We’re looking at the Precor 240i StretchTrainer, and we’re thinking ‘wow, this thing is pricey!’ And it is. Very pricey. Especially for a machine that doesn’t do anything that you can’t do for yourself on a yoga / exercise mat on the floor. But here’s the thing: it actually works, and it’s so much easier than rolling around on the ground trying to grab your toes, doing cat curls, or some other sweaty and uncomfortable movement in an attempt to improve your flexibility.
If you’re young and limber, without any muscle pains or joint soreness, then this machine is almost certainly going to be a poor investment of your money. But, if you’ve found your way to this review, then that probably doesn’t describe you. If age has started creeping up on you and you’ve lost a significant amount of flexibility and range of motion, you suffer from ongoing lower back pain as the result of a years-old injury, or you just want to maintain or increase your flexibility as you get older, then read on because we think this machine may be of value to you. Please note, if you have a chronic muscle or joint injury, do not use this machine before you have consulted with a qualified health professional.
Let’s get into the review, shall we?
Precor 240i Commercial Series StretchTrainer Review
In most cases there is no miracle cure for back pain or stiff, aching joints. If you have a chronic injury that causes muscle and joint soreness, the unfortunate reality is that it’ll probably be with you for the rest of your days. But improving your flexibility and range of motion can help to lessen the pain, soreness and stiffness. And that’s where the Precor 240i StretchTrainer really adds value.
Precor 240i Commercial Series StretchTrainer
|Range of exercises|
|Design and quality|
|Ease of use|
|Ease of assembly|
|Value for money|
Range of exercises
This machine is intended for stretching out the back, hips and legs. Above the handlebars there is an instructional placard that shows you how to do the 8 key stretches this machine is designed for. Eight stretches is about the norm for a machine like this. Some others will claim to allow for more than double this amount, but the extra stretches are usually ones that don’t actually incorporate the machine.
Here are the primary muscle groups / areas this machine targets:
- Lower back
- Upper back
- Gluteals (butt muscles)
- Inner thighs / groin
And it actually does a great job of stretching out your muscles and tendons, and improving your flexibility and range of motion. A study out of the Univeristy of Oregon tested whether the Precor 240i StretchTrainer actually improves flexibility, and they found that after using it for 30 days, the study’s participants showed significant improvement in flexibility when doing the Sit and Reach stretch, Backstretch, and Hamstring Stretch ❄.
Design and quality
The Precor 240i StretchTrainer is a very solid and sturdy machine. You can expect it to easily withstand both regular and heavy use. The materials it’s made from are high quality; the powder-coated steel tubing is strong, the seat and handle bars have thick, comfortable padding, and the hinge mechanism the seat sits and pivots on moves smoothly and quietly.
Our one gripe is that the bolts that anchor the handlebars are not the best, and if you aren’t gentle with them during assembly, they can damage easily (more on that later).
All in all, this is a well-built stretching machine, and although it’s made from solid materials, it’s light enough to move easily if necessary.
Ease of use
This is where this Precor stretching machine really comes into its own. As we mentioned, although you can get the same stretching done with just a yoga / exercise mat and the floor, this machine makes stretching really easy, thus providing genuine motivation to actually get into a flexibility routine.
A note on stretching:
It has long been accepted that stretching prior to any physical activity is important to improve your performance and decrease the risk of injury. In particular, static stretching (holding a certain position that stretches particular muscles and tendons) has generally been regarded by health and fitness practitioners as non-negotiable. More recently, however, a lot of research has emerged showing that static stretching before exercise:
- May not actually reduce the risk of injuring yourself, though the results of studies are mixed❄.
- Not only doesn’t improve your exercise performance, but actually detriments it, especially when it is the only warm-up activity you do❄.
That said, there is also a significant amount of research showing that improving your overall flexibility (for which static stretching is effective) can help with the rehabilitation of chronic injuries such as lower back pain❄ , as well as improve your general physical functioning ❄.
So what? Why are we telling you all of this? Well this machine is intended for static stretching. Therefore, if you are going to use the Precor stretch trainer then we recommend the following:
- If you are planning on using it before you workout, then don’t. Instead, do some light aerobic activity for 5 – 10 mins, followed by 5 mins of dynamic stretching (controlled movement through the full range of motion for certain joints). Here is a great 5 minute dynamic stretching routine you can do prior to exercise of any type.
- Use the machine as part of your warm-down activity (once you’ve finished exercising). This will help you get the most benefit from it without hurting your performance.
- Use it as a standalone health and wellness or rehabilitation activity. Use for 10 – 15 mins, two to three days per week, and not immediately before any other form of exercise.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s keep going with the review!
Ease of assembly
The assembly is where you’re most likely to have a problem with the Precor 240i StretchTrainer. For such a simple machine, it can be a little difficult to get together. We think the assembly instructions that come with the machine actually have the steps in slightly the wrong order (more on that in a second).
You’ll definitely want to get someone to help you with the assembly. If you make some slight adjustments to the assembly process, it should only take you about 30 mins to get it up and running. The instructions guide you through a step-by-step assembly process, in which the first few steps get you to connect the two steel tubes together, and the next steps get you to attach the handlebars and seat. However, we recommend connecting the handlebars to the two pieces of tubing first, and then fixing the tubing together. This helps to stabilize the frame and allow you to bolt it together much easier. In fact, it seems that Precor themselves have recognized the ineffective sequence outlined by the manual, as they released this video, which guides you through the correct assembly sequence. Follow this assembly sequence and you’ll find it relatively easy. We do have a couple of additional tips to help with the assembly though:
- As with most exercise machines, leave all bolts loose until you have finished connecting everything together and ensured it is all aligned properly. This will save you some headaches if you haven’t gotten all the components nice and straight.
- When you are anchoring the handlebars to the steel tubing, the four silver bolts should screw in very smoothly. While doing this step, go slowly and make sure you are not getting any resistance when screwing them in. If you do get resistance, stop, unscrew them and try again until they go in easily.
Value for money
As we said, this machine is very pricey. If you don’t have any muscle / joint soreness and stiffness, and are just looking for a machine to help you get into a good stretching routine, then we don’t think you can really justify paying such a hefty price tag. Either wait until you can get this heavily discounted, or try another, less expensive machine. The Nitrofit Limber Pro and Lifespan SP1000 Stretching Machine are both solid options.
If, however, you have sore and stiff muscles and joints, or suffer from ongoing lower back pain that prevents you from moving freely and comfortably, and doing the physical activities you enjoy, then this machine will almost certainly help alleviate some of your discomfort. In that respect, you’ll be paying for vastly improved quality of life, which will likely be worth every penny. Again, do not use this machine before consulting with a qualified health professional regarding any chronic injuries you may have.
Ultimately, it is an expensive machine, and will really only present good value for money for certain users (unless you can get a good discount on it).
As far as stretching machines go, the Precor 240i Commercial Series StretchTrainer is one of the best. It offers a good range of stretching exercises, is well-designed with good quality materials, and, if you follow the assembly video from Precor, it’s fairly easy to put together. It certainly loses points for being so damned expensive, but lookout for sales because if the price drops then it will be very good value for money.
Use this stretching machine if you are looking to improve your flexibility as you get older, want to rehabilitate a chronic muscle or joint injury and have consulted with a qualified health professional, or just want to improve your range of motion to assist with your general physical functioning.
If you want to purchase one for yourself, you can check the current price here.
Thanks for checking out the review. Leave any questions or comments you have in the comments section below.
All the best with your home workouts. Remember: when it comes to our health and fitness, we can make the effort or we can make excuses, but we can’t make both!
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)