We’ve spent some time the past few days doing some elliptical shopping, ending up entirely undecided.
But — in the meantime — some shots from our front yard:
We live in an acreage subdivision where there are a lot of wooded areas. Apparently, some of the deer in the neighborhood have been sleeping in the trees between our house and our neighbor’s house. We often see as many as 12 deer crossing the road to go get something to eat. It is one of the nicer things about our neighborhood.
Somewhat less nice than the deer is shopping for an elliptical. I thought shopping for a treadmill last year was difficult, but shopping for an elliptical has been far worse. There are a number of factors. Ellipticals seem to fall largely within several groups. Some are cheap and poor quality. I don’t like that. I want something that will last. Also, I am concerned that a low quality elliptical might have bad ergonomics and could end up hurting my knee. Other brands seem acceptable quality, but the manufacturer has a lot of service complaints when problems do occur. That is, if your elliptical works fine, then everything is great. But, if your elliptical breaks, then getting acceptable service may be difficult.
Other ellipticals have tons of bells and whistles — lots of programs, incline, the console plays music, the console has a browser, adjustable strides, and so on! But, you can only buy the elliptical online. The prices look good, but you have to buy without trying out the elliptical. Since so much of an elliptical depends on how your body feels using it, I am extremely reluctant to buy an elliptical I can’t try. I really love a lot of those features, but not being able to try the elliptical first is a big deal. In some instances, the manufacturer may have a return policy, but the fine print isn’t that exciting as you might have to pay return shipping or send back the elliptical in the original packaging, which may be very difficult with such a large piece of equipment.
Then, there are the ellipticals you can buy in specialty fitness stores. Lots of times these are really high quality ellipticals. Sometimes, these are the home versions of the brands you see in gyms. From going to a couple of these stores, my observation is that these ellipticals tend to be from high quality manufacturers, have a high price and are short on features. We looked at some of these and did like a couple of them. There was a Life Fitness X1 that was about $2000. I felt it was good quality and I liked that it was a rear drive elliptical (some feel those are smoother feeling to use). But, it was a very basic machine with not a lot of features. There are machines that cost $500 less that run rings around it on features. Of course, they may not be as good quality, or the manufacturer may have a lot of service complaints or you may gave to buy them sight unseen. Still, for an elliptical that you can actually see in a store, the X1 seemed like a safe bet, but very unexciting without many options.
Then, we looked at a store with Precors. I’ve had a Precor treadmill in the past and thought it was high quality. Precor has a reputation for good quality and, apparently, invented the elliptical. The cheaper Precor ellipticals had a manual incline function which we didn’t like. I did like the higher level Precors where you could press a button to change the incline. But, they came with a huge price. There was a sale on one of the models and it was really nice, but was about twice the price of the Life Fitness. I’m not sure that I want to spend $4000 for an elliptical, even if it is a great machine! And, while the elliptical is great, the console on the Precor isn’t really impressive. Again, sometimes cheaper machines have more impressive bells and whistles. But, the Precor was clearly a very solid machine. But! That price.
Which brought up the thing that made us queasy as we debated it. First, I don’t really know yet if my knee will be able to handle the elliptical. Yes, the doctor suggested the elliptical. But, it is still weight bearing (which is an overall plus) and there are people who find that an elliptical hurts their knees. Other people find that it doesn’t. I would hate to spend $2000 (let alone $4000) to buy an elliptical and then find out a few months later that I couldn’t tolerate. Especially since buying fitness equipment wasn’t in this years budget at all.
Second, even if my knee can handle the elliptical, what if I hate it? I don’t think that I will, but I haven’t use an elliptical much. When I was a Y member I used one occasionally but not a lot. It is possible — although I think unlikely — that I might not like it.
Third, what if I don’t hate it and my knee can handle it, but I don’t want to use it (or can’t use it) 5 or 6 days a week for an hour at a time? That is the level of cardio exercise I would like to be able to do. It is possible that I could handle an elliptical 3 days a week, for example, but 5 days would be too much. Or, maybe I would just want some variety. While I do plan to use the treadmill without incline just to get some movement in, I won’t be doing that at high enough intensity for cardiovascular exercise. I do have the Concept2 rower, but I’ve concluded it really isn’t ideal for my knee at this point.
If I buy a really expensive elliptical then I couldn’t really afford to buy something else to use on non-elliptical days. On the other hand, if I buy a good quality, but less expensive elliptical, I could also buy a good quality recumbent exercise bike. I don’t want to have an exercise bike as my sole cardio exercise. First, my seat gets sore if I sit on one for too long. Second, I don’t like doing just one thing. I want some variety. Third, an exercise bike isn’t weight bearing and I want to do some weight bearing exercise.
At that point, I started thinking that the best option was to buy a less expensive elliptical and buy an exercise bike. Exercise bikes to me are mostly about the comfort of the seat and having a reasonable number of programs to use. Years ago (when I had my knee surgery) I had an exercise bike and those were the factors I found most important. I spent some time at the fitness store, trying out various exercise bikes. The one that was by the far the most comfortable was the Vision Fitness R40. Right now, I’m leaning towards buying it, but I want to look at a few more stores.
We came very close to just going ahead and buying the Life Fitness X1 elliptical and the Vision Fitness R40 bike. That would give me equipment that I could alternate using and I could feel that I was getting a good workout and wouldn’t be overusing any one piece of equipment. And, yet, I just wasn’t comfortable spending that kind of money when I’m just not sure if my knee will be able to tolerate the elliptical. And, we still aren’t really sure whether to go with something expensive, but basic like the X1 or maybe buy something less expensive with more features, but maybe lesser quality or service.
Then, my husband suggested we might rejoin the YMCA. Before we moved to our current house, we had been YMCA members and enjoyed using the Y facilities. We had dropped our membership several months after we moved here because the Y in this area is farther away and we really preferred to exercise at home. So, we dropped the Y membership and bought the treadmill and bought dumbbells for strength training. Truthfully, I like a lot of the weight machines (heresy, I know, but there it is), but I didn’t like having to drive to use them.
Now, I know that I have no interest is having to go to the Y to do all my exercise. I don’t want to have to go there 5 or 6 days a week. So, I still want to buy the exercise bike. But, I could see going to the Y a few days a week to use the elliptical and maybe some of the weight machines. This has the beauty of letting me try some ellipticals for an extended period of time and finding out how my knee does with them. If I have no problems using the ellipticals there, and I enjoy them, then after a few months we can drop the Y membership and buy an elliptical (maybe by then I’ll have a better sense of what features are important to me). If I find out that I can’t use the elliptical or don’t really like it, then I haven’t spent all that money to buy one.
And, since I will have an exercise bike at home, I will still be able to do some exercise here when the spirit moves me or when I just don’t feel like going to the Y.
We still have to decide which bike to buy, but I’m already feeling better at deferring the elliptical shopping for a few months.