Mention the treadmill to a hardcore runner, and you’re likely to get a groan or grimace. At least that’s the way it used to be. Today’s treadmills, such as the NordicTrack C990, leverage new technology, and approaches that are designed to lessen the dread and make your indoor workout more enjoyable and challenging. That is a good thing, too because you never know when the weather might be too hot, too cold, or too wet to venture outdoors. Getting fit doesn't have to mean subjecting yourself to crummy weather.

The NordicTrack C990 and other treadmills may well have helped fuel a fitness boom. Sales of treadmills run at about $1.4 billion a year, according to an article in the Washington Post, quoting data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Based on a 2016 survey, the Association estimates that as many as 50 million people use a treadmill at least once during the year. After you learn about the bells-and-whistles of the NordicTrack C990, you may well find yourself joining them.

NordicTrack C 990 Treadmill
  • Interactive Personal Training at Home powered by iFit; gain access to on-demand, interactive trainer-led global and studio workout programs; membership required, sold separately
  • Immersive 7" HD Touchscreen Display, AutoBreeze workout fan, and FlexSelect cushioning for a comfortable run
  • 12% Automatic Incline-Matching technology, 12 MPH SMART speed adjustment; spacious 20" x 60" tread belt
  • Enjoy reduced motor noise and self-cooling technology with a powerful 3.0 CHP Motor perfect for running, jogging, and walking in the comfort of your home
  • Innovative SpaceSaver design with EasyLift Assist means your treadmill can fold up after your run for compact, simple storage

The 990 is part of NordicTrack’s C-series for the home. These treadmills offer advanced technology and robust design while also occupying a very light footprint around the house. One of the features we liked was the “space saver” design. You can literally fold the NordicTrack C990 up, with the belt mechanism latching to the guide rails at about a 45-degree angle. The device also offers “EasyLift Assist.” So if you need to move the treadmill to a different room, or stow it temporarily because you’re having visitors, you can do so without breaking your neck. That is a huge advantage for those of us who are space challenged or have rooms in awkward shapes for placing a treadmill.

Key features

The storage feature is nice, but of course, we’re buying a treadmill to put it good use. So let’s start with the variables that matter -- the ones that will control the style and intensity of your workout.

The NordicTrack C990 can accommodate you whether you’re a walker or a competitive runner. The treadmill offers a range of speeds from 0 to 12 mph and an incline of 0 to 12 percent. It lets you walk slowly but surely or run like a marathon champion. Both of these specs are above the minimum recommended by various fitness experts.

Also exceeding the minimum is the treadmill’s belt, which is 60 inches long and 20 inches wide. Verywellfit.com, an online magazine, recommends a minimum belt size of 48-inches-by-20-inches. The motor runs at three CHP, which is perfect because we know you’ll be using this treadmill all the time (Right...right?).

The fun stuff

Running on a treadmill such as the NordicTrack C990 wouldn’t be nearly as popular without the new onboard technology. These new features can help take your mind to other places. We’ll start with the seven-inch high-definition television screen for watching whatever interests you at the moment. Since the treadmill comes with embedded Wi-Fi, you’ll also be able to connect to the Internet. Now you can surf the web or catch up on your latest binge-able Netflix or Hulu show.

If you climb aboard with a desire for less screen time, the NordicTrack C990 includes two 2-inch digital speakers. With these, you can dial in your favorite playlist or the next episode of that podcast you love. You’ll be able to do that by either connecting your phone or by hitting play via the seven-inch embedded display. Whatever works best for you.

Woman touching the dasboard of nordictrack treadmill

Workout options

You can also use the seven-inch screen to help turbocharge your workouts. The NordicTrack C990 comes with 32 pre-programmed workouts that you can take advantage of as you learn the parameters of your new machine. But you will also have options to go beyond the basic through a NordicTrack iFit membership.

