We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

For those who live in compact spaces like me, you’ll know that sometimes we have to get creative. Whether this means getting a sofa that doubles as a guest bed or getting a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells to save space, finding products that are small or multi-use is key to maximizing your home or garage. 

The same is true for cardio equipment, including the best ellipticals. Finding the best compact elliptical doesn’t have to be challenging or even impossible. Our fitness equipment experts at Garage Gym Reviews have personally tested more than 30 elliptical machines, rating them on factors that include

  • Footprint and Portability: We assess if home gym owners could accommodate and move the machine
  • Programming: We perfer machines that offer built-in or streaming workouts
  • Durability: We rate machines highest when they have weight capacities of 300 lbs or more
  • Workout Performance: We test several workouts on these machines, rating their functionality

Besides our cardio knowledge, we have a variety of fitness certifications under our belt––we’re certified personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and CrossFit coaches. 

6 Best Compact Ellipticals   

Best Compact Elliptical Overall: ProForm Pro HIIT H14

Good for: Those who want a machine that takes up very little space and offers a lot

Best Overall

ProForm Pro HIIT H14

GGR Score: 3.9 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Unique hybrid trainer that focuses on high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Combines upper-body punching movements with elliptical stepping 
  • Effectively work your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, biceps, and triceps. 
  • iFIT-enabled and a 30-day family membership is included
  • 14-inch smart HD touchscreen display
  • 26 resistance levels with silent magnetic resistance
  • 30-pound inertia-enhanced flywheel

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Works your entire body
  • Quick, intense workouts
  • Low-impact
  • Compact
  • Immersive training
  • Preprogrammed workouts available with WiFi connection

Cons

  • Assembly is reportedly difficult
  • Not great for casual workouts
  • Subscription required for full functionality

Bottom Line

The ProForm HIIT H14 is a high-quality and uniquely designed hybrid trainer that effectively provides intense workouts on a compact machine.

ProForm, sister brand to NordicTrack, has a line called the HIIT Trainer Series, which are very compact elliptical machines that, to be very clear, are more of stair-steppers than they are ellipticals. I personally used the ProForm Pro HIIT H14, and I found it to be extremely solid while in use. I gave it a 4 out of 5 for its workout performance.

Thanks to its vertical design, the Pro HIIT H14 is around just 2.5 feet wide and only about 4.5 feet deep. This is much shorter than traditional ellipticals, which are around 7 to 8 feet long.

proform pro hiit h14 in use

One of the reasons we chose this as the best compact elliptical is because not only does it deliver a fantastic workout, but it is compatible with iFIT. As you can read in our iFIT review, this interactive programming delivers thousands of live and on-demand workouts directly to your machine. With automated control, the Pro HIIT H14 will automatically adjust its 26 resistance levels along with the workout.

The Pro HIIT H14 has a generous 14-inch touchscreen that streams iFIT workouts. You’ll also find Bluetooth speakers, a water bottle, and a cooling fan. Although, as I found out, this elliptical does not have a media shelf, and you can’t stream services like Netflix on the machine itself. So if you want to watch something on your device during your workout, you might be out of luck.

Take a look at our full ProForm Pro HIIT H14 review.

Footprint29″ W x 52″ D x 66″ H
FoldableNo
Warranty10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor
PriceAround $1,800
Product weight224 lbs

Best Budget Compact Elliptical: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine

Good for: Those looking for a smaller elliptical that won’t break the bank

Best Budget Compact Elliptical

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical

GGR Score: 4.1 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Just 105 pounds and easy to move
  • Supports up to 330 pounds
  • Fixed and moving handles for upper body workout
  • 24 built-in workouts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy-to-follow built-in workouts
  • Under $600
  • Machine is smooth and doesn’t shake
  • 16 levels of resistance

Cons

  • Warranty is below the industry standard
  • Unclear assembly instructions
  • Short stride length of just 15.5 inches

Bottom Line

Pack a cardio workout in the comfort of your home with the SF-E3912 Pre-Programmed Elliptical Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness. Stride 15.

