You’re kids are in bed.
You’ve got to the end of the day, and...you’re not knackered.
You want to do something. Some kind of exercise, but you don’t really want to put any thought into it.
You want to sit in front of the telly and have a bit of a workout. Something a bit mindless, but still moving.
Well, have you thought about exercise machines?
I know what you’re going to say...’I haven’t got the space’. They take up so much room.
That’s what I thought as well. But it turns out, they don’t have to take up much room at all.
An elliptical trainer for example, you know there are such things as compact ellipticals. Or cross trainer, to use their other name.
Yes, some ellipticals have such a compact design they fit into really small spaces. Perhaps a corner of your living room.
You might be thinking why an elliptical?
Why not a treadmill? Or, an exercise bike?
My standard advice for any kind of exercise is do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy. We spend too much of our life doing things we have to do, things that we’re required to do. Don’t make exercise be one of those things.
Concentrate on what you enjoy.
So, if you like treadmills, use one of those. If you like bikes, then a stationary bike or a recumbent bike will be your best option.
But, if you’re not sure what you like, or you want to try something different, ellipticals are a good shout. They will give you a great workout.
But why are they?
Well, most ellipticals, not all, but most, have moving arms. That means you’re pumping your arms the same time as your legs. You’re working your lower body AND your upper body. It’s a full-body workout.
And all while you’re watching your favourite show.
They’re also low-impact workout, unlike treadmills.
The machine follows your foot around as you move. That means your foot isn’t hitting the machine as you ‘run’. There’s no pounding. So, if you suffer from joint pain, especially in the lower body, an elliptical workout is a great option for a pain free workout.
Yes, there are also the health benefits of doing a cardio workout. But, honestly, they would be the same for any of the exercise machines. If you get your heart rate up, for a sustained period of time, you’re going to be reaping the benefits, health wise.
When you start looking for your elliptical you’ll notice how many there are available.
It’s a mine field.
So how do you whittle all of the options down to the best elliptical machine for you?
Well, each machine will have certain features. What you need to determine is what is most important to you.
To be honest, only you can do that. Only you will know if you prefer a good entertainment system over a cheaper price. Or how important being small really is.
But...I can help.
Below I talk about some of the most common features you will find on ellipticals. When you know about each of them, you can make up your own mind on whether they’re important to you.
An lcd display, on workout machines are really helpful.
They’re not something to write off, or forego just to get a cheaper machine.
They display how far you’ve gone, what speed you’re doing, your heart rate, the calories you’ve burned. And that’s at a basic level.
The more advanced machines can also include entertainment options, bluetooth speakers, USB port, and workout programmes.
The workout programmes in themselves can be worth the extra you’d pay.
Now, I don’t think they would replace a personal trainer. Well, I wouldn’t would I? But they really can help you reach your fitness goals. Whatever they may be.
You want to train for a 5k? Well, you will need to know how far you’re going, how quickly you’re getting there and how much you’re improving.
You want to lose weight? Well, you will need to know how many calories you’ve burned.
You want to get a bit fitter generally? Well, you will want to track your heart rate and how that fluctuates throughout your workout.
Some machines also have different ‘runs’ available.
Whether you prefer to run on a track, or through the streets of San Francisco. They help to keep your workouts interesting and different, which is going to keep your motivation high
Different resistance levels on an elliptical can be really useful.
Because that’s what makes your workout different. It’s what makes it change. It gives you variety, and as they saying goes...’variety is the spice of life’.
But, in all seriousness, you don’t want to do the same workout day in day out. Not only would that be incredibly boring, your body would get used to it very quickly.
And once your body is used to it, it won’t adapt. Because it won’t need to.
And if it doesn’t adapt, you won’t be hitting those goals.
Changing the levels of resistance will allow you to change up your workout. Whether that’s just make it a little harder, or changing the workout completely.
One day you might to a 30 minute steady state workout at an easy pace.
The next day you might to a 30 minute HIIT workout.
You might then change it up to 10 minute hard pace followed by 20 minute easier pace.
Then going back to your 30 minute steady and easy pace workout.
Lots of resistance levels required.
So, you will want a machine where you can change those levels easily.
In most cases, it will be the press of a button, usually on one of the arms. But sometimes it will be the turn of a knob.
Make sure you know which it is, and that you can do it during a workout.
I don’t think I really need to go into detail with one…
Consider your budget when you’re choosing your machine.
Ellipticals can cost tens of thousands of pounds, or dollars, or whatever currency you’re using. They can be pricey.
But don’t worry if you’re on a tight budget.
There are will be a more affordable option for you. Please don’t get sucked into spending more than you can afford.
Always remember, there are lots of others way to workout, get fit, lose weight...whatever it is you’re looking to do.
I’ve used many ellipticals in my day.
They are actually one of my favourite cardio machines, the other is the rower but that’s not relevant here.
My point is, I have found some really comfortable, and fun to use, and others not so much.
The difference for me has been the stride length.
I am quite short, but I think I prefer a longer stride. If it’s too short I don’t feel like I’m opening up my hips properly as I move. I soon become tight and my legs become worn out.
With an adjustable stride length, you can find the right stride length for you.
Workout wise, I don’t think finding the perfect stride length would give you a better workout. But, and it’s a big but, if you’re not comfortable, are you going to enjoy using it? And if you don’t enjoy using it, will you actually use it?
If you don’t use it, that will affect your workout.
If you’ve Googled Best Compact Ellipticals I’m guessing you haven’t got much space in your home.
Maybe it’s a fairly decent size, you’d just prefer your exercise equipment to take up less space.
Whatever your reason for Googling small ellipticals, the size is going to be important to you.
There are so many compact options out there, ones that have a small footprint, you will be able to find one no matter how much space you have.
