True Fitness Alpine Runner Review – 2020

Last Updated: July 13, 2020
Alpine Runner review
The True Fitness Alpine Runner is a high-end commercial trainer that is ideal for torching calories at steep incline levels. The Alpine Runner looks like a regular treadmill, however it inclines to a 30% grade for a seriously challenging workout. The Runner also declines to -3% grade, has a 12mph top speed, and includes a customized deck cushioning system to relieve impact discomfort on joints. The Alpine Runner houses a 5HP AC Max drive motor and patented incline system that reduces motor wear and extends the life of the machine. True Fitness designed the Alpine Runner to much more than a standard treadmill. This incline trainer has vertical upper handgrips which provide support at the highest incline and also a dual brake for safety. The console is Bluetooth enabled and users can select from four different screens based on their needs and training goals. The Alpine Runner is a top of the line commercial product, so it is priced at or above $10,000 depending on your upgrades.

Who it’s For: Users who want high-end commercial quality and design that will torch calories with a 30% incline

The Alpine Runner is best suited for:

  • Users with the budget and space for this machine. It is large and expensive
  • Those who want top-notch quality and durability
  • Users looking for upgrades and customization options on their trainer
  • Athletes and new users who want to burn more calories via the incline training feature
  • Those who will use the extra features and upgrades included on the Runner
Pros
  • Commercial grade incline trainer with four console options
  • Incline training burns more calories and stimulates the metabolic system for a more challenging and rewarding workout
  • Upper vertical grips provide extra support when working on an incline
  • The upgraded Envision console allows for web browsing and watching TV
  • Features a full lifetime warranty for commercial centers
  • Includes heart rate training on every console
  • Includes the custom Monument Workouts
  • Select the configuration that is best suited for your needs and budget
Cons
  • At the top end of the price scale. The Alpine Runner is priced at around $10,000 and up for various configurations
  • This machine is very large and heavy. It may not work in all households or gyms
  • Speed is regulated at upper inclines for safety. (This isn’t a negative, but users should be aware of the limitations)
  • No sled push or parachute training kit available
  • No manual mode to disconnect the belt from the motor and push with your feet

FeaturesSpecifications
  • Footprint: 71″ L x 39.7″ W x 71″ H
    • This is a large machine. It requires a dedicated space and is recommended for commercial use or home gyms with plenty of headroom.
  • 5HP AC Max Drive motor
    • The motor is powerful and quiet. Speed and incline adjustments are smooth.
  • Compression Elevation Motor with 1200lbs of Thrust
    • The Alpine Runner inclines to 30% for enhanced training and calorie burn. The motor supporting this level of incline is well powered and will not overheat.
  • 60” L x 22” W running surface
    • The Alpine Runner provides a spacious running surface that is 22” wide for extra elbow room, and 60” long. This is enough space for all sized runners and allows for a full stride extension both in front of and behind the runner
  • Treadmill weight: 592lbs
    • At nearly 600 pounds, this is a huge machine. It is recommended for surface floors only and should not be used upstairs or in the upper floors of apartments or condos. The Alpine Runner is rated for commercial use, so it fits best in a studio or big box gym or home gym with plenty of space. Do not attempt to move it without several people on hand to help.
  • Maximum user weight: 400lbs
    • The Runner will support up to 400 pounds, which is 100 pounds more than the NordicTrack Incline Trainers. This is a respectable weight capacity that should support most users.
  • Deck step up height: 13.2”
    • The standard step up height is 13.2 inches. However, True Fitness includes a step that can be attached to the rear of the frame which makes it easier to get on and off the machine. With the step, the step up height is only 5 inches.

Construction:

  • Footprint: 71″ L x 39.7″ W x 71″ H
  • 5HP AC Max Drive motor
  • Compression Elevation Motor with 1200lbs of Thrust
  • Optical speed sensor
  • Double sided thermally fused laminated 1” deck. Medium density fiberboard
  • Multi-ply belt with PVC coating
  • 3” Rollers with sealed bearings
  • True Soft System shock absorption
  • Robotically welded heavy gauge steel frame
  • TRUE Proprietary Silex belt lubricant
  • Extended handrails
  • High Incline handrails
  • Anodized Aluminum straddle covers
  • 60” L x 22” W running surface
  • Treadmill weight: 592lbs
  • Maximum user weight: 400lbs
  • Deck step up height: 13.2”
  • 2 Rear transport wheels with built in rear handholds

