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August 5th, 2007

Buying an elliptical trainer can be a daunting experience. With so many different brands to choose from it’s difficult to know which is the right one for you. However, if you follow a few guidelines then you should be able to narrow your choice and select a machine that’ll meet your needs.

Why do I want an elliptical trainer?
You may have already decide that you want to get fit and that you want an elliptical trainer, but, just pause for a second and write down your reasons.

Remember, the machine will occupy a reasonable amount of space and will remain in the garage, bedroom or lounge for a long time each day without it being used. Therefore, you want to make sure that you will use it, that it will fit in comfortably with your surroundings and you like the look of it. Getting the right machine could save you a gym membership.

How will I use the machine?
Depending on how you’re going to use the trainer will depend on the type you should buy. If you’re going to use the machine at a low intensity a few times a week then you could buy a cheaper machine with a less powerful motor. However, if you’re looking to do some rigorous workouts then you’ll need to spend at the higher end of the market.

How much do I want to spend?
The amount of money you have available to spend and how you’re going to use the machine will influence the type of elliptical you should buy. As a rule of thumb, the more you have to spend the better the build quality, the more functions you get and aftercare service.

How much space have I got?
Elliptical Trainers occupy a reasonable amount of space. Therefore measure the amount of space you have available and compare this with the dimensions of the machine you’re thinking of buying.

If space is an issue then consider a folding machine. These have improved dramatically in recent years. The more reputable brands are of solid construction, and have excellent functionality.

What resistance system do I need?
With most of the elliptical trainers the resistance is changed by a electromagnet. Magnetic resistance elliptical machines are generally smoother in operation and have fewer moving parts and so are less likely to break down.

Generally rear drive is preferable to front drive. The rear drive provides a true elliptical movement with a heal toe ellipse on it.

What maximum user weight should I get?
Most manufacturers specify the maximum user weight for their machines. As a guide, choose a machine that has a Max. User Weight of around 20kg (45lbs) more than the heaviest user. This will help to reduce the workload on the drive system.

What are the programmes and how do they benefit me?
Good quality elliptical machines come with a number of different workout programmes. The number of programmes and type of programmes will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The most popular type of programmes are interval training and heart rate zone.

The programmes can benefit you by giving you a varied and challenging session that will keep you motivated.

What is heart rate training?
Heart rate training programmes work by changing the intensity of your workout to keep your heart rate at a specific level. You will normally have to enter some personal details via the console, for example, age, weight, gender.

The machine will calculate an estimated maximum heart rate and control the workload by altering the speed and/or incline. Your heart rate is monitored by the machine via hand grip sensors on the elliptical or a chest strap that sends a signal to the console.

How much warranty can I expect?
Most manufacturers will cover parts and labour for the first yeas. If you’re going to be using your elliptical a lot then look for a warranty cover that has a longer period on the motor as well as parts and labour.

Try before you buy.
It may not be possible to try an elliptical before you buy it, but you should at least go down to your local fitness store and have a look around. You can always ask your friends for their experiences and they may be able to give you some pointers.

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