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Choosing the right Elliptical Cross Trainer ~ A popular edition to the fitness equipment market

There is an aerobic exercise that has become tremendously popular over the last few years. Elliptical cross training combines the best of stair climbing, cross-country skiing and running in a low impact, variety rich workout. It is a highly effective cross training activity that is ideal for the beginner to the elite athlete. Modern elliptical crosstrainers can control everything, from your heart rate to the height and length of the stride. However you always determine the foot peddle speed, just like pedalling an exercise bike. 

An elliptical cross trainer can serve as the foundation for a home gym. It is very flexible, space efficient and quiet. For the user who already has a treadmill or exercise bike, it is a great addition, adding variety and cross training elements to enhance any sport or recreational activity.

However not all elliptical crosstrainers are equal. If you have used one at a health club, which of course is professional gym equipment, then hope to simulate the same movement on a cheap cross trainer designed for the home, then you will be very disappointed. That’s not to say that all cheap crosstrainers are poorly made but a Marcy or Proform £199 elliptical cross trainer will not have the feel of a £6000 commercial elliptical cross trainer.

So if your budget will not stretch to the price of a small car you may have to compromise. Mid range units such as: Sole elliptical crosstrainers, Spirit elliptical crosstrainers, frontier crosstrainers, reebok crosstrainers, finnlo crosstrainers and Kettler crosstrainers will all offer a good elliptical sensation but they all feel different to each other.

Proform 400 ZLE Elliptical CrosstrainerFinnlo Loxon Stressless Elliptical CrosstrainerSole Fitness E35 Elliptical Crosstrainer

Buying Your Elliptical

  1. Consider who will be using the elliptical crosstrainer and what their specific goals are.
    It is more than likely that more than one person will be using the fitness equipment. It is important that the need’s of everyone who wants to use the fitness machine is considered. Runners will certainly benefit from the non-impact movement and compliment their running programme. Older users will love the fluidity and ease of motion.

  2. Start your shopping with a specialist fitness equipment retailer.
    Specialist dealers like us have educated staff and quality exercise equipment plus the ability to install and service your fitness machine more effectively than your normal sports shop or department store.

  3. Go to a specialist fitness equipment store and test the workout equipment.
    Almost any crosstrainer/elliptical trainer will feel adequate if you only test it for a few minutes. Its only when you start to put the elliptical crosstrainer through its paces and use the different programmes will you appreciate the quality of the fitness machine. Try it in forward and reverse motion, raise the ramp or adjust its stride length, if the fitness machine has these facilities. It’s only by testing this way will you notice the major differences in quality and comfort. The best elliptical crosstrainers will utilize a wide variety of muscle groups and feel natural in its motion. So go to the store prepared, in appropriate clothing and footwear, so you can test the gym equipment properly.

Remember the must haves when buying an Elliptical

  1. Natural Elliptical MotionNatural Elliptical Motion
    The crosstrainer elliptical motion should provide the closest simulation to walking and running available without the impact. An important factor to look for here is the feel of the motion. Some elliptical crosstrainers have a ‘kick’ in the motion where the foot comes off the platform. You don’t want any kick, bounce or strain on the knees and back when you use these fitness machines. Try and find a machine that provides as true an elliptical movement pattern both forward and reverse direction as possible. Many movement patterns have been patented and a variety of ingenious mechanical methods have been employed to try to achieve the perfect ellipse. Some have been more successful than others.

  2. Smoothness
    How does the movement ‘feel?’ This is a critical question to ask. It must feel smooth at all times, no matter what speed or resistance you using or the level of incline or the length of stride. Spend some time on the elliptical cross trainer if you can. After you should not feel any discomfort on your knees, back or hips. Also the best elliptical crosstrainers will hold your body in a neutral position. You should not be stretching for the handrails or bending over in any way.

  3. Upper Body MotionElliptical Upper Body Arm Motion
    Nearly all elliptical crosstrainers today have upper body arms that are linked to the movement of the pedals. This almost eliminates the need for natural coordination and makes it ideal for all ages and abilities. Having upper body movement can help accomplish some upper body strength training. It will also increase your heart rate faster as you are engaging more muscle groups. However there should also be an option to let go of the handles and grip a centre bar, allowing you to exercise your legs only if you wish.

  4. Forward & Reverse Motion
    Moving forward and backwards adds variety and uses different muscle groups. It can also reduce the risk of repetitive injury that can sometimes occur on treadmills and stairclimbers. All elliptical crosstrainers have this option, but the sign of a good elliptical cross trainer is that it is as smooth and as quiet in reverse as it is going forward. Note that an adjustable ramp combined with both the forward and reverse motions further varies the movement and muscle involved and intensifies the workout resulting in a greater challenge.

