Elliptical trainers may be among the best tools for a full-body cardio workout, but they're also among the largest. Our best-reviewed Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical Machine (Est. $1,700) is a whopping 83 inches long and 27 inches wide. Even our top recommendation for a cheap elliptical, the Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine (Est. $600), is 70 inches long and 28 inches wide. Only one of the elliptical machines we discuss in our Best Home Elliptical category, the Best Fitness E1 Elliptical Trainer by Body Solid (Est. $1,100), has a smaller footprint than most full-sized ellipticals -- 48 inches long and 30 inches wide, but that's still too large for many people -- especially since it also weighs 182 pounds -- hardly as "portable" as it's touted to be.
However, for a truly compact and lightweight elliptical, look no further than the Sunny Air Walk Trainer (Est. $80). At a mere 28 inches long, 16.5 inches wide and 57 inches tall, it will fit in all but the tiniest of living spaces. In spite of its basic construction (it's got a pendulum motion that "glides" back and forth), owners say it offers a very effective, albeit light, cardio workout that owners say you can't beat for the price. It's one of the highest-rated home ellipticals we saw anywhere, and it is equally popular with those who want to use it as their primary exercise machine, as it is for those who just want to tuck it in a corner so they'll have something to do beside sitting while watching TV.
The Sunny Air Walk Trainer lacks the bells and whistles of true ellipticals, but users don't seem to care. Many say they this is specifically what they were looking for because they didn't want to have to plug it in, learn programs or figure out displays. Most say the basic computer display, which tracks total distance (in strides), total workout time and calories, is plenty sufficient. We saw comments from a number of users who don't bother with the display at all, preferring to wear a fitness tracker, such as those we cover in our separate report.
In spite of its 37 pound weight, users say the Sunny Air Walk Trainer is very stable and solid when in use. It has an upper weight limit of 220 pounds, and some owners at the upper range of that limit say they reinforce its frame by laying 25 pound weight across the front bar. The one consistent complaint we did see was about the abdominal pad that's supposed to provide support as you work out. Many say it's very uncomfortable, but it's also very easy to remove and doesn't affect the performance of the elliptical if you do so.
If you need something even smaller and more portable than the Sunny Air Walk Trainer, you may want to take a look at the Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer (Est. $90). At only 24.5 inches long and 17 inches wide, it gets thousands of positive reviews from owners who love its very small footprint and extreme portability -- it weighs just 24 pounds. Reviewers love that they can move it from room to room or tote it between home and office. Plenty use it as their primary exercise machine -- and it's very popular with those who live in apartments or dorm rooms -- while others keep it at work to "pedal" as they sit. Others say they can use it as a standing desk "hack" to move as they work at their computer -- it's much more affordable for that purpose than a treadmill and fits in spaces that a treadmill simply is too large for.
The Stamina In-Motion is virtually silent, users note, so can be used anywhere without disturbing others or forcing you to turn up the volume on the TV. Unlike most ellipticals, which are either black, white or gray, the Stamina In-Motion comes in black, green, orange and pink.
There are actually several versions of this small home elliptical -- the one we review, the model 55-1610, is just the pedals, but there is also a version with resistance bands (model 55-1621, Est. $140) and one with a handle (model 55-1616, Est. $120). The handle is just for stability, it does not offer an upper body workout.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Elliptical Trainers: Need a top elliptical trainer for your exercise room? We found the best ellipticals for every space and budget.
Best Home Ellipticals: Home ellipticals can help you get in great shape without the joint stress of running or walking. We name the best overall elliptical and the best cheap elliptical trainer.
Buying Guide: Not sure what type of home elliptical is right for you? Our buying guide will help you figure out how to find the perfect elliptical trainer.
Our Sources: These are the expert and user sources we consulted in finding the top elliptical trainers. They are listed in order from most to least helpful.