Tips & Tricks

Back in the ’90s when I worked for NordicTrack, I loved being able to personally coach someone to teach them easy and safe ways to learn to use the ski machines. I’m no longer working for the company, but I still enjoy sharing this skill with new people. I’ve collected some of the most frequently requested issues that people wanted help with.

NordicTrack Ski Machine Tips and Tricks

NordicTrack Ski Machine Tips and Tricks

Folding for Transportation and Storage

The NordicTrack Pro model both folds down compactly and has rear wheels to transport easily for storage! Follow these steps to easily store your ski machine out of the way:

  • Remove the loose skis and set them aside (these should be added back to store with the machine when it is put away)
  • Ensure Handles are secure, pinch the arm-exerciser snap buttons and fold the top arm of the machine down
  • Lift underneath the hip pad and pivot the hip pad into an upright position
  • Remove detent pin that secures steel upright frame into the wood base, and fold the steel arm down into a compact position
  • Lift the machine from the front end, roll into storage position using rear wheels
  • Position loose skis on top of the machine for storage

 

Learning the Cross-Country Skiing Motion

The NordicTrack cross-country ski machine mimics the motions used when cross-country skiing. Your arms pull on tension-mounted strings, while your legs alternately push against an adjustable level of tension. For a further challenge or to work different lower body muscle groups (an emphasis on quadriceps rather than hamstrings), the incline can be increased.

Steps to Learn to Use NordicTrack Cross Country Ski Machine

Learn to Use the NordicTrack Cross Country Ski Machine (steps 2 – 4)

STEP 1: Stand / Balance with Feet on Skis and Hands-on Handlebars

The first time you approach the machine, have a partner that can secure the skis in a locked “start position” with their feet

  • Stand on the skis with your toes in the foot cups and adjust the height of the hip pad to fall at the hip or just below the belly button
  • As the one-way clutch mechanism means that there is only resistance in ONE direction on the skis, there will only be tension on the ski when you push back (note this means when your foot is moving forward it will move quickly as it will NOT have any tension to overcome!)
  • A common misconception is that the skiing motion is like shuffling – instead, the motion is more like walking (you apply force and push your feet backward, but merely pick your foot up and glide it to move it forward)

 

STEP 2: Learn Lower Body Motion (without upper body motion)

Start by getting comfortable with the LOWER-BODY motion first (this is also a great way to warm up / cooldown)

  • Grab the handlebars with both hands
  • Lean into the hip pad (keep your center of gravity sort of pointing forward)
  • Push back with legs one at a time (sometimes a higher level of tension can be helpful while learning how to balance on the machine)

 

STEP 3: Add Movement with One Arm, Then with Both Arms

  • One at a time, start adding in your arms by swinging them naturally like you do when you walk (as your leg goes up, your arms go back and vice versa)
  • When you feel comfortable swinging both arms, then you are ready to move to the next step of using the upper-body arm resistance

 

STEP 4: Add the Arm Resistance Ropes

  • Start with the lower body motion and pick up the skier Hand Grips
  • Alternate pulling the Hand Grips with the opposite cadence as your legs/feet (similar to swinging your arms for balance when walking)

 

STEP 5: Customize Your Workouts to Your Individual Goals and Preferences

  • Program your goals and personal information into the electronics monitor
  • Customize your machine with Accessories
  • Maintain your machine with regular Maintenance

 

Best Sportswear for NordicTrack Workouts

As with most physical activity, there are some smart rules to follow to stay comfortable and safe while you exercise on your NordicTrack.

 

Best Shoes for NordicTrack Workouts

The NordicTrack exercise motion requires a gentle push of the skis followed by gliding the ski forward. The motion requires flexing the toe area, so it is recommended to choose comfortable athletic shoes with a flexible toe. Shoes with stiff support in the toe area (like cross-trainers) may not be comfortable or fit well into the toe cups.

It is also important that you make sure that your shoes are tied properly and that the laces are not too long.

 

Best Clothing for NordicTrack Workouts

The main thing to keep in mind when dressing for a NordicTrack workout is to wear clothing that fits well. Avoid pants with flared bottoms that could interfere with the flywheel operation. Avoid flared or embellished tops that might chafe skin during the sweeping arm motions.

Be aware that long workouts on the NordicTrack can get sweaty, so consider wearing moisture-wicking clothing including tops, bottoms, sports bras, socks, sweatbands, and more!

 

Maintaining NordicTrack Ski Machines

Your NordicTrack should last for many years with the right treatment. Be sure to wipe off any moisture or sweat from the machine after each use and to keep the machine free of dust and debris. In addition, following the recommended maintenance in the owner’s manual can help keep the machine in top shape.

These products are the top 4 things you’ll need to maintain classic NordicTrack skiers.

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NOTE: Please use extreme caution when trying NordicTracks (or other fitness equipment) for the first time and consult your doctor before beginning a new fitness routine. Statements on this site are intended as a guide towards safely using NordicTrack skiers, but not all scenarios can be anticipated and safety can not be guaranteed even when following the guidelines above. NordicTrackProSkier.com is not responsible for the result of any action taken due to any of the editorial content on this website.