  5. Quiet Operation
    Look and listen to the fitness machine. A truly well designed piece of workout equipment should be relatively silent at all intensity levels.

  6. Adjustable ResistanceElliptical Adjustable Resistance
    All elliptical crosstrainers should provide a broad range of resistance. Resistance can be in the form of a mechanical adjustment that is applied by the turn of a dial, electronically by the push of a button or automatically when using a programme. Resistance changes should be simple to apply and change quickly.

  7. Electronic Features
    On a programmable crosstrainer elliptical almost all the features will be controlled electronically. From the ramp and stride to the resistance and console programmes. The only thing that you would manually control is the speed. Consider what is important to you and try to choose an electronic package that will grow with you as you progress and that will accommodate needs of multiple users.

Programmes and Motivation

The basics from a fitness point of view are time, distance and speed. Having a measure of calories burned can also be motivating. Consider what additional information is important to keep you motivated day after day. Here are some of the most useful extra features.

  • Adjustable Incline or Adjustable Stride Length
    Today there are a number of elliptical crosstrainers that provide further workload in addition to resistance and speed. These elliptical machines either have an adjustable incline ramp or a method of lengthening your stride from a jog to a run, at the push of a button. The advantage of this type of elliptical cross trainer is that it varies the focus on the muscle groups, provides a great way to add variety to your routine, reduces boredom, enhances motivation and prevents you from reaching a plateau.
  • Heart Rate Control ProgrammesElliptical Heart Rate Control Programmes
    Measuring your heart rate is the surest indicator of progress and proper intensity. Everyone has a target heart rate, based on age, for which they should train. Too high a heart rate and you risk injury, too low and you will not achieve your goals. The best elliptical cross trainer will actually adjust the resistance and or incline (if available) while measuring your heart rate to make sure you stay within your range. This is known as a heart rate controlled programme and is very different to a heart rate display which only measures and displays your heart rate on the console and does not offer any interactivity. To achieve this interactivity you simply punch in your desired heart rate and the machine will automatically respond accordingly throughout your workout.
  • Pre-set and Custom Programmes
    One of the most common reasons a person quits a training programme is boredom. Having a product with a range of programmes will help keep each workout fresh and varied. Being able to customize a programme to your specific needs is also a great feature. Another consideration is the science behind the programmes. Manufacturers of quality elliptical crosstrainers do a lot of research into making sure the programmes are safe and effective.

  • Custom Courses
    The best products will
    remember your favourite workouts or allow you to create your own custom course. Look for the ability to store a custom course in order to duplicate them again.

  • Ease Of Use
    Although the elliptical cross trainer console may have plenty of features it must also be simple to use. Too many buttons cause frustration and becomes another obstacle to regular exercise. It should take no more than 2-3 steps to launch a programme and should have a manual or quick start mode that requires only 1-2 pushes of a button to get you going.

Safety & Maintenance

Safety Features
Look for electronic safety features like warm-up and cool-down periods, adjustable resistance and heart rate feedback and interactivity. Make sure the elliptical cross trainer has handrails or console grips that are comfortable without being obtrusive. Can you grip the centre console handrails when not using the upper body arms without these arms hitting you during the exercise? Are the arms ergonomically shaped and positioned so that when you grip them your wrists are not put in an uncomfortable position. Testing the elliptical cross trainer in store for several minutes will help you choose wisely. If this is not possible then talk to one of Fitness Options consultants, who have tried almost every elliptical machine on the market.When buying fitness equipment, gym equipment or any type of workout equipment safety must always be a priority.

Maintenance
A good elliptical cross trainer should be almost maintenance free. A well designed elliptical machine takes normal wear and tear into account so that you don’t have to.


Warranty
Warranties vary from manufacturer. Please ask a Fitness Options consultant for details.


Why you should buy your elliptical cross trainer from Fitness Options?

  • We offer an extensive range of elliptical cross trainers, covering all budgets
  • Your elliptical cross trainer warrantee: All elliptical cross trainers come with a minimum 1 year parts and labour warranty. Many far exceed this with 3 and 5 year warranties depending on manufacturer.
  • Elliptical cross trainer delivery: Delivered direct to your door
  • Elliptical cross trainer installation: Elliptical cross trainers can be very heavy, particularly high-end and commercial models, that is why we would recommend our installation service. Installed by our own engineers.

Read more about elliptical cross trainers & further fitness tips in the Fitness Options blog


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