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Why Do You Want an Elliptical Trainer?

How to Buy One if You Do


Updated June 26, 2014

Women on Elliptical Trainers
Blend Images /JGI/Jamie Grill Collection/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Why are you thinking about buying an elliptical trainer? Have you used one in the past? Do you exercise regularly on an elliptical or have you done so in the past? The reason that elliptical trainers are so popular and rapidly growing as a major segment of exercise equipment is two reasons:
  • #1 They work!
  • #2 They have a lower impact on your joints than traditional treadmills and stair climbers.

Ellipticals are rapidly becoming one of the big categories in the fitness industry. Many fitness stores that we talk with now sell nearly as many elliptical trainers as they do treadmills. Elliptical trainers are very important to the fitness retail store for two reasons. They sell enough volume of these machines to help cover their expenses, and they tend to make more money on ellipticals due to the wide variety of ellipticals available.

The variety of elliptical trainers is a very important point. Because there are so many ways an elliptical can be made, there are a lot of competing choices and marketing claims. Many of these claims are complete fabrications just to get you to buy their machines so you need to be very careful.

Let’s go back to our original thoughts. Why are you buying a elliptical trainer? Is it to lose weight, tone up, stay in shape or rehabilitate? The answer to this question, along with a few other factors will help you determine how much to spend. If you haven’t put much thought into it yet, you may want to take the questionnaire located on the Treadmill Doctor website at treadmilldoctor.com. If you just want to dive in, let’s get started!

How Much to Spend for an Elliptical Trainer

You should never, ever begin seriously shopping for an elliptical trainer without determining how much to spend. This is unless you want to pay too much. This may seem obvious but when some of us were salespeople in fitness stores, over 90% of shoppers had no idea how much elliptical trainers cost. They also were totally oblivious in regard to the amount they wanted to spend. We’re going to help you figure this out step by step. Remember the old adage: If you don’t know what things cost, you will have your pants around your ankles and never knew your belt was undone.
  • Step #1: What is Your Budget?: Financial limitations are important and your budget will determine what you can spend. If you can’t afford a $3,000 elliptical trainer, let’s not even consider it. A person on a limited budget may window shop for a Mercedes but when it comes to serious car buying time, they will go to the Chevy dealer. Determine the maximum amount you can spend. You may need a better elliptical trainer, but only spend what you can afford.
  • Step #2: Have You Used an Elliptical Trainer? This is where our second question comes into play. Have you ever used an elliptical trainer? If you have, and you used it simply for short periods of time, does it make sense to buy one that’s built for a marathon runner? You can limit your choices at this point. A good basic model may be all you need or you may need one with full programmability and heart rate control (HRC) features.
  • Step #3: How Experienced are You with an Elliptical Trainer? This is where the third question comes into play. Do you use an elliptical trainer regularly or have you done so in the past? If you have, we recommend that you buy a better elliptical trainer than if you haven’t. The reason is that if you have a pattern of consistent exercise and you are like most people, you will not buy an elliptical trainer that will meet your needs. You will see the $599 specials and then try to use it 1 hour per day, every day of the year and then wonder why it completely breaks down within the first few months of use. If you have a track record of consistent use, buy accordingly.
  • Step #4: Determine Which Features You Want: Using this article, determine your needs and select the options you want before you go shopping. It’s like buying a car, appliances, a new home, or other large purchases. If the seller can get you emotional about things you don’t need, he or she has a good chance of selling them to you. You don’t want to get home and regret your purchase. Simply find the features that you want and if the dealer brings up an option that sounds great, take some time to think about it. You don’t have to buy it immediately.

Decide Who, Where, and How You Will Use the Elliptical Trainer

  • Who will be using the elliptical trainer? This is important because a single user that weighs 110 lbs. will need a much different elliptical trainer than a family of 4 that has 2 people over 200 lbs. For each person, over 2 people, that is using the elliptical trainer on a regular basis, which is 3 times per week, we recommend stepping up 1 level in quality (we will talk about quality levels in later on in the article).
  • Where will you use the elliptical trainer? If you have a tiny space to place the elliptical trainer in, you won’t be able to buy a large commercial unit, even if you can afford it. You want to make sure you see the elliptical trainer every day. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. Space may necessitate an elliptical trainer that can fold up or you may need to limit the weight of the unit if it will rest upstairs in an older home. Think through all of these factors before you purchase.
  • How will you use the elliptical trainer?: How it will be used is the most important consideration. An older 95 lb. lady that wants to use the unit 10 minutes a day, 3 days per week is going to need a much different elliptical trainer than a competitive athlete. Normal use would be considered using it up to 30 minutes per day, every day of the week. Past this, you should step up 1 level in quality for every 30 minutes per day extra that it will be used.
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