Unless you’re one of the freakishly lucky few that have a full-blown home gym set up in your house, you’re probably tight on space at home. Not only can this be detrimental to your workout routines but it can also take away from the overall aesthetic of your home.
This is one of the reasons why many of us are forced to get creative in our home setups by investing in products that are easy to store and take up minimal space. Oftentimes, this involves getting a piece of fitness equipment that can be used for a variety of exercises while still being foldable for easy storage. This is where folding ellipticals have completely changed the game.
- 1 In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks
- 2 Why You Should Trust Us
- 3 Who Is This Guide For?
- 4 How We Picked the Best Products
- 5 How We Graded Each Product
- 6 The Products
- 7 The Buying Guide
- 8 FAQ
In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks
|Product's name||Best Overall|
NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Trainers
Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer Elliptical...
|Final Thought||The technological advancements brought forth by the SpaceSaver SE9i can be incredibly useful for program-craving runners.||The compact nature of the Horizon Evolve 3 - both in terms of design and tech features - is incredibly useful for users looking to save space while not focusing too much on high-end technology.||In short, anyone that wants a budget-friendly folding elliptical machine with more features than the standard models.|
|Machine Size||80″L x 32″W x 67″H||69" L x 28" W x 69" H||25”L x 19”W x 57”H|
|Digital Resistance Levels||$24||$20||None|
|Incline Range||0% to 10%||None||None|
|Maximum User Weight Capacity||325 lbs||300 lbs||220 lbs|
|Learn more||See at Amazon||See at Amazon||See at Amazon|
Why You Should Trust Us
Coming from a diverse team where each member has a different fitness level and range of expertise, we have done extensive research on a number of cardio machines and strength training equipment over the years. We understand that everybody has different preferences and needs when it comes to fitness, which is why we’re adamant about getting relevant input from each BoxLife team member.
We’re well aware of the challenges modern fitness enthusiasts face when trying to find the right piece of equipment to maximize their workouts and save space. As such, our goal is to consider each option’s functionality and user experience, as well as the safety and budget-friendliness of the product to help you find the best folding elliptical for your needs.
Who Is This Guide For?
If you’re low on space but you don’t want your workout experience to take the hit, you’ll definitely get some use out of this guide. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced fitness enthusiast, having a single machine to take on both lower and upper-body workouts is probably a wise investment.
How We Picked the Best Products
To fully grasp the extent of each product’s strengths and weaknesses, we compared our own assessments with the vast pool of opinions on the internet. Of course, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to dig through Reddit and Quora, where each discussion thread opens up a whole new perspective. Most users are more than happy to share their experiences and potential problems, which ultimately helped us create an unbiased list of folding ellipticals.
Additionally, we took a broad-spectrum approach to consumer reviews across retailers like Amazon, Titan, and Rogue Fitness, where there’s a more diverse range of user feedback. We ran into a number of useful reports on assembly, portability, and user-friendliness to get a better sense of the overall design.
How We Graded Each Product
When we finished our initial analysis, we noticed a few common factors that stood out in terms of each product’s benefits and drawbacks. We took each notable feature into consideration and assigned a criterion-based grade for each one. This helped us determine how each product fared across our carefully-curated grading system, including:
- Machine Size – Sure, all of the machines we took a look at had a folding mechanism in place, but some were more compact than others. After all, you can’t exactly call it a space-saver if it’s a full-on behemoth of a machine once it’s fully set up. It has to be able to fit in your designated area, no matter how minimal the space is.
- Levels of Resistance – This refers to the range of intensity you can expect across each workout. It’s normally generated through a combination of resistance bands and flywheels, but some can be adjusted to cater to your own needs. We also looked at if the machine includes a range of preset programs to give you more control over your workouts.
- Ergonomics– This is probably one of the most underrated aspects of any home gym equipment. Your full-body workout doesn’t have to be uncomfortable in order to be effective, no matter how intense the program is. We looked at the size and shape of each machine as well as its general design to see if it offers sufficient support and comfort for users of different sizes.
- Noise Level – We all want to be able to maintain a peaceful atmosphere when we’re working out, so we found it important to note the noise level of each machine. The quieter ones are definitely easier on the ears and help you concentrate on your goals without any potential distractions.
- Price Range – Last but certainly not least, we took the budget-friendliness of each product into account and compared it to the functionalities it offers. We know that space-savers generally tend to be a bit pricier than standard models, but we wanted to find a reasonable price-to-performance ratio.
All of the assembled information was then synthesized to form our top three picks for the best folding treadmill. Each one with its own unique perks and drawbacks, and all at different price points to cater to a range of budgets.
