Saturday, March 18, 2023

Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill Review: Powerful, quiet, and just right at a mid-tier price

Article by John Tribbia

Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill ($1,999)

As a longtime trail runner, I love the feeling of being outdoors - the fresh air, and the challenge of running on uneven terrain. But lately, my work and family schedule have made it difficult to get out on the trails as often as I'd like and I decided I needed to get a treadmill. 

It isn’t that I’m not a fan of treadmills, because I think they are great training tools for times where sustained hills aren’t accessible or weather and air quality conditions are unsafe outside. Mentally, though, they always felt like a chore to me. But, as circumstances change, so do my own preferences and I’m really excited about having this option at home. I've found that the treadmill is a great way to get a run in when schedules are tight or I need to be home. I can run for a quick 30 minutes before work, or I can spend an hour or more after work getting a more intense workout. And because the treadmill is indoors, I don't have to worry about the weather. I can run no matter what the conditions are outside.

I'm still getting used to running on a treadmill, but I'm starting to see some benefits. I'm able to run faster and longer than I could before, and I'm feeling more fit on the inclines.

I received at no cost a 7.8 AT Treadmill from Horizon Fitness, a company headquartered in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin that sells a variety of fitness equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes. Horizon Fitness is a subsidiary of Johnson Health Tech, a Taiwanese company that is one of the largest fitness equipment manufacturers in the world. Johnson Health Tech also owns the brands Matrix Fitness and Vision Fitness. Horizon Fitness is known for its high-quality fitness equipment and its excellent customer service. In general, Horizon Fitness is a fairly popular choice for at home fitness enthusiasts who need a quality treadmill or home fitness equipment at a mid-tier price.

The 7.8 AT features a wide and long deck and other features such as an integrated fan, speakers, and spin dials as well as button speed + incline adjustments

Pros

  • Powerful motor with Rapid Sync technology

  • Quiet operation

  • Large (long and wide), sturdy deck that is comfortable

  • Intuitive controls

  • Quick, on the fly, adjustable incline and speed

  • Has a lifetime frame and motor warranty

Cons

  • Heavy and not as portable as some other treadmills

  • Incline maxes out at 15%

  • Speed and incline wheel adjustments are sensitive to accidental bumps or turns


TOTAL VALUE

Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT

Sale Price

$1,999 (on sale from $2,699 MSRP)

Financing Available

6-, 12-, 18-, 24- and 36-month plans



APP COMPATIBILITY

Designed for streaming media like Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube

Yes

Engineered for fitness apps like Peloton, Daily Burn and Nike

Yes

Transmits heart rate data to select apps like Peloton and Zwift with a wireless device

Yes



MACHINE SPECS

Frame Type

FeatherLight Folding

Running Area

22" x 60" XL Deck

Cushioning

3-Zone Variable Response Cushioning

Belt

1.6mm, Silicone

Deck Thickness

0.8" (20mm)

Roller Size

60mm/46mm Tapered

Speed Range

0.5 – 12 mph

Incline Range

0 – 15%

Step on Height (inches)

8 3/4”

Extras

Accessory Tray, Aluminum Side Rails, Audio In/Out Jack, Bluetooth Speakers, Custom Interval Keys, Energy Saver Mode, Fan, Media Controls, Multi-position Tablet Holders, Speed & Incline Quick Dial Controls, USB charging (1A/5V), Water Bottle Holder

Weight

330 lbs.

Assembled Dimensions (L x W x H)

76" x 37" x 64"

Folded Dimensions (L x W x H)

42" x 37" x 71"

Shipping Dimensions (L x W x H)

78" x 40" x 13.5"

Estimated Shipping Weight

391 lbs.

Max User Weight

375 lbs.

Electrical Requirements

60Hz - 120V. Not compatible w/ GFCI outlets.

