I first started to hear about the Zero Runner from Octane Fitness about one year and 2 or 3 months ago. I was immediately captivated by the concept and idea of the machine and I started to mention it online a lot. When I ran the Boston Marathon I was hoping to find Octane at the expo so I could get the chance to try it, I knew they had debuted it at the expo the prior year. But I didn’t spend much time at the expo and didn’t find them.
But then in the summer, I got a bonus at work for being named the employee of the year and I used that to cover part of the cost to buy a Zero Runner ZR7. Let me repeat that…. I put my bonus toward purchasing a Zero Runner myself.* The Zero Runner was so handy to have during the summer months when I couldn’t get outside to run due to the heat. I put in lots of miles on it during those months.
Then I started the Runner’s World challenge to do a streak of at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Every additional day when I wouldn’t have normally run to complete this streak, I ran on the Zero Runner. And then I just kept going with my streak and I did 118 days (stopping due to some glute pain, general fatigue).
Here are my favorite things about my ZR7:
- Quiet, I can use it when my kid is asleep without worrying about waking anyone up. There isn’t a motor in this thing.
- No impact
- Very close to running outside motion
- You actually use your own muscles to move it (see no motor) so it’s a good workout.
- Solid, well-built machine.
That said, there were some oddities:
- The foot pedals seem a tiny bit too far apart.
- The handles make for an arm motion that is NOT like where you hold your hands when running outside.
- App quirks… which I will get into in a minute.
So when Octane asked me if I wanted to go try out a new ZR8 at a local fitness equipment store, I was excited to take the opportunity. I took my lunch hour and drove over to Pacific Fitness Equipment here in Las Vegas. (They are, incidentally, the place where I bought my ZR7!) They were all ready for me to hop on and give it a test. Here are the ZR8 improvements that resonated with me the most:
- Foot pedals are closer together!
- Lower grip handles that make for a 3rd option for your hand placement. These new handles are lower and allow for a motion that more closely mimics what you do with your arms when running. The thing I noticed the most about these are that you engage your core a lot more when using them, which is a good thing.
- The leg joints are a different color. (Okay, that doesn’t matter… just something to notice!)
- The legs are engineered differently and are a lighter weight aluminum than the original, which makes the movement even easier.
- The price! The Zero Runner is not a cheap machine and the ZR8 is about $1000 MORE than the ZR7.
Still… It would be awesome to upgrade, but I can’t justify the cost of another $1000 when the ZR7 is pretty amazing.
The latest addition to the Zero Runner family that was announced is the ZR8000, the commercial model made for gyms. So if you have a gym membership, give your gym manager a link to this machine and encourage them to buy some for the gym! Then you can try one for the cost of your monthly gym membership that you already pay!
On to the apps… there are two apps for the Zero Runner. The iOS app talks to your Zero Runner via Bluetooth and allows you to setup a training program for how often you want to run it, start a workout that is based on time/distance, or do a circuit-training program where it walks you through cardio time on the machine with strength intervals using the included Cross Circuit resistance bands hooked onto the 7 different attachment points on the machine. The iOS app can keep track of your whole history so you’ll know exactly how many miles you’ve put in on your machine over the lifetime of ownership. There are some quirks in the user experience of the app where things could be designed a little better, but overall it’s effective.
The other app is part of the Garmin Connect IQ store and it’s supposed to let you start a run inside on your Zero Runner and then pause your Garmin and continue it outside. (Or vice versa). I was super excited to try this functionality. HOWEVER… when I tested a Garmin Vivoactive for a couple of weeks I never got the app to work right. And when I upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 235 earlier this year, it doesn’t work because that’s not listed as a supported device because they haven’t updated the app. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope they update it, make it available to all Connect IQ devices and just make it work in general because that is my biggest disappointment in this. I kind of purchased a new Garmin with the assumption that all Connect IQ devices would be supported. Not the case.
Still, I love my Zero Runner and aside from setting up the time for me to visit Pacific Fitness Equipment to test the ZR8, Octane has never paid me anything to write this. This is a 100% honest review based on my own experiences. Although, if they wanted to send me a t-shirt or something, I’d accept that! 😉
Las Vegas, NV 89135
*I got a pretty grumpy message after one social media post about a Zero Runner workout where the person said something about how it’s so unfair that “bloggers get all the free stuff” and how we “flaunt it in everyone’s face.” Yes, some bloggers get some pretty huge perks but they usually have to do work to promote the brand online to earn that. And in the case of this, I was just posting about a product I like.