Underwater Treadmill Review – Is This Right For You?

underwater treadmill

Treadmills have been used in various forms for many years. The modern form of treadmill was invented by a team of doctors in the mid 20th century for diagnosis of heart and lung disease.

When research regarding many benefits of aerobic exercise came to light, many different types of underwater treadmills were launched by fitness equipment manufacturers to cater to an eager market looking for exercise equipment for home use.

 Find out more in this underwater treadmill review.


What Is an Underwater Treadmill?

In simple terms, it may be defined as a treadmill that has been designed for use under water. Water is an excellent medium for doing exercises as it reduces stress on the joints and the viscosity (movement of the water) provides more resistance for strength training. In addition, the water provides a safe workout environment.

The underwater treadmills are designed to mimic on-land running and offer similar cardiovascular benefits. Since running through water requires more work as compared to on-land running, users can get a more solid workout while running at a much lower speed on aquatic treadmill.

Who Invented the Underwater Treadmill?

An underwater treadmill has also been used for many decades to provide physical therapy for injured dogs, cats, horses and other animals.

This aquatic treadmill for animals became the inspiration for underwater treadmill for humans in the last decade of the 20th century. 

Dr. Paul Hetrick saw one of such contraptions at a local horse track and decided to use this technology for rehabilitating his human patients. He understood the benefits of exercising in water as he recovered from a debilitating injury during his childhood by rehabbing at the local swim club.

Dr. Hetrick worked with the horse trainer to develop a highly functional aquatic training machine to be installed at Dr Hetrick's rehabilitation facility. Anson Flake, who was an avid runner and cyclist, suffered a chronic knee injury and met Dr, Hetrick in 1993 for help with his injury.

He started using the prototype underwater treadmill and realizing the potential of this technology, he partnered with Dr. Hetrick to develop a polished product for commercial use.

How Do Underwater Treadmills Work?

Underwater treadmills are available in two different designs.

One design consists of a freestanding tub with a motorized belt and other features such as adjustable water height and jets for additional resistance. The water in these tubs can also be heated. Warm water promotes flexibility that reduces fatigue and helps with muscle relaxation. This type resembles the old containers used for animals.

The other type of underwater treadmill is a design that looks similar to the on-land treadmill. This treadmill can be placed into a rehabilitation tub or a standard pool.

These are also available in two versions. Some versions come with a motorized belt that offers adjustable speed settings whereas other versions are self-propelled.

What Are the Benefits of an Underwater Treadmill?

There are numerous benefits of underwater treadmill training. One of the biggest benefits is it allows users to simulate land-based training such as walking and running without painful impact on the joints that an individual experiences while performing these exercises on land. A number of exercises such as sprinting, backpedalling, shuffling, retro-walking and walking can be easily performed on these aquatic treadmills.

These treadmills are mainly used for injury rehab as users can easily continue their training without putting too much stress on their joints. However, these are also increasingly being bought for home use as people who have joint issues can workout on these treadmills in their pool and continue their fitness regimen.

Here is a list of some of the major benefits of aquatic treadmills.

Low Impact Environment

Underwater treadmills allow patients to undergo therapy without any joint and muscle pain. This therapy is especially beneficial for older adults and people suffering from chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.

The natural hydrostatic pressure of water helps people with chronic pain conditions continue with the healing process as they feel only around one fifth of their body weight when they are chest deep in water. It not only helps in aiding relaxation but it also helps in improving strength and boosting flexibility.

Improvement in Cardiovascular Stamina

Physical therapy using an underwater treadmill allows users to exercise for extended durations combined with higher resistance of water. This helps in boosting cardiovascular endurance. Many athletes use these treadmills to get back to fitness after undergoing surgeries.

Strengthening of Muscles

A recent research study published by the Texas A& M University has found that aquatic treadmill workouts combined with strength training is more effective at building body mass as compared to strength training combined with land treadmill workouts. The body undergoes greater exertion while running on an underwater treadmill due to high viscosity of the water which leads to higher foot, leg and hip strength along with improvement in core muscle groups.

Increased Flexibility

Warm water helps in relaxing muscles and joints while using an aquatic treadmill. Since underwater workout reduces a person's weight by around 80%, working out on an aquatic treadmill completely removes joint stress that allow users a greater range of motion and greater flexibility.

Reduction in Blood Pressure Levels

While it is true that exercise helps in reducing hypertension, a recent research study has found that training on an aquatic treadmill is more effective at reducing blood pressure level as compared to land based exercises. These machines are a great option for millions of people with high blood pressure, many of whom do not regularly exercise due to fear of pain.

