After getting a rap for being ineffective, not-so-challenging and even boring, the elliptical is back in the limelight, getting the share of love it so rightly deserves. This low-impact exercise machine that can very well give your favorite treadmill a run for the money, is now a hot favorite among gym goers who are ditching the schmancy tech in exchange for a good old stimulating mountain-climber routine.
If you have been looking to add one of these to your home, then there’s no better time than the present because the market is teeming with options that boast of some really svelte features without costing an arm and a leg for it.
You heard it right. There’s an elaborate list of best elliptical under $500 that’s perfect for the budget-strapped buyer. Sounds interesting? Dive in to know more.
Picking the best elliptical under $500
As is the case with any exercise equipment, it pays to be a discerning shopper because what ‘seems’ like a perfectly packaged elliptical is not necessarily the best in terms of quality. It is easy to be swayed by the one with the glossiest advertorial in a magazine. But doesn’t always turn out the way you expect it to.
That’s where we step in.
We have raked through the muck to dig out the best elliptical machines under $500 for you. These have been rated on the basis of their features, quality, durability and customer ratings. Irrespective of whether you are paying $200 or $2000, you don’t need to choose a tradeoff between usability and features.
Here’s our pick of the best ones.
The A40 is an entry-level offering from Schwinn, one of the best known names in fitness in the USA. Don’t be thrown off by the entry-level tag though, for this is a very sturdy and versatile elliptical trainer that will give you an intense workout session second to none.
It has a very impressive and practical feature bundle that is highlighted by the 17” stride length and the 8 levels of resistance which is designed with an ECB (Eddy Current Brake) system.
One of the first things that you’d notice is the compact form factor. The A40 measures only 59″ L x 22.5″ W x 64″ H and weighs a paltry 40 pounds. If you wish to rearrange it to another room in the house, you can easily push it by yourself.
It is constructed durably and features an articulating footplate with a maximum height of 16 inches which makes it easy to accommodate in a room with a low ceiling. The water bottle holder, the two speed workout fan and the reading rack are small but useful additions to the elliptical, which is normally unseen in entry-level models.
There is a small LCD screen that displays 8 basic readouts including Speed, Calories and pulse and allows you to choose from 6 preset workout programs and 6 profiles.
The A40 lacks stationary handlebars which is a letdown considering that most people use it while exercising their lower body.
The workouts are challenging and if you choose the highest intensity, the A40 works as well as some of the higher priced models. It lacks the bells and whistles that one commonly expects in such machines. But more than makes up for it with a very attractive price tag and hey, it covers the essentials. So, you cannot ask for more.
Verdict: Perfect for home and apartment use. Sturdy and basic trainer from Schwinn.
With an under $400 price tag and a hybrid design that goes from an elliptical to a recumbent bike, Proform pulls a rabbit out of the hat with their hybrid trainer. This is an extremely popular machine that gives you the benefits of two equipment at the cost of just one.
You can’t help but be impressed with the stylish looking design that the Stride Trainer 410 boasts of. It looks a lot more polished and meatier as compared to most elliptical at this price point. The generous 18 inch stride length and the inertia enhanced flywheel allow a relaxed and comfortable workout experience.
The pedals are adjustable and feature a SoftTrac™ cushioning system that reduces the impact on your joints.
The large console area also includes the standard additions like the water bottle holder and the adjustable built-in fan. If you wish to stay in the ‘fat burning zone’, you can use the EKG heart rate monitor grips to constantly monitor your heart rate.
The Gold’s Gym Stride Trainer is one of the few ellipictal machines in this price range that boasts of an automatic resistance system and you can choose from up to 12 intensity levels. This gives you a more vigorous workout session as compared to a conventional resistance system. The large tinted LCD shows you a bunch of readouts including distance, calories burnt, pulse and heart rate and also features a 5″ x 7″ matrix that shows a graphical representation of your workout.
It also includes 2 built-in speakers with an integrated audio guidance system and a compatible music port for the iPod. This is a standout feature that was lacking in both the earlier models that we reviewed.
The Stride Trainer 140 is compatible with the iFit Workout Card system that uses the Jillian Michaels weight-loss program. Plug the card into your elliptical and it will automatically adjust the speed and the intensity of the machine according to your progress level in the workout.
Verdict: The best buy! This is the most feature rich elliptical in this list. Hard to pick nits with this amazing package from Gold’s gym.
Our next pick in this list of the best elliptical under $500 is the Gym Stride Trainer 410 from Gold’s. This is their top-end model from their range of rear-drive elliptical stride trainers. For those who are unaware, a rear-drive elliptical is considered by experts as are more stable and vigorous workout machine that is comparable to jogging or walking.
