Are you ready to purchase a piece of home gym equipment that will finally get you into shape? If you’re like most people, you don’t have an entire large room to dedicate to a home gym. Many people love ellipticals but don’t think they can purchase one because they are notoriously gigantic. Don’t resign yourself to a gym membership that you won’t use just because you don’t have much space. Not all ellipticals are mammoths. Today’s compact elliptical machines offer you the great benefits and features of the machine you love without taking up too much space.
Due to their popularity, small elliptical machines are now easy to find on the market. But, which one should you choose? What features should they include? Why should you even choose an elliptical in the first place? We’ll cover all of this and more in this complete guide to compact elliptical machines.
What Is An Elliptical Machine?
An elliptical is an exercise machine that allows you to get in a cardio or weight loss workout. When using an elliptical machine, you walk in a circular motion. Most machines allow you to go either forwards or backward, allowing you to target different sets of muscles. In addition, most elliptical machines also include an upper body component. Your arms move back and forth, also supporting the motion of your legs. This means that when using an elliptical machine, you get a full-body workout.
There are many benefits to using an elliptical exercise machine. This type of machine, like recumbent exercise bikes, allows you to workout without pounding your joints. With an elliptical, you get low-impact exercise along with all of the weight loss, heart and muscle benefits. A compact elliptical machine is ideal for those who have joint problems and for any person interested in home fitness.
The downside of most elliptical machines is that they are quite large. However, the home fitness industry has developed a number of high-quality compact elliptical machines that won’t overtake an entire room. These small elliptical machines offer the perfect compromise. You can still get in a great workout without dedicating a whole room to your home gym. There are even portable elliptical machines and folding elliptical machines that you can hide in your closet or take to work!
If you’re ready to kick your home workouts into high gear with a piece of awesome piece of equipment, consider one of the following compact elliptical machines. Most will allow you to get in a full-body workout without requiring you to compromise by sacrificing loads of space. Here are our top picks for compact elliptical machines:
The Top 5 Compact Elliptical Machines
Are you ready to buy a compact elliptical machine? There are lots of choices out there. From options that can fit under your desk, to small elliptical machines and fold up elliptical options, it can be tough to make a choice. Get a sense of what each of these popular options has to offer by reading through our product reviews:
Amazon’s #1 bestseller in elliptical trainers, the In-Motion trainer is a popular choice. It’s easy to see why. This is an extraordinarily compact elliptical exercise machine as it only includes the base or foot unit. There are no hand-bars for upper body resistance work. In addition, it can be used either while sitting or standing. It’s small enough that you can slide it under a desk and use it that way. As far as exercise equipment goes, it’s one of the most portable ellipticals around! The maximum recommended user weight is 250 lbs.
- Can be used sitting or standing
- No upper body exercise involved
- Small monitor shows strides per minute, total strides, exercise time and calories burned
- Can go forwards or backward
- Adjustable resistance knob
- Low price ($89.99 at the time this article was written)
Who Makes It
Stamina is a fitness equipment company especially known for its AeroPilates line. Since 1987, the company’s been working with a wide range of well-known brands and stores to offer quality fitness equipment. Some of their well-known partners include Cosmopolitan, BodyShaping, Gold’s Gym, and Danskin, among others. You can find their products on Amazon, at Walmart or QVC as well as other retailers.
If you’re looking for something you can slip under your desk to help you burn calories while sitting, this is a great buy. However, as far as traditional elliptical machines go, this one doesn’t meet all the standards. There’s no support for your upper body to use it while standing and you don’t get an upper body workout either. However, it’s one of the most portable elliptical machines out there. It can easily be hidden away in a closet while not in use. So, this compact elliptical it’s definitely a good choice for some users, but not those looking for a traditional elliptical experience.
#3. Air Walk Trainer SF- E902 by Sunny Health & FitnessHave your heart set on a folding elliptical? This one fits the bill. The Air Walk Trainer is a foldable elliptical machine that can be conveniently collapsed and stored when not in use. The fold up elliptical model allows you to really save on floor space or slip the machine into a closet. As a foldable elliptical, it offers a compact storage option while maintaining a wide stride of 30 inches. It also includes great features such as hand grasps and movement, a digital screen and non-slip footpads. This fold up elliptical can handle a max user weight of 220 lbs.
- Classic elliptical machine offering a lower and upper body workout
- Digital monitor to track time, stride count, total distance and calories
- The foldable elliptical design makes for easy storage
- No resistance adjustment
- Low price ($72.93 at the time this article was written)
Who Makes It
Another Sunny Health & Fitness product, it comes in at a close second in bestsellers for elliptical trainers on Amazon. The company gets consistent positive reviews overall.
As far as quality, compact elliptical machines go, this is a great choice. With an already small footprint of 17 inches by 28 inches, the machine becomes even smaller when folded up. The design still offers a solid classical elliptical workout using both upper and lower body strength. However, there’s no added resistance on this machine for those looking for a more challenging workout.
