Having an elliptical machine in your home can help you maintain a consistent fitness regime without having to make time for the gym everyday. While it may be a financial investment, there are budget-friendly options that can last you for many years. If you don't have a lot of room in your home or if you are looking for a less obtrusive option, a compact elliptical machine is a good choice. There are many compact elliptical machines on the market, but several machines are better than others, based on quality, performance, portability and durability.
NordicTrack E 15.0
One of the smallest compact elliptical machines available, the NordicTrack is a high-performance model with a multitude of features that are in line with machines twice its price. Boasting a 10-inch, color, Android-powered tablet, 36 programs and 28 resistance levels, the Nordic is user-friendly and sleek. A quality machine, the NordicTrack was priced at approximately $1,500 as of October of 2013.
The most cost-efficient of the top compact machines, the Nautilus sells for an estimated $600. Weighing 165 pounds, this machine boasts a backlit LCD, four heart-rate programs and a wide selection of preset and workout programs. This is a quiet machine that transitions smoothly between settings. A light-use option, the Nautilus has an 18-inch stride, which may be too short for users over 6 feet tall.
This unit is also on the less-expensive side, but still offers many great features and has a small footprint. Accommodating users up to 300 pounds, the Schwinn has a backlit LCD, offers 19 program settings and has a place to hold a smartphone or MP3 player for music. Offering a solid cardiovascular workout, the Schwinn has 16 resistance levels and displays the time, distance, speed, calories burned, RPM, pulse and more. As of October 2013, this machine is priced at around $700.
Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer
A great option for those on a budget, the Body Rider weighs just 58 pounds and is one of the most compact machines, spanning just 25 inches in length and 9 inches in width. Quiet and smooth, this elliptical is a basic machine that boasts an electricity-free fan and allows you to adjust the resistance with the belt tension control knob. Priced around $200, the Body Rider includes a video workout guide that is designed to help you get started.