Elliptical Shopping Checklist: What to look for when buying an Elliptical Cross-Trainer Machine

When shopping for an elliptical cardio machines, you come across a vast selection of machines ranging from $300 to over $5000.  Contrary to popular belief, if you spend more money, you’re not paying for the “bells and whistles” programming, you are actually buying a more durable, stable, smoother machine.  With all of these huge sales on all the time like 50% off a $2000 machine, it’s easy to lose sight of what to really look for when making the right buying decision.  Here is a simple checklist of what to look for when buying an elliptical machine.


1. Warranty

This is the biggest one, if an elliptical was one that was durable, the warranty would reflect that.  Manufacturers would stand by their product and put confidence in the unit by giving it a longer warranty.  Be wary of elliptical machines that do not have a lifetime warranty on the frame and the resistance system.  Likewise, stay away from elliptical machines that do not have at least a 2 year warranty on parts and 1 year on labor, anything less than that is a big red flag.


2. Service

Yes, shelling out big bucks for an elliptical machine is great and all, but even Ferraris need maintenance and servicing.  The fact is, if you are going to be using your machine regularly (like you should be) you are eventually going to need maintenance done on it.  Who is going to provide you that service is very important.  Big box stores will direct you to the manufacturer if you have a problem with your machine.  Now you have to call a 1-800 number and talk to a CSR from who knows where in the world, the manufacturer will then have to find a fitness equipment repair company somewhere in your area and now you’re dealing with a third party.  This whole process can take weeks or even months, if it can be done at all.  To avoid all this hassle, buy from a company who has their own service department to take care of your needs.  Furthermore, make sure the service provider can come to your home because you don’t want to be lugging a 200lb machine somewhere to get fixed.


3. Specialty Fitness Stores

Where are you buying your elliptical machine from?  Are you buying your fitness equipment from a place that also sells lawnmowers, coffee machines, and laundry detergent?  Would you buy a guitar from someone who also sells mops?  A specialty fitness store will have a wider selection of fitness equipment and well as experts who can tell you exactly what to look for in a machine and which one is best for you.  Also, a specialty fitness equipment store has to carry good, reliable brands because they need to uphold their own reputation by carrying the best.


4.  Look at what your gym has

Just like specialty fitness stores, commercial gyms carry the best brands of fitness equipment because it costs them money if they carry subpar equipment.  If a machine breaks down all the time and is out of order, it costs the gym money.  Gyms need to have durable machines that can withstand a lot of usage because there members may be using the machine 24/7.  Brands like Cybex, Life Fitness, and Keiser are often found in gyms, health clubs, PT studios, and condos.


5.  User Height and Weight

A 5’5”, 110lbs person should not be using the same elliptical cross-trainer as someone who’s 6’4”, 220lbs.  A good rule of thumb when looking at the specs is find a machine that has a user weight capacity at least 100lbs more than what you weigh.  If you’re 300lbs, don’t pick a machine with a user weight capacity of just 300lbs, you’ll need a commercial grade one with a capacity of 400lbs.  Likewise, taller people generally have longer strides, if you’re over 6’ tall, don’t pick a machine with an 18” stride, you’ll feel like you’re in a very confined space, choose an elliptical with at least a 20” stride.

Well that’s all folks, I hope these tips will help you in choosing the perfect elliptical for you and/or your family.  Remember, it’s better to choose wisely and spend a little more money upfront for a stable, durable machine.  If you choose wrong and the machine frequently breaks down, it will cost you more in the long run.  Follow these 5 things on this checklist and keep your cost of ownership low and more importantly, help yourself slim down that waistline because we can’t forget that fitness is the ultimate goal 😉



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