4 Console Options:

  • Envision 16 + Compass (True’s fitness software)
    • 16” Capacitive Touchscreen
    • Bluetooth Audio
    • 3.5mm Headphone Jack
    • Bluetooth Headphones
    • Heart Rate Chest Strap
    • HDTV/Analog/Digital CAB compatible
    • Closed Captioning
    • Cooling fan
    • Reading rack/tablet holder
    • Customizable screen saver
    • Asset management through the Compass Portal
    • App connectivity through North Pole Engineering’s GEM platform
    • EcoFit Compatible
    • IPTV Compatible
    • Internet / Web browsing enabled
    • Ability to add facility images (for commercial centers)
    • Zwift compatible
    • 34 Total workouts
    • 5 Saved workouts
    • Heart rate control programs
    • HRC Cruise control
    • Outside Interactive videos
    • Fitness tests
    • 12 Languages available
  • Envision 9
    • 9” Capacitive Touchscreen
    • Bluetooth Audio
    • 3.5mm Headphone jack
    • Heart rate chest strap
    • Reading rack/tablet holder
    • GymTrakr App compatible
    • Zwift App compatible
    • CSAFE power
    • 28 total workouts
    • 4 saved workouts
    • Heart rate control programs
    • Weight loss workouts
    • Performance workouts
    • Speed workouts
    • Hill workouts
    • Distance workouts
    • Workout summary
    • HRC Cruise Control
    • Gerkin Fitness test
    • Military Fitness tests
    • 12 Languages
    • 3 Year warranty
  • Emerge
    • Orange LED Screen
    • Reading rack / tablet holder
    • USB charging
    • 10 Total Workouts
    • Heart Rate Control Programs
    • HRC Cruise Control
    • Languages: English, German
    • 3 Year warranty
  • Ignite
    • Orange LED Display
    • Quick touch speed and incline keys
    • Extended 5-minute phase
    • Displays: Time, Distance, Calories, Heart Rate, Incline, Speed, Track, Pace
    • Reading Rack/Tablet Holder
    • USB Charging
    • English language only
    • One Quick Start program
    • Includes speed limits of:
      • 12mph at 18% incline, 9mph at 25% incline, 6mph at 30% incline
    • 3 Year warranty

Functionality:

  • Incline Trainer design inclines to 30% grade
  • Speed limit controls for safety: 12mph at 18% incline, 9mph at 25% incline, 6mph at 30% incline
  • More effective fat burn at incline
  • Greater caloric output
  • Improves metabolic efficiency
  • Speed range: .5 – 12mph
  • 5 HP motor creates smooth incline and speed adjustments
  • Quiet when in use

Warranty:

  • Commercial Warranty
  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Motor: 5 Years
  • Parts: 3 Years
  • Labor: 3 Years

In-depth Review of True Fitness Alpine Runner


Construction

Frame

Alpine Runner frame
The Alpine Runner is built like a tank. It is large, heavy, and designed to survive hours of daily use. The deck is double sided thermally fused and laminated 1” medium density fiberboard. The frame is robotically welded of heavy gauge steel. There are leveling feet on the base of the frame so you can adjust the feet to sit firmly on your floor. An optional step can also be added which is also robotically welded to the frame. This reduces the step up height from 13.2” to 5” and is recommended for commercial facilities with users of different sizes and mobility levels. The total footprint of the Alpine Runner is 71” high by 39.7” wide and 71” long. This is one of the largest machines we’ve reviewed and requires plenty of floor space as well as overhead clearance to account for the steep incline. If you are looking for something that will last forever, includes a full lifetime warranty, and will support users of all sizes, the Alpine Runner is an impressive piece of equipment.

