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Old 12-26-2012, 05:36 AM
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Elliptical users: Advice needed


Some background: I'm a pretty big guy (220 lbs or so), almost 52 years old, pretty fit. I've been a runner for a long time, and in the last 5 years I've taken to distance running. A bunch of half marathons, 3 full marathons (another next month). Slow, middle of the pack guy generally.

Having hip issues, that were diagnosed as very early arthritis. The advice from the doc also included: find some lower-impact exercise to replace some of the running miles. I'm going to look for an elliptical.

I generally don't need (or like) a lot of bells and whistles (though a minimum of high-tech is fine and welcome). I like sturdy equipment, and something big enough to accommodate a taller guy (6'2"). I use the exercise equipment I buy, and expect this would be no exception. I don't want to go crazy with the price, but I have no problem paying for value. Thinking, I don't know, maybe $1500 or less (would love to spend less than a grand though, if it's good equipment) Will use it maybe twice a week, whatever the equivalent of 5-milers is on an elliptical, my guess. If I'm true to form, I'll use it for years to come.

I don't know where to start or even what features to consider. I've begun Internet searching (reviews and such) but would appreciate any advice.

Any models that have worked great for you? What features are most important? I'm going to visit a few stores, but I'm hoping to start with some good intell.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:48 AM
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I've had a Body Solid Endurance X-Trainer 3.0 from Fitness Warehouse (in Forest Park IL) for over a decade and used it regularly. Human powered (no plug needed). No bells or whistles. It just works. I don't think they make that model anymore, this is as close as I get) but they have stood behind it, replacing the sliding portion twice when the wheels eventually cracked from use once each side so far, no questions asked. (They are the weak link, made of plastic.) I'm not so big as you though, only 5'6" and 150. FWIW.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:59 AM
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Precor EFX ellipticals are sweet. They're really expensive, though, so see if you can find one on Craigslist.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:03 AM
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I would eliminate one feature right up front - the moving arm handles. I find them completely pointless. They actually make me angry if I'm forced to use a machine with them because all the elliptical machines with static hand bars are occupied at my gym. If you want to swing your arms then let go of the handles and swing them as if you're walking or running. I find the workout advantages of the moving arm handles non-existant. Additionally, given your problem with hips and possibly range of comfortable motion, look for machines with adjustable stride length.

As an example, this Yawza Sanibel i35 may work for you. But there are any number of similar machines on the market and it's best to try before you buy to make sure you're happy with the fit and quality.

Another suggestion, is the stationary bike by ProForm, or something similar.

In either case, try to find one with a watt meter in addition to the usual distance/speed/time/etc counters. Your heart monitor is a great guage of effort but the watt meter will really help you improve/build your fitness by showing you the level of muscle effort you are putting into your workout. Also helps with plateau-ing.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:20 PM
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We have a Sole E35. We bought it because it's a nice sturdy machine that doesn't creak or rock as you use it (not for my husband anyway, who is 6' and 200 pounds), and you aren't paying for bells and whistles on the display. We got it at Dick's Sporting Goods and a technician came to our house to assemble it. We have zero complaints. It cost around $1100 five years ago. I see that current models are around $1200-$1300.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PunditLisa View Post
Precor EFX ellipticals are sweet. They're really expensive, though, so see if you can find one on Craigslist.

+1. I have access to the Precor line at our local fitness center and love everything about them but the price.

Check out the reviews here:
http://www.allellipticals.com/best-e...-machines.html

They list the 6 best of the year, prices ranging from $650 to "my first car was cheaper than this"
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:51 PM
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Thanks to all for the guidance. QuickSilver, without ever really using an elliptical, I'd tend to agree re: the arm handles. I don't have handles when I run on y treadmill; I don't see the benefit.

Mattie, thanks for the link--I will peruse.

