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Top 11 Ellipticals for Small Spaces

Do you have a small apartment? Are you planning on working out in a basement with a low ceiling? Just because you don't have a lot of room, doesn't mean that you can't get your sweat on. Check out these space-saving and alternative calorie-burning machines!

There is no magic pill when it comes to being in top physical shape.  Some form of regular exercise is required in order to stay fit and healthy. However, not everyone has the time to spend a few hours of their week in a gym, and the weather can make it very difficult to go out for a run, regardless of how motivated you might be. Thankfully, there are plenty of home trainers that can solve your problems.

What are ellipticals good for?

Ellipticals are a proven method when it comes to cardiovascular workouts, and they have been around for decades. Although they come in a variety of forms, their function is pretty much the same, which is to allow you to simulate walking, running or climbing within the comfort of your own home. To top things off, ellipticals are also designed to put much less stress on your joints.

Fitting an elliptical into your home

If you want to buy an elliptical, there are other things to consider aside from price and design. An elliptical is a big machine - if your flat or basement is not wide or high enough, you can easily bump into walls with your elbows and knees, or even hit your head if the ceiling is too low.

In fact, using an elliptical with improper posture can lead to back problems, especially if you have to maintain a hunched back in order to avoid hitting the ceiling. As this study concluded, good posture is critical if you want to avoid serious back problems after using your elliptical.

If your flat or basement is not wide or high enough, you can easily bump into walls with your elbows and knees, or even hit your head if the ceiling is too low. In fact, using an elliptical with improper posture can lead to back problems.

Things to consider when buying for a small space

The elliptical’s footprint must be obviously considered, to make sure that it actually fits into your home before you buy it. Basically, make sure you check up the product’s dimensions in order to have an idea of how much space it’s going to occupy once it’s assembled. 

In addition, you should also consider your height and the machine’s ground clearance to make sure you do not bump the ceiling once you are on it. Consider the weight of the machine if you want to be able to move it out of the way after you are done exercising (bonus points if it has wheels).

Lastly, a foldable elliptical is preferred if you are struggling for space, because you can easily put it away after you are done exercising. If you have a small apartment, owning an elliptical than can be folded and stored in a closet, under a bed, or hidden in a corner comes with quite a few obvious advantages.

Even if you decide against a space-saving elliptical, it’s important to do your research and make sure you spend your money well. Even the most expensive models on the market will be completely pointless if you don’t use them, while the cheap ones can break and put your safety at risk. Hence, it’s important to choose wisely and according to your specific needs.

Here are some ellipticals designed with space economy in mind, along with their pros and cons.

1) Schwinn A40 available for $499 on Amazon

Key features
  • Heart rate monitor
  • LCD console
  • Built-in speakers and headphone jack
  • 8 resistance levels
  • 6 workout programs

Schwinn A40 is a budget-friendly elliptical machine designed to be easy-to-use even for complete beginners, while still providing you with an adequate workout. It comes with an included heart rate monitor, an LCD console and eight levels of resistance. The weighted flywheel provides resistance in both directions. This allows you to add some diversity to your routine by pedaling both backwards and forwards with the same level of resistance.

In terms of price, the Schwinn A40 falls into the lower end of the spectrum, being one of the more affordable models out there. In spite of that, the machine packs quite a punch in terms of features and versatility, but it does fall short in some speciality features.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

The Schwinn A40 is designed to occupy as little space as possible, thanks to the relatively small motor and the minimal frame built around it. On the other hand, it is not foldable, which means that you either have to leave it in one place or drag it around the house fully-assembled. Thankfully, it features transport wheels that make it easier to move over short distances, which is definitely a plus.

What's great about this item in particular?

The sheer number of additional media features is what sets the Schwinn A40 apart from its competition in this price range. Not only does it come with a heart monitor and an LCD screen (which can connect to media players), but it also features a built-in speaker, which support a wide array of external devices, including iPads and Android smartphones.

