Teeter Freestep Review
The Teeter FreeStep LT1 Recumbent Cross Trainer is one of a range of many similar products that fulfil a specific and important need – giving fitness access to those who might otherwise not be able to live an active lifestyle.
This shouldn’t be taken to mean that it has no relevance to anyone else – we can all get a decent cardio workout from a Freestep – only that a couple of groups of people will benefit particularly from investing in it. I’ll go into this in more detail below. For now, let’s simply talk about the machine itself.
In simple terms, the Freestep is a compact, reasonably priced recumbent cross trainer. A recumbent cross trainer is something of a reconciliation between a recumbent cycle and a regular elliptical trainer – it allows you to sit down whilst training your arms and legs, designed to offer a safe, low-impact workout, suitable for all fitness levels.
The Freestep is pretty much budget friendly. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination – it will set you back several hundred dollars, or nearly a thousand for the LT3 model – but it does a lot for a little compared to some of its main competitors.
But what exactly does the Freestep offer for the money? Let’s find out in our Teeter Freestep review.
Teeter Freestep Specs
Recumbents tend to be pretty straightforward with little by way of fancy gadgetry. In this regard, the Freestep is very much true to form. The console is a basic, digital, battery operated device and there are no pre-set programmes available. You really don’t get much beyond what the basic machine delivers.
The basic machine is good, though.
It has a very quiet, magnetic resistance system that is easily adjusted simply by turning a dial near the seat. This variability is accessible and smooth, allowing anyone to make use of it easily enough. The top level of resistance isn’t too high, but it’s enough to get your heart up to about the same pace as a brisk walk, which is what this kind of machine is designed to do.
The handles are adjustable, both in order to accommodate different body shapes and to emphasize different muscle groups as you use it. This means that those who otherwise might not be able to get a good upper body workout in, will nevertheless be able to build and retain solid, well-rounded upper body musculature.
Though the tech isn’t too fancy, you do get a device stand for your phone or tablet. This means that you can still enjoy a good entertainment stream as you train, or even track down some classes or programmes designed for recumbent cross trainers. A really simple addition here really pays dividends, completely upgrading the whole user experience. And, though there are no pre-set programmes, Teeter have their own app in the form of TeeterMove, which you can use on your device for ideas and guidance.
Of the many groups of people who can benefit from a recumbent cross trainer, special attention needs to be given for the obese. It can be hard for somebody with a 30+ BMI to get a good workout in without really stressing and potentially injuring their joints, particularly their ankles, knees and hips. Recumbent bikes like this are perfect for those trying to lose a lot of weight, as they are so low impact. Helpfully, the Freestep has a 300 lb (136 kg) weight limit. This isn’t the greatest – many machines can tolerate much more – but it should do for most people looking to use it.
The FreeStep comes in two models, the LT1 and LT3. The LT3 is generally a hundred or so dollars more than the LT1. There are a few reasons for this – you get added comfort in the form of things like UltraGlide Bearings and Comfort Select Technology. The motion is smoother and softer. If you want to invest a little extra for a little extra, absolutely go for it.
For my money, the LT1 is more than sufficient. They have built a good machine here that really doesn’t need playing around with too much – it will serve you well just as it is.
This is all well and good and to Teeter’s credit. However, they do fall down on the small print. The warranty is rubbish. At first, it looks like you get a year-long warranty – itself not great, as many equivalent models can offer up to a decade for this kind of money. However, this is only of the frame. The base and all moving parts have only a 90-day warranty.
I genuinely cannot understand how they get away with this – the Freestep is budget friendly, but is nowhere near cheap enough to justify such a short warranty.
Who the Teeter Freestep is aimed at?
Well, first and foremost, it’s for everyone looking to get a bit of a cardiovascular workout going, looking to burn a few calories and looking to build up their arms and legs a little. It will do all of these things pretty well.
However, there are much better options in most cases. Recumbent machines are generally a poor choice for those who don’t absolutely need them. The Freestep will completely switch off the core by keeping you so well supported. We use over 200 muscles when walking – these are used even more intensely on a cross trainer. Recumbent machines take the stimulation away from large parts of the trunk, including the abdominals, obliques and erector spinae. They also stop us from gaining any of the advantages to proprioception and spatial awareness that using a standard cross trainer would give us.
You can also get a better workout for a lot less money by investing in a low to mid-range elliptical or rowing machine.
However, this is all well and good for anybody without any special requirements.
Broadly speaking, there are two groups who will really benefit from a machine like the Freestep.
Firstly, if you have any joint issues that mean you want to keep impact to an absolute minimum, the Freestep will be fantastic for you. This may include people suffering with arthritis, osteoporosis, or anybody recovering from a significant injury. It will allow you to move your limbs and raise your heart rate without causing any undue stress or trauma to your joints.
