While many treadmills can come from brands that don’t pack much of a punch in the fitness world, ProForm are a pretty big name when it comes to treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes and other essential cardio machines.
The Performance Series 300i is an upgraded version of ProForm’s earlier 300 model, boasting some surprisingly advanced features that has seen it become one of our top picks for treadmills under $500. Today we’re diving deeper into the 300i to see who it’s for, who it’s not for, and whether it really is worth the cash.
While it’s not the best-looking treadmill in its respective price range, the 300i is certainly not an ugly device either – although ProForm have designed it more with practicality in mind.
The machine sits comfortably in a rigid frame made of thick metal tubing with a folding design. It’s not the hydraulic system you’d find on other treadmills, but providing you have a bit of upper body strength, stowing it away and pulling it out is a fairly simple process.
When folded, the height is around 60”, while it protrudes 35” – so it’s by no means invisible, but will be useful for smaller homes and apartments when not in use.
More importantly, the belt is fairly generous for a treadmill in this affordable category, measuring 16″ wide and 50” in length. This results in a comfortable experience if you are walking or jogging, although if you are running, you’ll find these dimensions may be a little cramped, and you may have to shorten your stride when using it – especially if you are quite tall.
Moving up to the main console and you’ll find the usual suspects – a large control module flanked by two cup holders, with a media shelf for tablets at the top. On either side you’ll find a short handle to keep you stable while using the machine.
At the heart of the 300i lies a solid 2 CHP electric motor, which translates to speeds of up to 10mph. Again, compared to many other treadmills you’ll find for under $500, this is very generous. Sure, you’re not going to be able to match the 28mph of elite sprinters, but, if that’s your aim, you really need to be looking to drop a few thousand dollars!
Another core feature that the 300i delivers is a motorized incline up to 10%. Many others in this range don’t even offer manual incline, so to find a motorized incline with so many gradients is a big bonus.
This allows you to add a considerable tilt for more of a challenge when walking or running. Trust us – adding a 10% incline to the top speed of 10mph will deliver a serious cardio workout, regardless of your fitness level!
The good news is that this treadmill also goes some distance to protecting your joints, with the ProShox Cushioning that sits under the belt. This means the base flexes nicely with each step – still supporting you, but with less rigidity that its competitors offer.
While the core qualities are strong, the 300i also delivers enough additional features to make each workout a comfortable, convenient and – dare we say it – fun experience.
The control module is nicely laid out with clutter kept to a minimum. You have two strips offering instant access to ten speeds (0 to 10mph) and ten inclines, so you don’t have to fumble around with manually increasing or decreasing these as you run.
Of course, manual +/- finetuning options are available on the panel just below this, along with access to 16 preset workout programs – eight focusing on athletic performance, with eight targeting weight loss.
The only disappointment here is the display screen, which is one of the poorest in the sub-$500 range. This isn’t to say it’s bad, because it still displays vital stats including your speed, distance and time. However, it is smaller than the majority of its competitors and is not backlit, so using it in a darker environment (like a garage gym) isn’t ideal.
As for sensors, a pair of integrated EKG heartrate monitors sit on the handlebars below the main console (as opposed to the side parallel support bars). These monitors give you good guidance of where your heartrate is, although – as with pretty much any treadmill monitor – they will never be as accurate as a chest-strap monitor.
One of the highlights of the 300i is that it is so media-friendly. On the main control panel, you’ll find a set of built-in speakers, which you can push audio to via Bluetooth connectivity or a nearby auxiliary jack.
Another benefit of the Bluetooth connectivity is that you can connect to a smart device running the iFit system. While you can read more about iFit here [INSERT LINK to https://www.ifit.com/], it’s a handy service that allows you to work out with real trainers and in real locations around the world, adding a bit of entertainment to your exercise.
The only issue is that iFit is a paid-for subscription service, and the 300i can be tricky to use without one. There are ways to bypass iFit if you don’t want to use it, but bear this in mind when buying this treadmill.
For a treadmill costing less than five hundred bucks, the performance is very solid – and puts others in this price range to shame.
The motor is pretty strong, resulting in a smooth and quiet operation. It’s not silent by any means, but not too loud that it negates the function of the speakers.
The fact it delivers 10mph of speed is very good for this category of treadmill, and more than most day-to-day users will need – especially if you are looking to walk, speed walk or jog (the average male jogging speed is around 8mph).
The abbreviated 50” length may put off taller users, while the tighter belt width may be an issue for everyone – especially as the speed increases. However, the truth is that, to get anything much wider, you will need to increase your budget and look in the sub-$1,000 treadmill market.