Pros:
  • Transport wheels for easy transportation
  • Budget-friendly
  • LCD media screen
  • Built-in speakers and headphone jack
Cons:
  • Not foldable
  • The LCD screen is not backlit
  • Only 8 resistance levels and 6 workout programs

2) Stamina InMotion Compact Strider Pro available for $79 on Amazon

Key features
  • 8 resistance levels
  • Handles and rubber bands for additional balance and challenge
  • Can be used while at work or watching TV
  • Screen shows basic workout metrics as well as rotations per minute

Stamina InMotion Compact Strider Pro is the answer to a truly limited budget, while still packing enough of a punch to leave you sweating after every session. This so-called “under-desk” elliptical was designed from the ground up with space economy in mind, which is why it’s about as compact as it can be without defeating the purpose.

As small as it is, on the other hand, you can still enjoy a motor capable of eight different resistance settings, as well as a tiny screen that displays data regarding traveled distance. Since this is the Pro version of the model, you also get a set of detachable handlebars to hold on to during your exercise, although it must be mentioned that they are stationary and are not in any way linked to the footplates. The handlebars are designed to assist with balance only, not to work your upper body like other elliptical handles are.

Alternatively, you can also get attachable rubber cords, which will offer a better workout for your arms if you are interested in that. The trade-off with the using the cords is being able to balance on the foot pedals and coordinate with your steps.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

As mentioned before, Stamina InMotion Compact Strider Pro is incredibly compact, which allows you to easily store it away in a closet or even under a table somewhere. The padded handlebars can be mounted and detached with ease, and they can obviously be stored separately somewhere else. The elliptical is completely usable without the handlebars as well, so you don’t need to attach them for every session.

What’s great about this item in particular?

Unlike most fitness equipment you can have delivered to your home, Stamina InMotion Compact Strider Pro is one of the few machines you can keep in your office at work, given the fact that it’s very light and basically invisible without the handlebars. The magnetic resistance keeps your pedaling incredibly silent, and to top things off, there’s even a handle that allows you to pick it up and move it around, so you can take it to and from the office easily. 

Pros:
  • Incredibly small footprint
  • Ergonomic footplates that prevent you from slipping
  • Easy to store and transport thanks to the built-in transportation handle
  • Detachable handlebars or rubber bands for more intense workouts
  • Very budget-friendly
Cons:
  • Does not feature any media capability
  • Screen is very basic, no backlight and only one button
  • Not designed to simulate running, only brisk walking
  • Its low weight might make it wobbly if used incorrectly

3) Cubii Jr

Key features
  • Slanted footplates for maximum comfort while sitting
  • 8 resistance levels
  • Screen shows time,  distance, RPM and calories
  • Small footprint and silent pedals are perfect for work

Cubii Jr is an elliptical that hits some of the same marks as Stamina InMotion Compact Strider Pro, but it goes about it in a different way. The Cubii Jr is designed to be used exclusively while sitting, whether at home on the couch or in your cubicle. Because of this, you shouldn’t expect to break too much of a sweat while using it, but in theory, it’s a great way to lose a few extra calories while going about your day as usual.

Unlike Stamina InMotion, Cubii Jr does not come with any handlebars, but that’s to be expected given its target audience. It’s just as silent as the Stamina InMotion, however, and it also sports a small screen that can relay information regarding distance and calories burned. You also get eight levels of resistance, just like with Stamina InMotion model.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

Not only is Cubii Jr small and compact, but it was actually designed to be used under a desk, hence its slanted footplates. Thanks to the adjusted pedaling angle, you don’t have to worry about hitting your knees on the bottom of the desk, which is a major upside. It can also be put away in a closet or even on a shelf when you're not using it, which makes it great for multi-taskers who live in a small space. It works just as well if you place it in front of your couch and watch your favorite shows while putting your legs to work. If you want to use it standing up, however, or if you want to work your upper body at all, this model won’t cut it.

What’s great about this item in particular?

Everything about this elliptical was designed with efficiency and comfort in mind, so it’s hard to beat it if you are looking for something in this category (that is, an under-desk elliptical). However, its looks are worthy of a mention as well, because not many ellipticals look as sleek and modern as Cubii Jr. It's comfortable, quiet, and easy to use, which it makes it worth the extra money in comparison to other ellipticals in this category. 

