Exercise! - Question about ellipticals

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01-08-2009, 01:08 AM
I am contemplating buying an elliptical machine because I like the fact that it is no-impact. I have a bad knee (chondromalacia) and my doctor told me that I could not run. That's a good thing, because I hate it! She also told me that even when I was at my goal weight I should not run.

I do have a treadmill which causes a bit of pain, but I am considering an elliptical. I have never used one before. What are they like? How difficult/challenging/buttkicking are they? I'm just beginning an exercise program, so I'm starting with the treadmill at 3.5mph - would an elliptical be harder? I don't necessarily need harder right now.


RN BSN 2009
01-08-2009, 01:10 AM
Elliptical are good calorie burners, but you do have to work your way up. It might take a couple weeks of trying 10, 15 minutes at a time, But it's like having NO impact. You do have to be picky about the one you get because they're not all created equal. Is there anyone you know that has one you can try out for 10 minutes at a time? Because it is a big purchase. Good luck!

01-08-2009, 01:14 AM
there is one at costco that i am interested that is made by nordictrack. i suppose i could try it for 10 minutes... but in the middle of costco???!!!?! i don't know. at least they have a good return policy!

01-08-2009, 02:47 AM
I bought one last year and I love it. I did a fair bit of research before I bought it, and there are few things to consider:

Generally you get what you pay for. If it's cheap, it's because it was made that way and will be much more likely to break down. The more bells and whistles a machine has, the less it tends to be focused on basic quality. If you can't afford much, check out places like Craigslist for a better model used and cheaper (there's usually a bunch of them hitting the for sale section arounf February or March - people buy them as New Years resolution machines and then never follow through).

Weight capacity. If you are near or at the max weight capacity of an elliptical, it's probably better to look at one with a higher one max weight capacity, or use one at a gym until you have reached a safer weight. This isn't just a worry that you can put too much wear on the machine or break it, but that you can tip it over, and injure yourself.

The heavier the flywheel, the better. 14 pounds is a good low end, and heavier is better. Flywheels come positioned at the front or at the back. The ellipticals with a flywheel at the front tend to take up slightly less floor space, but they're still BIG.

Stride length is very important. I have very long legs and I am 5'8" tall, and I find that our elliptical's stride length of 18" to be barely long enough. If a tall guy is going to use it, it will do, but 20" is better. If you are average or short in height, you might be happy with a 16", but I don't recommend it. 18" is a minimum good length.

Here (treadmill sensei) (http://www.treadmillsensei.com/2006/07/elliptical-review-index.html)is a good place to take a look at what is available, and why some models are better than others. He gives The Nordic Track ellipticals have a bad repair record, and other review places I have looked at agreed. I know some people who have bought Nordic Tracks and are happy with them, but I also know a couple of people who have thrown theirs in the trash.

I bought a Horizon EX 66 because, of the highly rated ones in my price range, it had the smallest footprint, and that was a major factor because I live in an appartment. I would have seriously considered a Schwinn 431, but it was out of stock at the time, and I would have loved a Sole E25, but that was too big. The Kettler CT2000 has too small a stride for me, so it was right out.

I found it took only a week for me to get up to 20 minute workouts, and it took my DH only 3 days. It's an interesting motion, kind of like a combination of running on a stairmaster. You get used to it quickly. They are a cardio machine, so you can get a real workout on one, but you can go as slow or as fast as you want. They have different levels of resistance, so you can start off easy, and increase as you feel ready. They are pretty kick-butt for burning calories once you really get going - probably not quite as good as running, but they have that nice no impact bit.


01-08-2009, 01:11 PM
thanks bopeep, i'll check out that link!

01-09-2009, 04:06 PM
I bought mine last year after I broke my ankle. It's a great low-impact workout, yet not low intensity. I love it, I don't get bored on it like I do a treadmill & I love the fact I have it at home. It's in my bedroom so I can just watch something on TiVo & 45 minutes goes by like nothing. However, you really do have to start very small. I started & only lasted 5 minutes at a time in the beginning & worked up 2 minutes a week.

Shannon in ATL
01-09-2009, 04:19 PM
I bought a Nordic Track Audio Strider 990 ($999) and am very happy with it. I agree with the bopeep that you get what you pay for - I had a ProFit Cardio Stride ($300) before and it broke after three months of three or four times per week use.

I covet a Sole machine, or maybe a PreCor, but there is no way I could afford one at the time. My vision is to build up my home gym over time, with a fancy gym quality elliptical being my last big purchase.

I love mine - low impact, has programs that keep me interested, easy to build up your minutes pretty quickly.

