What should I look for in a used elliptical trainer?

I’ve looked at Consumer Reports and looked around online, and there seems to be a huge price/quality difference in elliptical machines. I want one like I used at the gym when I used to go, obviously, but those cost thousands of dollars! I’m going to go down to Play It Again Sports this weekend maybe and take a look at what they’ve got in the used department.

What should I look for? What will I need to spend to get a machine I’ll be happy with? Specific things to be wary of in used machines? Questions to ask?

I’d appreciate generally any information on buying elliptical trainers specifically and used exercise machines in general.

Chances are pretty good that any exercise machines sold at Play It Again have been used as exercise machines three or four times, and then lived on as towel racks for the past three years until someone said “Either use that thing or get rid of it!”

As for specific brands, there really aren’t that many actual makers. IIRC, Weslo and ProForm are made by the same company, and like, say, cars made by Ford, the differences are mainly in the features.

What you might want to consider is: go do a reconnaissance run to see what they have, jot down the names and models of the ones that interest you, then plug them into www.epinions.com to see what people think of them.

Also have a look at craigslist, to see what the things are selling for from private parties, or, as often happens, exercise machines pop up on the free section, so your only cost is the time t drive somewhere and pick it up.

Definitely try before you buy. I’m in the same boat as you – I loved the ones at my former gym, but they’re expen$$$ive new. I’ve tried other models, but they all seem too “steppy” – I might as well be on a stairclimber, which my knees would hate. The gym’s ellipticals (Body Trek by Reebok) have a much more elongated stride.

2 things:

  1. a comfortable range of motion (for both arms and legs) for your specific body size and height. I’m 6’3’’ and it took me a while to find a model that didn’t leave me banging my shins or “short stepping.” Shorter people can have similar problems on machines with too-large a range of motion.

  2. Sturdiness. You don’t want a rickety machine.

Well, I went down to Play it Again, and I wasn’t planning on spending $700 for an exercise machine but they’ve got a really nice used Reebok one that’s practically mint out of the box and sells new for over a grand… I dunno, gotta think about it. If I actually use it, no price is too high, and if I don’t, no price is low enough.