The price of the NordicTrack C990 treadmill includes a one-year iFit membership. It will allow you to take your fitness program to the highest levels and to experience home training that was never before possible.

iFit is a digital training application platform that connects you, via your treadmill, to a wealth of interactive training tools as well as tracking methods. Through iFit you can set a goal, choose the right training plan to meet that goal, measure your progress and adapt as you go. The platform also connects you to coaches or a larger supportive community. There, you can get additional advice or participate in challenges. The training programs might be general in nature or geared toward a specific event, such as a 5K or half-marathon. iFit also offers options for cross-training to flex your muscles in different ways. You can extend your iFit experience as well to a mobile app.

One of the cooler features: the NordicTrack C990 iFit membership provides a special integration with Google Maps. With this link, you’ll literally be able to run anywhere in the world and over various types of terrain. Let your imagination run wild: Rome, Beijing, the Grand Canyon. You’ll have the opportunity to run along in street view mode. The NordicTrack C990 can take you there.

Warranty

As you might expect, treadmills like the NordicTrack C990 have plenty of moving parts. The belt itself is part of a complex motor drive train. A one year warranty on labor and a three-year warranty on parts will protect you against premature failure.

Ratings and reviews

The NordicTrack C990 gets a solid set of reviews on Amazon.com, with three out of five reviewers giving the product either 4.0 or 5.0 stars out of 5 stars. The average across reviews is 3.4 stars.

Customer sentiment on the treadmill runs the gamut. One reviewer describes the iFit integration as an excellent motivator for his workouts. He praised the NordicTrack C990 for it being easy to adjust and liked its durability and cushion on his aching knees.

By contrast, a different user expressed her disappointment with the product after about five months of use. She said the unit was making strange noises and eventually found that the drive motor had failed.

The Pros and Cons

If you’re anything like us, you’re a bit intimidated by the thought of working out indoors, in place, on a machine that goes around and around again. But the only thing that helps us get through are the distractions. So the biggest positive is the seven-inch screen. Its ability to connect to the web and the connectivity to iFit are features that will help you forget that you’re stuck inside.

On the con side, treadmills are complex machines. There’s no way around this. So that means they are heavy and clunky. Despite the NordicTrack C990 and its ability to fold up, we believe we’d still feel crowded out of house and home. But that’s likely to be true with any treadmill unit.

How We Reviewed NordicTrack C990 and Its Competition

The booming interest in fitness has resulted in an increasing number of publications following trends in the industry. To assess the NordicTrack C990, we first did a deep dive on various NordicTrack product pages. We also bounced over to the iFit website to get a grasp on that nifty service.

In terms of monitoring the competition and narrowing the variables for comparison, we relied on name tech journals/sites, including Wirecutter, Digital Trends, Runner’s World, Engadget and of course, Amazon.com

Making the Buy

The NordicTrack C990 is still an integral part of the company’s product line. So, if you wish, you can buy directly from the manufacturer at the list price of $999 to $1,100. If you prefer, you can also buy the treadmill via Amazon, for the same list price range. Through Amazon, you can also buy three and four-year protection and maintenance plans for about $100 to $125. Another place to check is eBay, but that probably won’t save you enough to warrant the risk.

Other Treadmill Options

The NordicTrack C990 isn’t your only choice for home fitness. Treadmills come in many shapes, sizes and price points to fit your specific situation. Though they have different looks and different bells-and-whistles, they share one attribute: These machines are geared to raise your pulse and make you sweat. In a good way.

ProForm PFTL60916 505 CST (2016 Model)
  • Go to ifit.com/activate to redeem your one month iFit membership and activate your equipment for unlimited workout programs and experiences
  • 2.5 chp Mach Z commercial motor, 0 10 percentage quick incline control, large LCD window, 18 workout Apps
  • 0 to 10 MPH Quick Speed control, 20 x 55 inches tread belt, proshox cushioning
  • Ekg heart RATE monitor, Compatible music port for Ipod, Space Saver design
  • 325 pound Weight capacity and 1.9 inch balanced rollers

The ProForm 505 CST is also a 20-inch wide treadmill. But this model will let you get away with being a slightly less aggressive runner at the outer limits than the NordicTrack C990. The ProForm 505 gives you the choice of speeds from 0 to 10 mph, with an incline that maxes out at 10 percent. So if you’re anything less than a sub-three-hour marathoner, and not quite ready to train to climb a small mountain, the ProForm 505 should suit your needs.