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i – Best Overall
The impressive high-tech nature and the innovative design of the SpaceSaver SE9i are what propelled this machine to the very top of the fitness industry. NordicTrack habitually provides a number of top-notch solutions for home gym enthusiasts, with commercial-grade materials and state-of-the-art technology. It seems that this model is no exception, with a sleek and modern style and a folding mechanism that allows you to save up on valuable space.
|Machine Size||80″L x 32″W x 67″H|
|Digital Resistance Levels||24|
|Incline Range||0% to 10%|
|Maximum User Weight Capacity||325 lbs|
Why It’s Great
Starting with the foundation of the machine itself, the SpaceSaver SE9i has a stable and durable steel frame that can support up to 325 pounds of weight. It feels sturdy and strong, with a well-balanced design and minimalist aesthetics. The round case that houses the 18-pound flywheel and the rest of the internal components can be found at the center of the machine, with minimal sound production when in use.
Additionally, the 18” stride length offers a smooth and steady experience, in combination with the adjustable incline settings and built-in sway reduction. The non-slip pedals feature a patterned design that helps you keep your feet in place during more intense workouts, while the ergonomic handlebars have padded grips for extra comfort.
As for performance, the iFIT programming brings an unmatched level of customization, with up to 30 presented workout programs for you to choose from. With automatic trainer-controlled adjustments and varying levels of difficulty, as well as custom-made recommendations, this elliptical machine has enough variety to keep you entertained with your fitness journey.
Finally, the 7” screen at the heart of the trainer is crisp, clear, and incredibly responsive to your commands. You can easily monitor your progress, set goals, and stay motivated with the visual tracking tools of the interface. You’ll have access to useful metrics like your heart rate and calories burned, as well as try out the Google Maps integration for a virtual yet realistic experience.
Who It’s Best For
The technological advancements brought forth by the SpaceSaver SE9i can be incredibly useful for program-craving runners. It’s a high-powered and feature-packed device, with loads of interactive abilities, which can also be quite useful for HIIT or interval training.
Horizon Evolve 3 – Great Alternative
Horizon Fitness has some pretty decent machines for a cardiovascular workout, with the Evolve 3 being one of the most efficient space-savers. Its folding mechanism is quite simple and straightforward, with a vertical fold that uses a hydraulic system to snap into place. The machine offers a full-body workout that stretches from your legs to your arms and core, thanks to its patented swing arms.
|Machine Size||69″ L x 28″ W x 69″ H|
|Digital Resistance Levels||20|
|Maximum User Weight Capacity||300 lbs|
Why It’s Great
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the Evolve 3 is its larger stride length, which is something that many other folding elliptical trainers don’t offer. This is a particularly commendable feature if you take into account the machine’s hydraulic folding feature, which inherently takes away a bit of the stability of the machine and can cut down the stride length. With this machine, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the 20” stride, giving you a much more thorough and consistent workout.
Additionally, the magnetic resistance system is quite simple to use, with a swift and gentle turn of the adjustment knob giving you more freedom to customize your training. With an admirable number of 20 adjustable resistance levels with each workout, you’ll be able to find something that works in the exact way you want it. Plus, the 18-pound flywheel is surprisingly silent, running very quietly in the background while you exercise and providing consistent momentum.
Moreover, the LCD display at the central console has enough features to help you keep track of your performance without feeling too reliant on technology. You’ll be able to follow up on your heart rate with the contact grips and take advantage of Horizon’s very own ViaFit software that lets you upload and store your workout data online. Not only can you monitor essential metrics like speed and distance, but you’ll also be able to access the Cardio Compass App and get personalized training advice.
As far as comfort goes, the Evolve 3 has a standard set of cushioned handles and pedals that are specifically designed to offer support in all the right areas. The pedals have raised edges to prevent any slipping and the padding on the handles can be adjusted for a more personalized fit. Both sets are also somewhat larger than usual, providing more room for your feet and hands to move around.
Who It’s Best For
The compact nature of the Horizon Evolve 3 – both in terms of design and tech features – is incredibly useful for users looking to save space while not focusing too much on high-end technology. It’s also a fantastic choice for those who are looking to get an entire-body workout while still following up on their performance.
Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer – Budget Pick
Sunny Health & Fitness is a brand that puts an emphasis on providing users with equipment that is both useful and affordable, and the Air Walk Trainer is a prime example of its philosophy. This folding elliptical machine has all the basic features you’d expect from a budget pick, with its main advantage being the convenience of its folding design. It doesn’t take up much space when fully opened either, with the compact frame and cleverly designed foot pedals taking on a minimalist approach.
|Machine Size||25”L x 19”W x 57”H|
|Digital Resistance Levels||None|
|Maximum User Weight Capacity||220 lbs|
Why It’s Great
The innovative gliding design of the Air Walk Trainer makes it one of the most efficient and user-friendly budget models on the market today. The smooth and natural motions minimize jerks or jarring reactions while still providing excellent resistance. And even though air-based resistance doesn’t have adjustable levels of intensity, it operates by letting you control the pace. You basically start off slow and then turn things up a notch as you gain momentum and stamina.