Deck

  • TRUE Soft System:The shock system on the Alpine Runner is designed using neoprene shock absorbers, which outlast rubber and are more resistant to oil. This deck provides a cushioned foot strike zone and solid toe off via the fiberboard deck. The combination of a solid, sturdy deck cushioned by the neoprene shock absorbers reduces impact by absorbing foot shock, thus encouraging a mid-foot strike. While the composite deck material stabilizes the gait by supporting a solid toe push-off with each step. If a walking platform is too cushioned it will start to feel like you are running through sand — sure, it’s soft, but a lot of energy is lost in the abundant downward-motion. Similarly, with too stiff a surface, you’re back to heavy joint impact. The True Fitness Soft System provides needed cushioning with no energy lost in between steps which is vital for conditioning on an incline trainer.
  • Running Platform: The Alpine Runner makes space for the generous 22” wide and 60” long running belt by modifying the design of the incline frame. True Fitness has moved the motor to the base of the platform rather than at the top. Most folding treadmills (and many commercial ones as well) house the motor at the front of the deck (this allows the bottom of the deck to hinge vertically on folding treadmills). The motor cover that protects the motor at the top of the deck can sometimes be large and/or reduce the open space that would otherwise provide more track length. Since the motor is positioned at the base of the platform on the Alpine Runner, this opens up the available track by several inches. There is plenty of space on the Alpine Runner for a little bit of lateral wandering as well as needed elbow room. The extended length also makes it ideal for users of any size or stride.
  • Belt:The Alpine Runner treadmill belt is multi-ply, textured, and has a PVC coating for durability. The belt glides along the top of the deck, over the front and down underneath; it is what you feel underfoot as you walk or run on the treadmill. Rollers inside the walking platform grab the belt and move it along. The belt surface is what you feel when standing on the treadmill and even with shoes on, the surface of the belt impacts your running experience. If the belt is cheap, loose or floppy, you will both feel and hear it as you run along. The Alpine Runner belt not only wraps tightly over the top of the deck, it is tucked snugly alongside the side rails to keep it in place so there’s no floppiness.
  • Large 3” Rollers:Two rollers flank the underside of the running platform and move the belt along. The larger the roller size, the greater surface area there is to grab and move the belt. The 3” rollers on the Alpine Runner are large enough to provide continuous movement without tension. These rollers also have to be particularly durable because the Runner is designed for commercial use. The belt could literally be rotating all day depending on the nature of the gym. If the rollers are loose, unbalanced or delicate, this feature would destroy them after not much use. The combination of a quality belt and large, balanced rollers on the Alpine Runner make it durable, hearty, quiet and provides a smooth feel underfoot regardless of incline.

Motor

The 5.0 HP motor on the Alpine Runner is powerful yet quiet. Tucked securely under the base of the deck, the motor is responsible for speed and incline adjustments. It needs enough power to pivot the deck upwards while also maintaining speed. The motor is extremely quiet and the deck moves evenly throughout the workout so you do not have to hold the handrails for balance (unless you want to). It does not feel unstable at any point. The AC Max Drive motor is responsible for speed while an incline motor with 1200 pounds of thrust lifts and lowers the deck. The combination of motor power here is impressive. Speeds are regulated at higher inclines for safety, but not due to a lack of motor power.

Console

There are four console options on the Alpine Runner.

Envision 16 + Compass (True’s fitness software)

The Envision console and included COMPASS fitness software has a contemporary design and large 16” touchscreen. The Envision console is designed with all the bells and whistles. Users can track their data, toggle through workout selections and even enjoy integrated technology and entertainment such as web browsing or watching TV. The Envision console also includes a built-in cooling fan, and tablet holder for personal convenience.
The Envision console has many upgraded features not found on the other True Fitness consoles, such as:

  • Built-in workout programs to help users meet their goals
  • ustomizable home screen for personal or gym-based information and content
  • Access to entertainment and web content
  • Bluetooth and Polar device compatible
  • Compatible for Apple® and Android™ devices and apps, like GymTrakr
  • Real-time asset management with usage reporting and notifications through ECOFIT®
  • Outside Interactive® integration for exploring famous locations and courses

ENVISION ELLIPTICAL COMPASS

COMPASS® is True’s fitness software that provides real-time asset management for all equipped machines. In a commercial facility, trainers can use it to encourage and engage with members to help them reach their personal fitness goals. Users can sync with the COMPASS system to customize their fitness preferences and data to any COMPASS-equipped machine they use.
The Envision Console with COMPASS includes:

  • 16” Capacitive Touchscreen
  • Bluetooth Audio
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack
  • Bluetooth Headphones
  • Heart Rate Chest Strap
  • HDTV/Analog/Digital CAB compatible
  • Closed Captioning
  • Cooling fan
  • Reading rack/tablet holder
  • Customizable screen saver
  • Asset management through the Compass Portal
  • App connectivity through North Pole Engineering’s GEM platform
  • EcoFit Compatible
  • IPTV Compatible
  • Internet / Web browsing enabled
  • Ability to add facility images (for commercial centers)
  • Zwift compatible
  • 34 Total workouts
  • 5 Saved workouts
  • Heart rate control programs
  • HRC Cruise control
  • Outside Interactive videos
  • Fitness tests
  • 12 Languages available

Layout

Aside from the screen, the Envision console has quick start buttons on the left side; along with a workout finder and sign in/register for personalized metric readouts. There is also a headphone jack and USB charging port on the bottom.

Tablet Holder

Each of the Alpine Runner consoles include a tablet shelf just below the screen. Placing a phone or tablet here may block the screen, but it doesn’t impact your workout metrics. The screen will continue to tally your stats even if you can’t see it.