The best budget fitness equipment offers good quality at an affordable price. You can certainly find ellipticals for less than the Sunny, but many of them are cheap and break down easily.

GGR Head of Content Kate Meier personally tested the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine, which is priced at just under $500 on Amazon. “Whether you move forward or backward, or increase resistance, the machine is incredibly smooth,” Kate says. “There is no shaking when you exercise.”

Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Elliptical product photo of LCD display and handlebars

Kate gave this machine a 4 out of 5 on her overall workout experience. “I liked this a lot more than I thought,” she said, calling out that this machine has an impressive 24 built-in workouts, far more than other machines in this price range typically have.

Also impressive: The Sunny elliptical has a weight capacity of 330 pounds, especially surprising because it weighs only 105 pounds. One downfall for durability is that this is a motorized elliptical. Many ellipticals have flywheels, which offer increased sturdiness and also are less susceptible to breakdowns.

Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Elliptical product photo of pedals

Kate personally assembled this elliptical, and she warns that the instructions aren’t very clear. Instead of step-by-step, the images combine several steps in one. Therefore, Kate gave it a 3.8 out of 5 on the GGR assembly rating. She said it took her a little over an hour to assemble.

For more, check out our Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine review.

Footprint55″ L x 23″ W x 64.5″ H
FoldableNo
Warranty3-year structural frame, 180 days other parts and components
PriceUnder $500

Best Compact Elliptical for Streaming Classes: Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Good for: Technology lovers and programming enthusiasts who enjoy interval training

Best Compact Elliptical for Streaming Classes

Bowflex Max Trainer M6

GGR Score: 4.2 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Gets harder as you get stronger
  • Stair-stepping design targets muscle development
  • Compatible with JRNY app
  • Ideal for HIIT workouts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Stair-stepping design targets muscle development
  • Compatible with JRNY
  • Ideal for HIIT workouts

Cons

  • No interactive touchscreen
  • Pretty basic display
  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The Bowflex M6 provides a heart-pumping, low-impact workout that resembles stair-stepping.

According to the Bowflex website, the Max Trainer M6 requires two times less space than the average treadmill. Plus, it’s compatible with JRNY programming, so you can easily follow along with classes. As of the time of this publication in June of 2023, Bowflex is offering a free year subscription to JRNY with the purchase of the M6. After the year is over, your credit card, which will be on file, will be charged. 

It is worth noting that you’ll have to use your own device to stream the programming, but there is a generously sized magnetic device holder on the M6 to soften the blow. 

Kate on the Bowflex M6 Trainer

This machine is very stable while in use and has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, which hits what we expect industry standard-wise. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the 16 levels of resistance in order to make your workout even more challenging. 

RELATED: Best Elliptical Workout

However, for the $1,500 price, the M6’s warranty is subpar. You only get two years for the frame plus parts and 90 days for labor. I have no clue why it’s exceptionally short, because Bowflex doesn’t really skimp on their warranties generally speaking.  

Find out more by reading our Bowflex Max Trainer M6 review.

Footprint46” L x 26” W x 64.2” H
FoldableNo
Warranty2-year frame and parts, 90 days labor
PriceUnder $1,500
Product weight148 lbs

Best Adjustable Compact Elliptical: Diamondback Fitness 1280ef Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer

Good for: Those who want an adjustable elliptical that doesn’t take up a lot of space

Best Adjustable

Diamondback Fitness 1280ef Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer

GGR Score: 3.95 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Stride lengths from 17" to 22"
  • Connects to all fitness apps
  • 30-day trial
  • Quiet magnetic resistance
  • Space-saving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Accommodates stride length from 17" to 22"
  • Magnetic resistance
  • Compact footprint
  • Connects to all fitness apps (and Netflix)

Cons

  • 5-year warranty is below industry standard
  • Nearly 200 lbs
  • Not great for super-short or super-tall people

Bottom Line

A space-saving elliptical that can connect to every fitness app (and Netflix).