Secondly, very overweight athletes will benefit from using a Freestep. If you are obese, with a BMI in the 30+ range, you really don’t want to be putting too much stress into your joints. For the same reason that an arthritic athlete would do well with a recumbent cross trainer, so might you. It will allow you to move your body, create a caloric deficit, build up your limb muscles and gain a cardiovascular advantage without hurting your joints or making you feel uncomfortable.
What It’s Like to Use The Teeter Freestep
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I do not suffer from any of the conditions that might make a recumbent cross trainer a good choice for me. I’m young, athletic, a healthy weight, with few joint issues outside of regular wear and tear.
However, I know what a good fitness machine looks like, and I know what a good workout feels like. I have also spent a lot of time in rehab with ankle issues over the years and have therefore had plenty of experience with recumbent machines.
I can tell you honestly, then, that the Freestep is a good machine. As above, I see no reason to go for the pricier model – the LT1 is good as it is, will give you what you need, and will save you a bit of money.
First up, I like the seat. It’s very comfortable and fairly adjustable. It’s also quite large. These are all important factors in all cases. However, they are particularly important for a machine that needs to cater to larger-framed athletes, or those who cannot sit in the same position for too long. You can adjust the height and recline independently, and the cushioning is good – if you generally struggle to get comfortable in seats or on cardio machines, the Freestep might be a good bet.
If you really do need to prioritize size and comfort, the LT3 might be better for you. The seat is larger and softer, and the ride is a little smoother.
Also, if you sit far outside of median height, the Freestep will be good for you. It can accommodate athletes in a full range between 4’11” to 6’6”.
Recumbent cross trainers generally go with either a linear or circular pedalling motion. I favour linear for them. Those with arthritis, especially in the hips, will generally find linear motions far more comfortable, and those with weaker hip flexors may find linearity a more natural movement, at least in the early days. Luckily, the Freestep uses a linear motion, making it perfect for athletes dealing with a range of issues.
The pedals are large and well-made. They are also well-designed. They move back and forth a little with your ankle as you push, which is far more comfortable and natural than the motion you would get with rigidly locked in pedals. Once again, those with joint pain – here, particularly in the ankles and/or knees – are well catered for.
Outside of this, the lack of tech might be an issue for some. I don’t particularly mind, but I’m a fitness professional and I know how to schedule a workout and keep myself engaged with it. Newcomers might be at a bit of a loss without a pre-set programme or route to follow. Here, I would strongly urge you to make use of your devices and find a relevant app.
In all, the Freestep is easy to use, it’s pretty intuitive, and, most importantly considering who will likely be using it, it is comfortable and safe. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who needed it.
Pros and Cons
So, let’s look at the take-home. We’ve seen what the Freestep can offer – in both of its iterations- and what I like and dislike about it. But what are the key points that genuinely matter – what are the pros and cons you will experience if you invest in one?
- Compact size. The Freestep has a small footprint, especially for a recumbent cross trainer. This is vital. Though it does have wheels for easy transport, most people using it will have mobility issues of some kind, so packing it away after use is impractical. You will be able to put it in the corner, safe in the knowledge that it won’t dominate the room.
- Price. The price, whilst not bargain-basement, is reasonable for what it is, especially if you go with the LT1.
- Low impact. Between the basic design and concept and the linear pedal motions, the Freestep really does offer a low-impact workout.
- Adjustability. The adjustable handles and seat add another dimension to training and will further allow for user comfort.
- Quiet resistance. The magnetic resistance is incredibly smooth and quiet, so it will be easy for you (and your family!) to live with.
- Warranty. I honestly don’t know what Teeter are thinking of with that warranty. It’s well-made, with great user reviews, so you shouldn’t need to send it back or have anything replaced. However, a consumer should always have that option. Poor showing.
- No programs. This is common, par for the course with a recumbent cross trainer, especially in this price bracket. Modern devices should get you around it. However, the lack of pre-set programmes and courses is a downer.
- Low top-end resistance. This again shouldn’t be too much of an issue, given the target market. If you have arthritis and mobility issues, the top resistance will be more than enough. It would probably be ruinous to go much higher. For anyone looking for a harder workout, it can be a disappointment, however.
I would honestly be tempted to write the Freestep off out of hand for its warranty alone. It sucks. In fact, it strikes me as almost predatory.
However, I won’t. I won’t because to do so would be to deprive users of a genuinely good machine. Recumbent cross trainers in general are a fantastic resource for many people, and the Freestep is a prime example of a recumbent cross trainer done very well.
It is affordable, it is well-made and well-designed, and it is quiet, comfortable and low impact – it is, in other words, fantastic at doing everything you need it to do. It offers an awful lot for the money, especially the LT1. If you’re in need of this kind of machine, you could do a lot worse, and little better.