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Old 04-07-2007, 11:31 PM   #1
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Question elliptical machines...

What do you guys think of elliptical machines?

I am thinking about buying an inexpensive model for my home, and I wanted everyone's opinion on them. I usually walk around my neighborhood for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day, and I have an array of other machines here that I rarely use, if ever. I really want a machine that I will actually use, and so, I am looking for some comments and suggestions on some under $200 models...

I saw some on ebay for $100 + S&H.... I wonder if they are worth it?...
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Old 04-07-2007, 11:39 PM   #2
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Ellipticals are great.. I really like them.. they are "hard" when you first start but once you get comfortable with it.. you will love it too great investment
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Old 04-08-2007, 12:09 AM   #3
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I do not recommend buying one without trying it out first. We got a "cheapie" $299 model, and it killed my knees. And I have no problems with my knees, otherwise. The angle was wrong on the machine, and there was no way to adjust it.. so all ellipticals are not created equal..lol
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Old 04-08-2007, 12:20 AM   #4
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My mother has one and she really enjoys it, ive also tried it several times and found it pretty easy to use.
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Old 04-08-2007, 12:52 AM   #5
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I just bought an elliptical about a month ago and researched this for several months before buying. I read that the "cheap" machines (considered to be under $800-$1000) are not nice to use; very unstable and jerky. At least that's what the reviews said, and I tried a few out at some stores and agreed. I would definitely recommend trying some out at some stores just to get the feel for the different machines. You dont want to get something that does not feel smooth and comfortable to use or it just serves as an expensive and ugly clothes hanger, and gives you a daily guilt trip to boot. I tried one of those Gazelle thingies at a relative's house on Thanksgiving and was just in shock at how weird it was to use and how unnatural the motion was.

Anyway, the reviews mainly advised against getting the cheaper models. I think its just one of those things that can't be built properly at a low cost and still feel right.

I ended up buying a Keys Centre G3 elliptical. It was really expensive ($2300) but I've been wanting a high quality cardio machine in my home for years but never really had the dough, and then the space, for it. I figured hey, I just spent a couple of grand on a flat screen, so why not for my health.

I must say my elliptical was worth EVERY penny. I've been using it whenever I have free time and have been burning around 2000 calories per week on it. If I didn't have to get off to care for the baby or clean the house or go somewhere, I'd wanna stay on that thing! I just love it!

I use the heart rate monitor and have the machine keep my heart rate at 74%, sometimes for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Other times I'll go on it for 35 minutes 1 to 3 times in a day. So again, well worth the price because its so fun I don't even want to get off. And believe me, I've struggled to make the time go by on other cardio equipment and HATED every second! But between how smoothly the machine operates to how it keeps my heart rate at a certain level that is a comfortable zone for me but still quite a good work out, and then being in the comfort of my home with my baby playing on the floor and my TV on. I just recommend having a high quality cardio in one's home so highly.

Also, on my machine you can change the stride length from 21 inches to 34 inches (I think) as taller people need a longer stride length. The cheap machines usually have a very short and unnatural stride length, so ask how long it is on something you consider buying.

Other than quality, the size and fit is very personal. By way of example, I had started using the LifeFitness machines at the gym only recently (I used to use the stairmaster and I had then switched to weights only for many years so I was out of touch with the new cardio equipment); I then ventured onto the Precor machines and started using those instead as my butt felt a bit more burn afterward. Anyway, I started noticing my lower back getting really achy and freezing in place sometimes in pain just from a simple turn. I thought maybe I better cut out the ellipticals because that was the new thing in my life. Once I stopped, the back aches stopped. I then tried going back on the LifeFitness and felt fine. As an experiment, I went on the Precor again just once, and sure enough I had a back ache again. The interesting thing is both brands are considered top of the line, yet the Precor just didnt fit my body right so I was leaning forward too much and consequently misaligning my back.

Long reading, but hope this helped.
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Old 04-08-2007, 06:58 AM   #6
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I love the elliptical machines at the YMCA--they have a few different brands. But I wouldn't buy one on my own because I agree that cheap is not good. A YMCA membership costs far less than even 1 good quality elliptical machine. And, they have all the other machines as well.

Plus I just don't have the room!

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Old 04-08-2007, 07:47 AM   #7
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While I'd agree that a quality machine is by far a better option, sometimes there's just not the money in the budget for a $2-3K investment! That's not to say that a cheap machine is completely useless, but it does take a little work to find the best option.

I've got an Eclipse 1000HR from Fitness Quest - definitely a much lesser machine than the Precors I've used at the gym, but sufficient for what I need for $250. I shopped around a lot, and would not have bought a machine that I couldn't get on and test out - as people have said, the stride length is critical since it's typically not adjustable on cheap machines. This one was sufficient for me - comfortable stride for my 5'6" frame (though much too small for my 5'10" brother who has tried it out), adjustable resistance, smooth ride. I tested about a dozen and kept coming back to this one as most comfortable for me for less than $1K, so I came home and checked the 'net for reviews (mainly checking to see if they fall to pieces within 6 months), and then bought the machine.

