Treads and Climbers — This Sensei Bows to No One


Yes, I know I promised to post a review on the Star Trac Elite treadmills we received in at the DOJO earlier this week and I will get to it later on today. Before that, though, I wanted to write a bit about a couple of emails I’ve received recently.

A manufacturer isn’t happy with the Treadmill Sensei.

Over the past week or so I’ve had a manufacturer’s rep who was very upset that I gave their “best treadmill on the market” an average rating. This rep went so far as to imply that I had no idea what I was talking about and that my story about almost being injured on one of their units was wrong — what he said was to the effect of “you were probably at someone else’s booth and tried their faulty machines.” Finally, he asked that I remove or rewrite my review so it was more favorable to his company and brand.

This is a guy sticking a bit too close to the company line. If you’re a manufacturer, before you write me, make sure to read my FAQ section. All of my reviews are based on hands on experience with the treadmills and ellipticals I review, and I will report on my past experiences with the equipment. If I’m saying a machine isn’t the highest of quality, you can be assured there are numerous other bad reviews for it online…and you can be assured the manufacturer knows about the problems even if they won’t admit it to the public.

In this particular manufacturer’s case, the specific event I mentioned was at the 2006 IHRSA fitness trade show out in Las Vegas. It took place a few months before I started this website in March 2006 and a couple of the guys from the DOJO and I were roaming the convention to try out new equipment. It was one of the things that led me to becoming the Treadmill Sensei.

One of the first booths we encountered was the manufacturer’s and we decided to give their units a bit of a test drive. We lined up on the 4 units in the front row and started to workout. What we quickly found was their hybrid treadmill-elliptical machine (you know which machine I’m talking about) was one of the most uncomfortable units any of us had ever been on. When you first start you feel like you’re going to pitch forward and the motion of the twin treadmill-elliptical tracks going up and down is very very unnatural. The think I noticed was that, in spite of this equipment being at a high profile trade show, that the buttons weren’t working properly. I hit the “accelerate” button once and the unit lurched up to its top speed almost immediately, which sent me shooting off the back of the unit. I could have been hurt if not for my cat-like reflexes (ok, in reality, Hikaru caught me and kept me from falling). We tried to shut the machine down but the console was fairly unresponsive.

Interestingly enough, one of the other Senseis, Mike, encountered the same problem on the machine he was using. The speed controls just didn’t work properly. Fortunately, Mike is about 15 years younger than me and in great shape so he was able to catch himself and keep up with the sudden increase of speed. This was a bit unsettling because manufacturers generally bring their best equipment to these conventions to show off to press and potential buyers. What this made me assume was that those malfunctioning units WERE the BEST units from the aforementioned Bowing and Flexing company.

We informed one of the sales reps about the non-working machines (and even mocked the company a bit because of it) and the offending pair of machines were quickly turned off. They were back on during the next day of the show but I was too scared to try the unit again.

I bet you’re wondering what the point of this rambling post is, aren’t you? If you’re a manufacturer and you don’t like my reviews, then make better equipment. If you’re a company that is well known for producing poor product or having bad customer service then don’t email and complain to me about a bad review. If your quality is bad in my opinion then I’m going to be letting the public know about it.

I don’t mind a manufacturer, retailer or customer disagreeing with my reviews because everyone has their own opinion (and manufacturers have their own agendas). That’s totally cool. Don’t, however, harass me about changing a review once it has been posted. It’s not going to happen. The reviews are my honest opinion of treadmills and ellipticals I come in to contact with. If I have an opinion I’m going to express it. And, if nothing else, you don’t ask Ebert & Roper to change a movie review just because you don’t like it.

I’m not here to make manufacturers happy, I’m here to keep my readers well informed.

That’s it for right now. I’ll be back with that Star Trac Elite Treadmill review later in the day.

Take care!

-The Treadmill Sensei

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