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 E55 sells for $1,500, which includes shipping. For the price, you get a machine equipped with a heavy 30 lb flywheel, a long 20" stride, wireless heart rate control, and a sturdy 196 lb weight. Best of all, the sole E55 is covered with a 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty.
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.