Pros:
  • Perfectly designed to be used under a desk without hurting your knees
  • Silent enough to be used in an office
  • Futuristic looks
  • Quick and easy assembly
Cons:
  • Cannot be used while standing up
  • Good for passively burning a few extra calories, not a true cardio workout
  • More expensive than other under-desk steppers

4) Body Rider BRD2000 available for $143 on Amazon

Key features
  • Stationary bike and elliptical combo
  • 2 sets of handlebars
  • Manual resistance adjustment
  • Basic workout metrics (distance, speed, calories, time)

Body Rider BRD2000 is another low-priced elliptical that integrates a few new ideas, including a seat that basically transforms the machine into a stationary bike. It even features two sets of handlebars, although this might prove to be a bit cumbersome in certain situations.

Apart from the neat 2-in-1 combo, Body Rider BRD2000 also comes with the usual technology expected of such a device, such as an electronic console that is able to track your time, distance and even speed, depending on whether you use it as an elliptical or a bike. You can also adjust various bits and pieces to better fit your posture and physique, such as the seat, which can be raised and moved according to your necessities.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

Unlike most items so far, Body Rider BRD2000 is a bit on the larger size, mainly because it incorporates an exercise bike within the same frame. It won’t be able to be put away in a closet, given its long base, but it’s definitely not as large as the ellipticals you might find in a gym. It also offers a variety of workout options for the size, making it more economical than other, simpler models.

As long as your room has a few feet to spare, you should be able to use it comfortably. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s not foldable, but it does feature transport wheels that allow you to move it to a corner with less effort.

What’s great about this item in particular?

Without a doubt, the fact that you can switch between different workouts without changing machines is a huge plus. The fan blades used to create resistance also create a bit of a breeze in the room while you are exercising, which is great if your apartment tends to get hot. It's also notable that the seat is adjustable, so it is usable even for people with short legs. 

Pros:
  • Both an elliptical and an exercise bike
  • Adjustable seat position
  • The fan cools you off during the workout
  • Console tracks time, speed, distance and calories burned
Cons:
  • A bit too bulky and heavy for very cramped spaces
  • The fan can create some noise, which is annoying to some people
  • Manual resistance adjustment only (turn a knob to increase the difficulty)

5) Gracelove Bike 2 In 1 Cross Trainer available for $165 on Amazon

Key features
  • Stationary bike and elliptical combo
  • 2 sets of handlebars
  • Basic workout metrics (distance, speed, calories, time)
  • Heavy frame keeps the bike sturdy while in use

If 2-in-1 solutions are your thing, then GraceLove 2in1 Bike Cross Trainer is a pretty sturdy alternative to Body Rider BRD2000, especially since it comes with many of the same features. To make things even better, the price range is along the same lines as well, making the choice between them almost a matter of aesthetics.

Just like the BRD2000, the GraceLove 2in1 can be used as both an elliptical and as an exercise bike, because the switch is done by simply standing up or sitting down. The bulkiness can also be a benefit since the weight keeps you from wobbling too much even if you’re pedaling hard.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

GraceLove 2in1 Bike Cross Trainer has a lot of the same benefits as well as flaws as the Body Rider BRD2000 when it comes to space economy. Like the Body Rider, it is not foldable. Its weight makes it difficult to move it around, and you pretty much have to reserve a special corner for it, because it doesn’t fit in a closet or anything similar. Thankfully, this one also comes with wheels to help you along, but that’s of little comfort if you have a very small basement or apartment.

What’s great about this item in particular?

Although it comes with a great price tag, the GraceLove 2in1 Bike Cross Trainer impresses when it comes to build quality. The steel frame is sturdy enough that it can keep up with even the most intensive training schedule for years to come, and there are hardly any parts that could bend or break under tension. Thanks to this, you should be able to hold on to the machine for quite a long time without worrying about wear.

Pros:
  • Sturdy steel frame makes it built to last
  • Many possible adjustments in terms of posture and seat position
  • Helpful LCD console with all the relevant info
Cons:
  • Quite heavy and cumbersome to move
  • You might require assistance assembling it

6) Proform Cardio HIIT available for $1171 on Amazon

Key features
  • 24 resistance levels, 34 workout programs
  • 10" backlit touchscreen display
  • Chest strap for accurate heart monitoring included
  • 350lb weight capacity
  • 30lb flywheel for a smooth stair-stepping motion

If you are the kind to prioritize as many fitness options as possible over the one-time price tag when you consider purchasing an elliptical, then ProForm Cardio HIIT is definitely the way to go. Packed to the brim with gadgets, device holders and sensors, this stair-stepper elliptical leaves nothing to the imagination and simply provides you with everything you need in order to lose calories and be entertained at the same time.