Home Warranty - Frame

Lifetime

Home Warranty - Motor

Lifetime

Home Warranty - Parts

5 years

Home Warranty - Labor

2 years



CONSOLE SPECS

Bluetooth Enabled

Yes

Speakers

Yes

USB Charging Port

Yes - Type A

Display

16 Digit Alphanumeric LED, 9.3" High Contrast Color TFT Screen

Programs

5K, Calorie, Custom, Custom HR, Distance, Fat Burn, Heart Rate, Hill Climb, Manual, Sprint 8

Workout Feedback

Calories, Distance, Heart Rate, Incline, Pace, Speed, Time




Home Delivery

Horizon Fitness has three options for home delivery: standard $159 delivery where the machine is delivered to your home and you are responsible for moving it to the desired room and assembling, in-room $199 delivery where it is delivered to a room of choice but you assemble, or white glove $299 delivery where the treadmill delivery comes with room choice and assembly. I opted for the white glove delivery and was really glad I did. The treadmill comes boxed, unassembled, and weighs over 350lbs! 


Comfortable running deck

The running deck on the 7.8 AT is made of 22" x 60" of durable material with 3-zone cushioning. This provides plenty of space for walking, jogging, or running and should offer enough kickback for even tall runners. I’m only 5’6” so long strides aren’t a problem for me, but having enough treadmill real estate to feel comfortable is really important to me. Also, the impressive 350lb max weight capacity opens this up as a viable option for larger runners or those that have a heavy foot plant as well. 

Horizon’s cushioning system is made up of elastomers that have different levels of support – softer in the front of the deck to absorb more impact where you land, medium in the transition zone and firmer in the back where you push off. This system helps to reduce impact and provide a more comfortable running experience. I would describe the running feel of the deck somewhere between field turf and gravel packed trails, so it is pretty easy on the legs while still being responsive.

I wore a pair of Hoka Rocket Xs on my first few runs and didn’t experience any soreness, even after a fartlek workout where my legs may have residual tenderness had I done the same effort on concrete. 

Overall, the running deck on the 7.8 AT is a great option for runners of all levels, especially for someone like me who is beginning to be more acquainted with treadmill running. It is comfortable, durable, and provides a good amount of cushioning.

The running deck is 22” wide and 60” long, which allows for long strides and variable positioning


Powerful motor

The 7.8 AT has a powerful motor that can go up to 12 mph and has a 15% incline. This makes it a great option for runners who want to do interval training or hill workouts. To be honest, I wish the incline were more adjustable to 20%+ because I would love to have the option to practice steep uninterrupted climbs. At the price point of <$2,000, 15% grade is pretty common. By contrast, you’d expect to spend over $3,500 - $4,500 for something like the NordicTrack Commercial incline series. 

The motor is also really quiet, so you won't disturb anyone else while you're running, which I quite like because most of my running is in the early morning while the rest of my family is sleeping. 


The motor is also continuous variable, which means that it can adjust its speed and incline gradually, which makes it a more comfortable and natural running experience. You can adjust either speed with the touch of a button on the panel or use the roller adjustments on the handles with the highly-responsive QuickDial™ controls and one-touch Interval Keys to simplify speed and incline changes. 

The 7.8AT features a unique Rapid Sync drive system, which is much more responsive than a typical home treadmill motor. This means it speeds up and slows down faster, which is important for interval training workouts so you can get up to speed quickly to maximize short intervals and get back down to a jog or a walk quickly and naturally without having to jump on the side rails – something outdoor runners who aren’t as familiar with treadmill training may appreciate.

I can see this as a great advantage for runners who want to keep pace with Peloton, Studio.live and other streaming fitness apps. On the right, you just roll the dial forward to increase speed and roll it back to decrease speed. On the left, you just roll it forward to go up the hill and roll it back to come back down. 

The rollers are super convenient, but it can be easy to accidentally adjust the speed or incline, which could be problematic for people who run close to the console or like to use the handles for stability. 

