As I previously discussed, my husband and I have debated what to do with our finished basement. It isn’t the largest space, so we wouldn’t be able to do with it what both of us wants. However, we are slowly finding a way to compromise on the space. One of the ways that I have had to compromise on my dream home gym has been to get one cardio machine. It was a long and hard decision as to whether we would get a treadmill or an elliptical. For the longest time, I was all about the treadmill. However, I soon realized that I prefer to run outside, not on the “dreadmill.” Most of the year I will be running outside, with only 2-3 months of inside running as I hid from the cold. On the other hand, the elliptical can be used during those 2-3 months of cold AND it can always be used for cross-training purposes during the warmer months. So an elliptical it was!
Having been a member of a variety of different gyms, with experience with a lot of elliptical brands and models, I felt that I was pretty knowledgeable about making a decision as to which one would be right for us. However, I realized that there is a lot of things we had to consider and a lot of research that needed to be done. Here are a few things that I learned from our experience.
- Make sure that the elliptical has a 20″ stride. An 18″ will work for shorter people (5’5″ or shorter), but might feel awkward for even those short people who are used to the 20″ of the industrial machines we’ve used at the gym.
- Look for 1-10+ levels for the incline. This will help to vary the different programs that are available for your machine.
- Look for 1-20+ resistance levels. As I stated above, this will help you vary your workouts and give you the ability to challenge yourself as you progress.
- Opt for a machine that has more programs. Make sure that there is a manual option along with speed, heart rate, hill and interval, at a minimum.
- If you want to track your use, levels and progress, look for the feature of saving 2+ users to the machine.
- Know that many models now have built-in speakers and offer the ability to hook up most MP3 players. This will allow you to avoid using headphones.
- Some models come with a built-in fan. While this should not be a deciding factor (realize that you can pull out a box fan or a use a ceiling fan), it can be a nice bonus.
- Ellipticals can come with heart rate monitors in the hand grips as well as equipped to recognize wireless heart rate straps.
- If you want to move your machine (i.e. accommodate spatial limitations), look for a lighter weight frame (less than 200 lbs) and two frame wheels on the front.
- Keep in mind that you will also want to purchase a mat to go under the machine. Some machines will come with a mat. If the one you are interested in does not, make note of the length and width and add 2-5″ in each direction. Check out box hardware supply stores (i.e., Home Depot) for industrial mats for cheaper.
- Consult the reviews before making any decisions, but be smart about what you are reading. My husband and I are dedicated Consumer Report readers. In fact, we consult their online database before making any major purchases. After looking at the reviews online and talking to sales associates, we read the reviews from Consumer Report. We’ve learned that many manufacturers pay employees to write reviews online. So take unsolicited feedback with a grain of salt.
- Push to get the best price. Whether you are at Sears or your local fitness goods store, go into the store armed with price information (lowest price, range, MSRP, etc.) and try to deal. With the dawn of Amazon.com, consumers can easily find this information and have come to expect to NOT pay sales tax. If you are looking in a local store, try to get an additional perk added (i.e., free assembly) to compensate for paying sales tax.
- Try to negotiate an in-house delivery. Even though this will likely not include assembly of the machine, try to get the delivery service to bring the box into your home or garage. Most deliveries are just to the end of your driveway. You will be responsible for the rest.
- Test the machine before buying. It might be hard to find the model that you want in stock near you. If you cannot, learn all the specs of the model you like and try to find something similar to try. Sales associates should be able to assist you.
In addition, you will need to buy grease and cleaning chemicals to help maintain your elliptical. Those are not necessary when you purchase the elliptical, but it is helpful to speak to the sales associate or customer service at the manufacturer so that you understand what you will need and brands they recommend.
Hopefully these tips will help you in your search for the perfect elliptical. I am excited for our recent purchase to arrive later this month so that I can begin adding this cross-training element back into my workout routine.
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