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Top Ellipticals That You Can Buy for Less Than $500

Building a cardio habit is hard work, and it can cost thousands of dollars! Luckily, you CAN get a cheaper elliptical machine for your home - if you're willing to give up a few extras.

Getting fit is incredibly elusive; besides the investment of hours upon hours of hard work, many fitness products on the market are just too damn expensive! Products as basic as running shoes can set you $60 or more, and a brief scan across Amazon’s recommended fitness products can give you the impression that only the rich can afford to be in shape.

For those who have busy schedules, small children or who simply do not want to leave the comfort of their home, the idea of being able to work out in the living room is appealing, if not a necessity. This means home gyms and elliptical machines are in high demand, however, you will soon notice that this luxury is often accompanied by a high price tag.

No one said that working out at home would be easy – but it doesn’t have to be insanely expensive, either!

In particular, elliptical machines are the perfect home workout machine, providing an excellent form of cardio without the added strain on both your knees and back. What’s better than burning a few calories while binge-watching your favorite Netflix series?

There is also a very broad product and price range depending on how high-end and technologically advanced your needs require the machine to be. Typically, your standard full-sized ellipticals will set you back somewhere within the range of $1,000 to $1,500, however, there are also models on the market under the $500 price point.

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What features should you look for in an elliptical (and what can you expect for $500)?

Undoubtedly, products at the lower price range will be void of some features, which you should consider before purchasing. 

For example, you may lose out on automatic resistance and incline, which allow you to adjust the intensity of the workout electronically without having to dismount the machine. Without these automatic features, you’ll have to stop mid-workout and manually adjust the settings.

In the same vein, you may have to sacrifice the weight, stride length or speed capacity. The physical capacity of the elliptical may be limited because budget machines tend to be made out of lower-quality, less sturdy materials. 

The incline is important as it changes the focus of the workout from the lower body on a high-incline and the upper body on a lower incline. If you’re looking for variety in your workouts, this feature should be a priority for you, but it is often not found on lower-end workout machines.

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f you are tall, you should look out for adjustable pedals and the stride length. Cheaper models often come with shorter stride lengths, which will make you feel cramped or even lead to potential injury if you’re tall. You may also need to base your purchase on the weight capacity - ellipticals under $500 tend to hold 300 lbs maximum, frequently less.

Other features including the ability to measure heart rate, which, although not necessary for a good workout, can be hugely beneficial for tracking progress and self-monitoring your fitness goals. While you may think tracking features like heart rate and calories burned are gimmicky, you may realize that they are exceptionally helpful in keeping your motivated and you should not completely ignore them.

1) Proform Hybrid Trainer available for $347 on Amazon

Key features
  • 15” stride length
  • Tablet and water holder
  • iFit Bluetooth connection
  • GlobeTrek Integrated workouts

While not technically under the $500 price point, the Proform Hybrid deserves recognition as an affordable solution, providing all the benefits of elliptical workouts along with those of a fitness bike.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The convenience of integrating both machines into one is a fantastic design - you can add variety to your workouts without having to buy multiple machines. The inclusion of an LCD display provides easy tracking of useful statistics such as your calories burned, your power output, distance, time exercised and your speed. Though some people may be turned off by the higher price point compared to other items on this list, the Proform Hybrid Trainer does not skimp on features and will provide you with an all-around good workout experience.

What's not so good about it?

The main criticism is the difficulty in setting up the machine. Because of the dual nature of the Hybrid Trainer, connecting the wires correctly to the control panel can be confusing. However, there are instructional videos available on the company’s website to aid with this process.

Another pitfall is the presence of ‘squeaking’ and other audible noise while using the device. To prevent this, you should make sure that all screws are inserted correctly and fully, and all of the moving parts are lubricated. Be aware that the connections are somewhat fragile and extra care must be taken to avoid damage.

The presence of 16 resistance settings is a welcomed addition, though, you may find that the lower levels are far too easy and, in reality, there are relatively few settings that vary much from one another. You should also make a trip to the supermarket for some D batteries, as the LCD display does require them for use.

The 15” stride length will be problematic if you’re over 170cm tall. If you have long legs, you should consider the larger stride provided on the pro version (more about this below).

Finally, there have been complaints relating to the availability of customer service for inquiries. Despite the extended warranty available, you should note that you may be waiting a long time for a response to your questions and concerns.

