Best Elliptical Reviews – Top 5 Fittest List for Jan. 2020
It’s easy to make a resolution to get into shape. What’s not so easy is forcing yourself to go to the gym, or to run or bike every day.
It’s easy to buy a treadmill or exercise bike (recumbent bike or spin bike) with the best of intentions. What’s not so easy is forcing yourself to climb on and finish your workout even when your back and joints are aching.
The Best Elliptical Machines Give you a Great Workout that is Easy on the Body
That’s why low-impact home exercise equipment, particularly the best elliptical trainers, have become so popular. They’re the perfect form of cardiovascular exercise which lets you firm muscles, lose weight, and builds muscle in the comfort of your own home. They’re also much easier on your body; since your feet stay on the pedals, you avoid repeated trauma to your legs and feet. That lets you exercise longer, and lets you work out even if you’re sore or hampered by chronic lower body pain.
You can find flimsy elliptical machines for $100-$200 if you just want to see whether this type of low-impact exercise works for you. A better approach would be trying an elliptical out at a gym, and then purchase a high-quality machine for long-term use at home if you decide to go for it.
Once you’ve decided to go low-impact and are looking for the right machine for your needs, Groom+Style’s elliptical reviews will help you to quickly identify the top 5 best machines available for your needs.
If you need some guidance on what to look for in an elliptical machine or trainer check out our elliptical machine buying guide first.
1. Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
You have to give a little to get a little. With the Schwinn470, what you give is flexibility in some of the adjustments; the incline only goes up to ten degrees (the biggest negative in our mind), and you can’t make any stride adjustments. What you get in return is a significantly lower price than you’ll pay for fancier brand names, for a good-quality, mid-range home elliptical trainer.
You’d expect a Schwinn product to be solid (even when we were kids, Schwinn always made the sturdiest bikes), and even though the 470 is lighter than some of the other ellipticals on our list, this machine is definitely made to last with an oversized crossbar and center frame support. There are 25 different resistance settings controlled by an Eddy Current Brake system and selectable on the handlebars, and a robust 29 programs with four selectable user settings – both nice features for a machine in this price range.
Perhaps the best aspects of the Schwinn 470 are the computer, monitoring and display features. There are two LCD windows allowing you to check 13 different parameters, download your performance data and transfer it to either the proprietary Schwinn Connect or MyFitnessPal. The team does think they should have included a heart strap monitor with this unit (although it’s designed to use one).
The latest model year version of the Schwinn 470 adds added Bluetooth capability for sending workout data to an app. There are no other major changes, though, except a higher price. The review team thinks you’ll get a better buy if you choose the older version, which is still widely available on Amazon and elsewhere.
This is a really nice elliptical trainer for the money.
Details of the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine:
2. Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
Sole Fitness is well known for its top-notch commercial grade exercise equipment and makes several terrific ellipticals for home use, including the higher-priced E95.
The Groom+Style review team found that the E35 provides almost all of the benefits and features of the E95, at a lower cost. And the machine is very similar to that of an elliptical trainer you’d find at your local gym: solid and well-built. (How solid is this machine? It can handle users who weigh as much as 375 pounds.)
What immediately stood out to us, other than the machine’s quality, was the E35’s wide range of adjustable options. The powered incline feature allows you to change the difficulty of your workout (and exercise difficult muscle groups) with the touch of a button on the handlebars, changing the incline to as much as 30 degrees, unlike some competitors which limit the incline to ten or twenty degrees.
There are 16 different resistance settings, again controlled from the handlebars and handled by the Eddy Current Brake system. And even the stride is adjustable from 20 to 22 inches, allowing you to change the adjustable footrests to match your personal preference. All of this flexibility means that you can set the E35 for any type of low-impact workout you want.
Groom+Style also loved how quiet this elliptical is, thanks to its frictionless resistance system – and we liked the extras that you’d expect on a premium machine like the built-in speakers and iPod plug, the easy-to-read large backlit LCD display, the strap-on heart rate monitor, and the cooling fan which keeps you from dripping sweat during your workout.
Sole has recently released the E35 Elliptical Trainer System for a couple of hundred dollars extra. It adds Bluetooth capability for exporting your workout data to any smart devices for tracking on the Sole app or any other fitness app.
The E35 doesn’t have a lot of programmable workout programs, just ten of them (the same number as the more-expensive E95, incidentally) and it’s a bear to assemble, but we couldn’t find anything else to complain about. It’s an excellent elliptical trainer.
Key specifications of the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine:
3. Nautilus E616 Elliptical Trainer
As soon as you hear the brand name Nautilus, your expectations are raised. For the most part, the E616 meets those expectations. This is a strong machine that’s built to last, at a price point a few hundred dollars lower than the Sole Fitness elliptical but with most of the advantages.
The movement is smooth on this Nautilus product, with 25 levels of magnetic resistance controlled from the handlebars and 29 different workout programs. It also has dual backlit LCD windows for displaying your stats, which can also be downloaded and saved via the company’s NautilusConnect system or MyFitnessPal.
However, the Groom+Style review team was disappointed that the six adjustable incline levels only go up to 11 degrees. Thankfully, Nautilus has at least provided a motorized control for adjusting the incline, which was missing from their previous E614 model. (The E614 is still available on Amazon at a lower price; it’s still a good elliptical but with fewer levels of resistance, fewer workout programs and the need to adjust incline manually). There’s also no way to adjust the stride.