Compact ellipticals often mean shorter stride lengths (or the distance between your two feet), which is often bad news for taller people. The Diamondback Fitness 1280ef Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer solves that issue with an adjustable stride length that starts at 17 inches and goes up to 22, while still remaining compact at just 36 inches in width and 50 inches in length. For that reason, our product testers gave this a 4 out of 5 for ergonomics.

Diamondback Elliptical 1280ef

It’s not foldable, though, so it might not be the best bet for those in apartments.

The dual handlebars are also adjustable, which is an important thing to have if you plan on using this in a mixed-height household.

We’re actually quite impressed that Diamondback was able to accommodate short and taller people with a space-saving piece of equipment. Not only that, the 10-inch touchscreen can stream Netflix or Spotify, though popular fitness apps seem to be missing (it does have iRoute and Kinomap, which offer interactive routes).

Smaller machines also usually mean decreased sturdiness, yet you’ll get a 350-pound weight capacity.

For more, check out our Diamondback 1280ef review.

Footprint50″ L x 36″ W x 66″ H
FoldableNo
Warranty5-year frame and brakes, 3-year parts and electronics, and 1-year labor
PriceAround $1,600
Product weight187 lbs

Best Compact Elliptical With High Weight Capacity: NiceDay Elliptical

Good for: Heavier folks up to 400 pounds

Best Compact Elliptical with High Weight Capacity

Niceday Elliptical Machine

Product Highlights

  • Designed with 90% pre-assembled pieces makes installation simple
  • 16-lb flywheel offers 16 levels of smooth resistance with a high gear ratio
  • Extra-thick steel frame is exceptionally sturdy and able to hold weights up to 400 pounds
  • Fits individuals 4’9” inches to 6’2”
  • Minimal noise emission measuring only 20dB

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Simple assembly
  • 16 levels of resistance
  • No electrical source required
  • Stable
  • High user weight capacity

Cons

  • Short stride of 15.5 inches
  • Circular stride versus oval may feel awkward
  • Basic display reportedly breaks easily

Bottom Line

With eight levels of magnetic resistance, a sturdy frame, and 400-pound user weight capacity, the Niceday Elliptical Trainer may be a good choice for those needing higher weight limits.

Though the NiceDay Elliptical is little, she is fierce. And that’s especially true when it comes to its weight capacity, which goes up to 400 pounds. Other space-saving gym equipment usually come with smaller weight limits due to being smaller in size, but that’s no problem here. 

And if you’re like GGR writer and product tester Anthony O’Reilly, who has a size 15 shoe, you’ll appreciate the oversized pedals that will keep your foot secure throughout your cardio workout. 

Nice Day Elliptical in use

Beyond being a sturdy elliptical, this machine also comes with 16 adjustable resistance levels and is quiet enough that you can use it without disturbing your roommate or partner. It’s made with steel, so we’re confident that it will remain in good condition for many years. But if something were to happen to it, it comes with a lifetime parts warranty so you’re in good hands. 

As with any budget machine, there are some drawbacks to this machine. For one, the stride length is only 15.5 inches (the industry standard is around 18-20 inches), so it’s not the best choice for taller people, and it doesn’t come with a water bottle holder. 

Check out our entire NiceDay Elliptical review.

Footprint62” H x 24.4” W x 48” L
FoldableNo
WarrantyLifetime warranty on parts
PriceUnder $600
Product weight106 lbs

Best Compact Elliptical Under $500: YOSUDA E6 Compact Elliptical Machine

Good for: Light to moderate workouts on a budget

Best Under $500

YOSUDA E6 Compact Elliptical Machine

Product Highlights

  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Priced affordably
  • Pedals move forward and backward
  • No outlet needed

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Priced under $500
  • Quiet machine
  • 16 levels of resistance
  • No electricity needed
  • Move forward and backward

Cons

  • Short, 13" stride
  • Very basic monitor
  • Low weight capacity of 235 lbs

Bottom Line

The YOSUDA elliptical is a budget-friendly machine that offers up to 16 levels of resistance. This would be best suited for people looking for a cheap machine to do light to moderate workouts.