32 Comments

  1. John Cory

    How much play should there be in the lower tube? It seems to move back and forth

    Reply
  2. Tom

    I am having problems with the tension knob on my Nordic Track Pro Skier. During the workout the knobs moves counterclockwise putting less and less tension on my arms. I continually have to adjust the knob. I replaced the knob and then the entire assembly from brake pad to knob but this continues to happen. What can I do?

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hmm, I would have expected that replacing the entire arm tension assembly should have fixed your problem. Can you reach out to the seller of the replacement parts and see if they have any ideas that could help?

      Reply
  3. Tom Hoffman

    i have a clunking noise when i use the skier i think the one of the skiis is warped and is hitting the rear roller before it rolls over the top! where can i get replacement skiis?

    Reply
  4. Anthony DiFate

    I am having an issue, with my strap adjuster not keeping up my drag strap. Ski machine in great shape other than that. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Anthony, It may be time for maintenance to the drag strap or time to replace the spring for the drag strap/leg resistance. Check with NordicParts or one of the other online retailers for NordicTrack ski machine parts. There are a few options and they have all received positive feedback from readers on this site.

      Reply
  5. Laura

    Hi All,
    We are trying to collapse our NordicTrack Achiever (second hand) for the first time, and can’t get the Detent Pin to budge. We’ve unscrewed the black knob on front of the skier, but the bolt (which I’m assuming needs to come out) seems 100% stuck. There doesn’t seem to be any way to grip it bc the head of the bolt is smooth and flush with the front support. Any advice on how to dislodge the pin?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Laura, You should not need to “unscrew” anything to fold your NordicTrack. Most models will fold either by removing pins or pressing in on the push-style buttons that lock that the arm and leg in place.

      To see what this looks like on the “Pro” model, go to the home page and look at the diagram where it mentions the “arm-exerciser snap button” and the “upright tube support”. The Achiever model should have similar mechanisms for folding and collapsing the machine.

      Reply
  6. Nancy Twillman

    We have an Achiever from the 1990’s. Unfortunately the profile for our second user is no longer stored and we have not been successful adding it again. Any help is appreciated.

    Reply
  7. Neil Cornell

    I used to have one of these machine in the late 90s and loved it. Recently I was diagnosed with some back issues and cannot run anymore so I bought a new skier. My problem is I remember working out at a 3 or 4 level and now cannot put it anywhere close to 1. Is there something off or have I just fallen off?

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Neil, the workout “levels” that are marked on the Pro do not represent a specific amount of resistance (e.g. 15 pounds). Your new machine might need to have the resistance adjusted down for a comfortable workout, but if something feels like it isn’t working correctly, then you should contact the manufacturer to see if it is something covered by the warranty.

      Reply
  8. Kathy

    Hi. I am trying to get back to using my old ski machine for this winter when I can’t get outside. I used to love it but am now having trouble feeling comfortable as my toes aren’t staying in the toe cups. My feet keep shifting back or sideways. I don’t ever recall this being a problem in the past. Any tips?
    Thank you.
    Kathy

    Reply
    1. Brian

      I had this same problem. It’s a little tricky to realize what you’re doing wrong, but in my case I was not *un*weighting the foot I was moving forward, just as you have to do in real skiing, whether telemark or downhill.

      If you’re still having this problem: if you’ve ever actually skied, you remember how important is to almost consciously unweight one foot as you’re shifting your weight, and when you’ve not skied for a while, how easy it is to forget this one simple, yet all-important task.

      This is best accomplished, I’ve found, by *ever so slightly* bending the knee you’re using to “propel” yourself— that is, the knee of the leg you’re using to push backward against the flywheel/ strap resistance. It doesn’t take much. This almost automatically causes you to ever-so-slightly unweight your other foot as you’re moving it forward. This pushes it slightly forward into the toe clip, and your feet won’t start sliding back.

      Very slightly bending the knee of the “propelling” leg also helps you stand more upright, which is pretty important, as you want your weight over the center of the “skis”.

      If you *don’t* unweight that forward-moving foot, it stays put when you’re moving it forward, instead of slightly loosening its grip on the ski and allowing itself to slightly move forward into the toe clip.

      Reply
  9. David Watson

    I’ve recently pulled my early 90s NordicTrack out of storage and done the recommended lubrication, and it’s working perfectly. The problem is that my wife is petite and finds it an uncomfortable stretch to reach the handlebars. I was thinking about rigging something up to attach a bicycle handlebar a few inches closer to the hip pad. Anyone done anything like this or have any advice?

    Reply
    1. Amanda Smith

      I find it more comfortable just to hold the waste pad in front of me instead of the handles when just walking without using the cable.

