“With killer inclines and iFit training, the NordicTrack X32i treadmill will change how you work out.”
- Impressive 40-percent incline
- Wide and sturdy deck
- Large 32-inch display
- Cushioned for high-impact running
- Effective iFit video training
- iFit-driven interface needs improvement
- Doesn’t fold for storage
Mention the word treadmill to a runner, especially a long-distance runner, and they will cringe. They also will tell you that there are no such things as treadmills, only deadmills, a reference to the mind-numbing boredom you experience when walking or running for hours on end with only your wall for scenery.
NordicTrack is trying to change this negative perception by bundling its treadmills with iFit, an immersive video-training program featuring real-life trainers who work out alongside you and the ability to virtually run in stunning locales around the globe. Does iFit cure you of the treadmill blues? We hit NordicTrack’s latest treadmill, the NordicTrack x32i, in our home gym for six months to find out.
Powerful hardware for steep climbs
The NordicTrack x32i treadmill is a dream to run and walk on. It has a wide and long deck (22-inches by 65 inches) that gives you plenty of room to run, walk, and even sidestep your way to fitness. It doesn’t fold for storage, so make sure you have ample room wherever you plan to use it.
Meant for high-impact exercise, the deck has NordicTrack’s Reflex cushioning, which provides a slight bounce to absorb the impact of every step. The reinforced steel frame is solidly built and the 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor has plenty of power. It goes from zero to 12mph and supports up to 300 pounds. I never once felt like I was pushing the machine to its limits.
The 40% incline of the x321 will leave your thighs burning and your lungs gasping for air
One standout feature of the x32i is the incline. It ranges from a -6 percent decline to a whopping 40 percent incline that’ll challenge even the fittest mountain runner. During a preprogrammed workout, the treadmill adjusts the speed and incline automatically, but you can make adjustments based on your fitness level. The slope adjusted smoothly upward and downward, even against the impact of running. It was the same for the speed. Changes were applied and felt immediately.
The NordicTrack X32i is designed for performance and ease of use. The controls are smartly placed on either side of the display and on the control panel in front of you. On the left side of the treadmill is a series of buttons that let you manually increase the incline, while the buttons on the right side control the speed. You change the speed and incline in small or large increments via these buttons.
Speed and incline are not the only parameters you can change. You also can adjust volume of the integrated speakers and the speed of the dual fans with the press of a button, as well as enjoy Bluetooth audio support. The buttons are easy to press, allowing you to make the changes without stopping your workout.
Other extras include three different bars that you can hold when you need some extra support and a chest strap to measure your heart rate while you work out. Lastly, there is a magnetic safety switch in case you fall.
Quiet performance and more
The NordicTrack x32i is both smooth and quiet. Even at running speeds of 5mph or higher, I still could hear the music and iFit trainer instructions over the integrated speakers. If you wanted to be even more stealthy, you could connect a pair of headphones using the treadmill’s built-in Bluetooth connection.
There’s also a fan to keep you cool. You can change the speed and the angle of the fan during the workout. The fan works well at lower inclines, but is blocked by the handrail at higher inclines. Speaking of handrails, there are plenty of them for you to hold onto, which is especially important at the higher inclines.
Touchscreen display boosts performance
With a massive 32-inch display, the NordicTrack X32i hardware is ideal for iFit. The beauty of the surroundings is always on full display. I didn’t have to adjust my view or turn my head — I could see the entire screen contents edge-to-edge just by looking forward. The display is a touchscreen that lets you control the iFit software by tapping and swiping on the screen. The layout is intuitive and I never had any problems moving between the workout library, the home screen or the calendar view.
When working out, you simply tap on the screen to access the workout controls or pause a workout. The buttons are plenty big, so I never had any problem making changes while exercising or when pausing a workout. My only gripe with the display is that you can not use it to connect to an Apple TV or Roku for streaming videos. It was added to the treadmill for iFit content and iFit only.
iFit workouts from around the world
Over the past few months, I’ve hiked Mount Fuji, ran in the Grand Canyon, and summited Mount Kilimanjaro, all from the comfort of my home in Maine.
Accompanying me on these adventures are trainers hired by iFit to produce a series of immersive training videos in exotic and unique environments. Hiking or running with a camera person, the iFit trainer draws you into each exercise by talking to you as if you were right there with them.
They not only encourage you during the workout, but also share personal stories, educate you about the culture and history of the region, and provide useful training tips. The treadmill also adjusts the incline and speed according to the terrain. You not only see the surroundings, but also get to experience it as close to firsthand as possible.
Instead of dreading my treadmill workouts, I was excited to find out what the next iFit session had in store for me
The experience is a little disconcerting at first. It felt awkward to have this trainer talking to me like I was there, but I decided to buy into the experience and I am glad that I did. Each workout was different — sometimes I learned about the culture of the area; other times, I learned how to improve my diet and running form.