This Stamina product differs in that it adds in an upper body element in the form of resistance cords. This unique, but very compact elliptical design offers the best of both worlds. You can count on the upper and lower body workout but avoid the large metal equipment. The Strider can be used in standing or sitting position with or without the cords. It offers adjustable resistance, a convenient handle for transport and a digital screen.
- Very compact portable elliptical
- Includes resistance cords for an upper body and lower body workout
- Digital screen shows strides per minute, total strides, time and calories
- Comes with a workout DVD
- Adjustable resistance knob
- Can go forwards or backward
- Low price ($94 at the time this article was written)
Who Makes It
This product is also produced by Stamina. Customers love the design and compact nature of the two elliptical machines in this article. Both products make the top 10 of Amazon’s bestsellers for elliptical trainers, which is impressive for the small company.
If you’re looking for an extremely compact, portable elliptical machine, this is a great choice. You wont’ miss out on your upper body workout thanks to the resistance cords. However, you can also choose to use it at a desk and keep active while working or reading. The low price and decent quality make this compact elliptical a great value product.
This machine packs in the value by including more traditional features such as workout programs, speakers, and more resistance levels. Featuring a larger, more complex console, you can keep track of your workout progress. This unit even includes a fan! All this and the elliptical is still quite compact. The dimensions are 50 x 34 x 22 inches, coming close to some of the foldable elliptical machines. While slightly larger than the other models in this article, it does add other features that may be worth sacrificing the space. Where it does differ is in weight. While other models come in under 100 lbs, this model weighs a whopping 167 lbs. However, this machine is solid and it can also handle a maximum user weight of 300 lbs.
- Full lower and upper body movement for a classic elliptical workout
- Digital display shows heart rate, progress through programs, calories, speed, time and more.
- Hear rate sensor included
- 22 programs included
- 20 levels of resistance featured
- Speakers included
- Moderate price ($595 at the time this article was written)
Who Makes It
Nautilus is the powerful company behind some of the best-known gym equipment. Some of the brands include Bowflex, Schwinn and Universal. Based in Vancouver, the company has been in business since 1986. The company’s well-known brands and great reviews create confidence for buyers.
This model offers the features you’d expect on an elliptical in a fairly compact form. The footprint of the machine, while not tiny, is still acceptable. The stride length is 20 inches, giving you a mid-range of space when compared to the other models. It offers great features such as a heart rate monitor option, workout programs, and resistance levels. As far as portability, this machine does not meet that requirement but instead is heavy and stable. The price is quite a bit more than the other models but is reasonable for the features included.
The Pros and Cons of Small Elliptical Machines
So, now you know about some of the most popular compact elliptical machines. However, every buyer should also know the pros and cons of going this route. What will you gain by choosing a smaller elliptical? What will you sacrifice? Obviously, purchasing a smaller version has both benefits and consequences. Here’s what you need to know:
- The most obvious benefit? You save space. If you don’t want an exercise machine to overtake your living room, bedroom or designated gym area, choose a compact machine and solve this problem. Many of these units can even be stored in a closet so you don’t even have to look at it when not in use.
- You’ll also be more likely to exercise with equipment right in your home. If getting yourself in gear is your goal, a compact elliptical machine will help you get there.
- These machines are often mobile and include little wheels for easy moving.
- Compact elliptical machines are often quite cheap.
- It’s not like what you get at the gym. Obviously, the smaller footprint of the machine means there’s less space to work with. Usually, this means a much smaller stride than what you’d find on a full-sized machine. While this may not be all bad, it will certainly take some adjusting.
- The frame may not be as stable as a larger machine.
- Fewer features are included on these compact machines.
How to Shop for the Best Compact Elliptical Machine
Are you ready to choose your compact elliptical? After perusing reviews, you still need to reflect on how to make your final choice. You’ll need to weigh your options based on your needs, budget, preferences and how much space you have at home.
The bigger the budget you have, the better quality elliptical you can get. If you’re looking for an experience that most mimics the larger machines in the gym, choose a compact elliptical that still offers great features like the Nautilus model. Models on par with the Nautilus give you many advantages such as automatic workout programs, stability and heart rate monitoring. As far as a great workout, models in this range will give you the best outcomes.
However, if it’s essential that you have a portable elliptical that you can shove in a closet, you might consider some of the foldable elliptical models or even the tiny models that don’t include the upper body portion. Many people also rave over the small elliptical machines that can be used under your desk. This is a highly personal choice. If you’d rather workout while sitting, these models offer a great option. But, you’ll miss out on the upper body workout.
Ultimately, the choice of which compact elliptical to buy is a very personal choice.
The Bottom Line: Which Compact Elliptical Should You Buy?
After going through the reviews and prioritizing your goals, you’ll know what kind of elliptical to get. With the many options available on the market, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. Buying home exercise equipment is a great investment in your health and will help you reach your fitness goals. The elliptical is a great choice because it’s low-impact on your joints and can offer a full-body workout.
Do you already own a compact elliptical machine? Do you love it or hate it? Tell us all about your experience with compact ellipticals in the comments below.