First Things First
This really sounds silly, but why are you thinking about buying an elliptical trainer? Have you used one in the past? Do you exercise regularly on an elliptical or have you done so in the past?
The reason that elliptical trainers are so popular and rapidly growing as a major segment of exercise equipment is two reasons. #1- They work! #2- They have a lower impact on your joints than traditional treadmills and stair climbers.
The variety of elliptical trainers is a very important point. Because there are so many ways an elliptical can be made, there are a lot of competing choices and marketing claims. Many of these claims are complete fabrications just to get you to buy their machines so you need to be very careful.
Let's go back to our original thoughts. Why are you buying an elliptical trainer? Is it to lose weight, tone up, stay in shape or rehabilitate? The answer to this question, along with a few other factors will help you determine how much to spend.
If you haven?t put much thought into it yet, you may want to take the questionnaire located at the end of this pamphlet. If so, go to the last printed page before the final logo sheet and take the questionnaire so you will have a better idea of what you are looking for. If you just want to dive in, let's get started!
HOW MUCH TO SPEND
You should never, ever begin seriously shopping for an elliptical trainer without determining how much to spend. This is unless you want to pay too much. This may seem obvious but when some of us were salespeople in fitness stores, over 90% of shoppers had no idea how much elliptical trainers cost. They also were totally oblivious in regard to the amount they wanted to spend. We?re going to help you figure this out step by step. Remember the old adage: If you don?t know what things cost, you will have your pants around your ankles and never knew your belt was undone.
DECIDE WHO, WHERE, & HOW
DETERMINING QUALITY LEVELS
This is the most difficult part of buying an elliptical trainer. There are some great marketing people in the fitness business. Their goal is to make you think that their elliptical trainer is worth much more than someone else?s elliptical trainer, regardless of price.
Although it is difficult to absolutely determine quality from the price of the product, it is still the best way to separate the quality levels of ellipticals. It makes sense as well. A manufacturer has to spend more money on a better quality elliptical trainer.
Therefore, they have to charge more for it as well. In some cases, you pay for a name brand but on our web site at http://www.treadmilldoctor.com you can review our Elliptical Reviews section and our Best Buy picks will help you discover which ones are better than others from a quality perspective.
So, let's separate quality levels by price ranges. Currently, we separate the quality levels as follows: $0 - $399, $400 - $699, $700 to $999, $1,000 - $1,499, $1,500 - $1,999, $2,000 - $2,499, $2,500 - $2,999, $3,000 - $3,999, $4,000 and up. Each price range should be considered a step up in quality.
Therefore, if you are single, weigh over 200 lbs., and will use the elliptical 90 minutes per day (remember our earlier example), you will need an elliptical trainer that is in at least in the $700 to $999 price range.
There are many variables to consider but here are the three main variables you must consider when purchasing an elliptical trainer:
For every 50 lbs. of weight over 200 lbs. of the heaviest user, go up one level in quality. For instance, if the heaviest user is 350 lbs., select an elliptical trainer that is three levels above the bare minimum, or in this case it would be in the $1,000 to $1,499 price range.
ELLIPTICAL TRAINER POINTERS
The drive system of your elliptical trainer is the most important item you should consider. If you don?t make the right selection on this point, you will lament your choice for eons. Seriously, it will be a worse mistake than your first marriage. Really seriously, it will create a great number of problems for you.
The strength of any elliptical trainer or its Achilles' heel is its drive system. By drive system, we are speaking of the drive axle, axle bearings, drive belt, generator or alternator, and power PCB. If these are well-engineered it will hide a multitude of sins. Components are important but engineering is more important in this area.
For instance, one manufacturer uses cheaper quality components but gets away with it (sometimes) because their engineering is so good.
We have also seen others who have fantastic components but poor reliability due to poor engineering.
Ultimately, here is how to determine the good from the bad.
Right now, there are multiple types of ellipticals that are vying for the title "best elliptical design?. These types can be broken down into three broad categories: Front Drive, Rear Drive, and Center Drive. Each of these elliptical categories will affect the smoothness of the machine.
This is one area where it takes someone who really knows what they are doing to help you figure it out.
FRONT DRIVE ELLIPTICALS
REAR DRIVE ELLIPTICALS
CENTER DRIVE ELLIPTICALS
DIFFERENT ELLIPTICAL TYPES AND SMOOTHNESS
To decide which type of elliptical will feel smoother to you ? you will have to try the different models. When doing this make sure that you try them in the same price range. Otherwise you will get a skewed view of the type. The smoothness will depend a lot on your physiology.
The quality of construction will make a difference in smoothness. You will easily be able to tell the difference in the same type of machines. Make sure that you decide on which type of elliptical design you want before you attempt to determine the quality of construction. Otherwise the differences in type smoothness will skew the results.
The flywheel weight will determine to a great extent the smoothness of the machine. The heavier the flywheel the more inertia is available to keep the drive system turning. The only drawback to the heavy flywheel is that the drive axle bearings will wear more quickly.
DRIVE SYSTEM COMPONENTS
Some questions that you can ask the sales person will help you get some general notions of the machine.
Sealed bearings are generally better in these units than shielded bearings. This is because the sealed bearings are better at keeping dirt out of the ball track.
Alternator or generator powered units will typically have more expensive repairs than plug in machines. This is because the alternator generates the power and has trouble maintaining consistent voltage and wattage. This has to be controlled by the power board and it can cause problems.
Some manufacturers have used foam to absorb noise, so make sure you know the construction before you judge an elliptical by its noise but generally, the noise an elliptical generates is a good indicator of the machine?s quality. Plus, when you don?t wake up the neighborhood with your morning workouts, it makes for friendlier neighbors.
ELLIPTICAL TRAINER OPTIONS
Options in the elliptical business sell more elliptical trainers, and are used less, than in any other industry we know. Here?s how to steer clear of option traps.
HEART RATE CONTROL (HRC)
WARRANTY & MAINTENANCE
A standard elliptical trainer warranty is lifetime on the frame, 3 years on elliptical parts, and 1 year on labor. This means that most people won?t need an extended warranty.
That?s good because the track record of most warranty companies in the fitness business is not good. The only exception that we are aware of is Universal Technical Services (UTS). We don?t have any reservations about recommending them. Cheaper elliptical trainers usually have warranties as short as 90 days while usually the more you spend, the longer warranty you will receive.
Warranties lately have become crazy so don?t get carried away with the Lifetime warranties on this or that elliptical trainer. Ultimately, you want to make sure you get an elliptical that you like, is easy for you to operate, and feels good for use. If you don?t like it, you won?t need the warranty anyway because you won?t use the machine enough to break it.
In regard to maintenance, keeping it clean is the golden rule. To help with this, put it on an elliptical mat and periodically clean the entire elliptical. You can order mats, cleaning products, lubricants, and our Elliptical Care Kit which includes our elliptical care pamphlet for more information about keeping your elliptical trainer in top shape from our web site.
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