I needed something small enough for an apartment and sufficient for me when I couldn't get out and run (like this week when it's been insanely windy!). If I were using it as a primary daily workout, I might have spent a little more for a machine with more options - adjustable incline and stride length allows for a lot more variability in the workout. I've been using this one for about 2 years without any problem - there's nothing "wrong" with a cheap machine, per se, as long as you accept the limitations and make the effort to find the right one for you.

I would strongly advise you NOT to buy one from ebay unless you've tried out the exact model in a store. And definitely buy a quality machine if you can afford it (I'm a grad student and simply can't afford it!) Good luck!
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:07 AM   #8
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Late last year, I started researching Elliptical machines because I had heard that good ellipticals cost quite a bit, much more than a good treadmill or bike would cost. DH and I went and tested every elliptical from Dick's sporting goods, Sears and other mainstream places. We were surprised how flimsy and cheap $800-$900 ellipticals felt. I would expect if you spent that much money, you'd get a good quality machine. We did find one we liked at Dick's sporting goods but then we figured we'd expand our horizons a little. We decided to make a major elliptical purchase and bought a Lifefitness X5i. We absolutely love it and I've been using it every day and DH uses it most days.

With that said, not everyone is willing to make a major financial investment with an elliptical but I do highly recommend you try out what you are buying before you buy it. My advice honestly is that if you don't want to spend over $200, then buying an elliptical may not be for you. If you have a chance to try out the elliptical you want to buy for 20 minutes or so and you are happy with it, then I'd say go ahead. I would also recommend reading over the elliptical recommendations on Consumer Reports because they do have some good advice but I believe the cheapest elliptical they recommend is somewhere in the $900 range. They do have some good information on what to look for such as warranties and what not.
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:32 AM   #9
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I don't have an elliptical but I have used them in the gym and they are my favorite. I do agree with previous posts. You can get a fairly nice treadmill or bike for around $200 whereas you would probably get a really flimsy elliptical for that price. I always get nervous on equipment that I think a wrong/powerful move could snap in half! I personally have a treadmill. (I inherited it from someone who used it as a clothes hanger- I use it almost everyday!) I love having my own cardio equipment. It gives you so many fewer excuses. I get weight training from Bodylastics resistance bands and free weights with several DVDs.
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:43 AM   #10
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I so feel the same as Alleycat. I used to want to go to the gym 4 days per week but I would really only make it about 2 times per week on average..which created a constant guilt trip. And I'd always have to rush out of there because I have a 9 month old and I want to spend time with her. So now I can be with my baby and get my exercise so it was totally worth the investment for me. Also getting myself out of the house and over to the gym was HARD so now when I find some free time I run, not walk, to my bedroom and exercise. Its become a "me time" thing now, like a treat, when before it was a drag to get myself out of the house and then be at the gym when I'd rather be home. I''m still going to the gym twice per week to do the weights though but I go at lunch from the office. Eventually when I move out of NYC and into a home I plan on setting up a really nice home gym.
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Old 04-08-2007, 11:38 AM   #11
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I received an elliptical for Christmas from my DH. I have a hard time on it and usually only do 1 mile, then do my other 2 miles on the treadmill. I haven't been able to build up my time/stamina on the elliiptical.
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Old 04-08-2007, 02:25 PM   #12
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I agree with the general sentiments here... I have an elliptical, and I love it. Use it 5 days/week. I like the convenience of not having to work around the gym's hours/daycare for the kids, etc. Mine's not high end, but not a really inexpensive one, either - I got it on sale, but it was about a $1000 (Canadian) model at Sears. I find it stable enough for me, but I think some of that might be dependant on size - larger users may need a little more built-in stability. I don't think I'd bother with a $200 model - I've seen those at the grocery store (of all places!?!), and they didn't look very stable or durable to me.

BUT, you mentioned that you already have several machines that you don't use.... to me, that's a bit of a caution - if you don't use the machines you already have, you may not use an elliptical.
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Old 04-08-2007, 04:57 PM   #13
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I don't use the other machines becuase I hate them.... I have a cardio glide that I bought 10 years ago, a stair stepper (that I got from goodwill) and some kind of machine that's sorta like a gazelle. I don't like any of them.

I cannot afford $1,000 for an elliptical, but maybe I can finance one.... we'll see...
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Old 04-09-2007, 04:33 AM   #14
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I have a elliptical and I love it. But then, I have a near gym-quality Precor model that I was able to buy after a fortunate real estate transaction. I agree with the sentiment above Heather would probably not be well served by getting a cheaper model without knowing in advance that she really likes it and would use it.

Personally, I think it might be better to just focus on what she knows she likes and is working for her, walking. Try walking faster, longer, uphills. Don't have any more challenging places to walk around the neighborhood? Then drive to a park or a more hilly place and walk there.

Spending big money on a machine you may or may not like or use is a pretty big gamble, imho.
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Old 04-09-2007, 11:38 AM   #15
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It would suck to do most of your exercise on a machine that's not very good. It's amazing how little a few hundred dollars buys you in quality exercise equipment. When I shopped for a treadmill a few years ago, they only started getting decent -- and I'm not saying good -- at about the $1500 mark. It was only around $2000 when I started thinking, this is a nice machine.
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