Sporting a state-of-the-art heart rate monitor and in-handle controls, ProForm Cardio HIIT also comes with a bottle holder, tablet holder, as well as 24 resistance levels designed to put your whole body through hell. Naturally, you can connect your iPod and listen to music, as well as make use of the huge 7” backlit display to keep an eye on your vitals and your workout progress.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

ProForm Cardio HIIT might not look small at first, but it’s actually not as big as you might believe. Given the vertical design of the machine, most of it is off the ground, and it’s actually not as wide or as long as some of the other ellipticals on this list. However, you pretty much have to keep it one place once it’s assembled, given its significant weight. However, because you are stepping up rather than forward, it does require a fairly high ceiling to use - no basements for this monster machine.

What’s great about this item in particular?

Although the gadget connectivity and the various holders are great, what’s most impressive about the ProForm Cardio HIIT is its 32 workout apps that are included with its software. Most other automatic ellipticals come with only about 20 workout programs.

The Proform HIIT Trainer is designed for high intensity cardio workouts, which makes it better for effective cardio workouts in short intervals and building muscle. Basically, if you want to sweat your face off, this is the machine to do it on. Building up the intensity and planning your workout is made possible thanks to the huge display and the smooth increase in resistance.

Pros:
  • A nice collection of workout apps to choose from
  • Plenty of resistance levels to work your way through
  • In-handle controls to avoid switching to and from the display
  • Connectivity with a wide variety of devices and gadgets
  • Stair-stepping design is better for a high-intensity, muscle-building workout
Cons:
  • Very heavy
  • Requires a high ceiling
  • An intimidating price tag compared to typical space-saving models (though roughly average compared to other ellipticals)

7) Bowflex Max Trainer M7 available for $3799 on Amazon

Key features
  • 11 workout programs, 20 levels of resistance
  • Targeted programming for 4 different user profiles
  • Dual backlit screens 
  • Chest strap heart rate monitor included

If the subject of money is not an issue and you are willing to seriously invest into your fitness regime, the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is a great alternative to ProForm Cardio HIIT, especially in terms of functionality and features.

However, the M7 provides even more than the Proform model, since it also comes with multiple user profiles and a performance-targeted algorithm that allows the software to learn from your sessions and adapt according to your progress. Not only that, but it can do the same for up to four users at once, so it can be used by the whole family and save each person’s individual workout settings and history.

Given the technology involved in this elliptical, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are quite a few buttons decorating the machine, most of which are neatly arranged around the central console. This is also a stair-stepper type of elliptical, which means that you do not have to worry too much about space horizontally, but you need a high ceiling in order to avoid posture problems.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

Just like ProForm Cardio HIIT, Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is designed to make you move vertically up and down, rather than forward and backward. It is much taller than it is wide, which makes it great for apartments with high ceilings. It isn't foldable at all, however, so you cannot really take it apart and get it out of the way once you are done exercising, and it’s too heavy to move around once it’s set up. But if you have a 1-bedroom or even a studio, this machine will be a great addition. 

What’s great about this item in particular?

Probably the most unique feature that’s part of M7’s arsenal is the fact that it can accommodate four different user profiles, which means that four people can use the elliptical without fumbling with the settings every time. In addition, the fact that the computer is constantly keeping an eye on your performance levels means that you don’t have to worry about manually increasing the difficulty over time.