You will need to decide before hand where it is going to be used and stored, if they’re not the same place.
Measure that space.
How much room is there?
Get some big boxes and put them in that space.
Are you sure there is the room you think there is? I often get this wrong.
When you’ve decided and you’re happy with a size in that space, stick to it. Don’t get seduced by fancy, additional features and go for a bigger one. The chances are those extras won’t make any difference to your experience.
Always remember the space you have available. The space you are prepared to part with.
And talking about storage, if you’re not storing your elliptical in the same place you’ll be using it, you’ll need some way of moving it.
Most ellipticals these days, especially compact ellipticals come with transport wheels for ease of movement.
Because believe me, they are heavy. You really don’t want to be lugging one of those back and forth on a regular basis.
Although, would that class as a strength session?
Ok, so we’ve discussed features, now let’s take a look at a few options...
At less than £100 (at the time of writing) on a well known, global, online retailer...yes, it’s Amazon. I mean Amazon. This is an elliptical with a very affordable price. As ellipticals go.
It has a digital monitor, there is a choice of fixed and moveable arms, the fixed ones being home to the pulse sensors. And 8-level adjustable resistance.
Other useful features include transportation wheels, so you can move it about easily. Non-slip foot pedals and floor stabilisers.
Size wise, it’s less than 75cms in length, 45cms wide and 1.5m in height.
It is, apparently quite difficult to put together, but there are YouTube videos if you get stuck.
All in all, for the price, this seems to be a good little buy. Smooth, quiet, sturdy and easy to move around.
This is the cheapest, and apart from the Cubii, it’s the smallest elliptical I could find. So, if budget and space are your main concerns. This is a great option.
Sole fitness have a few elliptical options.
I’ve chosen to mention the E25 model as it’s their smallest and cheapest option, at just over $1000.
It’s features contain moveable arms as well as fixed arms, with pulse sensors for heart rate monitoring. Adjustable resistance and 10 workout programs. Six standard, two heart programs and 2 custom programs.
It also has an integrated tablet holder, built-in speakers, a USB port for charging and a water bottle holder. Always handy.
Size wise, it comes in at just over 1.7m in length, 60cms wide and 1.8m in height.
According to the Sole Fitness website the E25 has been reviewed as the best elliptical under $1200. But, when it’s standard, non-sale price is well over that, I’m not sure how that can happen.
If you go by the sale price, it’s quite a good price point for an elliptical with some advanced features. But it’s not the smallest you can find.
This is the smallest of the Bowflex Max Trainer range at less than 1.2m in length, 66cms in width and 1.63m high.
It looks very fancy with it’s stacked wheels.
Some of the features include an interactive display, bluetooth and USB charging point. It tracks heart rate, calories and calorie burn rate, total workout time, interval time, resistance level and RPM. It has both moveable and fixed arms, and 16 levels of resistance so you can really change up your workout.
There are 5 standard workout programs, interval, calorie burn, fat burn, stairs and manual. But you also get 1 years free membership to the Bowflex JRNY App which has unlimited workouts. If you want to continue with membership after your free year the cost is $19.99 per month.
They’re not cheapest I’ve talked about, or found at $1,499 or £1,699 in the UK.
But, it does get rave reviews. With most customers saying it’s a great piece of kit. There have been reports of the app randomly closing and the display freezing, but, the majority of the people who have bought one have been extremely happy.
The Cubii products are a bit different to the other ellipticals mentioned here. They are called under the desk ellipticals. They have foot pedals only. No arms.
It is certainly the smallest elliptical I’ve discussed, and come across I think. But I do wonder about it’s effectiveness.
Cross trainers are great because they work your upper body and your lower body at the same time. Standing up also requires core involvement. You are really getting a whole body workout.
But, if you’re sat at your desk or on the couch, you’re not getting that experience at all. And it’s by no means the cheapest.
If you are brand new to exercise, or have to take it very easy for some reason, then I think it might work quite well for you.
Anyway, let’s see what features it has…
There are several versions of the Cubii. The cheapest being Cubii JR1 at $260, or, at the time of writing, on sale for $189.
It features an LCD monitor that displays distance pedalled and calories burned. It’s really quiet so working out in the office or at home is easy. And there are 8 levels of resistance for you to choose from.
Their website does say that you can burn up to 150 calories an hour while you are doing other things, so I suppose you could be doing that for most of the day. But I’m still not sure.
At first glance you can’t really tell why this Nordictrack elliptical is called the Spacesaver. I had to double take.
At over 2m in length, 80cms in width and 1.7m in height, it looks like any other elliptical you’d find in a gym.
But...it folds down for easier storage.
So, folded it will still be over 2m in length and 80cms wide. But it’s height drops down to 78cms.
Other features include a full colour touchscreen display. Auto-adjustable stride length. Console feedback showing you calories burned, distance travelled, heart rate, the speed you’re going, time you’ve been working out and resistance.
It has a limited selection of workouts programmed, but you do get access to an app for 30-days, which has thousands of on-demand video based workouts.
It also comes with bluetooth, a water bottle holder and levelling feet.
At £1,699 it is on par with the Bowflex price wise. But it has got a mixed bag, review wise. With some customers reporting it has a poor build quality and is defective in it’s design.
To be balanced, there are other customers who say it’s a great machine.
Personally, if you are looking for a smaller elliptical, I’m not sure this is your answer.
It’s still over 2m long after all.
Whether you have a home gym, or you're working out in the living space of a small apartment, believe it or not you have the room for an elliptical trainer.
But, which is the best compact elliptical for your home?
What features are high up on your must have list?
Have you bought one?
Do you love it? Or, do you use it as a coat stand?
I would love to know.