Purchasing an elliptical trainer can be the first step to a fit lifestyle. A potential buyer should ask these essential questions:
Does it fit my room? Do you have enough space to use an elliptical trainer in your home? The average footprint is 79 inches long by 30 inches wide by 63 inches tall. Use a tape measure and double check the area where you plan to place your machine. Don't forget to measure your ceiling; ellipticals will add an extra 1.5 feet to your height. Once you know your space limitations, be sure to check the footprint of your potential product or consider a foldable style.
Does it fit me? If you're especially tall or short, look for an elliptical with a longer or shorter stride length. The only way to know for sure is to get on the machine and exercise for a few minutes. Check your knee clearance. Do they almost hit the frame? Is the motion comfortable? If not, look elsewhere. Comfort is key.
Who will use it? An elliptical trainer with an adjustable stride length may be necessary if you aren't the only one using it.
Should I have it delivered or assembled? When you pick up or receive your elliptical, it will arrive in a large, heavy box. Manufacturers and retailers offer professional delivery and assembly for about $100 to $200. If you're handy and patient, assembly should be no problem. However, if you can't move a 300-pound box into your exercise area and don't have the patience to spend a couple of hours assembling it, choose the professional option.
How often will I use the elliptical trainer? If you're committing to long, frequent workout sessions, you'll want a machine with a solid build and durable parts that's known to perform optimally and safely multiple times a week, year after year.
Do I want movable handlebars? Although movable handlebars provide a moderate upper-body cardio workout, most exercisers find they use the stationary handlebars more. Moving handlebars also add width and may be an inconvenience if you don't use them, because they'll continue to swing near your body.
Elliptical trainer pricing is straightforward and often correlates directly with quality. Price is determined by brand, features and durability. Purchasing a durable elliptical will mean years of use without issue, but when a part fails most warranties will cover in-home repair or replacement. Make sure to check the manufacturer site first to verify delivery and warranty data. Some may include free delivery, or sometimes a retailer may have outdated or incorrect manufacturer warranty information.
Shop around for the best deal. Consumers find that online retailers offer the best price, but reliable customer service can be a gamble. One Amazon.com reviewer asked the manufacturer to beat the price of a less expensive certified Ebay dealer. Always make sure the retailer is certified by the brand or the manufacturer warranty may not apply.
Talk to the technician. If possible, speak with a third-party fitness equipment technician. Since they have an exclusive view under the hood, so to speak, ask which brands they're called to fix most often and least.
Double check the website. Visit the manufacturer website to look at specifications and warranty details. Retailer websites may be inaccurate or out of date.
Try the elliptical trainer. Specifications and features are secondary to the feel of the elliptical. Always take the machine for a test drive at the retailer, if possible. Make sure it has a smooth, natural motion, and don't accept excuses for knocks or other noise from the salesperson. The elliptical will have the same issues in your home. Check for stability; the machine shouldn't rock even working at full speed.
Center drive elliptical trainers are a new style of machine that places the drive system in line with the user's feet, similar to operating a paddleboat. This emerging technology is becoming more popular as larger brands introduce their own versions, and creates a much wider but more stable elliptical. As center drive is relatively new, consumers don't report much on its durability. This type of elliptical trainer provides the most compact footprint -- the NordicTrack ACT Pro is just 51 inches by 34.5 inches, for example -- but lacks expected features like the ability to incline.