Fan

The fan sits at the top of the Envision console. It is not very large and doesn’t provide a ton of air flow, but it is at least nice to have the option.

Storage

There are water bottle holders on either side of the console. These are wide and deep enough to hold most water bottles and/or keys, phone, wallet, etc. Because this is a commercial machine rather than exclusively residential, users may need more storage for personal items they take to the gym.

Envision 9 Console

This console shares many of the upgraded features on the Envision 16 except it has a smaller screen and not as many loaded workouts.
Envision 9 Console
The Envision 9 Console includes:

  • 9” Capacitive Touchscreen
  • Bluetooth Audio
  • 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Heart rate chest strap
  • Reading rack/tablet holder
  • GymTrakr App compatible
  • Zwift App compatible
  • CSAFE power
  • 28 total workouts
  • 4 saved workouts
  • Heart rate control programs
  • Weight loss workouts
  • Performance workouts
  • Speed workouts
  • Hill workouts
  • Distance workouts
  • Workout summary
  • HRC Cruise Control
  • Gerkin Fitness test
  • Military Fitness tests
  • 12 Languages
  • 3 Year warranty

Layout

The layout of the Envision 9 console is very similar to the Envision 16 console with included tablet shelf, USB and headphone port, as well as Bluetooth functionality for heart rate training. It does not include a fan and only has 28 preloaded workouts rather than 34.

Emerge Console

The Emerge console is simpler and more in line with what you typically see at a commercial gym. It has a basic orange LED screen with preprogrammed workouts and heart rate training. The Emerge console includes heart rate cruise control, which is an advanced program that adds a lot of value to this console. The Emerge console does not have a fan, but it does have a tablet shelf and USB port for charging.
EMERGE CLIMBER BLUETOOTH
The Emerge console includes the following:

  • Orange LED Screen
  • Reading rack / tablet holder
  • USB charging
  • 10 Total Workouts
  • Heart Rate Control Programs
  • HRC Cruise Control
  • Languages: English, German
  • 3 Year warranty

Ignite Console

The Ignite console is designed for HIIT training. Users can transition quickly between work and rest intervals for maximum intensity with active recovery. The Ignite console has Quick Touch speed and incline keys for this type of training.
IGNITE TREAD
The Ignite Console includes:

  • Orange LED Display
  • Quick touch speed and incline keys
  • Extended 5-minute phase
  • Displays: Time, Distance, Calories, Heart Rate, Incline, Speed, Track, Pace
  • Reading Rack/Tablet Holder
  • USB Charging
  • English language only
  • One Quick Start program
  • Includes speed limits of:
    • 12mph at 18% incline, 9mph at 25% incline, 6mph at 30% incline
  • 3 Year warranty

The Ignite console does not include a fan and has a narrow media shelf. It does have a USB port on the bottom for charging. The Quick Touch controls for speed are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 12. The Quick Touch controls for incline are: 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 19, 12, 14. A digital readout for both incline and speed appear on either side of the console. Along the top are digital numbers for time, distance, calories and heart rate. The Ignite console is the only one that is not calibrated for heart rate cruise control training.

Functionality

Performance

The Alpine Runner is a top of the line training machine that has extended features for customized training. The heart rate cruise control system is a unique feature. This system allows the user to set a range for their heart rate on the console. The machine will then adjust the incline and speed throughout the workout to keep the user in this predetermined heart rate zone. This customizable training is very valuable especially in a gym based environment where many different users may access the machine each day. Unlike a residential setting where users can put in their own user profile which will be remembered each time, the HRC cruise control allows users to set a heart rate range each time they step on the treadmill. This way, they don’t miss the ability to access a custom and targeted workout that is tailored specifically for them. The HRC cruise control is only seen on high end equipment but represents a valuable training tool for users of all abilities.

Incline / Decline range

Alpine Runner incline
The Alpine Runner inclines to a 30% grade. When lifted to its highest point, the angle on the walking platform is steep. While it is true that most of us don’t spend hours running the vertical hills in San Francisco, incorporating hill training is a valuable component in any conditioning regimen. There are several reasons why incline training is valuable.

