Sunday, 23 June 2024


ProForm Sport 5.0 Treadmill Review

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The ProForm Sport 5.0 is one of their most affordable home treadmills, and was originally released in 2015. An update in 2016 means you now benefit from ProForm’s unique Round Watts display.

But as the entry level model in the Sport series, how does this compare to the top-of-the-line ProForm Sport 7.5? Which of the two models represents better value for money and is the Sport 5.0 better than the similarly priced Performance 400i treadmill?

These are just two of the comparisons we’ll be making in this review, where we take an in-depth look at everything from the design features and console functions, through to the warranty coverage and assembly process. We’ll also include a quick guide to the workout programs, to help you decide if this is the best treadmill for supporting your personal fitness goals.

Design and safety features

ProForm Sport 5.0 Treadmill

The ProForm Sport 5.0 features a 20″W x 55″L running surface, which is smaller than their Pro series treadmills, but the same size as the mid-range ZT6 model. It’s a sign that ProForm have started to increase the size of the running area on their most affordable treadmills, especially when compared to the 18″W x 50″L belt surface of the ProForm ZT4.

But although it’s an improvement, taller users (6ft+) may still prefer the upgraded Sport 7.5 treadmill, which offers a 20″W x 60″L running surface. This would allow you to build up to your full natural running stride, focussing more on the exercise and less on the foot placement.

The incline and belt speed are fairly standard for an entry level treadmill, with the belt speed capped at 10 mph, and the running deck having a maximum incline gradient of 10%. This is slightly less than the 12% incline of the Sport 7.5 treadmill, but the belt speed is the same.

In terms of running deck cushioning, ProForm have opted for their ProShox™ system, which was also a feature of the treadmills in their ZT series. This helps to limit the impact of your foot striking the belt, which reduces the stress placed on your ankles and knee joints.

Taking a look under the tread belt, another feature of the Sport 5.0 is the medium-size 1.9-inch precision-machined rollers. These are sightly smaller than the 2.5-inch rollers of their Pro series treadmills, but still enough to reduce the amount of wear on the tread belt, and encourage a smoother belt rotation at higher running speeds.

The 2.5 CHP Mach Z Motor that powers this belt movement is constructed using high-grade components and an internal cooling system, which reduces the wear on the parts and helps provide a quieter in-home running experience. As with most modern ProForm treadmills, the Sport 5.0 motor features a faster flywheel gear ratio, and includes an in-home efficiency booster for reducing the amount of electricity required.

Safety features
Maintaining a safe workout environment is an important part of any home fitness routine, especially if most of your exercise is performed without a spotter or partner. This is why ProForm have built several important safety features into the Sport 5.0 treadmill.

The foot rails and set of short handles can assist with balance if required, while the safety key is designed to stop the belt motion in the event of a fall. Unfortunately there’s no safety code for enabling the console, which is a family-friendly feature with some of ProForm’s high-end home treadmills.

ProForm Sport 5.0 Treadmill

ProForm Sport 5.0 Treadmill – Features Summary

  • 20″W x 55″L tread belt
  • 0 – 10% Quick Incline
  • 2.5 CHP Mach Z Motor
  • 20 Workout apps
  • 0 – 10 MPH QuickSpeed
  • 300 lb Weight capacity

Display console design

The Sport 5.0 treadmill console features ProForm's innovative Round Watts LED display

At the start of 2016 ProForm upgraded many of their entry level and mid-range treadmills to use their new Round Watts LED display, in place of the traditional backlit LCD. This includes their Sport series, Performance 400i, Performance 600i, and Power 995i. So what is Round Watts and how can it improve the quality of your workouts?

Round Watts LED is designed to give a clear visual indication of power output using a series of bright LED lights. This allows you to instantly tell if you’re in the Endurance (steady state cardio), Tempo (based on the ideal heart rate range for your weight category), or Peak (high performance running and HIIT training) zone based on ProForm’s algorithm based on watts per kilogram.

As a Sport series treadmill, the console also features a number of convenient functions that make it easier to setup and adjust the belt speed and incline settings for each segment during an interval training workout. This is in addition to the Quick Select buttons for adjusting the belt speed and incline during the manual program or for when you want to modify one of the onboard workouts.

In terms of entertainment features, the Sport 5.0 is still considered an entry level treadmill, so you’re missing the web-enabled color touchscreen. This is something that’s included with ProForm’s Pro, Premier, and Boston Marathon treadmills, but there is an integrated tablet holder that allows you to use your tablet as a second screen for accessing the internet, watching movies, and doing many of the same things the web-enabled consoles can.

As with the Sport 7.5 treadmill, you also have an MP3 and iPod compatible port that connects to the built-in sound system, which has two 2-inch speakers that allow you to listen to your favorite workout music without the need for headphones.

Heart rate monitoring
Treadmills like the ProForm Boston Marathon 4.0 don’t just offer wireless heart rate monitoring, they also include an Adidas® ANT+ Wireless Chest Strap. This is so you can receive constant heart rate reports at the console, without having to sacrifice running form to hold onto the handles.

Unfortunately the ProForm Sport 5.0 is one of many entry level treadmills that only includes Dual-Grip EKG touch sensors, which have been built into the handles and require constant contact if you want to track your pulse rate on the screen. It’s not really until the Premier series that ProForm really start featuring Bluetooth® wireless technology, although the list price is twice that of the Sport 5.0 model.

Workout programs and user profiles

Before buying the ProForm Sport 5.0, it’s important to check which model number you’re buying, as ProForm have developed a couple of different versions.

One of these is now discontinued (PETL597160), but can still be found on some second-hand listing sites like Ebay, or even with certain retailers who haven’t updated their stock to the 2016 version.

