NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

NordicTrack has, for a very long time, been creating and building innovative, high-quality home-use elliptical cross trainers. Their machines are always packed with features and have excellent specs for the money being asked. In the current NordicTrack range, there are a number of ellipticals which break away from the norm, demonstrating that they’re not content to just maintain the status quo and are always pushing in new directions. As part of that philosophy, they’ve come up with the NordicTrack FS7i which, on paper at least, promises to be something very different. He’s what we found when we got our hands on one……

First up, as always is the assembly. Now, usually, ellipticals, especially large bulky ones, tend to be on the trickier side to put together. This hasn’t escaped NordicTrack’s notice and with the FS7i they’ve come up with a design that really does take the hassle out of things, to the point where even though NordicTrack say assembly requires two people, even their official video has just one person carrying out the assembly! Once all the parts are out of the packaging and laid out ready for assembly it took us less than 25 minutes and yes, we had this assembled by just one person and it really wasn’t hard work. This seriously impressed us! Assembly of the FS7i is a very well designed and thought-through process and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a shift towards this method of assembly in more models.

Once assembled the FS7i manages to be both imposing and understated at the same time. Imposing because it’s obviously a large, serious bit of kit, but understated because at 157cm x 74cm the footprint is actually a good deal smaller than most of its peers. Rather than being at the front or the back of the machine like on traditional ellipticals, the guts of the mechanics on the FS7i are located in the centre at either side. This makes it surprisingly compact, and while you do need a bit more room than the footprint to be able to use the FS7i to its full effect, it does mean that when not in use it actually takes up a very reasonable amount of space making it suitable for a wide range of homes. Also, having the mechanics on the either side allows the pedals to sit in the middle so the Q factor (distance between the pedals) is really low allowing for an excellent biomechanical position.

This brings us nicely to the main point of this elliptical. At the heart of the FS7i is NordicTrack’s variable motion system and it’s this that really sets it apart from other cross trainers. With a traditional elliptical (front or rear wheel) the pedals move along a fixed trajectory that cannot be changed. Some models feature an incline system that allows you to change the trajectory by changing the incline. This changes the shape of the ellipse, yet you’re STILL following a pre-determined path at any given setting. Whatever the type, it’s always us, the users, that have to fit in with the way the machine moves. This fundamental can mean it’s often difficult to find a model that really works for you and harder still to find one that’s equally comfortable for multiple users unless they all happen to be of the same or very similar build. The FS7i doesn’t work this way. It lets you set the stride but not by pushing a button or turning a knob somewhere. No, the method for controlling the stride path here is by using your muscles! Yep, that’s right and it’s a strange one when you first get on board. It does and doesn’t feel like a normal elliptical and it takes a bit of getting used to but once you do get the hang of it, it doesn’t take long to realise that this is a really superb system. You change the trajectory by the way you move your legs and arms and you can alter the ellipse from short, steep, steps like a stepper right the way out to long, flat strides  (and everything in between) and all this is done by ‘feel’ alone.

All this means that pretty much however tall or short you are, you WILL get a comfortable workout. The machine bends to your will and not you to its. Not only does this make the FS7i extremely comfortable (something that is aided by the cushioned pedals and the suspension system that the pedal armrests on) it also means that the change of motion is almost instantaneous. There’s no need to wait for motors to do their work and get everything into position. Just change the focus of your muscles and the stride shape and length changes at the same time. In addition to being quick, this method of control also means that you use more of your muscles, more of the time which both increases calorie burn rate and improves muscle toning. To top things off there’s also an incline function that provides scope for an even wider range of movement and 24 levels of resistance to provide added oomph to your workout. All in all, it’s an outstanding system that really works well and provides a way to target a far wider range of muscles than any standard elliptical does.

Away from the biomechanics, this is a NordicTrack machine through and through. There’s a slick  7″ full colour, Android-powered touchscreen display. It functions in the same way as other tablets with all the basics such as swiping to scroll through menus and workout feedback displays so immediately feels familiar.  In addition to accessing all the programmes, there’s also a host of settings you can play around with such as the unit of measurement between metric and imperial and there’s also a web browser so you can access emails and read the news. The console is well laid out, logical and easy to use while the screen itself is nice and bright with vibrant colours.