Pros:
  • Four user profiles available
  • Adaptive programming that keeps track of your progress
  • A plethora of buttons and extra features, including Bluetooth connectivity
  • Stair-stepping design is better for a high-intensity, muscle-building workout
Cons:
  • Can be difficult to set up and operate if you are not particularly tech-savvy
  •  Price is on par with professional-grade equipment
  • Not as much workout variety as the Proform HIIT

8) NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i available for $663 on Amazon

Key features
  • 24 workout programs, 22 levels of resistance 
  • 10 degree adjustable incline 
  • Handles fold over for easy storage
  • Adjustable pedals so that it can fit for multiple users

NordicTrack SE7i is another pricey elliptical that comes with many useful features to justify the money you spend. Unlike its competitors in this price range, however, this is a foldable elliptical, which means that you can easily put it away when you are not using it. Most of the components are adjustable as well, including the pedals, which are also cushioned to protect your joints and provide you with better ergonomics.

 Even if it doesn’t feature an impressive touchscreen, NordicTrack SE7i still has plenty of smart features, including 24 preset workouts if you want to take your training to the next level. It’s also possible to adjust the incline up to a maximum of eight degrees, as well as connect the trainer to a tablet or a smartphone in order to download more workout apps.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

Although its dimensions are far from tiny once it’s fully assembled, the Space Saver NordicTrack SE7i lives up to its name. It can remain invisible while not in use, thanks to the fact that the handlebars fold neatly to minimize space usage. It’s overall length and weight might prohibit you from leaving it under the coffee table, but at least you are not going to snag your elbows on the handlebars while it’s stashed in the corner, and it can fit under a bed or in a closet just fine.

What’s great about this item in particular?

The creators behind the NordicTrack SE7i have somehow managed to integrate cutting-edge technology into a space-saving design, which is quite the achievement. This proves that you do not have to sacrifice quality and luxury in exchange for practicality, and even small home dwellers can get an intense variety of workouts.

Pros:
  • Easily foldable after a workout
  • Adjustable incline for a greater challenge
  • Sleek design and sturdy construction
  •  Great pedal ergonomics
Cons:
  • The screen could use an upgrade
  •  Incline is only 8 degrees, which is not enough to really build the glutes or hamstrings - just enough to add some variety to your routine.

9) Proform SmartStrider 735

Key features
  • Handles fold over for easy storage
  • 20 resistance levels, 22 workout programs
  • A built-in electric fan
  • iFit compatible

Proform SmartStrider 735 offers many of the same advantages as NordicTrack SE7i does, including the fact that it too can be folded and neatly stored between sessions. The overall design is very similar as well, sporting a rear-drive motor for increased stability and two sets of padded handlebars, one of which is fixed. Naturally, the prices are very similar two, which puts this elliptical in the medium-to-high price category.

Visual similarities aside, Proform SmartStrider 735 does not hold back in terms of features either, which means that it’s pretty much just as adjustable and high-tech as the NordicTrack SE7i. There’s an EKG Grip Pulse heart rate monitor, 20 resistance levels and a fan to keep you cool, plus a wide array of workout apps, with the possibility to download more using the iFit app.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

Having the option to fold the trainer is what constitutes a proper space-saving elliptical, and Proform SmartStrider 735 passes this test with flying colors. To make things even easier for you, there are also transport wheels underneath the frame, which allow you to move the machine without scratching your floors or dragging your carpet around in the process.

What’s great about this item in particular?

At a glance, Proform SmartStrider 735 seems to be a tad more ergonomic than its competitors, especially since it comes with oversized pedals and soft handle padding to keep your hands from slipping. Furthermore, the control panel is a lot more accessible and intuitive, even if you do not know your way around high-tech gadgetry.

Pros:
  • Built for comfort, with ergonomics in mind
  • Easy to store thanks to the foldable design
  • Compatible with iFit and various smartphone apps, for even more workout variations
  •  Heart-rate monitor on handlebars
Cons:
  • A bit heavier, so that it will be hard to move even though it has wheels
  •  Might require a mat to avoid scratching the floor while in use

10) Sunny Health and Fitness E3416

Key features
  • Budget-friendly price
  • 8 levels of manual resistance
  • Adjustable stabilizers to help prevent injury
  • Basic workout metrics on LCD screen

Sunny Health and Fitness E3416 is a modestly-priced elliptical that attempts to provide a sturdy build quality within a minimal footprint, all while still being practical and enjoyable to use. The magnetic resistance system provides you with eight levels to choose from, while the pulse grip heart rate monitors embedded in the handlebars keep an eye on your exertion levels.