The model number you want to look out for is PFTL59115, which at the time of writing this review is the only version listed on the official ProForm website.

One of the reasons we’re mentioning this here is because of the massive contrast in the quality of your workout experience. With the old version, you’re getting a very basic dot matrix display screen and outdated console that doesn’t support iFit on any level. You’re also given no interval training options and the onboard workout selection is limited to 16 weight loss apps.

Now look at the 2016 version of the Sport 5.0, where the console uses ProForm’s latest Round Watts LED display, with advanced interval training options, 20 onboard workout apps, and best of all, an iFit enabled console.

Workout program categories

  • ManualAs with the onboard workouts, Manual prompts you to enter your body weight before starting the program. With most treadmills this is purely to improve the accuracy of the calories burned feedback, but the Sport 5.0 also uses this for another reason.

    The Round Watts LED display illuminates based on a power algorithm of watts per kilogram, so unless it has an accurate measurement of your body weight to work with, you could end up with inaccurate feedback of which workout zone you’re in (Endurance, Tempo, or Peak).

    But the basic idea behind the Manual program is very much the same as all other ProForm treadmills, being seen as the go-to program if you want complete freedom over the intensity of your workout.

    Unlike the onboard programs, you follow no preset profile of speed and incline settings. Instead you can use the Quick controls or the watts/kg buttons, which give you greater control than ever before over your workout intensity.

  • Onboard WorkoutsThe 2016 version of the ProForm Sport 5.0 features 20 onboard workouts split across two categories; Tempo, and Interval. Unfortunately ProForm doesn’t include a quick-reference guide to the program profiles on the console or in the user manual, but it doesn’t take long to skip through them and get an idea for the intensity level.

    Each of the onboard workout profiles has been split into segments, with each segment used to store a setting for the running deck incline and a setting for the belt speed. As the workout progresses the treadmill automatically adjusts to meet these settings, which is especially convenient for the interval training, where you’ll keep switching between ‘work and ‘rest’ stages.

  • Interval TrainingAfter reviewing a large number of ProForm treadmills in their Performance, Endurance, Pro, and ZLT collections, the Sport series models clearly have the best support for interval training.

    10 of the onboard workout apps fall into the ‘Interval’ category, or if you want more control over the duration and intensity of the intervals, you can always use the ‘Recovery’ and ‘Work’ buttons, which have been created specifically for your interval workouts.

    We’re not going to turn this ProForm treadmill review into an article on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), so if you would like to find out more about this popular and effective style of training, ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) put together an excellent article that can be found here.

  • iFit WorkoutsThe biggest change ProForm made in updating the ProForm Sport 5.0 is the console redesign, which is now iFit enabled. As an entry level model this makes it one of the most affordable iFit enabled treadmills available.

    One of the ways ProForm have been able to offer iFit on some of their more affordable modern treadmills is by compromising slightly on the screen size.

    In our opinion this makes a lot of sense, as most people now have access to a second screen of some kind, whether that’s a tablet or smart phone, so why pay extra for a large screen on the console?

    With the Sport 5.0 you still have a screen, but it’s only really large enough to display the most important workout information, and not something you would want to create custom workouts with.

    Instead you have an integrated tablet holder fitted to the top of the console, closer to your natural eye-line and with the potential to hold a screen larger than the 10” versions we see on top-of-the-line Pro series treadmills.

    You can then connect your console to the smart device via Bluetooth and the iFit app. You’ll still need an active iFit account, which means paying for a subscription to the service, but it’s certainly an interesting alternative to the higher priced treadmills if you already have a tablet.

    With access to iFit you can track your performance by syncing workout data from the console to your account, download personalized workouts designed by certified personal trainers, and even recreate real-world running routes via Google Maps technology and the iFit Workout Builder.

Ease of assembly and maintenance

The ProForm Sport 5.0 user manual includes step-by-step assembly instructions

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 Sport 5.0 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 three 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, 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.

Treadmill Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

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 Sport 5.0 is fitted with transport wheels, which make it easier to move between rooms if needed.

For maintenance, the user manual is packed with useful information to keep the treadmill running smoothly. This includes how to:

  • Align the tread belt
  • Calibrate the incline system

  • Use the sound system
  • Troubleshoot basic issues

ProForm Treadmill Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Motor: 25 years

  • Parts: 1 year
  • Labor: 1 year

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating

4 / 5

So after reviewing the Sport 5.0, is this the best affordable treadmill ProForm have to offer?

In terms of features, it’s on a very similar level to the Performance 400i, which retails for the same price. But it’s this low price that really makes it stand out ($599 at time of writing on the official ProForm website). This makes it around $200 more affordable than NordicTrack’s entry level C Series treadmill - the C 700.

Apart from a slight difference in the motor power, these two treadmills are practically identical, sharing the same incline range, belt speed, running area size, and number of onboard workouts (20).

It’s still too early to expect wireless heart rate monitoring, but both of these treadmills feature a iFit® Bluetooth® Smart Enabled console for access to a growing online workout library.

Choosing to upgrade to the Sport 7.5 brings with it all the benefits you would hope for, such as a more powerful motor (2.75 CHP), steeper incline (12%), higher weight capacity (325 lbs), and a larger running area (20”W x 60”L). But there’s no increase in belt speed.

In summary, although companies like Merit Fitness have done well in the $350 and under category, they don’t have an incline system, and often have very small running areas. If you’re looking for something that provides a more engaging workout experience with a larger running area and longer warranty than treadmills like the ProForm ZT4, the Sport 5.0 is an excellent choice.

Weight capacity: 300 lbs

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