You are 5'8", definitely look at the stride length - mine is 18" and is perfect for me, but a little short for DH who is 5'11".

ETA: Another website to check: http://www.treadmilldoctor.com/Elliptical-Reviews/Elliptical-Review-Brand-Index;jsessionid=0a010c491f434b4be19bd5b44e3fac51f ba30f971775.e3eSc3aPaxmLe34Pa38Ta38Mchb0

01-09-2009, 04:21 PM
they are really good for sore joints and stuff. i found it harder but I think its just because I try and go fast on the ellipitical and so it's a harder workout, but if you keep your pace slower at first until you get used to it you'll build up your stamina. my boyfriend prefers cardio on the ET while I prefer the TM. i read a tip once that might help while your still using the treadmill, when you walk make sure you hit the treadmill with a 'soft knee' instead of locked straight out. it will reduce impact and pain in the knee area! u might already know that, but i didn't until i read it in a magazine! i was starting to have knee pain after cardio sessions and i thought it was cause i was just so fat (i'd never had knee problems before), but then when I read that I realized while I walked I would have my leg straight and hit with my heel so it really sent all that shock straight up to my knee! when I started walking with a 'soft' knee and tried to step more with a flat foot instead my heel the pain started going away. hopefully this will help until you get switched over to the ET.

01-09-2009, 04:33 PM
I love mine! I bought a Spirit Elliptical at Costco when they were on sale for $499. The best part about Costco, is that if it breaks, you can return it.

I do 60 minutes a day ... at 40 rpms, with 1 minute of 60 rpms, every 5 minutes. It ends up burning about 600 calories.

The best part about the machine is a little built in fan ... when I start to sweat that little fan is a god send! The machine also has a handle grip that checks your heart rate to make sure you are in the "target zone".

I checked the online store and it looks like exercise equipment is full price right now. I'll bet in Feb. there will be some awesome sales.

01-09-2009, 05:22 PM
I love mine! I bought a Spirit Elliptical at Costco when they were on sale for $499. The best part about Costco, is that if it breaks, you can return it.

Do you know what your model is? I'm just asking because a popular one that was initially thought to be very good has been recalled - the Spirit XE125. If that's what you have, you might want to check into the recall.


01-10-2009, 12:20 AM
Shannon - Thanks for the link, I'll take a look at it!

Sun Flower - I had no idea! I walk with a straight knee and my heel hits first - I'll try to do it with a flat foot/soft knee and that should help me feel better!

SandiCo - Did you buys yours recently? I love that price! But they seem to be all around $1k.

01-10-2009, 02:06 PM
Thanks for the heads up on the recall - I checked and I don't have that one (phew!)

I bought it right before Christmas, Costco had a huge discount. I checked their website and the model I bought is gone :( But if it were me, I would hold out for a month. I'll bet those pricey ellipticals will go way down in price.

I was on it for 90 minutes today and it felt great! (Listening to audiobooks while working out makes the time fly)

01-21-2009, 04:54 PM
Sun Flower - I had no idea! I walk with a straight knee and my heel hits first - I'll try to do it with a flat foot/soft knee and that should help me feel better!

Yes, I didn't know either! :o But I was thinking about this and actually they said step with the part of your foot under the "ball" of the toes... I can't think of what it's called... Almost like your trying to step and land with the middle of your foot. It's kinda weird to do it but once you figure it out you can tell it's less stressful on your knee and ankle joints. And yes, I was amazed when I stopped walking with a "locked" knee and how my knee joints didn't ache by the end of my walk.
Good Luck to you!

Seattle Podiatrist
04-29-2009, 09:17 PM
Bopeep is right - you get what you pay for. After much research we purchased the Lifefitness x9i. It was expensive, but 4 years later we are still happy with the purchase. My girlfriend's mother has the Costco Nordictrack, it's ok, but feels unstable compared to the lifefitness.

05-05-2009, 11:38 AM
We just purchased a Sole E25 Elliptical from Dick's Sporting Goods ($999).

We're happy with it. It feels smooth and stable, and runs quite enough that the whole house is not aware that it's in use. It is large - some 4.5 feet long and rather tall.

The instructions, and Dick's, are insistent that the rails be lubricated monthly for optimum long life. Fair enough, that doesn't look like a difficult task.

05-06-2009, 05:24 PM
Definitely try it first. My parents got one as a joint Mother's Day/Father's Day present last year and they went through every style at the store before finding one that would work for both my 5'0 mom and 6'3 dad. If the stride's wrong it kills the knees. Ouch.