On some occasions, the unexpected happened — a horse ran by or ducks waddled across the trail. Instead of dreading my treadmill workouts, I looked forward to my next iFit experience and was excited to find out what was in store for me. My time on the treadmill flew right by. It was so enjoyable that I often did several workouts in a row and even participated in a few one-day challenges where you do a full multipart series in a single day — it’s that engaging.
Surprisingly effective training
One unexpected side effect of using the NordicTrack treadmill is that my fitness level increased exponentially. I made more significant gains running inside than I did running outside primarily because of the training regime. I’m a casual but regular runner. I don’t have a professional trainer, nor do I spend time researching training plans. I throw on my running shoes, and I run with no specific plan in mind. I was able to slowly increase the distance that I could run, but I never made any significant improvements in my running performance.
The iFit program and the NordicTrack treadmill changed how I think about exercise. It all started with the trainers who explained the why and the how behind the exercise sessions. I was taught the importance of a warm-up, the need to keep a good form and the role of nutrition.
Each exercise session is part of a multipart series that ushers you through different types of workouts. Many of the workouts build upon each other and are designed to take you from point A to point B in your fitness.
Thanks to iFit trainers, I am not only stronger, but I also am smarter with my training
Most workout series started with an interval workout to build your cardio fitness. The intervals were varied — sometimes they were long, sometimes they were short, and sometimes they were unique, like the ladder interval that increases in speed and then slows down. There are also endurance sessions and incline workouts to increase your stamina. Every third or fourth session was a recovery workout. There’s a reason behind this method — not only does this format keep things interesting, but it also improves your fitness.
I learned how to go all out during the intervals and take a break when rest was necessary. I also was schooled in relative perceived effort and learned how to keep my effort level the same even as the terrain changed. These are basic training practices, but ones I didn’t learn until I started training with iFit. After six months with the iFit program and the NordicTrack treadmill, I feel that I am not only stronger, but I also am smarter with my training.
Software could use improvement
The iFit software powers the NordicTrack treadmill, and its touch-based interface revolves around this integration. When you start up the treadmill, you are greeted with a list of suggested iFit videos, along with a growing library of training sessions organized into workout series.
Unfortunately, the iFit software is missing key navigation features. You are forced to scroll through the entire iFit workout library to find workouts. If the workout you want to do is at the bottom of the list, you have to scroll and scroll to reach it. You cannot filter or organize the library by activity or by trainer. If I want to find a running series from Hannah Eden, I have to look for her face on a video and scroll through the runs, hikes, and studio workouts from everyone else.
The iFit software also was slow and occasionally glitchy. On more than one occasion, the video froze during a workout, and I had to start over by resetting the treadmill. I also kept getting alerts about an update that never installed. These issues were frustrating, but they did not take away from the overall positive experience. NordicTrack and iFit did release one major update during my time with the machine, so I am hoping the interface will improve over time.
Manual or map-based training
Though iFit is the star of the NordicTrack x32i, it’s not your only choice for a workout. You can choose to do a manual workout or load up a workout based on a custom-made map. You can choose an existing map workout or create your own workout by drawing a course on a map using the iFit software. If street view is available for the map course you have selected, you can view the street view images while you make your way along the course.
Online and third-party integration
Besides being a training video repository, iFit also tracks each exercise and saves it so you can review how far, how fast, and how high you have run or hiked. You also can view this information online. The interface is a basic list of your workouts and your stats for the week, month, and year.
I wish there were tools to track your progress for each workout. If I do the same workout a month apart, is my performance improved on the second one? It is not easy to make that comparison using the iFit software. You can send your data to other platforms, like Strava, but you have to download your workout history to your computer and then import it manually to Strava, Training Peaks, and another platform. There is no automatic sync.
The NordicTrack X32i is a powerhouse treadmill for walkers, hikers, and runners. Whether you are beginning your workout journey or are training for your next marathon, the X32i will suit your needs. It’s up-to-40-percent incline delivers an extra challenge to each and every workout.
When set to its maximum, the x32i provides a thigh-crushing workout for those who hike or run mountains. Even if you don’t aspire to be in the mountains, the range of inclines you can choose provides a strenuous and diverse workout that few treadmills can rival.
Is there a better alternative?
The NordicTrack X32i is one of the top treadmills you can buy, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a large treadmill that requires a lot of space and its $4,000 price tag may be prohibitive. For slightly less money, NordicTrack sells the both the x22i and the x11i with iFit integration and the same 40-percent incline. Both the x22i and the x11i have comparable performance, but with a smaller display and footprint than the x32i. If you are looking for a treadmill with personal training similar to iFit and automatic syncing with Strava, then consider one from Peloton or one that syncs with Zwift.
How long will it last?
The NordicTrack x32i is built like a tank with a reinforced steel frame and a powerful 4.25 CHP DurX Commercial Plus motor. The treadmill should provide many years of reliable operation. It includes a 10-year warranty on the frame, a 2-year warranty on parts, and a 1-year labor warranty.
Should you buy it?
If you are looking to add some incline to your training, the NordicTrack X32i is a rock-solid choice. It’s a workhorse of a treadmill that’ll help you push harder and go longer than ever before in your workouts.