Compact, well made and a dream to run on, the JTX Sprint 3 is a top-value compact treadmill
- Compact and well built
- 40 built-in workouts
- Comfortable to run on
- Top speed limited to 16km/h
- Short deck won’t suit taller, faster runners
The JTX Fitness Sprint 3 is one of those very rare things. It’s a product that fits the brief so perfectly that it’s very hard – if not impossible – to pick out any kind of fault. This is frustrating: it’s my job as a reviewer to pick holes in things, to tease out the weaknesses but I’ve been running on this treadmill every day for more than a week now and I’m struggling.
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If you’re looking for a treadmill you can pound out the miles on in the safety of self-isolation, then I’d advise you to consider buying one. Sure, it’s a little more basic than more expensive models but I’d ask you to consider if you really need the extras, because at the basic level of delivering an indoor running workout, the JTX Fitness Sprint 3 is just about perfect.
What do you get for your money and who is it for?
For £603 you wouldn’t expect a gym-class treadmill and the Sprint 3 certainly lacks a few luxuries. But where it does make cut-backs it does so in the right areas: it has no fancy Bluetooth connectivity or companion app, for instance, but it is extremely well made.
Setup is simple. The treadmill comes mostly assembled, with just a few bolts and bits of plastic needing to be attached once you’ve removed it from its box. And there’s no need to worry about carrying it to the room of your choice since the delivery drivers will do that for you (although given the circumstances, you might prefer they didn’t).
Once in place, it’s worth knowing that you can fold the running deck away to save on precious floor space. Just lift the deck up until it clicks into place and the length shrinks by more than a third, from 162cm to a metre when folded. To unfold it, simply nudge the support strut with your foot and then let it go; a soft-drop mechanism takes care of letting the heavy deck down gently.
The other thing you’ll want to know is whether the Sprint 3 fits your profile as a runner. For most people, its top speed of 16kmh (10mph) and 2hp motor will be perfectly fine, especially since you can incline the running deck automatically by up to 12% to make things tougher for you. However, more experienced runners might want to consider a beefier model like the JTX Fitness Sprint 7 or the Club-Pro, which have higher top speeds and more powerful motors.
At 46 x 129cm the Sprint 3’s running deck is narrower and shorter than those models, too, although it isn’t as restricted as some budget treadmills we’ve seen. Even our favourite budget treadmill – the £399 Reebok ZR8 – has a shorter, narrower deck at 41 x 126cm
Whether the Sprint 3 will suit you also depends on your running style. Although I’m 6ft tall, I run at quite a high cadence and I’m not particularly fast, so it’s ideal for me; if you’re much taller and a bit of speed-demon, consider spending a little more. Again, both the JTX Sprint 7 and Club-Pro both have longer, wider decks at 51 x145cm and 57 x 155cm respectively.
What connectivity and workout options are there?
As mentioned above, the Sprint-3 lacks luxuries. It doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity and it won’t synchronise directly with fitness apps such as Strava or Peloton. The good news is the treadmill comes with a tablet/phone holder, so you can prop up your device and run along to any workout app, plus there’s a pair of speakers and a 3.5mm input so you don’t have to run with headphones or rely on your phone’s speaker.
There’s a heart-rate sensor with detectors built into the handles on either side, so you don’t technically need a running watch or chest belt, either, but I found these to be slow to respond to changes in heart rate; you’re better off using a chest belt linked to your phone if you want an accurate readout.
Where the Sprint 3 most definitely isn’t lacking is when it comes to its own built-in workouts and usability. There are 40 preset 30-minute workouts, ranging from the relatively lightweight to insanely tough, each of which varies speed and incline throughout the workout in three-minute blocks.
You can manage your workouts manually, of course, setting the speed and incline using buttons on each of the treadmill’s arms or on the main computer unit at the front. It’s also possible to set manual workouts to run for a time of your choosing.
Everything displayed on the Sprint 3’s 5in blue LCD screen is clear and legible – that includes your speed, distance, incline, heart rate, calories burned, time elapsed and time remaining. It would be nice if it showed units instead of plain numbers for speed and distance. For the record, everything is in kilometres and kilometres per hour and it isn’t possible to switch over to miles.
The virtual track that sits in the middle of the display suffers from a similar issue; it displays a progress bar that runs in an oval and completes every 400m – as if you were running around a track – but you wouldn’t know this unless you cared to figure it out.
If this all sounds pretty basic, bear in mind that there are plenty of options for you to enhance your at-home treadmill experience that don’t require advanced connectivity. I’ve been using the excellent MyZone MZ-3 Bluetooth/ANT+ chest belt with my smartphone to keep track of my heart rate stats and provide motivation during workouts. The MyZone app keeps workouts entertaining by encouraging you to match your heart rate to a given zone during the workout; the closer your heart rate matches, the higher your score.
If that doesn’t sound like your thing, there’s a whole world of other apps, tech and services available to help you stay engaged and keep using the machine. Another idea for making workouts fun is Zombies Run, an app that builds a storyline around your workouts, encouraging you to speed up when you’re being “chased”. And you can still have your distance, pace, cadence and speed logged alongside your heart rate by using a footpod like the Zwift Runpod. The extra bonus with Zwift is you get to take part in a virtual run onscreen so even if you’re social distancing at home you can use your treadmill to get out and about virtually.
What’s running on it like?
The running experience, like the build quality, is very impressive. The running deck might be compact but it’s cushioned at eight points – ensuring the impact on your joints is kept to a minimum – and comfortable to run on.
There’s even a built-in fan to keep you cool, although I didn’t find this particularly effective. The treadmill as a whole isn’t overly noisy, either – just a quiet hum from the motor – and as you run there are no rattles or squeaks at all.
The one thing I’d change about the JTX Fitness Sprint 3 is to reduce the volume of the beeps. These accompany all button presses and grate on your ears after a while, especially if you’re the sort of runner who likes fiddling around fine-tuning your speed during workouts.
Any other features I should know about?
As with any treadmill worth its salt, the JTX Fitness Sprint comes with a safety key, which is designed to shut down the treadmill should you trip and fall. This takes the form of a plastic clip which is tied to a small plastic puck with a piece of string. This puck attaches to the treadmill magnetically and, should you fall off the end of the deck, it pulls free and shuts down the treadmill automatically.
Should I buy it?
If you’re not bothered too much by the lack of connectivity and the top-speed limitations then it’s a no brainer. You should absolutely buy the JTX Fitness Sprint 3 treadmill.
It’s incredibly well made, comes with a huge choice of preset workouts and is very easy to use as well as being compact enough to fit into most small to medium rooms. At a price of £603, it’s simply fantastic value for money.