Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill Review: One Machine, So Much Running

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Jul 20, 2020
man in red shirt running on treadmill

With the new year upon us, ‘tis the season to make grand plans for the next twelve months.

Gents, I’m not going to lie to you.

Coming into 2019, I’d made some major life changes and picked up an extra ten pounds. My first priority was to slim down. Running played a big part in helping me shed the unwanted weight, but I actually learned something about myself.

I like running.

It’s funny, I always thought I hated it. But I don’t.

I love the mental clarity I feel after a good workout and even after I’ve lost the weight, running is part of my weekly routine.

And then Horizon Fitness reached out to see if I was interested in giving their new 7.8 AT treadmill a shot.

HIIT training seems to be all the rage, so I figured I’d take the 7.8 AT for a go.

If you’re anything like me and you’re interested in knocking down those few sneaky pounds, this might just be the tool to help you finish the job. Keep reading to see what I really thought.

What Is Horizon Fitness?

model running on horizon fitness treadmill
 

Horizon Fitness has been making training machines since 1999. Over the years, they’ve built themselves a name as one of the best treadmill brands on the market today.

They don’t only make treadmills, though. Horizon has a wide selection of stationary bikes, ellipticals, rowers—everything you could ever want when you’re looking to get a great workout at home.

Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill Review

Running Deck

track dimensions

In my last apartment, we had a complimentary gym. It wasn’t all that great—sort of like the hotel gyms you see when traveling.

The treadmill in that gym really helped me understand how important the running deck is.

First of all, the deck was so small, one wrong step would send you flying off the machine. I actually did it once, but I thankfully was alone. As the 26-year-old I was, my body was able to take being launched into a wall, though this is understandably not the case for everyone.

With that experience, I know to look out for a sizeable and spacious running deck on any treadmill. It’s better to go for a run outside than to try and jog on a tightrope.

The 7.8 AT has a 60” x 22” deck, which allows for plenty of side to side movement. And, as a 6’2” guy, I never felt crammed toward the front of the machine when I started getting into my long stride.

The size is great, but I was an even bigger fan of the variable response padding. The front has more cushion for where your feet land, but the tread becomes firmer and firmer toward the back so you have a solid surface to push off of.

Motor

man in red shirt incline feature

I was most interested in testing out this machine’s ability to help me with high-intensity interval training—otherwise known as HIIT.

For those who don’t know what that means: sprint like a lunatic for about 30 seconds and then jog slowly for a minute. Repeat until your legs turn to pudding.

Part of what makes HIIT so effective at burning calories and keeping your heart rate up is the rate at which you speed up into your sprint.

Outside, you have full control over your speed, but some treadmills just don’t have the horsepower to accelerate quickly enough.

man in red shirt running on treadmill

I only tested it a few times but the motor was one of the most responsive I’ve tried. When I cranked up the tempo, there was hardly any lag time.

As with any high-end treadmill, the 7.8 AT has a fairly steep incline. This is where most motors really suffer a noticeable delay. When I cranked the incline to the max, the Horizon took a fraction of the time to adjust.

I really liked how quickly the motor responded when increasing the difficulty (incline, speed), but I appreciated it even more when it came time to cool down.

Sometimes I like to push my boundaries when doing a treadmill run. It’s always tempting to bump those numbers up to see how fast I can really go. But when it’s time to slow down, it’s important the treadmill actually does so quickly.

Screen

horizon fitness 7.8 at treadmill control panel

The 7.8 AT really shines when it comes to its electronics. And I mean that literally.

The 9.3” LED screen is bright and super easy to read. The readout isn’t overcrowded and just gives you the basic info like speed, incline, pace, distance, calories, and heart rate. You can run alongside Horizon’s built-in program Sprint8, or you can plug in all sorts of different home training programs.

The screen is huge, so if you’re the sort of runner who likes to put on a tv show while you’re working up a sweat, you’ll really enjoy this screen.

Sprint8 HIIT Training

man in red shirt using heart rate feature treadmill

I tried out Horizon’s proprietary HIIT training program, Sprint8.

It’s a really simple workout, but the benefits are proven.

Sprint for 30 seconds. Jog for 90 seconds.

Do it eight times.

That’s it.

If you think that you need to jog for hours on a treadmill to get a great workout, it’s time to switch up your thinking. Because, really, your workouts shouldn’t be longer than an hour unless you’re a top-athlete.

But the science all points to condensed workouts with high intensity. It’s not just true with treadmills, but with weight lifting, too.

Getting a full run workout in about 20 minutes is really important for me as I’ve always had knee issues. Running for an hour was never an option for my joints. So when I run, I keep it short and exhausting.

App Integration

The Sprint8 program built-in is great, but if you’re a fan of any other subscription-based community exercise programs, the 7.8 AT is a great treadmill option.

With how powerful and comfortable Horizon has made their new treadmill, the only thing stopping you from getting a great workout is—well, nothing. You’re unstoppable.

Control Configuration

7.8 AT Speed Control Dial

Horizon is using an interesting control configuration for the 7.8 AT.

They have the traditional buttons to control speed and incline in the main panel, but they also feature rolling knobs that are in a natural position for the hands when running.

It took a few tries to get used to adjusting the speed using these rolling knobs, but after a minute, they were much easier to control than the standard buttons. It’s a much more intuitive system and makes changing your speed much easier and safer.

Warranty

Horizon offers a best-in-class warranty on the 7.8 AT. One competitor offers the same warranty, but nobody offers a better guarantee than Horizon.

Both the frame and motor are covered for life, and you have five years on parts and electronics. It’s hard to beat a lifetime warranty. Unless you’re 800 years old like Yoda, you’ll be set. Of course, if you were Yoda, you could just float everywhere—no treadmill needed.

My Overall Thoughts on the 7.8 AT Treadmill

What I Like

  • The integration with home based subscription programs mean you don’t have to commit to a program you don’t like. Horizon also offers discounts for these programs, so you can get the one you want for less.

  • If you don’t want a subscription workout plan, just go with the Sprint8 HIIT program built in—it will break you down. In a good way.

  • The responsive motor actually makes true HIIT acceleration possible.

  • You can’t beat that warranty.

  • The 7.8 AT screen is big, bright, and very easy to read.

What I Don’t Like

  • When using non-proprietary apps, you’ll still need a separate tablet. There’s an easy intuitive place to put your tablet, but you can’t cast your subscription program to the screen.

The Verdict

If you’re going to buy a treadmill, get something versatile.

We hate the idea of buying something that locks you into a subscription-based program as your only option. What if you find the program doesn’t work for you after a few months?

With the Horizon 7.8 AT, you get the comfort and power of a high-end treadmill without the risk of entering into some long-term subscription program you may not even enjoy.

Whether you’re looking to shed a few pounds or you’re training for a run, the 7.8 AT is easy on the joints and packs plenty of features to keep your exercise fun and fresh.

Horizon Fitness 7.8 AT Treadmill

With the Horizon 7.8 AT, you get the comfort and power of a high-end treadmill without the risk of entering into some long-term subscription program you may not even enjoy.

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