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Elliptical Machine Buying Guide

Elliptical Machine Buying Guide

By Lisa Selvaggio

Looking for a low-impact cardio machine that will work the muscles of your upper and lower body at the same time? Then it’s definitely worth checking out elliptical machines.

Whether you want to replace your treadmill with something that’s kinder on your joints, or you’re simply in the market for a new workout machine that you can use at home, what you’ll find once you start shopping is that there are different types of ellipticals to choose from. So, to help you sort through your options, we’ve put together the brief guide below.

Basic vs. Standard vs. Elite

There are three tiers of ellipticals, and they’re referred to as basic, standard, and elite. Basic models, which will have fewer features, will be the most affordable, costing a few hundred dollars, while elite machines boasting the latest tech will be the priciest, costing thousands.

  • The ProForm Hybrid Trainer is a great example of a basic elliptical, priced under $500, yet giving you what you need to have a great workout. For example, its 2-in-1 design allows you to use it as an elliptical and as a bike. Plus, it’s iFit Bluetooth enabled, and it has 16 built-in workout sessions.
  • The Sole E95 is a solid option if you’re hoping to invest in a standard elliptical for home use. It boasts Bluetooth for data sharing, Bluetooth audio speakers, a USB charging port, power adjustable incline, and a heart rate strap, among other features.
  • The Precor AMT 835 with Open Stride might be just what you’re looking for if you want a high-end elliptical machine. It has three sets of handlebars, 21 electronic workout readouts, and safety features. Plus, you can adjust the stride length from 0” to 36” and the stride height from 6.5” to 10”. But you’ll need a bigger budget for this one, as it’s priced over $8,000.

Things to Think About While You Shop

As you search for the perfect new elliptical machine, there are a lot of things to think about. How much space do you have for the elliptical? Do you want a machine that’s lighter and easier to move around? Do you want one with simple specs or are you aiming to get one with modern features?

  • Look closely at an elliptical’s resistance system, brake, and flywheel. These factors will affect things like how the machine feels, how loud it is, and how durable it will be. For example, electronic magnetic resistance systems are the smoothest, and electromagnetic brake systems let you control resistance easily by pressing buttons on the handlebars or console. Also, the heavier that a flywheel is, the smoother the strides will be.
  • In terms of size and design, compact and foldable ellipticals, like the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i, are better for smaller spaces. But the location of the flywheel on the machine should also be considered, as rear drive trainers, like the Precor EFX 245, aren’t usually compact or easy to move. Plus, there are also center drive machines, like the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS5i, which is surprisingly compact and can be used as an elliptical, stepper, and treadmill.
  • Consoles will vary from one elliptical model to the next. Some will be more advanced, with features like internet connectivity and Apple or Android compatibility, but these typically come at a higher price. More expensive models might also showcase larger LCD screens and a higher number of workout programs, along with nice extras like wireless heart rate monitoring, so it might be worth spending more if these matter to you.

What Do You Want Out of Your Elliptical?

Ultimately, the elliptical that you’ll choose will have a lot to do with your preferences, needs, and expectations. Asking yourself the following questions might help you narrow down your many choices to the machine that’s best for you:

  • Are you hoping to use the machine to start exercising to lose some weight, to take your existing workout routine to the next level, or to train for an intense event like a marathon?
  • Do you need a machine that will be compact or foldable, or can your space comfortably accommodate a larger elliptical?
  • What’s your budget? Does it align with the type of elliptical that you want, or do you need to save up more or use a payment plan to buy a more expensive model?

Knowing what to look for in an elliptical can certainly make your shopping experience easier, so consider the information above as you start browsing the various models that are available from today’s top brands. Whether you prefer a basic machine that’s affordable or you want an advanced elliptical showcasing the latest technology, with so many high-quality products, it won’t be long before you find the one that has exactly what you need.


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