ellipticalElliptical machines can be an excellent way to get a great cardiovascular workout. This piece of fitness equipment is a stationary machine that simulates stair climbing, walking and running with little pressure on joints. These machines offer a low-impact workout with varying degrees of intensity based on speed and resistance desired by the user.


There are many different types of elliptical machines depending on the needs of the user. Most elliptical machines have moving upper body components such as moving handles to give a more complete workout for the user. Some machines do not offer any upper body movement; instead focusing on the lower body only. Other types also depend on whether the machines are self-powered or user-generated motion. Those that are self-powered typically need to be plugged in for motion and resistance systems.

There are three main types of elliptical trainers, depending on the “drive” location: rear drive, front drive or center drive. The oldest drive is the rear-drive whereas the latest machines offer center-drive. Front drive ellipticals are lighter in weight and most can compare the workout to working out on a stair climber. Inexpensive front drive elliptical can often have issues around cleaning and maintenance. For example, their wheels may be more susceptible to coming off the track.

Rear drive elliptical machines on the other hand are able to accurately simulate the motion of walking or running, instead of stair climbing. Their design reduces the maintenance necessary to perform on the machines which is very different than a front drive machine.

Brands of Ellipticals

There are quite a few different manufacturers of elliptical machines even though these types of machines have not been around as long as other pieces of equipment, such as treadmills. Gold’s Gym makes approximately 4 different elliptical machines that are only separated by a few hundred dollars but that vary widely on features. The more expensive machines include more personalized workouts, upgraded displays as well as extended warranties.

Lifecore makes many different elliptical machines that are available in front, center and rear drives. The machines are discernible by their features. Aside from their drive systems, the machines vary in their weight and length, their type of resistance, stride length, their number of users profiles that can be stored as well as warranty.

Matrix is also a manufacturer of elliptical machines. As with the other manufacturers, the features of the machines are the deciding factors of price. There are some key features that all Matrix ellipticals share, however, in areas such as whether or not there is a secondary data display, a fan, USB port and the number of training programs.

Price of Ellipticals

The prices of elliptical machines vary greatly depending on certain factors. One factor is whether the type of machine. Rear drive ellipticals are typically more expensive than front drive machines for the initial investment. However, over the lifetime of the machine, rear drive ellipticals require much less maintenance and therefore has fewer costs associated with maintenance.

Another consideration is manufacturers. Some manufacturers only produce commercial-grade machines and these machines are far more expensive than home-grade machines. Home-use models usually start around $200, whereas commercial-grade models can be as high as $4000, if not higher.