A regular CoachLevi.com reader recently asked about getting an elliptical machine to ease the pain of running on a treadmill, and while I have never been a big fan of either, I decided to look into it…

Hi Levi, I am looking to get an elliptical machine. I run on my treadmill everyday. I suffer from asthma so running indoors is easier for me, but I am starting to have hip and knee problems. I was considering maybe alternating between my treadmill and the elliptical machine. Can you recommend a good elliptical machine to get? If you have no idea, that is fine. I thought I would take a chance and ask.

Elliptical Elizabeth

Hi EE,

Thanks for writing in.

Unfortunately I can’t help much with the elliptical, because I rarely use or research them. I have used them before, and they seem fun, but that’s mainly because you’re not doing any real work.

home elliptical trainer

For anyone without hip or knee problems, I definitely recommend that you stay far away from the ellipticals!

I can see why you want one though, and it’s certainly better than nothing! (Although you should also consider an arc trainer.)

First thing I would do is see what price range you can afford. Good machines are expensive, and I’ve never used a budget machine (like something from WalMart for $250) that I actually liked.

So I would look for one of the basic models from a quality, reputable brand. Perhaps Smooth, Sole, Precor, or ProForm.

This way, you get a quality machine at a low price (usually by avoiding all the bells and whistles of high-end models.) This will land you in the $500-1000 range.

But there are some features you might want. First of all, it will have to fit in your house! So make sure you get the right measurements.

Second priority would be a smooth, fluid motion for the entire stride length. Third would be adjustable resistance and incline, so you can dial it up to get a tough workout. Finally, it should be quieter than a tornado.

A warranty wouldn’t hurt, either!

I wouldn’t worry too much about the electronics and display, such as heart rate, BMI, and calories burnt indicators, because those measurements will be too far off to be worth a salt. If you want to base your workouts on heart rate, get a separate heart rate monitor.

Now, when it comes to specific models, there are two things left to do:

First, read consumer reviews and opinions.

Here are some websites with reviews (that may or may not be credible):

www.allellipticals.com
http://www.treadmilldoctor.com/BestBuyAwards-Elliptical
http://www.consumersearch.com/elliptical-trainers

It’s also possible that there is an issue of Consumer Reports that covers elliptical machines, although I can’t remember any specifically.

Second, try them out yourself!

Find a retailer where you can try before you buy. Check fluidity, stride length, resistance, etc. Overall, it should feel natural.

You’ll save money buying online, of course, but then you don’t have the support of a local retailer when you might need it.

The final decision will be up to you, so good luck with your search!

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3 Comments
  1. Hope you don’t mind if I make a plug for my Elliptical Trainer Review site, which I feel is very credible. I am the former V.P. for marketing for Smooth Fitness. My site offers an insider/ expert perspective. In addition to visiting fitness equipment stores, I also visit the manufacturers and I am in touch with numerous elliptical trainer companies. My site works to find the best equipment for my viewers body and budget.

    Thanks,
    Fred

  2. Overstock.com offers a large selection of elliptical trainers at competitive discount prices.
    http://www.overstock.com/search

  3. Interesting, this article is now 2 1/2 years old and treadmill technology has really come along. There are deck cushioning systems now available that make running on a treadmill way better for your joints than running outside. I would say all things compared, a new treadmill is going to be a much better piece of workout equipment than a new elliptical.

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