The QuickDial (blue above) on top of the heart rate sensor handle allows for quick adjustment; in addition, there are are also button selections to quickly change speed without having to use the dial. 

There is the same quick button feature on the left side to adjust incline from 0-15%. 


Variety of features

The 7.8 AT comes with a variety of features that make it easy to use. It has a built-in fan, which helps keep you cool while you're running and since I am a self-proclaimed mega-sweater this comes in handy. It also has a water bottle holder and a magazine/iPad holder rack, so you can stay hydrated and entertained while you're running. The 7.8 AT console has a 16 Digit Alphanumeric LED, 9.3" High Contrast Color TFT screen that summarizes the most needed workout metrics: distance, pace, time, calories, lap count, speed, incline, and heart rate. I’m okay with using my own device as opposed to the larger consoles with built in screens. It means I can flexibly navigate from iPad to phone to Chromebook with ease.

9.3” screen that displays distance, pace, time, calories, lap count, speed, incline, and heart rate

Tablets can be placed above the screen in the designated holder, which is at eye level.

There is additional storage for phones, water bottles, and other miscellaneous things like (my personal preference) a wadded up towel on the left and right parts of the screen below the speakers and above the push button incline/speed controls. 


For those High Intensity Interval Training enthusiasts, the 7.8 AT also comes with a custom Horizon Fitness Sprint 8 HIIT program. The program is basically a 20 minute interval session that is pre-programmed with eight 30-second intervals of high-intensity running followed by eight 30-second intervals of low-intensity running, plus warm up and cool down.

You can also connect with the Bluetooth integration, which allows you to connect your device to integrated speakers, transmit speed and other metrics to any of the popular training apps for connected workouts, or use the Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate strap that connects directly to the Peloton app. There are also multiple device (phone, tablets, etc..) placement options that don’t block the console, plus a rapid-charge USB port to keep your phone or iPad charged at all times. 

An integrated fan, Bluetooth connectivity, and several automatic workout programs to select. When your personal mobile device is connected to Bluetooth, there are big controls on the panel to stop/start your playlist.

Tucked in the corner of the basement, the 7.8 AT can be used without taking too much space

As someone who is new to home fitness equipment, I can’t necessarily comment on how the 7.8 AT compares to other home options, but I have and do run on treadmills at fitness centers, hotels, and at work gyms.  

I can say the 7.8 AT compares favorably to the other treadmills I’ve used in terms of performance and ease of use. The motor is powerful (similar to a Woodway, in fact) with easy on-the-fly adjustment controls to quickly reach speeds of up to 12 mph and an incline of up to 15%, making it a great choice for runners of all levels. 

I do wish there was more incline range, just out of personal preference. 

The treadmill also has a comfortable running deck and a multiplicity of programs that can help anyone reach your fitness goals or simply play around with so that the monotony of running on a treadmill doesn’t bore you. 

The 7.8 AT is relatively easy to set up (note I didn’t say assemble because I let the professionals do that!) and use and the controls are intuitive with an easy to read console. 

The treadmill also comes with a variety of nice features, such as a well positioned fan and a water bottle holder. 

Overall, the 7.8 AT is a good choice for runners who are looking for a value priced high-quality treadmill that is both powerful and really easy to use.

For home space optimization, the 7.8 AT can fold vertically

Conclusion

So, there you have it. I'm a trail runner who's always been a bit reluctant to have a treadmill at home, but this one has really changed my mind. It's a great way to get a workout in when I don't have time to go outside, and it's also a good way to prepare for my trail runs with sustained running at an incline. Nothing will ever replace trail running, but Horizon 7.8 AT treadmill is a great option for times when I'm unable to get to the trails.


The 7.8 AT Treadmill is available from Horizon HERE


Tester Profile

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.


The Horizon treadmill was provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.


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2 comments:

John Tribbia said...

following

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to show the pace and speed at the same time on the console? For instance, I don't care about lap and would gladly change that to pace so I have both speed in mph and pace in minute miles on the screen.