Elliptical machines are great for toning up your muscles and strengthening your joints without high impact jolts to your knees, ankles or hips, great for beginners working up to rigorous workout sessions or for those with sensitive joints. But the heavy-duty rear drive units at your neighborhood gym aren’t practical for keeping in your homes – even more so if you have budget and space constraints. While there is some truth in the train of thought that the higher the price tag, the more features and functionality you can expect to find, if you’re only looking for a machine for occasional use, for a couple of days a week or so, there are some attractive units to consider – ideal not just because of the pocket-friendliness but also for their functionality and compactness, packaged into a reasonably priced machine. Intrigued? Take a look at our picks for the best home elliptical under $1,000.
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
This, like the other units on this list, is a front drive machine, meaning the flywheel is located to the front of the unit, making for a portable and compact elliptical machine you can keep at home without eating up too much space. What stacks this unit right at the top, though, is its impressive résumé of features, considering the price tag. The 20 inch Precision Path stride length is flexible for individuals of average and taller heights – in fact, the unit allows you to set user profiles for up to 4 users, to remember the different exercising preferences of different members of the family, making this a versatile little unit you can tailor for use.
With a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, the unit features 25 levels of eddy current magnetic resistance and a 10 degrees adjustable ramp, with 6 available incline positions – this lets you figure out the desired intensity of your workout regime, whether you’re looking for something lightweight to go easy on sensitive joints or a more rigorous routine. A high speed, high inertia perimeter weight flywheel ensures fluidity of movement of your pedals and the angled moving handlebars for full-body workouts, while stationary handlebars with a grip heart rate monitor let you work out your lower body while checking out the intensity of your workout. The data collected, along with goal tracking features and programs featuring 12 presets, fitness and recovery tests, quick start and more, is displayed on the two dual-track LCD screens, showing you feedback data for time, distance, calories, profile, goals and goal completion, heart rate data and more.
All this already makes this a brilliantly innovative and smart unit to have at home, but wait – there’s more. Features such as acoustic chamber speakers to hook on some music, 3-speed fans, USB ports which let you charge your phone and connect to myfitnesspal.com, and a media tray are among a few features to make your workout routine more enjoyable and interactive, customizable to individual use. The compact unit features wheels for easy mobility and set up.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Exerpeutic Aero Air Elliptical
If you’re not interested in the bells and whistles and simply want a machine that’ll let you get your workouts done without taking too big a chunk out of your wallet, our budget pick will get the job done without breaking the bank. Built with a weight capacity of 220 pounds, this unit gets the basics of a good elliptical machine right – strap resistance and dial tension adjustment allow you to moderate the intensity of your workout, broad, ridged pedals giving you enough room to get in a firm foothold without the risk of slippage. Dual-action moving handles also allow for upper body workouts, the LCD display letting you keep track of feedback data like distance covered, calories burned, speed and workout duration. The stride length is a bit on the shorter side, however, at about 12 inches – comfortable enough for individuals no taller than 5.4 feet.
Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
Featuring many of the features we love about our top pick, but at a lower price-tag, this is a great unit to go for if you’re intrigued by the customizability of the 470 model, but don’t need its entire broad range of adjustability. For starters, the unit features the same 20 inch Precision Path stride length, ideal for use by individuals of average or above heights for comfortable and natural elliptical motions, a 10 degrees adjustable ramp with 6 incline positions and 20 levels of eddy current magnetic resistance allowing you to configure how rigorous you want your workout session to be. With user profile settings programmable for 2 users, the unit has the same weight capacity of 300 pounds as our top pick, a control panel letting you pick from 22 programs, including 9 presets as well as settings for the heartrate monitor. Moving handlebars allow you to get a full-body workout, while the static handlebars are engineered with grip heart rate monitors; all feedback data, including heart rate information, speed, calories burnt, user data, intensity meter and so on are displayed on the unit’s dual track LCD screens.
This unit also allows you to make your workout sessions a little more entertaining and comfortable, programmed with acoustic speakers and media tray to let you indulge in some music or Netflix as you exercise, USB charging and connectivity letting you access myfitnesspal.com while charging your device. Transport wheels make for easy maneuverability for this compact unit.
Universal E40 Elliptical Trainer
This space-friendly unit comes with 7 workout presets for you to choose from, static handlebars programmed with a grip heart rate monitor while movable handlebars move in tandem with the pedals. A stride length of 17.5 inches is reasonable enough for individuals of average height and slightly taller individuals, 8 levels of magnetic resistance allowing you to work with different intensities of workouts depending on how rigorous you want a session to be. A large easy to read display screen shows you feedback data tracking the distance covered, duration of workout, calories burned, resistance level, course profile and more. The unit has a weight capacity of 350 pounds.