There’s a huge selection of 35 built-in programmes and the console is also iFit compatible (subscription required)  which increases the already large number of training options on this elliptical. Subscribers to iFit get the added bonus of  Google Maps workouts that allow you to map out your own routes on Google Maps, high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers, online races against other iFit members as well as personalised advice for nutrition, exercise routines and sleep schedule. iFit is a whole world unto itself and offers far too much to cover in this review but if you want to know more visit the iFit website for full details.

Last but by no means least there are built-in speakers so you can connect your music player, a cooling fan that does a pretty good job and a water bottle/accessory holder that’s a useful size. The FS7i is also covered by a 5-year frame, 2-year on-site parts and labour warranty.

 

Best Price

Currently available for £1499.00 from Sweatband.com

Review Summary - In Brief

With the FS7i , NordicTrack really has lived up to its reputation for producing innovative machines. It really does live up to its Free Strider name because that's exactly what you're getting here. The action is very different to other ellipticals and the sensation does take a bit of getting used to but while we're not going to say it's like floating on air, it is very comfortable indeed. The ability to rapidly shift stride length and depth really does add an extra dimension that you just don't get on a traditional elliptical. The free stride system delivers a challenging but very comfortable workout and the full-colour touchscreen controls are more advanced than any of its competitors. All said and done, the FS7i is an awesome elliptical and we loved it. In our opinion, it's one of the best home ellipticals you can get your hands on and if you have the budget for one we'd highly recommend it!

NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Specifications

  • Three machines in one, the FreeStride Trainer combines a stepper, treadmill, and elliptical in a single fitness machine
  • 10kg (22lbs) Inertia enhanced flywheel
  • 24 digital levels of SMR Silent™ Magnetic Resistance with 1ntegrated handle controls or 1-Touch controls
  • 10 levels of incline with 1-Touch controls
  • 38” (97cm) auto-adjustable stride
  • 7” web-enabled colour touchscreen
  • Feedback: Calories, distance, pulse, RPM, speed, time, HR
  • Heart Rate Measurement via Dual-EKG CardioGrip™ pulse grips + Bluetooth® Smart wireless receiver (Bluetooth® Smart chest strap included)
  • 35 preset personal trainer workouts + integrated iFit® Enabled (subscription sold separately) Plus manual mode, set-a-goal workout
  • Conveniences: Compatible music port for iPod®/mp3 player, water bottle holder, Autobreeze™ workout fan
  • Adjustable oversized cushioned pedals with centre drive design
  • Workout Arms: Soft touch upper body grips
  • Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 157cm (61.8”) x 74cm (29”) x 174cm (68.5”)
  • Dimensions Folded (L x W x H): 168cm (66.1”) x 76.5cm (30”) x 66cm (26”)
  • Product Weight: 128kg (282lbs)
  • Max. User Weight: 135kg (297.6lbs)
  • Warranty: 5-year frame, 2 year parts and labour (must register within 28 days of purchase for 2nd year of coverage)

NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Elliptical Cross Trainer - Console / Display Unit

NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Elliptical Cross Trainer - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Android powered full colour touchscreen interface
  • User variable stride
  • Comfortable
  • Huge range of motion
  • Near instant change of stride length and depth on demand
  • Large selection of preset workouts
  • Interactive, in-depth training options via iFit
  • Easy to assemble

The Cons

  • iFit subscription not included
NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Elliptical Cross Trainer Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 10
Appearance - 9
Smoothness - 9.5
Comfort - 10
Reliability - 8.5
Noise - 8.5
Ease Of Use - 9
Controls - 9.5
Warranty - 8.5
Value for Money - 9
Best Price

Currently available for £1499.00 from Sweatband.com

Also see our Elliptical Cross Trainer Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

Cross Trainers We Like