As the Baby Boomer Generation continues to age, more and more people are enjoying training on low-impact elliptical trainers as a cardiovascular exercise alternative to treadmills. While the Elliptical trainer (aka Elliptical Cross Trainer) has been the fastest growing product segment of the fitness industry for the past 15 years, it can also be the most frustrating purchase decision for the fitness enthusiast. Let us take the mystery out of selecting the right machine for you.
Unlike other cardiovascular exercise equipment, the elliptical machine puts the user’s lower body through a pattern of motion that is unique to each brand. For example, the motion of the pedals on a Precor elliptical, with its patented Cross Ramp Technology, has a feel that is very different than the motion of another very well-known and popular brand, Octane Ellipticals. Often these differences are communicated by the length of stride of the elliptical pattern, which can range from 18 inches to 21 inches on standard units and from 18 inches to 26 inches on adjustable stride machines (described below). While there are other unique features to every elliptical, first and foremost, the user must feel very comfortable with the motion that the elliptical is putting them through if they expect to benefit from the long-term use of the equipment and the other features it offers.
Given this unique feature, you should always visit an American Home Fitness store to try out different ellipticals before making the purchase for your home. Come in equipped to get a workout and introduction to the machines you’re considering and you’ll go home knowing that you’ve picked the machine that’s just right for you and your body. Plus you might have gotten a little bit of a workout too.
If you’re living in a house with others that want to keep up with you and you’re fitness goals, you better believe that they’re not going to sit around and watch you get fit by yourself! Therefore, if others plan to use the machine, you should probably bring them along with you to try out the ellipticals you’re considering so that the all-important elliptical motion fits them as well.
With this in mind, the most recent and popular development in elliptical machines has been the arrival of the Adjustable Stride Elliptical (ASE). The ASE feature allows the user to adjust the length of the stride in the elliptical motion to best fit their natural stride length. In a multi-user home, an elliptical with the ASE feature can be adjusted to comfortably fit the 6’5” budding high school athlete or his 5’5” mom!
Speaking of height, there is often a concern that our customer will hit his head on the ceiling when they get the machine home. While each elliptical brand has a unique step height, it is conservative to estimate that you will need approximately an additional 12 inches of clearance above the head of the tallest user in your home. For instance, a 6 foot person will comfortably use a Precor Elliptical with a 7 foot ceiling height. Other models may need even less space.
Many times we hear our customers say that “I don’t want any fancy bells and whistles – I just want to get on it and get it done!” Well, unlike a treadmill where the user has to keep pace with the machine, an elliptical machine is dependent upon you, its user, to determine the intensity of the workout. A variety of programming can keep you working at an appropriate level to make sure you’re getting the most out of your precious workout time and moving towards your goals. For instance, is your goal:
- Weight Loss? If so, let’s look for an elliptical with weight loss and interval training programs to help efficiently burn fat for fuel.
- Improved Cardio Vascular Health? Focus on elliptical machines that are equipped with wireless heart-rate receiver and transmitter belt. These machines will most accurately provide you with a heart rate read out as you workout as well as programs that adjust the intensity of the workout based upon your real time heart rate readings.
- To get ready for a race? Let’s find a machine that has specific programs based upon common road race distances, such as the 5k and 10k race programs on the Octane ellipticals. This is a great way to get your heart and legs ready for the run without additional impact on your joints and feet!
As mentioned at the beginning, choosing the best elliptical machine for you and for your home can be a challenging decision. Regardless of your goals, objectives and unique personal characteristics, it is most important to visit an American Home Fitness store to physically try them out. As we’ve discussed here, each elliptical brand and each model within the brand are as unique as you are. Our staff of experts will help fit you with the product that will improve your life and fitness lifestyle. So come on in and let’s find your stride!