Everyone wants to get into shape these days. Whether it’s to get healthier and stronger, to live longer, or to just slim down, lose a lot of weight or get that bikini body, we all want to find the easiest, least painful way to get there. Not everyone has time to go to the gym and not everyone is comfortable working out in front of so many people. A great option is an elliptical machine for your own personal use in your home. There are so many things to consider when making such a large purchase though and it can be a little overwhelming. This guide will break down some of the things to look for and hopefully help you narrow down your decision so you can buy with confidence and get to your fitness goals in no time.
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Purchasing a new fitness machine can be somewhat daunting to the average person. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on something and then have to get it repaired constantly or have it not work at all. You also want to get the best workout and have something easy to use without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look at our top 5 picks for Elliptical Machines and make this choice a little bit simpler.
Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical Machine
First on the list is this front drive trainer from Sole. It is priced a little on the higher end, but it has a good amount of resistance levels with 20 different options available. It also has a heavy 34 lb flywheel and a high gear ratio to help make your experience with it even smoother and quieter. Additionally, it has an adjustable stride ranging from 20-22 inches and an adjustable incline. The E95 comes with 10 different preset programs to make sure you hit all the muscle groups you want to. It also comes with several features to make your workout more enjoyable like built in speakers, a bottle holder, and a cooling fan. Plus, it not only has a set of stationary pulse monitoring handles, it comes with a chest strap to keep track of your heart rate, as well. The stationary set of handles is addition to the typical moving set for the upper body workout. This unit measures 27x62x83 and weighs in at 215 lbs assembled, while user weight maxes out at 400 lbs, so it’s a great option for the heavier user. Sole includes a lifetime warranty on the frame, 5 years on electronics and parts, and a 2 year warranty on labor.
Best Fitness E1 Elliptical Trainer by Body Solid
Next we will take a look at the only center drive machine to be included on this list. It costs a little less than some of the other machines on the market. It has a few less options, having only 17 levels of resistance with 12 preset programs to choose from. But, it has a 21 inch stride and is pretty light weight when assembled at about 215 lbs and measuring at 48x30x66. The Best Fitness E1 is a very compact piece of equipment, taking up quite a bit less room than others on the market. Like many elliptical machines, this option also has heart rate monitoring in the additional stationary set of handlebars, but it is lacking speakers, unlike the other ones on this list. This choice has a lower weight limit of 275 lbs, but on the plus side, it has a pretty comprehensive warranty. Body Solid offers a warranty on the frame for 15 years, 10 years on the motor and 2 years on electronics and parts. They also include a 6 month warranty on wear parts, and 1 year on labor.
Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainer
Looking at a lower cost front drive machine? We have this trainer coming in at at a much lower price. It has a little less to offer as far as adjustability, but some top notch features to make it worth adding to this list. It comes with 16 levels of resistance and 10 preset programs, so it’s not too far off from higher cost models as far as that goes, but it only has an 18 inch stride as opposed to the greater length included on some, so it may not work well for a very tall person. It is also relatively light, weighing only 170 lbs and measuring 68x22x64, and it can hold a user up to 275 lbs. Like most of the options in this category, it has the pretty typical heart rate monitor in the stationary set of handlebars, plus it comes with speakers, a reading rack, and a bottle holder to make your fitness regime a little more pleasurable. Horizon has a lifetime warranty on the frame, and 1 year on parts and labor.
Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
This is one of the more affordable machines on the list. While it is far less expensive than many of the available options, you do still get quite a bit for your money with this piece of equipment. It comes with 20 levels of resistance and 20 preset programs. In addition, it has 2 different user profiles available, which makes it great for a couple looking to get in shape together. It has a front drive mechanism and a pretty decent 20 inch stride, plus it has a 6 position ramp. Fully assembled it weighs in at a fairly hefty 226 lbs and stands about 70x28x71. It can support a user weighing up to 300 lbs and comes with a lot of little perks. It has a USB charging port along with speakers, a cooling fan, and a handy spot to put your water bottle. The Schwinn comes with a warranty on the frame for 10 years, 2 years on mechanical pieces, 1 year on the electronics, and a 90 day labor warranty.
Sanibel i35 Cardio Core Elliptical by Yowza Fitness
The last machine on our list is one of the more expensive options. In addition, it’s the only rear drive model we are looking at today. Along with the higher price tag, there are a few improvements that can really be worth exploring. First, Sanibel i35 machine has a high weight limit; it’s able to hold a person that weighs up to 400 lbs. It also has a nice adjustable stride length, up to 26 inches long. It has fewer levels of resistance with only 8 choices, but it also has 12 preset programs and 9 individual user profiles. This makes it pretty handy for a large family or group of friends that all want to work out with the machine. It does come with many features that you would expect like the heart rate monitor, a place for a drink, speakers, a fan, and an iPod charger. The manufacturer also has a good warranty period available. It has a lifetime warranty on the frame and braking system, 5 years on parts and electronics, and 2 years on labor.