Pros:
  • 16 resistance settings
  • A 2 in 1 exercise machine
  • Convenience features like water bottle holder and tablet shelf
Cons:
  • Short stride length
  • The bike feature may not be useful to you if you’re shorter (seat is too tall) 
  • 250 lb maximum capacity

2) Proform Hybrid Trainer Pro available for $627 on Amazon

Key features
  • 17” Stride length
  • 20 Integrated Workout Applications
  • Cushioned Foot Pedals
  • 350lb weight capacity

The pro version of the Proform Hybrid Trainer provides a couple of extra features and details that you may find justify the higher price point compared to the original. While it doesn’t qualify as being less than $500 bought new, it can often be found used or refurbished for less.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The main appeal of the Pro edition is adding more comfort measures to the existing benefits of the original Hybrid Trainer. The longer stride length provides support for users of all heights, which is important for those with a taller build. The presence of 4 additional workout programs is a nice touch, although, arguably a far cry from a necessity. It is a overall a more sturdy machine, and can hold up to 350 lbs. The Proform Hybrid Trainer Pro is a solid choice for those looking for comfortable exercise on a budget.

What's not so good about it?

A major concern is the quality of the materials used and the need for certain parts to be replaced upon encountering distinct squeaking and clicking noises during use. This can be alleviated with proper maintenance and care, however. The included LCD screen is not backlit and this may require you to be in a well-lit room in order to see all of the details.

While the integration of both a bike and an elliptical machine is well received, you may find that if you’re on the short side, you may struggle to use the bike feature despite the adjustable pedals. The original Hybrid Trainer has a similar issue, so this is not a problem that got resolved in the Pro version. 

Pros:
  • Better comfort measures
  • More workout programs than the original Hybrid Trainer (20 vs 16)
  • Larger stride length (17” vs 15”)
  • Larger weight capacity (350 lbs vs 250 lbs)
Cons:
  • Some squeaking with heavy use
  • LCD is not backlit
  • Bike feature not suited for short users

3) Gazelle Freestyle available for $270 on Amazon

Key features
  • Heart rate monitor
  • A training video
  • Detailed stats monitor
  • 300lb weight capacity

A true budget machine (closer to an air-walker than an elliptical), the Gazelle Freestyle provides an excellent range of motion, a detailed feedback monitor and a foldable chassis for easy storage. All of this at a very competitive price!

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The price point may be low, but you will not be disappointed with the quality of the build. The ease on your joints will be gratefully noted. 

This device comes with a fairly high weight capacity (300lbs), meaning that regardless of your size, most people can exercise without worry of damaging the frame. The ease of storage is a huge advantage of the Gazelle over other elliptical machines, especially, if you live in an apartment.

What's not so good about it?

The cheap price tag comes with a cost: you will find that the Gazelle Freestyle is very limited in terms of how much of a challenge it can provide. As mentioned before, this is more closely related to an air-walker rather than a full elliptical machine, meaning that you step forward rather than pedaling down with each step.

Because of this, it offers little to no resistance, so you will have to move very quickly or use it for a much longer period of time to burn any significant amount of calories. Though, you will get more out of the workout if you remember to bend your knees whilst in the motion.

After extended use, the chassis can begin to create a squeaking noise, which makes using the machine a chore. Additionally, you may find that the included instructions are also relatively difficult to follow and you may have to invest some time into making sure the machine is constructed properly.

Not everyone experiences grinding and squeaking noises from the frame;  you should check your warranty should such issues arise and make sure that all of the pieces are tightened correctly. 

Pros:
  • Weight capacity of 300lbs
  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Easy on joints
  • Includes stat monitors and a training DVD
  • Affordable price
Cons:
  • No added resistance
  • Not very durable over the long term

4) Gazelle Edge available for $128 on Amazon

Key features
  • Smooth and quiet
  • High-density foam handlebars
  • 250lb weigh capacity
  • Dual action split suspension

By the same company, this is a cheaper alternative to the Gazelle Freestyle. It is also an air-walker style exercise machine rather than being a “true” elliptical.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The Gazelle Edge provides many of the same benefits as the Freestyle (i.e. no impact on joints and ease of storage.) While it does come at a lower than the Freestyle model, the Edge provides support for up to 250lbs and uses a 1.5-inch steel (rolled) frame.

