Updated: Aug 17
According to the latest medical advice, it is crucial to make time for at least thirty minutes of cardiovascular workout per day. Regular exercise has been found to be instrumental in reducing the incidence of various medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, strokes and even a couple of forms of cancer. However, not everyone can afford expensive gym fees every week or month or just don’t have time to get to the gym. Moreover, going out for a walk or run is not always practical, especially during winter or harsh weather conditions. For these reasons investing in your own exercise machine can be quite a worthy investment: not only will you be able to avoid the restrictions imposed by gyms or the weather, but you’ll also be able to set your own pace.
Elliptical machines are an ideal solution if you enjoy running but need something that provides a low impact workout. The good news is that ellipticals usually come in various price ranges and models to suit both your budget and fitness levels. Considering the expansive variety of models that exist on the market, making the right choice can be quite a challenge, especially for beginners. Still, it does pay to take the proper time and effort to invest in a machine that meets your standards. There are several factors to take into account – we will outline them here.
Elliptical trainers can take up quite a lot of space, which is certainly something that you’ll need to consider if you live in cramped spaces. Some of the machines fold up and stand on their side, allowing you to store them in a corner. Cheaper varieties tend to be fixed. Unfortunately many buyers tend to enthusiastically dash to the store to purchase an elliptical trainer that seems great at the store – only to regret it when they discover that the machine does not fit through their front door. Therefore, it’s important to measure the available floor space that you’re willing to sacrifice before purchasing your trainer. It’s equally important to compare these measurements to the overall dimensions of the machine of your choice.
If space is an issue for you, make sure you find a model that can be folded and stored away. Also be cognizant about how heavy they are – you’re going to have to move it around yourself if you plan on putting it away when not in use.
Analyze your budget
Before investing in a machine, users should properly analyze their budget to ensure that they don’t stretch their purse strings out too thin. While it’s natural to be over-enthusiastic and dash to the store for the most expensive and professional looking trainer, this may result in you owning a machine that you can barely operate. Indeed, if you’re a novice to this type of apparatus, don’t hesitate to go for a cheaper model with basic features. Remember that the cheaper the machine is, the simpler it will be to use. Of course, more advanced users can certainly go for gym-quality equipment but remember to keep a close watch on the price and be sure to compare several machines before you make your final decision. To help you choose the best model within your budget, here are our favorite ellipticals for each price-range:
$50-150 - Exerpeutic Aero
$150-300 - Sunny Pink P8300
$300-500 - Hybrid Trainer
$500-1000 - Schwinn 430
$1000-1500 - Sole E35
$1500+ - Sole E95
Elliptical machines normally sport three major drive systems: Front, Center and Rear. Front drive systems have a drive axle in the front of the machine. Users can see the wheel moving during the workout. This type of drive system also tends to be cheaper. Rear drive machines have the drive wheel located at the very back of the machine, out of sight from the user. While extremely reliable, these machines tend to be more expensive. Lastly, trainers that come with a center drive system normally have two drive axles and are much more resilient than their two counterparts. This type of trainer is more popular in gyms & hotels.
If you can afford it, it’s not a bad idea to go for a machine that allows you to easily adjust the stride length and incline. This allows you to add some variety to your training session and prevents your muscles from adjusting to the same motions. Athletes will also be able to benefit from interval training whereby they shuffle between incline and resistance levels to keep their metabolism active and encourage your body to burn more calories in less time.
While cheaper models have a manual incline feature, more reliable albeit expensive machines do come with an automatic option whereby you can adjust the incline feature at the mere touch of a button.
Of course, basic, inexpensive models have few featues. For example, some machines come with amenities such as a water bottle holder, built-in-fan, heart rate sensor, built-in music player and even a charging port. If you’re willing to spend more money, you can even purchase machines that come equipped with small trays to accommodate your iPad, books or magazines.
The majority of elliptical trainers even come with display monitor that can help you track essential fitness-related data and consequently assist you as you keep an eye on your progress. These readouts often include, but are not limited to, calories burned, heart rate, recovery time, distance, number of elliptical strokes, time, total time covered and the likes.