With an 18 inch stride length and an inertia enhanced flywheel, the Stride Trainer 410, is one of the best elliptical trainers on this side of $500.
The Hybrid Trainer is now available in an upgraded 2016 model that has a 13 pound flywheel, a ventilated backrest, a swankier design and a brand new console area with more functionalities incorporated into it.
At the core of the machine is a heavy-duty steel frame that stays rock-steady during your workout sessions. No squeaky joints or wobbly frame here. The cushioned foot pedals allow a firm grip and are less taxing on your joints.
The wide tablet holder is a great addition that lets you choose your own form of entertainment during the workout. The controls are easy to access and you can toggle through the menu without feeling overwhelmed with the choices. The display is clear and large and making on-the-fly adjustments is a breeze. You get tons of information which are neatly arranged on-screen and you can easily sort the calories burnt, the amount of time that you have used the machine for and the total distance that you have travelled.
The Proform Hybrid trainer lets you pick from up to 15 resistance levels allowing you to customize your workout to the T. One of the best features is the ‘Target Pacer’ function that lets you set a workout target (number of calories to be burnt) and then alerts you on how to increase the intensity throughout the workout, so that you can meet your calorie goals.
The lack of a chest pulse sensor is compensated by the heart-rate hand grips which can be used to monitor your heart rate. Also, it lacks dedicated entertainment options in the console which is not really a deal breaker.
Verdict: The Versatile choice! For the price, the combination of an elliptical and a recumbent bike is a steal. It also comes with a 5 year warranty. Cannot go wrong with it.
Superb ergonomics and a very relaxed stride in a cutting edge slim design, that’s the best way to describe the Exerpeutic 5000. This is a magnetic elliptical trainer, which is also known as an Eddy Current Braking system, like our #1 pick, the Schwinn A40. The 5000 however, boasts of 24 resistance levels and 12 programmable workouts.
At the forefront of the features of the Exerpeutic 5000 is the generous 18 inch stride that allows people of all heights to comfortably workout on the trainer. The large foot pedals allow a relaxed position and also give you a firm grip even during the most intense workout session.
The pedals are positioned at just 6 inches away from each other which reduces the strain on the inner thighs.
The Exerpeutic 5000 features dual action handlebars for an equally effective upper body workout routine. Other standard features include the water bottle holder, while the workout fan and the reading rack are missing.
The large LCD display (6.5” x 10”) displays the essential readouts and can be connected to your smartphone using the integrated Bluetooth.
Highlighting the features is the compatibility with a free mobile application that tracks your workouts and gives you access to your workout stats from anywhere. You can also choose from 12 pre-programmed workout routines and take the guesswork out of your workouts.
For really intense sessions, try the interval training or the hill climb routines.
Verdict: The complete package! The Exerpeutic 5000 covers all the bases that one looks for from an elliptical and adds a few very useful features, like the Bluetooth connectivity with the free mobile application.
At the price tag that we are featuring in this list, it is almost impossible to pack all the features without having a tradeoff somewhere. The ProForm 1110 E however, is a refreshing change from the norm. This is as feature-packed as it gets without cutting corners. It boasts of a 32 lb. effective inertia enhanced flywheel, silent magnetic resistance and a 7 inch backlit iFit display, features that are normally seen in ellipitical machines that are priced above $1000.
A commercial-gauge solid steel frame makes this a very stable and durable machine. Does not wobble or vibrate. This will stay put where you place it. The front drive system clubbed with the 20 degree digital incline make for one of the most grueling calorie burners ever.
The two adjustable large sized cushion pedals keep the workouts comfortable and gentle on your joints.
You can adjust the stride from 20 to 22 inches which allows people of different heights to customize the stride according to their comfort level.
The stationary arms on the Proform 1110 E feature an EKG Grip Pulse which allows you to check various readouts which are displayed on the 7″ Backlit iFit Display.
There are enough options for a comfortable workout session with an 8″ coolaire workout fan, an integrated iPad holder, in-built speakers, a water bottle holder and a wireless chest strap.
The ProForm 1110 E is hands down, the most advanced elliptical in this list that will give you a vigorous workout session. You can choose from 32 workout programs which can be enhanced further by using the machine’s incline or just increasing one of the 25 different resistance settings.
If you are looking for more options, then you can download the iFit application which gives you access to a bundle of workout routines that have been created by professional fitness trainers. iFit is a very advanced fitness program with a plethora of features to keep your workouts interesting and fun.
With a weight load capacity of 375 pounds, the ProForm 1110 E scores over all the elliptical machines that we have reviewed so far. The only thing that needs a mention here is that it has a slightly larger footprint as compared to other elliptical machines.
Verdict: The editor’s choice! It is impossible to pack more features into an elliptical machine under $500. Do not even think twice. Go for it.