The NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer is unlike any other elliptical on the market today, and very different than the rest of the company's lineup. It has quickly become one of their biggest sellers due to its unique combination of features and capabilities.
If you're looking for a great all around elliptical trainer for your home, with a generous stride length, compact size, plenty of workouts and your own personal trainer right there with you, one of the three FreeStride trainers is a very good choice.
The FreeStride Trainers are designed to give users more freedom than they have on most other elliptical machines on the market today. They are essentially three different machines in one: a stepper, an elliptical and a treadmill, as you can choose your own stride length and make adjustments without having to get off the machine or press a button.
This freedom of movement is what separates the FreeStride Trainers from the rest of the pack, and why many runners actually choose these machines instead of treadmills for their indoor training.
The unique experience starts with the floating suspension, which feels like you are working out mid air. Rather than being forced to follow a certain elliptical motion like on most machines, here you decide if you want to do short, choppier motions like on a step machine, a mid length elliptical pattern or an all out sprint like on the treadmill.
The machine adapts to your stride, however short or long it is, and there is almost zero impact on your knees and joints, another added bonus.
The FreeStride Trainer series is also very compact, a good 15-20" shorter than a typical elliptical, which makes it ideal for the home gym setting, where space is often a major concern.
And as with all of the NordicTrack ellipticals, you get an endless amount of features to keep you motivated and entertained: at least 32 built in workouts, 22 resistance levels, iFit Coach interactivity, music port, speaker system, heart rate monitoring, workout fan and easy touch controls.
Let's take a closer look at the entire series so you can see what your options are.
As of 2018 there are three NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer models to choose from: the entry level FS5i, the mid-range FS7i and the top of the line FS9i. They range in price from about $1,599 to $2,699 on sale, which is very reasonable based on what you are getting.
Here's a brief overview of the FreeStride Trainers...
FS5i (Base Model)
The entry level FS5i elliptical comes with a power adjustable stride up to 32", a 16 lb. flywheel, 22 resistance levels, 32 built in workout programs, cushioned pedals, iFit Coach, a 7" backlit display and a 350 lb. max weight capacity.
You get a lifetime frame warranty, 5 years on the parts and 2 years labor, one of the strongest elliptical warranties you will find.
FS7i (Mid-Range Model)
The step up FS7i is the most popular model in the series, and it improves upon the FS5i in various categories.
The FreeStride Trainer FS7i comes with a power adjustable stride up to 38", a 20 lb. flywheel, 24 resistance levels, 35 built in workout programs, a 7" Smart HD touch screen display and a 375 lb. max weight capacity.
You also get up to 10 degrees of power incline (not available on the FS5i) along with all of the other extra features of the base model.
FS9i (Top End Model)
The top end FS9i FreeStride Trainer gives you everything the FS7i has, plus a larger 10" Smart HD touch screen, free wireless heart rate monitor, 26 resistance levels, 38 built in workouts and a 400 lb. max weight capacity.
The FS9i is the only NordicTrack elliptical with decline capability on top of incline. You can adjust the ramp from -10 degrees up to +10 degrees to target more muscle groups and enhance your cardio burn.
So as you move up in the lineup, you get a more advanced display, more workouts, more resistance levels, heavier flywheels, incline/decline options and higher maximum user weight capacities.
We have been big fans of the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainers since their introduction several years ago. Although they do take some time to get used to, as they are very different than the typical elliptical motion, we find the fact that you can choose your own pattern very enjoyable.
Most ellipticals have fixed strides of 20", which is ample for most users, but you need to stay in that exact pattern throughout your workout. Having the ability to change that stride on the go gives you a lot of freedom, allowing you to target more muscle groups in the legs as well and go from a step machine to a treadmill and everything in between on one machine.
So compared to a traditional elliptical, the FreeStriders give a wider range of motion as well as less impact with their floating suspension. They also compare favorably to other hybrid machines like the Bowflex Max Trainer, as that machine only gives you a stepper/elliptical combination. You can't stretch out up to 38" like you can with the FreeStride Trainer.
So the Max Trainer is essentially two machines in one....the FreeStride Trainer gives you three.
The workout itself is very effective...you get a wide variety of built in programs and you can choose from an endless library of additional workouts through the company's iFit Coach.
This requires a yearly fee, which is sometimes included in the price, and gives you access to personal trainers, worldwide destinations, in-gym classes and nutrition recommendations, as well as the ability to track and share all of your workout results.
Along with the workouts and iFit, you get a wide range of resistance levels to make everything more challenging, incline on the FS7i, incline and decline on the FS9i, and plenty of entertainment features.
So the FreeStride Trainer series is pretty much the best that NordicTrack has to offer, and these machines will give you the most effective, complete workout of all of the machines.
Along with being the best ellipticals that NordicTrack offers, they are also the most expensive. So the first thing to figure out is if it is within your budget.
As we mentioned, the base FS5i costs around $1,599, so it's the most affordable of the three. However, it is lacking in many features that you might find appealing.
For starters, the FS5i does not have incline capability, so you can't change the elevation at all. It also has a basic LCD display rather than the advanced touch screen that both the FS7i and FS9i FreeStride trainers have. So you have to view all of the cool iFit features on your tablet instead of the screen itself.
Also, although the 32" stride is very impressive, the other two models have an even greater 38" stride, which allows you to stretch out even more.
So, our favorite NordicTrack FreeStrider is the mid-range FS7i for all of the reasons we mention above. It gives you 10% incline to make workouts more challenging. It gives you a Smart HD 7" touch screen so you can see everything unfold right on the machine itself...the iFit training, the Google maps, etc.
And you get the 38" stride to more closely mimic a real run, as well as more workouts, resistance levels and a higher user weight capacity.
What about the top of the line FS9i? Well, if money is no object, by all means spring for the high end FS9i FreeStride Trainer. But personally, we don't think it is worth the additional $700-$900, depending on whatever sale is currently on.
Why? Because the jump from the FS5i to the FS7i is much greater than the jump from the FS7i to the FS9i. Meaning you're not getting that much more that the higher price is worth it. You do get decline which is very cool, but you don't really need the 10" touch screen. 7" is just fine, especially in the home setting. Yes you do get more workouts and the machine can handle heavier usage, but again the FS7i gives you everything you need.
So bottom line...we would look at the FS7i first, followed by the FS9i, and only consider the entry level FS5i is budget is a major concern. You'll be much happier with the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i.
If you are looking for a solid, compact cardio machine that gives you more than the typical elliptical, then it's very hard to beat the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer series.
These 3 in one trainers give you just about everything you could possibly want in a home cardio machine: space saving design, open stride, extremely low impact, endless workouts, tons of resistance levels, tracking and sharing capability, iFit Coach, speaker system, workout fan...the list goes on and on.
NordicTrack has special sales throughout the year, so always check back with us as we will let you know about any deals that are currently going on. They often include free shipping or free iFit Coach for a year on some models, so you can really save a lot money depending onwhen you buy.
Again, the FS7i is our favorite of the three and actually made our expert's top ellipticals list once again this year. It's a great all around elliptical, and although it is more expensive than some of the other models that NordicTrack offers, you definitely get what you pay for here.
The FreeStriders have a very strong warranty backing them up which speaks to the company's confidence in their durability. So you can buy these ellipticals with peace of mind.
Check out this special series and see if one of the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainers is right for your home gym.