Top Picks for Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical trainers are growing in popularity due to the low impact and combined upper and lower body workout. The prices for elliptical trainers vary from a few hundred dollars to over $5,000. The list below consists of recommendations in the $700-$3000 price range. Recommendations from Fred Waters are based not only on his personally testing the machines, but also third-party reviews, customer testimonials, and company reputation. Other picks are chosen by their top ratings by other reviewers.

1
NordicTrack C 7.5 Elliptical

Nordic Track C 7.5 Elliptical
Nordic Track C 7.5 Elliptical. Courtesy of Amazon.com

This is a basic machine that is is the budget category but garners good user reviews on Amazon.com and a Best Buy runner-up rating from TreadmillDoctor.com.  The front flywheel design may be a better fit for your home. It comes with 25 workout apps and 22 resistance levels. You can adjust your incline and resistance with one touch. It has a 20 pound flywheel. It has a tablet holder so you can entertain yourself while you workout.

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2
Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer

Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer
Sole E35 Elliptical Trainer. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Sole has built a reputation on quality fitness equipment at a value price. Their treadmills won several best buy recommendations and are used by the Hilton chain for in-room workouts. For the price, you get a machine equipped with a heavy 29 lb flywheel, a long 20-22" stride, wireless heart rate control, and a sturdy 215 lb weight. Best of all, the sole E55 is covered with a 5-year parts and 2-year labor warranty. This model earned the Best Buy 2014 designation from TreadmillDoctor.com and has an overall 4.5 star user review rating on Amazon.com, with the vast majority of ratings being five stars.

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3
NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial Elliptical Trainer

NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial Elliptical Trainer
NordicTrack A.C.T. Commercial Elliptical Trainer. Icon Fitness

This compact design is called "commercial" but it would fit nicely in your home fitness room. It's only about half the length of most elliptical trainers at 51 inches long. You can adjust the stride length from 18 to 20 to 22 inches. It's compatible with the iFit add-on for interactive workouts. It comes with a CardioGrip heart rate monitor and a wireless Polar heart rate monitor strap. It earned TreadmillDoctor.com's Best Buy for multiple years for the $799 - $999 price range. They also give the more advanced versions, the A.C.T. 7 and A.C.T. 10 Best Buy designations in higher price categories. See them at NordicTrack

4
Smooth 3.6 Elliptical Trainer

Smooth 3.6 Elliptical
Smooth 3.6 Elliptical. Courtesy of Amazon.com

Fred Waters says: In addition to being a quality machine with a very smooth elliptical motion, the Smooth 3.6 comes with a lifetime parts warranty. I am not familiar with any other company that offers comparable coverage. In comparison to the Sole E55, the Smooth 3.6 uses a rear wheel drive, electromagnet brake system. Some find the rear drive preferable and find the elliptical motion more natural. The 3.6 is also equipped with wireless heart rate control and pivoting foot pedals. The pedals angle with the elliptical motion, further reducing stress to your joints. TreadmillDoctor.com gave it their runner-up Best Buy Award 2014 for ellipticals priced $1000 - $1299. However, they noted that it has a fixed stride length of 18 inches, which may be too short for users over 5'10" tall.

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5
Octane Fitness Q37ci

Octane Fitness Q37ci
Octane Fitness Q37ci. Courtesy of Pricegrabber

This elliptical got top ratings from Consumer Reports in 2012. It comes with both a chest strap heart rate monitor and grip pulse monitors, with four heart-rate based exercise programs. In addition, it has X-Mode, Glutekicker and Armblaster programs to tone specific areas. But of even more interest is that it has stationary platforms and resistance bands to use in doing circuit training routines. For safety, it has a MOM mode so kids can't play with it and hurt themselves. But it all comes at a hefty price tag of over $3000. See it at Octane Fitness

6
Reebok 1210 Elliptical Trainer

Reebok 1210 Elliptical Trainer
Reebok 1210 Elliptical Trainer. Courtesy of Amazon

This elliptical gets a runner-up Best Buy from TreadmillDoctor.com.It has a 7-inch full color display and Google Android browser. It's iFit-enabled so you can enjoy their interactive workouts. The caveat is that customer service can be an issue, and users say it's not a high-quality machine.

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