I'm going to visit a store tomorrow, to try out a few models, to at least get a sense of what the differences are. Any additional tips on the key questions to ask, the most important features, what to look for, etc., are much appreciated.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:57 PM
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Take all your workout accouterments with you when you go to try them out - water bottle, towel, book/magazine/tablet, mp3 player with headphones (if you use any of that stuff). If you're going to spend the money to get an elliptical might as well make sure you're completely comfortable using it - not just in the leg and arm area.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:52 PM
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Another vote for anything Precor. I've only used them at the gym, but they're very nice quality pieces of equipment. If I could afford one I'd buy with no hesitation.
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:34 AM
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Another source is that gyms are starting up and going out of business all the time and pro gym equipment often goes very cheap in these scenarios. It does require you have some way of getting it home.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:19 AM
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When hubby was looking into these last year, many dealers also sell reconditioned machines. Might be a way to get a really good one you wouldn't otherwise spend the big bucks on.
  #12  
Old 12-27-2012, 07:58 AM
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I am definitely thinking that a re-conditioned machine--one that's high quality and from a manufacturer with a great rep--might be one of the viable alternatives. ISTM that a high-end, gym-quality machine might be the right price if used, and possibly a better buy than something new at a similar price, based on how I'll likely use it.

Precor seems to be getting some love in this thread, so I'll also keep that in mind. Thanks again for all the tips and guidance!
  #13  
Old 12-28-2012, 05:38 AM
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Tried out a few yesterday. Life Fitness, X1 and X3. Actually liked the motion on those better than the Precor 5.25 and 5.23 models (though they all were good).

Of those, leaning toward the X1. Not many bells and whistles, sturdy, good motion, and it was cheapest--on sale for $1,599.

Still looking though.
  #14  
Old 12-28-2012, 06:51 AM
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We use LifeFitness at our gym, and I really enjoy it. I'll try to make a note of the model number today when I go in.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:59 AM
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Thanks! I appreciate that.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:40 AM
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We have a Vision Fitness brand elliptical. It's an older model (zero bells and whistles) and we actually picked it up on ebay for $100. It is extremely sturdy. My husband is 6'2", 250 lbs and has no issues using it.
  #17  
Old 12-28-2012, 12:28 PM
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I was mistaken about our gym having LifeFitness machines. They have Precor 576i models. They're sweet, I'll admit, but come with features that I wouldn't need at home, such as the ability to plug into the machine with headphones and select 1 of 7 tv's to listen to. Oh, and 2 machines out of 8 needed to be oiled or serviced as the rotation was very jerky. Of course, they get way more use at a gym than they would at home.

Personally, I'd make a list of a few models that I really liked, and then checking on Craigslist for reconditioned ones. My husband got me a cheaper one (NordickTrack VGR 990) for Christmas off Craigslist and it's not nearly as smooth as the Precors.

BTW, I like having the moving arms with the one at the gym, but not the one at home. A lot depends on the angle and width of the arms. It has to be the right distance apart to feel natural. Otherwise, I'm sure you could actually pull a muscle. By using the arms, you can get in a good arm workout if that interests you. However, you have to concentrate to make sure that your legs aren't taking over too much of the load. I find that I have to place my feet all the way back on the footpad, then shift all my weight onto my heels, in order to give my arms enough resistance to make it worthwhile. I both push and pull on them. But like I said, it takes some concentration to do this because the natural inclination is for the legs to take on the bulk of the load.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:34 PM
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Thanks for checking and for the tips, PunditLisa.
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickSilver View Post
I would eliminate one feature right up front - the moving arm handles. I find them completely pointless. They actually make me angry if I'm forced to use a machine with them because all the elliptical machines with static hand bars are occupied at my gym. If you want to swing your arms then let go of the handles and swing them as if walking or running. I find the workout advantages of the moving arm handles non-existant.
That's funny, I love the moving arm handles. I feel that I can use my upper body as well as my lower body for a more complete workout. I don't just use them as a place to rest my hands, but consciously pull and push as I stride, increasing my MPH significantly.

To each their own, I've been told!
  #20  
Old 12-30-2012, 08:43 AM
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My advice is to only use three dots unless you want the Ellipse Police to come down on you hard.
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