This version is equipped with a stat monitor in the same fashion as the Freestyle and provides the same fantastic range of motion appropriate for people of all heights.

What's not so good about it?

A recurring criticism is the lack of resistance and, therefore, the difficulty of using the machine. If you are already in reasonable shape, you may find that you’re not breaking a sweat despite pushing yourself. It is important to avoid straight knees in order to feel the impact of the workout and not use this as a skiing machine.

As with the Freestyle, you may have complications with the noise generated from the frame whilst in use. The Gazelle Edge has a slightly smaller and lighter frame than the Freestyle, which makes it more prone to wear and tear.

The calorie counting feature, whilst a nice touch, tends to be inaccurate and often misleading. This is true of most elliptical machines, however, as calorie counting is often based on how long the machine has been running rather than your profile data.

Pros:
  • A cheaper alternative to the Freestyle
  • Long stride length
  • Easy on joints
  • Easy to store
Cons:
  • No resistance or added difficulty
  • Less durable than the Gazelle Freestyle
  • Stats may be inaccurate

5) Schwinn A40 available for $499 on Amazon

Key features
  • 8 Resistance settings
  • 7 workout programs
  • A large LCD tracking device
  • Integrated speakers

The Schwinn A40 is an elliptical machine at the upper end of the $500 price point but comes with all the features you expect from a budget elliptical machine, and then some.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Similar to the popular Proform Hybrid Trainer Pro (listed above), the Schwinn A40 uses a 17.5” stride length, perfect if you are of average height. Though, if you are taller (6’+) you will undoubtedly benefit from a model with a longer stride. The product boasts a ‘challenging workout’ and many customers attest that this is the case. 

The Schwinn A40 also has speakers integrated into the console, so you can blast your music without worrying about getting tangled up in headphone wired while running.

What's not so good about it?

In terms of build quality, this model is a bit of a  mixed bag. The frame appears to be extremely robust and sturdy, but after 12-24 months parts start to fall off or not work properly. Unfortunately, Schwinn has a pretty strict warranty policy and are not keen to offer replacements in many cases.

It’s also important to note that the speakers are very low-quality and you actually prefer to use headphones instead. Although the manufacturer’s page advertises this product as a quiet option because of it’s weighted flywheel, some people report that it tends to start squeaking over the long-term as well (yet another reason to wear headphones!)

Pros:
  • Good stride length
  • LCD display and stats tracking
  • Weighted flywheel provides quiet operation 
  • Automatic resistance offers more of a challenge compared to other budget models
Cons:
  • Low-quality speakers
  • Issues with longevity and durabilty
  • Requires batteries

6) Proform 250i available for $339 on Amazon

Key features
  • Large LCD display
  • iFit compatible
  • Integrated tablet and water bottle holder
  • 17" stride length

The 250i elliptical is a decent alternative to the aforementioned Schwinn A40 at roughly the same competitive price. The inclusion of features such as a fan, Bluetooth connectivity, and 14 resistance settings make this a strong contender for one of the top budget models.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The additional features are appreciated for the budget price tag. Perks such as a variety of workout apps, transport wheels and a focus on being quiet make this an appealing option. This model is equipped with a 5-year warranty on the frame and a further 90-day warranty on the parts, which is a testament to it’s sturdy build. 

What's not so good about it?

Some people have found that the frame ‘wobbles’ whilst in use and this, in turn, this eliminates any noise reduction factors such as the magnetic resistance.It should be noted issues in stablity are mostly likely to arise due to improper assembly.

The warranty is good, though if we’re being honest we would rather not have to use it in the first place. The moving parts tend to become damaged through wear and tear after a year or two of continued use, however, and this isn’t covered by the frame warranty.

The weight limit is relatively low at just 250lbs, while other models provide support for up to 300lbs.

Pros:
  • A great range of premium features not found on other models
  • 14 resistance settings and 12 pre-programmed workout apps
  • Mobility wheels for easy transport
  • Very quiet
Cons:
  • Resistance may not be challenging enough
  • The frame may be unstable
  • Warranty does not cover parts after 90 days
  • Low weight limit (250lbs)

7) Proform 150i available for $321 on Amazon

Key features
  • 250lb weight capacity
  • iFit ready
  • 12 resistance levels
  • 12 pre-programmed workouts

As an alternative to the 250i, the 150i model holds many of the same features, but is scaled back to match the lower price point.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Similarly to the 250i, this model holds a good range of additional features and at a very competitive price! These features include built-in speakers, 12 pre-programmed workout routines, and a heart rate monitor on the stationary handles. Like the 250i, the 150i also connects to Proform’s iFit app, which can provide even more personalized workout options for you online. 