The ProForm 505 CST has a slightly shorter belt of 55 inches. This difference shouldn’t force you to compress your stride too severely unless you are very tall. The embedded screen is only an LCD and is smaller at five-inches diagonally. Like the NordicTrack C990, the ProForm 505 CST also offers integration with the iFit platform. One big difference: With ProForm, you’ll have to foot the subscription for the first year yourself. The number of onboard workouts is also slightly smaller at 18. You’ll also be able to fold up the treadmill and tuck it away in a corner or the basement.

The normal retail prices of the two treadmills are identical at $999 to $1,100. You can buy the ProForm 505 CST online. Buy it through Amazon.com and your price range will be between $599 and $1000. Amazon reviewers give the ProForm a rating of 3.8 stars out of 5.

Nautilus T616 Treadmill
  • Bluetooth connectivity, syncs with Nautilus Trainer 2 App and other apps for fitness tracking
  • Sync with free RunSocial App and run through 19 locations with 27 routes alongside people from all over the world in real time
  • 15% motorized incline. Maximum User Weight- 300 pounds
  • 20" x 60" running path
  • 26 programs: including manual, quick goal, train, weight control, heart health, interval and custom workouts

The Nautilus T616 is another treadmill offering a 20-inch-wide by 60-inch-long running belt, similar to the NordicTrack C990. You’ll be able to take it to a top speed of 12 mph or keep it close to 0. In contrast to the NordicTrack C990, you can take your hill workouts to a maximum incline of 15 percent, or keep the belt flat.

The Nautilus T616 has two dual-track backlit LCDs for statistics on time, distance, and pacing. It also allows you to connect your mobile phone to play music or podcasts through in-console speakers with an MP3 input port. There’s also a USB charging port and an adjustable fan.

The Nautilus T616 comes with 26 workouts programmed into the machine, including the ability to make custom workouts. To make use of external fitness apps, this treadmill syncs with the free-to-download RunSocial App. That will let you run through 19 locations with 27 routes alongside people from all over the world in real time -- a similar feature to the NordicTrack C990.

The Nautilus T616 sells for $1,150 to $1,200 on the Nautilus site. Buy it from Amazon, and you will find it listed for a little less at $999 to $1,100. Reviewers on Amazon give the product a rating of 3.6 stars out of 5.

Precor TRM 223 Energy Series Treadmill
  • Health club quality workout at home
  • Smooth, stable, reliable, and durable
  • Maximizes stress reduction on your joints by giving the optimal amounts of underfoot cushioning
  • Loaded with helpful workout features scientifically designed to help you get the most out of your time spent exercising
  • See chart below for full line of Precor Treadmills

Looking for something a little more robust in your treadmill? Consider the Precor TRM 223. Like the others we’ve reviewed, this treadmill will let you take the speed up to 12 mph. But if you’re feeling in a groove, you can see if you’re up to the challenge of a maximum 15 percent incline. Do it enough, and you’ll be challenging the mountain goats in no time.

The belt provides a 20-inch wide running surface that’s also 57 inches long, almost the same length as the NordicTrack C990. You’ll have to get your movie or Internet fix either through a flat screen television or your tablet computer, though. The Precor TRM223 offers only a small high-contrast blue-white LCD screen.

You’ll be able to choose from 9 pre-set workouts and track up to 17 different metrics. Unlike the other models in this review, the Precor doesn’t appear to be integrated with any specific fitness training program or app, so you can customize things the way you see fit.

The Precor TRM223 sells for $2,699 to $2,800 on the Precor site. It’s also available via Amazon.com for slightly less -- about $2,500 to $2,650. The treadmill carries a rating of 3.0 stars out of 5 on Amazon, but there aren't many reviews.

The Finish Line

Woman running on a nordictrack treadmill

Workout routines tend to be extremely personal. We tend to prefer those devices that will give us connectivity to television or the Internet which allows us to take our minds off things. For that reason, as well as cost, its small footprint, and its range of exercise options, we think the best value is the one where we started: The NordicTrack C990.

Have you taken a jog on any of the treadmills we reviewed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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