Another nifty feature is the dedicated abdominal pad that’s located right below the LCD monitor on the main console. It’s basically a padded cushion that can be used for additional support during your workout, allowing you to focus on your core muscles with every stride. It features a customizable base that can be adjusted according to your height and needs.
Speaking of the LCD display, it’s a pretty standard feature with a few extra bonuses. Besides tracking essential metrics like speed and distance, you’ll also be able to keep track of your pulse with the built-in heart rate sensor on the handlebars. The monitor isn’t exactly high-end and neither does it feature stunning graphics like some of the more expensive models, but it has enough features to help you stay motivated and on track during your routine.
Last but not least, the machine features transport wheels on the bottom, which can come in handy when you need to move it from one place to another. You don’t need to lift the entire unit just to store it away, as it can be easily wheeled into any corner or space. Plus, the added stabilizers ensure that it doesn’t tip or rock from side to side, no matter how fiercely you’re pedaling.
Who It’s Best For
In short, anyone that wants a budget-friendly folding elliptical machine with more features than the standard models. The Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer offers a convenient and straightforward way of getting fit at home, without compromising on quality. It doesn’t compromise on quality or features either, with the dedicated abdominal pad and LCD monitor providing quite a lot of value for money.
The Buying Guide
Aside from the folding mechanism as the focal point of your shopping experience, it’s not the only factor you should consider when looking for an elliptical trainer. To get the most out of your purchase, make sure to pay attention to these features and specs:
The flywheel is basically a weighted wheel that helps simulate the feeling of natural motion while you’re working out. It controls the speed and resistance when you’re pedaling, with heavier models offering more momentum and stability.
That said, you don’t necessarily need a huge, heavy flywheel for an effective exercise routine. Something in the 15-20 lbs range should be more than enough for most users and still provide plenty of resistance. Anything more than 25 lbs might be overkill and can add extra bulk to the unit.
There’s no denying that some of the best folding ellipticals come with tons of customizable workout options. That way, you can tailor your routine to fit your specific needs and fitness goals while also easily tracking progress.
Depending on how versatile or feature-rich you want your workout machine to be, you’d need something that can satisfy your criteria. If you’re not overly fond of software or tech-heavy models, then you could opt for something simpler with fewer customization options. This doesn’t mean you won’t be getting a good workout, but it might limit how many exercises and intensity levels you can take advantage of.
Some even have extra features like a dedicated tablet or water bottle holder, so you’ll be able to stay hydrated and entertained during your routine. Others come with auxiliary accessories like a chest strap or an inbuilt workout fan to keep you cool and comfortable.
The exact dimensions and stride length of a particular machine will imminently affect how comfortable and effective your workouts will be. You should aim for something that has adjustable foot pedals, handlebars and other components to fit your body type and size.
Also, pay attention to the maximum weight limit of a particular model. If you’re heavier than the stated weight limit, then the machine may not be able to handle the strain, leading to a decrease in effectiveness and even damaging the unit. Keep your weight within the specified ballpark to avoid potential mishaps.
There’s not enough emphasis on ergonomics when it comes to physical activity. Not only is it important for achieving better results, but also helps reduce the risk of potential injuries and pain. You don’t have to settle for a model that provides an uncomfortable or awkward workout experience just because it has some of the flashy features you’ve been dying to try out.
Look for something with a comfortable platform and ample foot space, adjustable handlebars, and additional cushioning in all the relevant areas. This can imminently minimize the impact on your joints and improve the overall quality of your workouts.
Value for Money
Folding ellipticals are undoubtedly an investment, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. That means finding something that balances a good price tag with decent features. It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you keep the above criteria in mind, you’ll have a much easier time finding something that fits your needs.
Do elliptical machines fold down?
Yes, most modern ellipticals have folding capabilities that rely on a few bolts or pins to be released. This allows for easy storage and reduced footprint when not in use. Some options have vertical folding capabilities, while others feature horizontal mechanisms. The former usually takes up less space and makes storage even more convenient.
Do ellipticals build muscle?
Yes, an elliptical trainer can help you improve your muscular strength and endurance. It targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves while toning up the lower body. It also promotes better cardiovascular health thanks to its low-impact aerobic exercises, in addition to helping you burn fat and calories.
Are there two types of ellipticals?
The two main categories of ellipticals are front-drive and rear-drive models. The former uses a flywheel located in the front, normally under the user’s feet, while the latter has its wheel in the back of the unit. This aspect doesn’t necessarily affect performance, but it could influence the look and feel of the machine as well as its overall size.