Elliptical trainers are growing in popularity due to the low impact and combined upper and lower body workout. Only a few years ago, elliptical trainers were a novelty. Now, you will find as many trainers as there are treadmills at your local health clubs. The prices for elliptical trainers vary from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000. The list below consists of recommendations in the $700-$1,700 price range. They are based not only on my personally testing the machines, but also third-party reviews, customer testimonials, and company reputation.
Sole has built a reputation on quality fitness equipment at a value price. Their treadmills won several best buy recommendations and are used by the Hilton chain for in-room workouts. The Sole E35 sells for under $1,400, which includes shipping. For the price, you get a machine equipped with a heavy 29 lb flywheel, a long 20-22" stride, wireless heart rate control, and a sturdy 215 lb weight. Best of all, the sole E55 is covered with a 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. This model earned the Best Buy 2014 designation from TreadmillDoctor.com.
In addition to being a quality machine with a very smooth elliptical motion, the Smooth 3.6 comes with a lifetime parts warranty. I am not familiar with any other company that offers comparable coverage. In comparison to the Sole E55, the Smooth 3.6 uses a rear wheel drive, electromagnet brake system. Some find the rear drive preferable and find the elliptical motion more natural. The 3.6 is also equipped with wireless heart rate control and pivoting foot pedals. The pedals angle with the elliptical motion, further reducing stress to your joints.
This elliptical got top ratings from Consumer Reports in 2012. It comes with both a chest strap heart rate monitor and grip pulse monitors, with four heart-rate based exercise programs. In addition, it has X-Mode, Glutekicker and Armblaster programs to tone specific areas. But of even more interest is that it has stationary platforms and resistance bands to use in doing circuit training routines. For safety, it has a MOM mode so kids can't play with it and hurt themselves. But it all comes at a hefty price tag of over $3000.
4. New Balance 9.0e Elliptical TrainerThe New Balance 9.0e is one of the slickest looking ellipticals on the market. Selling for around $1,000, it has a very solid feel and a comfortable motion. It is equipped with a (6) window LCD display, allowing you to get numerous readouts simultaneously. I particularly like the heart rate monitor on the moveable handlebars. Most companies place the monitor on stationary grips, defeating the benefit of the dual action workout. The one drawback is the 9.0e only has (8) levels of resistance. You may find, when going from one level to another, the change in resistance is significant.