What's not so good about it?

What is missing from the 150i model is the inclusion of a fan and 2 fewer resistance settings. The other biggest drawback is that the 150i is only suited to users that are 250 lbs and under, which is fairly common for budget machines unfortunately. 

There are similar complaints that the frame wobbles during use and there are further issues with the difficulty of assembly. However, with patience, you will find that the device runs (pun intended) like a dream. The frame warranty taps out at 3 years compared to the 250i’s 5 years, however, and it is also a much lighter model (made out of cheaper materials). 

Pros:
  • Offers many of the same features as the 250i
  • 12 pre-programmed workouts
  • Heart rate, speed, and other useful information is available at a glance
Cons:
  • No included fan
  • Low weight limite (250 lbs)
  • Assembly requires careful diligence
  • Warranty doesn’t cover parts after 90 days

8) Fitness Reality E5500XL available for $367 on Amazon

Key features
  • 3 computer workout settings
  • Double Transmission system
  • 18" stride length
  • Backlit LCD computer

The E5500XL is Fitness Reality’s budget elliptical machine, but do not let the price tag fool you! This elliptical ranks highly, and not just among the cheap models: it has enough resistance settings, pre-programmed workouts, and a long smooth stride that puts it right up there beside $800-$1000 competitors. 

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

Tall people rejoice - there is a budget elliptical for you too! The 18” stride is the largest on this list so far and, therefore, is less likely to cause issues in the long run. The 24 different resistance settings also offer the biggest range of difficulty, and 21 pre-set programs make it easy to add variety to your workout routine.

As with other products, the E5500XL includes an LCD display, though, this time it is backlit and usable even with dim lighting!

Incorporation of double transmission (basically, the machine runs faster) allows for a smooth, quieter motion.

What's not so good about it?

Once again, we are confronted with issues with squeaking! Though it’s hard to determine if it’s due to poor build quality or shoddy assembly? Instructions are difficult to follow and ensuring that you have all the pieces can be a nightmare. Make sure to take regular coffee breaks when putting this together!

Finally, while the LCD display is a positive addition, the statistics on the E5500XL may not be accurate. Hence, you should invest in alternative monitoring systems if you want to measure your heart rate, calories burned, etc. However, this is true of nearly all fitness equipment, regardless of the price tag. 

Pros:
  • Solid build quality for the price
  • Decent stride length
  • Plenty of additional features to keep your workouts varied
  • Many (magnetic) resistance settings and workout programs
  • Wheels for easy transport
  • Backlit LCD
Cons:
  • LCD display data is pretty unreliable
  • Difficult to assemble
  • Prone to making a lot of noise and wobbling if not constructed well

9) Exerpeutic 5000 available for $422 on Amazon

Key features
  • 12 workout programs
  • 7 different training modes
  • Hand pulse sensors
  • Water bottle holder

This is the budget elliptical model available from Paradigm Health and Wellness Inc. who are also the owners of Fitness Reality (from the previous E5500XL model). While the Exerpeutic brand is still not well known, given the pricing and quality of their product, their increasing popularity comes as no surprise.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The 18-inch stride length is good if you’re of average height and do not have particularly long legs. The product is equipped with many additional features including an LCD display and mobile app tracking. This is a key selling point - being able to track your fitness progress on your mobile device at this budget is virtually unheard of!

Like other products, the Exerpeutic 5000 uses double transmission to ensure a smooth and quiet experience, and with this comes plenty of options for changing resistance levels.

What's not so good about it?

The main critique is that the tracking is unreliable and that the mobile app isn’t as brilliant as the fancy advertising would have you believe. Either not all of the advertised features are available or they are simply unable to be selected. Exerpeutic claims to be updating the app regularly, however, so stay tuned for bug fixes. The mobile app requires you to connect to the device via Bluetooth, which is fine, so long as your device’s Bluetooth is working!