First, what exactly is an elliptical machine
They first became established in the fitness world in 1995 and they were made to be a lower impact workout then the existing choices such as stairmasters and treadmills. This type of equipment uses a gentle gliding motion to simulate walking, running, or climbing stairs, and most of today’s models work out the upper body at the same time. It does all of this without causing as much pressure on the knees and backs of the user. Elliptical trainers also have the ability to provide a strenuous workout without the user feeling like it is so much tougher. In addition to all of these benefits, they are quieter than the other home options as well.
There are a couple of different types of units to consider while shopping. One important factor to take into account is the three separate machines included in this group. The first of these is the trainer. It only works the lower body; the foot pedals move in a circular motion and the handlebars don’t move at all. The next in the list is the cross trainer. This option works both the upper and lower body, giving the user a more thorough cardiovascular and muscular workout. With the elliptical cross trainer the foot pedals move in the same circular motion as the original trainer. Most models on the market today are of this variety and they are easily the most comprehensive kind. This brings us to the last main difference between these types of fitness machines. The third type is called an elliptical glider. It has stationary arms and the pedals move in a slight backward motion unlike the first two.Another difference to think about is where the drive mechanism, or flywheel, is located. It may seem like something that should be of no concern to the typical consumer, but it can make a huge difference in not only price, but quality, durability, and even space conservation.There are three different placement positions for the drive mechanism: rear drive, front drive, and center drive. Looking at the oldest technology first, the rear drive mechanism placement was the first one developed, so it has the longest record of maintenance and history of durability. They keep the user more balanced and have a more realistic walking and climbing motion than the many front drive machines. This type of flywheel placement also makes this one quieter than most machines with the front drive placement. The front drive ellipticals were the next ones in production, so on the plus side, they also have been tested thoroughly. These machines are occasionally not as high quality as some others which can make them louder and also make them require more upkeep, but they are still worth looking at as a viable option.
This brings us to the last option for flywheel placement, the center drive elliptical. This is the most newly developed version and therefore has the least amount of history as far as knowledge of maintenance issues and durability. These are also usually the most compact of these three types; but they are also generally the most expensive.
How to make the best choice
Of course, when talking about any exercise machine, there are tons of different features to take into account and it can be hard to sift through all of the hype. Even though all elliptical machines basically do the same things, there are different things to look at as far what will suit you the best.
Unless you are just made of money, price is always going to be of concern when making any purchase. Modern elliptical machines can cost anywhere up to $8000, however this is really not a necessary price range for the typical home user. You should look at spending anywhere between $600 and $3000 though, and there are some pretty nice options in the mid range. Never forget, you get what you pay for, so always look at the bang for your buck as opposed to just the cheapest model.
This is by far, one of the most important aspects of buying new fitness equipment, or really any purchase. You don’t want to spend your hard earned money on something only to find out 3 months later that you have to replace it. Look for machines that are sturdily built and easy to maintain. This means looking for a reputable manufacturer and a smooth mechanism. Remember that these types of machines are not meant to be jerky at all.
Warranty goes hand in hand with quality and while it’s something that we always hope doesn’t come up; it’s definitely worth giving a glance. A long extended warranty isn’t necessarily a big deal, but it is important that there be some basic backing of a product by its makers.
Effectiveness and Ease of Use
The whole point of buying fitness equipment is to work out using it. To this end, you want to choose one that is easy for you to adjust and easy for you to use, without having to be a rocket scientist. Many have a multitude of program options with different resistance settings, different user profiles, adjustable inclines, and adjustable strides. It really comes down to what you need though. For instance, if there are two people in the house that are going to regularly use it, then it might be nice to have more options to choose from. Another thing to look at is weight limits. Some machines can hold up to 400 lbs, most fall a little short of that though, so you want to make sure that pick one that will be suitable for you. Another important factor is the stride of the machine and the adjustability of this. People come in all different sizes so what works for me at 5’ tall is not going to work for my brother at 6’ tall. It’s nice to have an adjustable stride, especially if there is going to be more than one person using it.
Time to buckle down
Now, despite the confusing flood of information out there, you can feel confident that you are fully prepared and fully capable of making this kind of decision. So, you can enjoy your shopping experience, and even more important, enjoy your new workout and your new piece of fitness equipment and know that you won’t just end up with wasted money and flabby muscles.