This Treadmill Invites You to ‘BYO Screen’ for Connected Workouts

Most tech-friendly treadmills want to lock you into a proprietary workout program. If you want to use, say, a NordicTrack treadmill, you need to use the company’s streaming platform for live and on-demand workouts. It’s a similar situation with Peloton, Myx, and just about any other internet-connected machine you’ll find, where you’ll need to pony up a subscription fee to access the treadmill’s streaming content.

Horizon’s 7.8 AT requires no such commitment. The smart treadmill works with fitness apps made by outside companies like Peloton, Zwift, Studio, and Nike Run Club. Runners also have the option of not using an app at all. If you’re not into streaming workouts, the 7.8 AT comes programmed with a variety of workouts, including a beginner’s 5K program; running for calories, time, or distance; and Sprint 8, an eight-week program of 20-minute workouts designed specifically to burn fat.

The 7.8 AT also veers from the current streaming workout trend by forgoing a video monitor of any kind. There’s a 9.3-inch LED display that shows dynamic workout data like speed, pace, incline, and run time, but that screen doesn’t play video programming or entertainment. Instead, there are two shelves in the center of the console (one higher, one lower) that securely hold a phone or tablet in place. This allows runners to play whatever they want on their own devices, a Nike Run Club workout, a Peloton running class, a podcast, or a Seinfeld episode. 

Photograph: Horizon Fitness

Your device connects to the treadmill using Bluetooth, so if you use a running app, the Horizon can feed run data back into the mobile app so you can track your workouts. You can also play music or your video’s soundtrack through the 7.8 AT’s dual front-facing speakers. And you don’t have to worry about your device dying, since there’s a charging input built into the treadmill’s console.

The 7.8 AT is Horizon’s premium treadmill. It features a large, 22- by 60-inch running deck with the company’s most powerful motor inside, a chest strap with a heart rate monitor, and the aforementioned Bluetooth capability. Even though it’s loaded up, the 7.8 AT is on the lower end of the price range for top-tier treadmills at $1,999. There are also some additional savings in that there is no subscription required to use it, which could save you hundreds of dollars in membership fees every year.

Horizon offers five other treadmills. In addition to the 7.8 AT, the Studio series has the 7.4 AT for $1,599, and the 7.0 AT, which has a slightly slimmer running surface, for $999. There are also three treadmills in the more budget-friendly Go series, which starts at $649.

On the Run

It’s clear that the ability to quickly adjust your workout mid-run is a priority for Horizon. There are quick-change buttons on both sides of the console to adjust the tread’s speed and incline, plus buttons for controlling your music on the center of the console. Two handles extend towards the runner with rollers on the end; the left roller adjusts the incline, and the right roller controls the speed. Two triggers on the handles return the settings to zero if you’re gassed and need to stop, while grip-sensors on the handles give you a quick look at your heart rate.

The 7.8 AT comes with a Bluetooth heart-rate monitor chest strap. If the monitor isn’t charged or you don’t feel like putting it on, you can just grab the handle sensors and measure your heart rate that way.

At just under $2,000, the 7.8 AT sits on the lower end of top-tier treadmill models, especially when compared to models like the NordicTrack Commercial X32i ($3,999) and the Peloton Tread (starting at $2,495). So where is the money going? It’s going into the treadmill’s 4-horsepower motor. The largest motor in Horizon’s lineup, it’s built to respond to your adjustments and ramp up the speed and incline quickly. And it’s a huge success in that department. Every time I’d make an adjustment, the platform would immediately respond without any lag.

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