Reduction in Joint Stiffness

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis experience reduced joint pain and greater mobility with underwater treadmill therapy. There are millions of sufferers of osteoarthritis all over the world and an underwater treadmill is an excellent physical therapy tool for people to reduce pain and enhance their quality of life.

Weight Loss

Regular training on underwater treadmill helps users in making significant improvements in their body mass index and hip to weight ratio as compared to land-based exercises.

Is an Underwater Treadmill a Good Workout?

An underwater treadmill provides excellent work out as it combines the benefits of the aquatics with the advantages of land-based exercises.  This is especially useful for older adults. Numerous studies have confirmed that regular aquatic treadmill training helps in increasing flexibility and muscle strength along with reduced pain and reduced joint stiffness.

How Much Does an Underwater Treadmill Cost?

As far as the cost of an underwater treadmill is concerned, it depends on the model and other features.  The treadmills that do not come with any motorized equipment are available for less than $1500 whereas other high-end models may cost thousands of dollars.

The benefits outweigh the underwater treadmill cost particularly for rehab purposes. Using an underwater treadmill lowers the impact on existing injuries while performing necessary exercises needed for recovery to strengthen muscles.  Additionally, using a treadmill in or out of the water is always a good way to burn calories and can be an integral part of any weight loss program.

Underwater Treadmill Reviews

Two very popular treadmills, the Aquabilt A2000 and the Flip N Go Model 606 are reviewed below. Both are extremely portable and are used for rehab as well as fitness.  

For reviews of other types of treadmills, visit Home Fitness Focus.

Aquabilt A-2000 Underwater Treadmill Review

This is a self-propelled underwater treadmill that does not have any motorized equipment. It can be placed directly in the pool, in-ground or above ground, for aquatic treadmill training.


  • It is made from high-quality materials including PVC, ABS, stainless steel and polyethylene.
  • It is made in USA and weighs 47 pounds.

  • It has a weight capacity of 400 pounds in water and 300 pounds on land.
  • It has dimensions of 47 x 29 x 48 inches.
  • You can keep it in the pool year-round without any issues as it won't rust.It does not have any motorized equipment which means almost no maintenance.

What Are The Pros And Cons?


  • Robust aquatic treadmill that is maintenance free
  • Unique design and high quality materials ensure that it will not deteriorate or rust from heavy use
  • Allows users to exercise all the muscles in the leg
  • Comes with rubber wheels for easy transportation
  • Non-transferable warranty covers all the components for a period of three years
  • Extremely easy to use as you just need to put it in the water and start running


A few buyers have complained that the price is high considering the simplicity of this treadmill but you need to consider the fact that you can keep this treadmill all year round in your pool and it will keep working flawlessly.

If you are currently looking for an underwater treadmill primarily for fitness goals at an affordable price, the Aquabilt A2000 should be on the top of your list. 

Flip N Go Underwater Treadmill Review



The Flip N Go by H20Gym is also a manual treadmill that is very portable.  The patent on this model was obtained 09/2007.


  • Durable stainless steel construction.  Made with #304 stainless steel with no aluminum in weight bearing parts.  This makes for a study treadmill, but requires more maintenance (see CONS)
  • Extra long supportive hand rails are great for people who are obese, work on rehab or even athletes in training.
  • Built with rollers and attached handrails on 3 sides.
  • Weighs 56 pounds.
  • It has dimensions of 43 x 28 x 48 inches.

What Are The Pros And Cons?


  • Sturdy manual aquatic treadmill that is used for rehab and fitness training
  • Extra long supportive hand rails for added stability
  • Folds easily and very compact and portable
  • Extremely easy to use as you just need to put it in the water and start running


  • Not recommended for vinyl liner pools
  • More costly than some brands
  • Limited warrant - One year replacement for manufacturer defects 
  • Treadmill should be removed from pool and cleaned with freah water on a monthly basis.  More frequent cleaning is required if used with a saltwater pool

If you are currently looking for a treadmill primarily for rehab at a reasonable price, consider the Flip N Go. 

Final Verdict - Are They Worth The Price?

Overall, they are both top quality aquatic treadmills depending on your needs.  The Flip N Go is geared toward rehab due to its durability, construction and price.  The Aquabilt A2000 is a fine portable machine that just works. 

About the author

Dee Smith

Hello I am Dee and I am a busy mom who truth be told hated to exercise. That is why I was always looking for shortcuts to fitness and started researching ways to stay healthy and fit at home. Here we provide reviews of the best and most popular products you can use at home to achieve your fitness goals!

Bob whitaker - March 24, 2018

We are looking for a mfg that will sell us just the underwater treadmills for existing bodies of water with sun shelf’s and spas. I can’t find any

    admin - April 4, 2018

    So sorry that I missed this post. I am focused on equipment that you would use in your home gym.

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