American Weights’ treadmill is a thing of beauty, but does it deliver a smooth training experience?

The American Weights Curved Wooden Treadmill (buy now) is a world away from most sleek, black functional treadmills on the market. It’s a delightfully designed machine that looks more like a work of art than a piece of cardio kit. It’s elegant, minimal design would create a centrepiece in any gym, fitness studio or home setting. Which is all very well – but does it deliver as a piece of home gym equipment and is it one of the best treadmills?

Men’s Fitness verdict

American Weights’ treadmill oozes class and will elevate any home studio. Don’t expect touchscreen programmes or gamification – this is for the unadulterated joy of running, pure and simple.
  • Striking design
  • Curved belt reduces impact on body
  • Provides a better cardio workout than most treadmills
  • Encourages a more natural running style
  • Expensive
  • No set programmes
  • You can’t change resistance

American Weights Curved Wooden Treadmill design

The self-propelled treadmill provides a different running experience to typical electrically powered belt treadmills. That’s because you’re the power behind moving the belt. When going for a regular run outdoors, you have to generate force into the ground to propel yourself forward, known as ‘ground force reaction’. And that’s the idea here.

On motorised belt treadmills, you’re taking your feet off a moving surface repeatedly and therefore not generating the force needed to move your body forward. With a curved self-propelled treadmill you have to put some force though your legs to move the belt. This makes it more similar to the running biomechanics you’d use outdoors.

It’s estimated you use approximately 30% more energy on a curved self-propelled treadmill than on a motorised one. It also requires increased balance and coordination.

The design of the American Weights Curved Wooden Treadmill (buy now) means you’re striking the surface at a slight angle, too, which creates less impact on your body and therefore less stress, especially through the knee joints. The belt on the treadmill moves faster the further you stride forward, and less as you land centrally. It provides a more natural feel for runners, and a more challenging workout for people looking to burn more calories.

If you’re new to using a curved, self-propelled treadmill there are bars to support you, which you’ll rely on less, the more confident you become.

Close-up of the belt on the American Weights treadmill
Providing all the power yourself on a manual curved treadmill means a more effective workout

Room for improvement

The curved treadmill creates more of a challenge when it comes to mastering the technique of the belt system than with a motorised treadmill. That’s due to constantly having to generate the belt’s momentum.

Most beginners are unsure where to stride out to, and there’s a natural instinct to shorten your movement to prevent falling (check out our article on how to use a treadmill). Therefore, using any self-propelled treadmill can take longer to get used to. And the American Weights treadmill is no different.

It’s also difficult to maintain your speed when running, as you have to continually stride forward. Slowing down because of a mis-stride results in your speed reducing dramatically. But again this is true of any manual treadmill design.

The display unit is very basic, too, with only time and distance functions, plus a few simple programmes. Unlike the Peloton Tread there are no touchscreen programmes to follow or virtual pacemakers to follow.

The Curved Wooden Treadmill is quite noisy, especially when running. Unlike some motorised treadmills, which have a flexible spring system under the belt, the curved treadmill doesn’t. On this model, the belt doesn’t provide any added resistance, which other curved treadmill do, so it’s pretty loud when in use.

The unit is also very heavy and needs a few people to unbox and lift into place. Although it has wheels at the front and can be tilted to move, it’s quite heavy and awkward, so it’s difficult to store away and can’t fold up like other treadmills. However, once unboxed, the treadmill just requires the handles and electronic display to be attached, so that part’s simple at least.

Is the American Weights Curved Wooden Treadmill worth buying?

If money is no object, yes. It encourages a more natural running technique than conventional treadmills, and its striking design will elevate any home gym. However, beginners are likely to be better suited to a more run-of-the-mill treadmill design. Also those looking for greater inbuilt programming or fitness tracking options should probably look elsewhere.