The speakers/iPod and fan standard on expensive machines are included on the E616, and there is a heart rate monitor which can either be activated from the trainer’s handlebars or via chest strap.
Clearly, the Nautilus is a step down (no pun intended) from top-of-the-line machines, but it’s more than sufficient for most users and a trainer which will last for many years.
Important specifications for the Nautilus E616 Elliptical Trainer:
If you can handle a few less features and want to save some money the Nautilus E614 is still a great choice.
4.1 NordicTrack C 7.5 Elliptical Trainer
Yes, NordicTrack is known for expensive fitness equipment. But their budget-level C 7.5 is well-made and provides most of the features you’d look for in a home elliptical machine at a price much lower than the Sole E35.
The C 7.5 is built around a front-wheel drive, the 20-pound flywheel that’s gives you an extremely smooth workout, with 22 digitally-set resistance levels, a 20-inch stride, 26 preset programs and a motorized incline function that ranges from 0° to 20° – not spectacular, but very good for the cost.
What really stands out to the team is that this NordicTrack is tablet and iFit compatible. That allows you to use your tablet as a monitor (or watch a movie while exercising), download lots of extra programs, do advanced stat tracking and even download Google Maps workouts that make your session a lot more realistic and enjoyable. One thing to know, though: this is a bear to put together, so paying for assembly might be a smart move.
Note: we review the more expensive NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 next.
Higher-level NordicTrack ellipticals like the C 9.5 and C 12.9 will provide more features like a strap heart monitor (not just handlebar monitors) and more resistance levels, for hundreds and hundreds of dollars extra. The C 7.5 has more than enough for most weekend warriors, though, at a price that’s easier to take.
Digging deeper on the NordicTrack C 7.5 Elliptical:
4.2 NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 Elliptical Trainer
We know what you’re thinking: the word “commercial” in the name of a product always means big bucks. In truth, this NordicTrack isn’t that much more expensive than the Sole Fitness E35. And while Groom+Style slightly prefers the Sole Fitness elliptical, this is a pretty darn good machine as well.
The word “commercial” also implies that this unit is designed for a gym or other public workout facility – and that seems to be the case. This is a heavy, solidly-built trainer which runs much more quietly than you might expect. The magnetic-resistance NordicTrack 14.9 is constructed with a front-drive 32-pound flywheel, 26 levels of resistance can be changed on the smart HD touchscreen, and the adjustable stride and power ramp features (plus 35 preset workouts) make riding this elliptical as challenging as you choose. You can pedal in reverse, too.
The 14.9 can handle riders weighing up to 350 pounds, it comes with both handgrip and Bluetooth-enabled chest-strap heart rate monitors, and even the workout fan is more powerful than on most competitors. There’s an integrated tablet holder and speakers, and the purchase includes one year of the company’s iFit health-tracking and visualization program.
This NordicTrack is the most expensive elliptical in the G+S rankings, but it’s worth the money and should last for decades if treated nicely.
Digging deeper on the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9:
5. Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
Not everyone wants to shell out thousands for an elliptical trainer. For those folks, the Exerpeutic 5000 is a great choice as our beast cheap elliptical for home use.
This feels more like a home machine than a gym version in terms of its sturdiness and footprint and doesn’t have many of the features that you’ll pay more for with our other reviewed trainers. But it should hold up well for some time and the ergonomics are good. In short, it’s a good bet for weekend workout warriors.
First, here’s what you won’t get with the Exerpeutic 5000. The incline and stride can’t be adjusted, it’s not as whisper-quiet as higher-priced competitors, there’s not much of a discernable difference between many of the 24 adjustable resistance levels, and you don’t get the bells and whistles like fans or iPod connections.
What you do get is a very large (10”) LCD display, Bluetooth connectivity for easy workout tracking without having to subscribe to a proprietary system.
This is a smaller, fully-functional elliptical trainer, which is sufficient for most people and a very good buy.
Specs for the Exerpeutic 500 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer:
Bonus Option: Bonus Option: ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer
We believe this bonus choice is perfect for two groups of people: those without enough space for a full-sized elliptical, and those who are looking for a full-scale HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout at a very attractive price.
The elliptical path on this magnetic-resistance ProForm is more vertical than horizontal: 10” vertical, 5” horizontal. That steep path is why the machine takes up less room in a home gym than the competitors on the G+S rankings; it’s sort of a cross between a standard elliptical and a stair stepper. The full-body cardio workout is extremely effective, however, with 24 resistance settings (controllable automatically) and 32 pre-programmed workout apps providing well-designed, high-intensity exercise.
The console isn’t full-featured but it’s more than enough for most users and there’s a ledge where you can place a tablet to connect to iFit (membership not included). Unfortunately, there’s no heart-rate monitor.
The ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer is a good choice if you’re not sure whether you want an elliptical or a stepper, and the price is quite nice for equipment that will give you a range of high- and lower-intensity workouts.
More info on the ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer:
Curious about other ways to stay fit, continue your research and read about the best pilates reformers. Remember that exercise is just one component of staying healthier, adding a greater quantity of fruit and vegetables to your diet is critical as well – a top juicer might just be what the doctor ordered.