      Reply
  10. K

    Hi I have a Nordic track that I bought in the 90’s it is made of black molded type of plastic a bit smaller than the wooden ski Nordic tracks was only sold for a short time . Anyone know what model this is? Trying to search for a part . Thanks

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi K, It might either be a “Nordic Sport” model or “The All-Americans Premier Edition by ExerScience“. Do an online search for those models and see if either looks like the model that you are talking about. Good luck!

      Reply
  11. Helen McCabe

    I am trying to use the heart rate clip that came with my Nordic track it plugs into the bottom. Of the read out but where do I put the clip?
    Fingertip or earlobe and if it doesn’t register what do u need to do
    When connected I get a P on digital display

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Helen, There were a lot of different electronic monitors that were released with the machines over the years, so it’s hard to know exactly how any specific one might work. I seem to remember that the models I used had a pulse clip that was supposed to attach to the earlobe. However, that said, I wouldn’t trust that readout to be correct. They are not going to be accurate and they are quite uncomfortable to wear.

      I recommend that you get a separate heart rate monitor — the ones that have a chest strap to go over your heart area will probably be the most accurate, comfortable, and give you a constant readout. The second best thing to this would probably be a smart watch or fitness monitor that can read your pulse.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  12. Leah

    Hi Jefferey,
    I have a skier the Nordic Track Pro from the early 1990’s. I loved it and used it daily. I had several moves and careers and it has been stored. I recently set it up and after a “herky jerky” start it smoothed out. I can still hear the soft swish sound, however, the main sounds are squeak squawk squeak squawk like rubber groaning. I do weigh more but I doubt that’s causing it, lol . What can I do to get that sweet soft swish sound only without the other noise and also there is not quite a smooth glide. I was invited to send it across the country for refurbishment however I was not comfortable doing this… I really want to keep my machine and not trade it in. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Abe

      Hi Jeffrey,
      Your story and mine are almost identical. I have a Pro since 1991. Recently I replaced the 3 sets of rollers,
      waxed the sides of the skis, cleaned the axles, used 3 in 1 oil to lubricate, and the skier is almost like new.
      I hope this helps. i ordered everything from Nordicparts.

      Reply
  13. Mark Agee

    Hello,
    I just assembled my new skier pro. Should there be any movement in the upright arm? I have tightened the two bolts as much as a I can, and there is still movement.

    Also, first time I put batteries in the computer unit and the tab on the battery compartment broke off in my hand…not a good first sign.

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Mark, a little bit of movement in the arms as you pull on the cords is probably normal, but you may want to contact NordicTrack customer service directly at (877) 993-7999 if it is causing concern. They may also be able to send you a replacement for your battery compartment.

      Reply
  14. Liz

    Can you help me figure out how to fold down the vertical bar on the Pro version? I can share pictures.

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Liz, There is a locking mechanism at the pivot point on the arm. Some of the models have “push button latches” to unlock the arm, while others have a “pull / pin release” to unlock the arm. You most likely have one of these, but you can also share a link to a photo which may help to figure out the specifics for your machine.

      Reply
  15. Liz

    Hello, I’m having trouble figuring out how to fold down the upright support bar. I have the Pro version. I can send pictures to help. Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Mark P

    Hey Guys. I had owned and used a pro skier that bought back in the 90’s. It served me well for many, many years, without one issue.

    Last week, I purchased a new pro skier, and already, I’ve had a couple of QC issues: One of the skis was not shaped/contoured properly (causing — I’m having a new one shipped, so that should be taken care of.

    The latest issue (3 sessions in), is that the left drive roller had gradually migrated to the left, and is now firmly wedged against the guide board track (that the skis fit within). Has anyone dealt with moving/adjusting a driver roller? Is this something I can do?

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Mark, If you purchased a new machine and it’s having issues, it sounds like there is a problem with your unit. I recommend contacting the NordicTrack customer service group at 1 (877) 993-7999 and submitting a warranty claim to have it fixed.

      Reply
  17. Sharon

    I still love my Nordictrack skier and use it regularly. Our 22 year relationship is stronger than ever!

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      That is awesome Sharon! I bought my first one in 1993 and still absolutely love it!! I bought a 2nd skier for my parents about a year later (company policy at the time was to get one discounted machine per year). It’s not very often you can get so many years of use from one machine!

      Reply
  18. jeffrey16201

    Does Nordic Track still product the ski machines, I have not heard anything about them for many years now?

    Are the ski machines too strenuous for people with autoimmune diseases, many people need low-impact are these products low-impact and easy on the joints?

    You sure wrote a very informative article on this products, would you recommend this product to anyone with joint health problems?

    Reply
    1. Alyce (Post author)

      Hi Jeffrey,

      The Nordictrack Pro skier is still made, and it’s still one of the best workouts around. The machine is very gentle on the joints (your feet glide on the skis, so it feels like a lesser impact than walking). Obviously anyone with serious health issues should check with a doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

      I definitely love the machine and recommend it for everyone who wants a quality piece of at home exercise equipment.

      Regards, Alyce

      Reply

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