Is an iFit Subscription Worth It for Your Treadmill?

If you’re on the fence about going with a treadmill that requires a subscription service like iFit (or Peloton), it can be helpful to ask yourself what barriers tend to keep you from getting as much exercise as you’d like to, advises Chris Gagliardi, a health coach and personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise and based in San Diego. Here are a few things to consider.

Don’t underestimate the benefits of predesigned workouts. One of the biggest potential benefits of a subscription workout service like iFit or Peloton is the fact that the service essentially plans your workout for you. The workout libraries offer numerous plans for progressively harder workouts. Gagliardi says one main thing he hears from clients who’ve used these services is that structure is a huge benefit. “They can just show up, it’s ready to go, they don’t have to think about it and create their own workout.”

Don’t confuse a workout subscription with accountability. Structure isn’t the same as accountability, says Gagliardi. In other words, don’t expect that making a major monetary investment in a workout machine and a service will be enough to keep you motivated. “Sometimes people that I’ve worked with are hoping that just because they’re paying for it, that’s going to make them more accountable, but it doesn’t necessarily happen that way,” Gagliardi says. 

Consider the type of coaching you need. If you’re looking for more focused coaching, an on-demand service won’t provide anything more than generic advice, particularly if, like iFit, it doesn’t offer live classes. A personal trainer can respond to the way your body moves and reacts to a workout in a way that a virtual coach clearly can’t. 

Try before you buy. A treadmill—especially one that works best with a costly monthly subscription fee in perpetuity—is a big investment. Ultimately, the best way to figure out whether a particular machine and a subscription to a workout service like iFit or Peloton might be right for you is to try to test them out before you buy, Cagliari says. If a friend or family member owns the treadmill you’re thinking about buying, ask if you can come over and try out the machine and the service. 

You may also be able to try out a machine at a sports equipment store. (NordicTrack’s website mentions Dunham’s Sports as a chain to visit to try out a machine before you buy it.) Call around to local fitness retailers to find out if you can test out the model you have your eye on in-store. You may also want to check around with some local gyms or community centers such as YMCAs, which may also have iFit-enabled treadmills. (The treadmill brand Freemotion, which primarily supplies machines for commercial spaces like gyms and fitness clubs, also uses iFit.)

Take advantage of iFit’s free trial. You can download the iFit app and try it out for free for 30 days. Canceling is simple (I checked!), and you can do it with a few clicks from the Membership page when you’re logged in to your account. So even if you don’t have an iFit-enabled machine, you can get a feel for its workouts and videos, which can give you a good sense of whether the content will work for you. 

Be aware of past issues. One potential concern with connected fitness equipment is that issues with the software can render the machines inoperable. That’s something to keep in mind with iFit in particular: In the spring of 2023, a number of iFit-enabled treadmill users began reporting issues with their service in which the machines’ screens went blank and rendered the treadmills unusable. Consumer Reports collected more than 80 stories of consumers’ experiences with this issue, and users generally attributed the problems to a software update. Affected customers filed a class action lawsuit against the company last year.