The Treadmill Sensei gets a lot of email here at the DOJO. I think I’m up to about 100 emails a day from readers asking questions about treadmills, ellipticals, maintenance and repair. I think I do a pretty good job at answering emails but some do slip through the cracks. One of the most asked questions is about good treadmills under $500. People are contastantly asking me for a good cheap treadmill. They’ll say “I just want to get something cheap for right now to see how it goes.” The problem with most treadmills you’re going to find in that sort of price range is that they are crap. If you want a good treadmill work out with programs, decent speed and incline controls and stability, you’re going to have to pay for it. There are no magic, low cost treadmills that give you all of that stuff at an ultra cheap price. I’m sorry, I just can’t lie to you, my loyal readers. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get healthy the just get a good pair of shoes and head outside.
But…and I’m sure you saw that “but” coming…there is a very low cost, sturdy treadmill with absolutely no bells and whistles for under $500. For under $400 you can pick up a Leisure Works 539 treadmill. There are no programs, no incline control and the unit only goes up to about 6 miles per hour, but if all you want to do is walk and do some light sessions the Leisure Works 539 (also call the LW 539) is a great choice.
The Leisure Works 539 treadmill is actually manufactured by Spirit and lives up to to their reputation for quality even at a rock bottom price and stripped down model. The motor is around 1.25 horsepower but does run at lower RPMs so it can be compared more to a 1.5-2 horsepower motor from Icon Fitness/Proform. It also runs a lot quieter than anything from Proform which is a nice little feature.
The console is very basic but easy to read and work with. The Leisure Works 539 display does show time, speed, distance and calories burned and is more than enough information for a decent walking workout.
The deck on the Leisure Works 539 is only 37×13 which should be more than enough for any fast or slow walking workout and the unit folds up very small at 21×24. I’m not sure you can slide a folded Leisure Works 539 treadmill under your bed but it’s close.
Another note, this unit is also known as the Cardio Strength Motorized treadmill through some vendors.
If you’re looking for a good, cheap, walking workout and don’t want to go outside, or if you don’t have much room for big equipment, then the Leisure Works 539 treadmill is something to take a look at. From what I’ve seen, these units run for a long time and don’t need a lot of repair because of the simplicity of their design.
For putting a decent treadmill at the lowest possible price, the Treadmill Sensei gives Spirit’s Leisure Works 539 treadmill 3.5 golden buddahs out of 5. Great job!
UPDATE: The Leisure Works 539 treadmills are now completely sold out from Spirit. Do NOT get stuck with a remanufactured unit. Their breakdown rate, from what I’ve seen, is in excess of 50-75%!
3.5 out of 5 Gold Buddahs for the Leisure Works LW539 Folding Treadmill.
Leisure Works 539 Treadmill Specifications
Motor: 1.25 HP
Folded dimensions: 21″ x 25″
Display: Time, Speed, Distance, Calories and Scan Functions
-The Treadmill Sensei