Looking for the "Perfect" Elliptical
July 11, 2014 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me find an elliptical machine for a person who is between 5'1" and 5'4", that will take fairly heavy use by one person, and that doesn't cost a fortune.

I am looking to buy an elliptical machine for someone who runs 4 - 5 miles every day on an elliptical. The machine has to hold up to steady use. It also has to work for someone who is not very tall. One of the complaints about a lot of these machines is that short people really can't use them. The machine can't cost a fortune - something in the $350 - $450 price range would be ideal. I would go $200 more for the right machine. I need something I can ship through Amazon prime or that would be delivered to their door.

It’s a gift: I know nothing about ellipticals.

I have read a lot of product reviews and they are all over the map. What would you recommend, and why?
posted by clarkstonian to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We have this Pro-Form Hybrid Elliptical Trainer and love it. It allows normal walking / running, or recumbant seated operation, more like pedalling a bike. A common complaint about it is that the stride length is short compared to other ellipticals, but this may be a benefit in your case.

My wife is 5' 1" and finds the stride to be just right. I'm 5'10" and I find the stride a little short, but I usually use it in recumbant mode anyway. It has very smooth operation and is sturdily built.

It does take a while to assemble, but the instructions are clear. I planned ahead and set aside plenty of time on a weekend so I wouldn't feel rushed and I got it together in a couple hours.
posted by The Deej at 7:53 PM on July 11, 2014

You know, if it's a gift, you really want the giftee to try it first. If that's not possible, maybe a gift certificate?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:44 PM on July 11, 2014

I can't recommend a specific elliptical, but I can say this: a personal trainer that I know refuses to put her clients on ellipticals, because they give you the illusion of working out while doing most of the work for you.

Treadmills, in her view, are better.

Probably best to ask your friend what would help them most. A gym membership would probably end up being cheaper than an elliptical, and will give them access to professionals who will help them reach their goals in a healthy, safe, and sane way.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2014

Elliptical make for tricky gifts, as each has it's own 'feel' to the stride, and someone may love one model and hat another, of comparable quality/price. Generally, the more your pay, the smoother they stride.

There are just two major manufacturers supplying the bulk of US retailers (Icon and Johnson). A given base model will be available with slight cosmetic differences at more than one retailer. Sears and Dick's own the market. This is a industry, like luggage, where you should never pay regular price. Expect to pay >$500 for decent, on sale, model. Specialty stores will sell the higher grade models - which tend to be huge (size = stability) and usually don't fold up (might be a concern).

Be open to clearance models - this product is huge and relatively pricey, and last year's models are often deeply discounted to clear them out (and avoid storing them), but watch out for shipping damage. You will see more sales activity in the fall as the season ramps up.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 2:29 AM on July 12, 2014

If you're open to spending $200 more, then you should do it, because at $450 you won't be able to find a machine that will hold up when someone is logging 5 miles a day. At around $600, the Schwinn 430 is a well-built machine that will do the trick.
posted by Crotalus at 3:37 AM on July 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you all. I went with one of your suggestions. It is much appreciated.
posted by clarkstonian at 10:30 PM on July 12, 2014

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