  • Working a grade enhances calorie burn significantly. An independent study cited by True Fitness revealed that users burned 30% more calories when working on an incline compared to a flat road. This is a great option for users who may need or desire low impact training such as walking. They can still lift the deck to a difficult grade which is more challenging. This will require more effort and therefore increase both heart rate and calorie burn. Walking an incline is great training for users of any fitness level. Advanced athletes can also run on an incline for added training challenges.
  • Incline training engages glutes and hamstrings to offset quad dominance. Runners, cyclists and triathletes all struggle with quad dominance due to so much exercise being conducted in the sagittal plane — meaning all movement is forward. This puts excessive demands on the quad muscles at the front of the leg to propel the body forward. Antagonist muscles in the glutes and hamstrings need to be equally strengthened to counteract this chronic quad engagement. By working an incline, you activate and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings which helps balance the anterior to posterior tension ratio.
  • variable incline and decline range also provides lots of training combinations. You can work pyramid drills, do inverted speed sets, combine a superset of speed + incline, or just run some rolling hills. Following the iFit workouts helps easily incorporate incline variables as the trainers’ routines naturally adjust the incline for you so you don’t have to overthink it. No one really expects you to get on the treadmill and run for an hour at a 30% grade — although, hats off to you if you can — it’s the variability and muscle engagement that makes this a valuable feature.

Pre-programmed workouts

The preloaded programs include the following:

  • True Fitness includes preloaded workouts which vary depending on the console you select.
    • The Envision 16 console has 34 loaded workouts
    • The Envision 9 console has 28 loaded workouts
    • The Emerge console has 10 loaded workouts
    • The Ignite console only has 1 quick start workout but is designed for HIIT training

Subscription Options: COMPASS

COMPASS is a True Fitness proprietary fitness program. This software is included on the Envision 16 console. It includes upgraded console software, cloud service benefits to store data. Facilities (and private users) have access to data to track your workout history and metrics.

COMPASS benefits for gym owners:

  • Asset management data stored in the cloud
  • Integrated dashboard map
  • Manage multiple facility locations
  • Smart search options
  • Issue notification center alerts on the touchscreen
  • Maintenance task alerts
  • Service messaging to Compass portal admins
  • Customer equipment preferences and usage pattern reports
  • Ability to send promotions, messages, contests
  • Full suite of Compass services provided at no charge for the first 48 months

COMPASS benefits for members:

  • Workout data stored in the cloud
  • Unique data dashboard
  • Competel user workout history
  • Interactive calendar to review individual workouts
  • Set goals page
  • Achievements, badges and personal best notifications
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Sync workout data to 3rd party apps

In addition, COMPASS includes the following workout options:

  • Outdoor routes
  • Monument Workouts
  • Heart Rate control programs
  • Weight Loss programs
  • Performance programs
  • Speed programs
  • Hill programs
  • Distance programs

Noise Level

The Alpine Runner is remarkably quiet for such a large, commercial based product. The 5.0 HP motor is subtle and won’t disturb others in your home or gym area. The incline and decline motion is very fluid. As with most treadmills, most of the noise comes from foot impact and this will vary based on the incline of the deck and weight of the user. Obviously, a light person walking on a flat surface will be noticeably quieter than a larger person running on a 10% grade. But regardless of use, the Alpine Runner itself is not overly loud when in operation.

Storage / Folding

As with most incline trainers, the Alpine Runner does not fold up. It does have wheels at the front so you can move it gently when needed. However, we do not recommend moving the Alpine Runner unless necessary. In order to move, incline the deck to a full 30% grade, grab the bar at the base of the deck and lift to engage the front wheels. We recommend at least one or two strong people move the Alpine Runner. Due to the need for electricity, you will need to place the Alpine Runner near a wall outlet, so keep this in mind when determining where to place it.

Bottom Line:

The Alpine Runner is a top of the line, well-built incline trainer that is marketed for commercial use. The Alpine Runner has impressive features with a 30% incline, -3% decline, 12mph max speed, 4 console options, and COMPASS software system on the Envision 16 console. Each of the four consoles is designed to provide resources needed for any facility. The Envision 16 is the premier console with a 16” touchscreen, 34 workout programs, allows for web browsing, and includes the full COMPASS system. The Envision 9 console includes 28 workout programs with a 9” touchscreen but does not include COMPASS. The Emerge console is best for those who want something simple and functional with 10 workout programs. The Ignite console is designed for HIIT training. It does not include any workout programs, there is simply a quick start button. But the Ignite console includes Quick Start speed and incline buttons to jump quickly from one speed to another with rest periods in between. The Alpine Runner is quiet, has a strong 5.0 horsepower motor and smooth incline system. Users can burn more calories when working an incline which allows for both steep running challenges and low impact walking. The heart rate cruise control system is also a valuable training feature and is available on all but the Ignite consoles. If you have the space and budget for the Alpine Runner it is an exciting and hearty incline trainer that will satisfy the needs of residential users and gym owners alike.

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