Another issue is the short warranty. Other items on this list boast 5-year frame warranties, though, you will only have a one-year warranty with the Exerpeutic.

Pros:
  • Mobile app tracking
  • Double transmission for smooth motion
  • Nice perks such as a water holder
  • Compact size for small apartments
  • Supports up to 275lbs (this is good considering the machine is only 84lbs!)
  • Includes many settings and offers plenty of resistance for a hard workout
Cons:
  • Short warranty
  • Not ideal if you are tall 
  • Heart rate tracking is unreliable
  • The mobile app is underwhelming considering advertised features.

10) Nautilus E614 available for $699 on Amazon

Key features
  • Acoustic speakers
  • USB charging port
  • Integration with MyFitnessPal
  • Footplate cushioning

A budget elliptical with the longest stride so far on this list, the Nautilus E614 is a sturdy, feature packed piece of equipment that is very popular amongst users. Nautilus is a well-known fitness brand that has specialized in ellipticals and other cardio fitness equipment since the 1980s. 

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The 20” stride length is an absolute godsend if you are very tall and will provide you with a full range of motion while in operation. There are 20 levels of resistance and a total of 22 preset programs to provide plenty of variety and challenge in your workouts.

What's not so good about it?

If you’re unlucky, you will be one of the many customers whose product develops a squeak or the mechanics become damaged after small usage. Based on reviews, however, Nautilus is pretty good at replacing parts that have become damaged or simply need replacing.

As with many of the trackers, the calorie counter appears to be very generous and perhaps should be ignored.

Lack of Bluetooth connectivity is a bummer and whilst the charging port is nice, there are plenty of other ellipticals in this price range do offer Bluetooth connectivity.

Pros:
  • Plenty of features
  • Good stride length if you’re taller than average
  • Charging port
  • Long warranty on frame
  • 300lbs weight capacity
  • Heart rate monitor on stationary handles
Cons:
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Not supportive if you’re short and have a small reach
  • Tracking seems inaccurate

11) Body Flex Power 3 in 1 Trio

Key features
  • Programmable LCD
  • 17 training programs
  • 300lbs weight limit
  • Adjustable seating and padded handles

An elliptical, recumbent bike, and an upright bike all in one machine! Similar to the Proform Hybrid and Hybrd Pro, the Body Flex Power 3 in 1 Trio eliminates the need to settle on one type of exercise machine, by incorporating 3 into 1.

Image Source: Amazon

What's good about it?

The 3 in 1 design is obviously the main selling point, though, the machine has a few appealing additional features.

The machine also makes transitioning from each mode seamless and does not require you to adjust the pedals or seating.

What's not so good about it?

The stride length. Reported at just 13”, this is by far the shortest stride length of all the machines on this list. This is no good for anyone of average to tall stature and the resulting lack of range of motion is important to consider - using it while standing for long periods of tim could put strain on your knees, ankles, and even spine. 

The lack of features such as Bluetooth connectivity is a shame given the higher price point. You are certainly paying for the luxury of 3 machines built into one and, therefore, the rest is fairly barebones by comparison to other listed ellipticals.

Additionally, you may find that the machine wobbles during use and parts such as the display may become non-functional after a long period of time.

Pros:
  • 3 in 1 design is great for saving space and providing workout variety
  • 300lbs weight limit
  • Extra comfort measures
  • Includes 17  training programs
  • Easy assembly compared to other models on this list
Cons:
  • Lacks additional features like Bluetooth
  • Short stride length (if you’re over 5’7 don’t bother!)
  • Wobbling when on carpet

In conclusion...

As shown, there are budget elliptical machines available and some are fairly extensively equipped in terms of added features and nifty perks. For less than $500 you can get:

·         Hybrid machines

·         Integrated speakers

·         Bluetooth connnectivity

·         Up to 20” stride length

·         Automatic resistance

·         300 lbs weight limits

However, the truth of the matter is that no matter how much you spend, you won’t gain anything without putting in the effort. The most expensive machine gathering dust in your basement is worth no more than the most basic machine if you don’t use it!

As general advice, the most comprehensive fitness strategy involves a combination of cardio and high-intensity muscle workouts (i.e weight training.) Through this combination, you build a strong core that requires more energy (calories) to sustain and you also burn excess calories through the added cardio.

No matter which machine you opt for, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of healthy habits, such as eating clean and prioritizing your fitness!