Given the entry-level price of the machine, the LCD screen comes in monochrome and displays only basic data regarding your speed, distance and number of calories burned. You can use a few knobs to manually adjust the intensity of your workout, although this requires you to stop your routine in order to reach the knobs in question.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

As mentioned before, Sunny Health and Fitness E3416 is designed to occupy as little space as possible, even though it’s not foldable. The base of the elliptical is as short, so it can be used under relatively low-ceilings, and the motor that provides the magnetic resistance is small enough to keep the overall width to a minimum as well. Granted, you still have to deal with the handlebars, but they shouldn’t pose too much trouble if you keep the machine in a corner.

What’s great about this item in particular?

One of the neatest features you can make use of is the ability to adjust the leg stabilizers so that you can prevent any unwanted shaking during the exercise. Hence, if you feel like the footrests are not level enough, allyou have to do is turn a knob until you are satisfied with the results. This can also help you prevent any injuries while going for high-intensity workouts.

Pros:
  • Minimal size, while still being a rear-drive elliptical
  • Stress-resistant steel frame with the promise of longevity
  •  Great weight capacity for its size
Cons:
  • Cannot be folded
  • The LCD display is a bit too small and can only provide you with one type of data at once
  • Manual resistance adjustment only

11) Teeter Freestep available for $749 on Amazon

Key features
  • Very low-impact workout is amazing for sore joints and backs
  • Works both upper body (full-range movable handlebars) and lower body
  • Adjustable reclining seat is suitable for very short or tall people

The Teeter Freestep is a recumbent cross trainer that aims to keep you in shape with as little effort on your behalf as possible. Just as its price rests comfortably somewhere mid-range, this elliptical is designed around comfort. Unlike other ellipticals, you are meant to be sitting during the exercise.

This is not your average elliptical, but that doesn’t mean you cannot reap the same benefits you would by using a classic product - in fact, with recumbent machines you can work muscles that are typically neglected by regular cardio machines.

 The Teeter Freestep comes with a built-in seat, as well as a reclined position to maximize comfort and help you avoid pressure on your back and knees. The magnetic resistance is as quiet as it can get, while still putting up quite the fight in the race against calories. You can also fiddle with the seat position until you find the one that best suits you, and the pedal resistance comes in multiple steps as well, depending on your level of fitness.

Image Source: Amazon

What about it makes it great for a small space?

As you might expect, the Teeter Freestep is not overly friendly to very cramped spaces, mainly because it needs to accommodate a sturdy chair as well as the pedals. Even so, its dimensions are not as imposing as you might think, since it actually sits on a fairly small frame, with the rest of the body extending on the vertical axis. 

What’s great about this item in particular?

The clear advantage of this trainer is the fact that it can be used by people with weak backs or knees, given the fact that you do not have to stand upright and put additional stress on your joints. Hence, while classical ellipticals may force you to take a lot of breaks in order to recover, TeeterFreestep allows you to sit comfortably and keep the rest of your body relaxed during your workout session. In addition, because it is used in a sitting position, this elliptical is excellent for basements with low ceilings -there’s no risk of hitting your head.

Pros:
  • A great alternative for people with health problems
  • A comfortable seated position is great for low ceilings
  • Can work muscles that are typically neglected
Cons:
  • Bulkier than regular compact ellipticals
  • Not suitable for very high-intensity training
  • No tracking metrics or heart rate detection

In conclusion...

As you can see, having little space to work with is not an issue when there are so many different products out there designed to fill this exact niche. Whether you want to go for something truly tiny that can go under a desk or a semi-professional trainer that folds up into a closet, you can definitely find an elliptical tailored to your exact needs.

You don’t even have to sacrifice build quality or give up on high-tech features in the process since most modern ellipticals provide these as well if your budget is big enough.

Regardless of the one you choose, it’s important to consider all the variables first. Thus, be sure to measure your room and think of a proper storage space large enough to accommodate your new purchase.

 Lastly, even the most sophisticated elliptical is completely useless if it gathers dust in the basement, so make sure to keep using it once you decide to buy one. Make a plan for your workout routine, whether it’s having an accountability buddy work out with you, scheduling regular workouts at a certain time of day every day, or motivating yourself by watching your favorite show while you get your cardio on!