of the console is fairly standard for an entry level ProForm treadmill, with a multi-speed CoolAire™ workout fan to keep you cool during longer workouts, and two convenient storage areas for holding your water bottle or iPod.
In terms of entertainment options, an iPod and MP3 compatible console port connects your device to a built-in Intermix Acoustics 2.0 sound system. This allows you to listen to your favorite motivational workout music via the two 2-inch speakers, and is the same system we found when reviewing treadmills in ProForm’s ZT, T, and LT collections.
Heart rate monitoring
As with most ProForm treadmills at this price point, heart rate monitoring is available but only via the dual-grip EKG™ touch sensors built into the handles. The console isn’t programmed to receive a signal from wireless chest straps.
If heart rate monitoring is an important part of your workout, you might want to take a look at one of the upgraded versions of the ProForm 530 ZLT – the 730 ZLT. The 730 model is compatible with Polar chest straps, which means you don’t have to hold the sensors and you’re able to put all of your energy into your run.
Workout programs and user profiles
When you’re buying a new treadmill, t’s important to find a model that provides enough workout variation to maintain a challenging fitness routine. But you also want to make sure you’re getting the best choice of workouts for your budget, which is why we compared the ProForm 530 ZLT to other treadmills in the ZLT collection. This includes the 5.0 ZLT, 730 ZLT, and 1350 ZLT.
We’ll start off by saying the 530 ZLT is virtually identical to the 5.0 ZLT in terms of price, workout programs, and console design. The only difference is that the 5.0 ZLT splits the onboard workouts into 2 categories; Weight Loss, and Performance. In comparison, the 530 ZLT console just has a single button that you have to repeatedly press until you reach the profile you’re interested in.
It’s not until the 730 ZLT that the number of onboard workouts increases from 16 to 18, and you can also benefit from the 8-week weight-loss program. The number of onboard workout categories also increases from 2 to 4, giving you a choice of Speed, Incline, Intensity, and Calories.
Set-A-Goal and iFit workouts don’t make an appearance until you reach the top-of-the-line 1350 ZLT, which also includes 6 more onboard workouts than the 730 ZLT, bringing the total to 24. These are divided into the same 4 categories, but you also have access to 6 categories of iFit workouts, such as Map, Train, Compete, Track, and Set A Goal.
Back to the ProForm 530 ZLT, and we’re going to take a closer look at what the onboard workouts have to offer.
Workout program categories
This is the standard program that’s available on almost every motorized treadmill. Unlike the onboard programs, it follows no preset speed and incline profile, leaving you in complete control of the workout intensity.
- Onboard Workouts
The selection of onboard workouts is much the same as on the ProForm 5.0 ZLT, except this time you don’t have the option of choosing from a workout category. Now you just have to press the ‘Workouts’ button on the console up to 16 times before you find a workout you want to follow.
Obviously this isn’t ideal if you’re looking to start your run as quickly as possible, especially as there’s no quick reference guide to the program profiles in the user manual or on the display screen.
As with most preset workouts, each program is split into a number of segments, with each segment used to store the incline and belt speed settings for that stage of the workout.
As the workout progresses, the current segment will always be highlighted to give a clear indication of which speed and incline settings are currently active. If the current segment isn’t challenging enough, you can manually override the settings using the Quick controls on the console.
Given the price point of this treadmill we would consider the level of workout variation excellent. But in our opinion the console is large enough to fit 16 Quick select buttons for the workout programs as well, together with a small decal showing a summary of the profile.
- Set-A-Goal Workouts
Unless your budget can stretch to the top-of-the-line ProForm 1350, you’re not going to have access to any goal based workouts on any treadmill in the ZT collection. Unfortunately this means the ProForm 530 is limited to just the Manual and Onboard workout programs mentioned above.
- iFit Workouts
iFit is an advanced personal fitness service that’s available on much of the top-of-the-line home fitness equipment from ProForm and NordicTrack. You can access hundreds more personalized workouts that go beyond what’s offered by the onboard programs, and can store your performance against an online profile that you can access from your computer, smart phone, tablet, or treadmill console.
However, because it’s still considered one of their entry level treadmills this isn’t a feature that’s available on the ProForm 530 ZLT. The closest this collection can offer is iFit compatibility on the ProForm 1350 ZLT.
Being iFit compatible means you would still need to go out and buy a separate iFit module and sign up to the paid subscription service (usually costs $99 per year but the first year is sometimes free when you purchase the module). Unfortunately ProForm released no iFit Enabled treadmills in the ZLT collection (1350 ZLT and 1450 ZLT both iFit Compatible).
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 530 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 530 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:
- Clean the treadmill
- Recalibrate the incline system
- Listen to audio books through the console
- Troubleshoot basic issues
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Motor: 5 years
- Parts: 2 years
- Labor: 2 years