One of the first things that you will notice about an elliptical machine is the size. We are so used to having compact exercise equipment now that we are even using exercise bikes and treadmills under our desks. Therefore, the elliptical cross trainer can appear pretty intimidating. There is a lot of hardware here stretching out in different directions. There are the footplates that move backwards and forwards, the tall handlebars that often do the same and the large body to hold the belt and other mechanisms essential for the workout.
Add on any extras like the stabilizers, water bottle holder, console and tablet holder and there is a lot going on. The question here is whether there is too much for an apartment. Can you fit all of this into a small living room or are there compromises to be made for trying?
Consider the dimensions of the machine and the dimensions of the space
The most important point here is that this machine has to fit into the space for you to work out with ease – and to have no additional feeling of claustrophobia. So we need to look at three dimensions on the machine for a better understanding:
– the length
– the width
– the height
The length of the machine is important because you need to have enough space for the back and forth motion of the footplate. When you look at the space in your living room or at-home gym, remember that the machine can’t sit too close to the wall.
You also need a large workout area to contain the large footprint of the machine. The best models will have stabilising feet to keep it sturdy and this adds to the width of the product. Therefore, you can’t put this too close to other pieces of equipment.
As for the height, don’t forget that you need to look at the height of the handlebars but also the combined height of the machine with you on it. You can’t get an elliptical that nearly touches the ceiling if you will bang your head when you climb on-board.
Compact models are a good solution for some users
You can get compact models that fit into these smaller spaces and offer a decent workout. They have the same amount of resistance, great consoles and other helpful features. The best products are those that are able to provide the right motions, stability and user experience as you would expect from a larger model. However, there are some possible risks here. They are:
– a lack of stability from a lack of width
– a lack of a smooth motion from the shorter stride length
– a lack of height for taller users
Compact machines that reduce the footprint by reducing the width run the risk of creating something that is less stable. The last thing that you want is a machine that wobbles as you try and balance on the footplates and work on your posture and core.
Those that shorten the stride length on the footplates risk eliminating a key part of the target market. Taller users need to be able to find a long, comfortable stride length for a smooth motion. Those that can’t won’t be able to work out as well and may even risk injuries if they maintain an unnatural motion.
There are similar issues with any lack of height in the machine. The handlebars need to be the right height for comfort with adjustable heights for different users. This means that the pulse sensors and comfort grips are in the right place and users can maintain the right postures. Again, if they are too short, taller users may struggle.
Another consideration that I want to mention here is the issue of the weight of the machine and the large parts. If you live in an apartment on a higher level, or your workout area is upstairs, can you get the machine up there on your own? Be prepared to get a second pair of hands in to assemble it.
What about folding machines? Are they a good idea for apartment use?
Folding fitness equipment is always popular for apartment use because of the convenience. You can fold them down and store them when not in use. There are some elliptical fitness machines with this feature for those that want a large item that isn’t a permanent addition to the home. But, they might not be as stable or durable in the long-run.
So how can you make sure that a machine is right for you and your space?
The first thing that you need to do is ignore the photos on the sales pages. There are a lot of companies that are guilty of creating images that make their products seem bigger or smaller than they really are. You can get machines that look compact and fit perfectly in the room shown with ample space for the model. But, that model has been photoshopped. Instead, read the specifications carefully to understand the true dimensions and the range of adjustments on the frame and handlebars. Is there enough room to workout comfortably? Is it too tall for the room?
The other thing to do here is read the customer feedback on review sites and Amazon listings. This is where you can get a better understanding of the true user experience. If it is too short for taller users, they will often give an indication of the upper limit. Users will also mention the stability of the frame and footplates and any other small issues that they have found. This also includes a note about how many people it took to get the machine up the stairs and assembled.
The bottom line here is that you can get a compact, effective elliptical fitness machine if you are prepared to compromise. Shorter users with just enough space at home will always fair better than taller users in cramped apartments. If you know that you will struggle, this isn’t the right machine for you.