Full disclosure: We haven’t gotten to test this elliptical yet. However, when we were looking at compact ellipticals from brands we know, this one popped up. We have an in-depth YOSUDA indoor cycling bike review. We trust that we can convey a little about this machine by combining our knowledge of ellipticals and our experience with YOSUDA.

The most noticeable aspect of this elliptical is the price: It’s listed for $330, and it’s often on sale. That’s attractive to home gym owners on a budget. It’s also really compact. YOSUDA doesn’t list a footprint for the overall machine, but it has a very short stride at just 13 inches.

A short stride means a small machine. It also potentially means discomfort from taller users. If you’re over 6 feet, this isn’t the elliptical for you.

We do like that there are 16 levels of resistance on this elliptical, which you adjust by turning a knob. We have tested this kind of resistance mechanism on several machines, including the NiceDay elliptical. While it may not be convenient, manual resistance does mean you avoid a loud motor.

The YOSUDA elliptical has a very basic display that runs on batteries. And since it doesn’t have a motor, you don’t have to plug it in anywhere. Therefore, you can move it all around your home without worrying about being near a plug.

The 8-pound flywheel seems very light, so we predict you’ll experience some shaking on this machine. There is also a pretty low weight capacity at 235 pounds.

FootprintUnlisted
FoldableNo
Warranty3 years
PriceUnder $400
Product weightUnlisted

Best Folding Compact Elliptical: Gazelle Freestyle

Good for: Individuals with solid balance who want to try something new

Best Rated Compact Elliptical

Gazelle Freestyle

Product Highlights

  • 10 exercises in one machine
  • Dual action split suspension allows for full range of motion
  • Pulse grip heart rate monitor
  • Small monitor displays heart rate, speed, distance, time, and calories
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Comes with 2 DVDs, an exercise manual, and nutritional guide
  • Joint-friendly

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Folding design
  • Large water bottle holder
  • Pulse grips to monitor heart rate
  • Doesn’t require power outlet
  • Expert assembly option for additional cost

Cons

  • Can be tricky to get the hang of the motion
  • Reports of grinding noise when in use
  • Basic monitor

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a joint-friendly piece of cardio equipment that facilitates muscle tone as well as cardiovascular health, the Gazelle Freestyle glider is a good choice for beginners and more experienced cardio junkies alike.

Celebrity personal trainer Tony Little created the Gazelle Freestyle in the 1980’s, and the machine has stuck around ever since. On Amazon, the under $230 elliptical trainer has over 1,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. 

The Gazelle is easy to fold, and it can be stored away in a closet or under a bed when it isn’t being used. Plus, you don’t need to find an outlet for this elliptical––it is self-powered! Simply step on and start striding on this low-impact machine. 

Gazelle Freestyle in use

After trying the Gazelle, I was impressed with just how entertaining it is to use. Although there isn’t any adjustable resistance or incline, I had a nice time swinging my legs, and could even feel my heart rate creeping up. This compact machine is a great option for someone looking to stay active on a budget.

I will say––the Gazelle can be challenging to mount and dismount. If you have bad balance, you’ll likely struggle to safely step on the moving legs of the machine. Once you get going, it is less of a problem, but the lack of resistance contributes to just how easily the legs move. 

Read our full Gazelle Freestyle review.

Footprint44” L x 33.5” W x 53.5” H
FoldableYes
Warranty12 months
PriceUnder $230
Product weight55 lbs

Other Compact Ellipticals We Researched

Exerpeutic Elliptical: Although the actual compactness of the Exerpeutic Elliptical is decent, it isn’t the most portable. Head of Content at Garage Gym Reviews Kate Meier reported the transport wheels are oddly located in the back, which makes the moving process more difficult than it needs to be. Typically, you’ll find elliptical transport wheels on the front of the machine, so you can tilt it towards you easily. 

NordicTrack FS10i: We’re fans of the NordicTrack FS10i for its versatility and sturdiness. However, it certainly isn’t a compact machine at 284 pounds. It cannot be folded or easily moved around. 

Nautilus E618 Elliptical: The Nautilus E618 has a typical elliptical footprint. It doesn’t fold, and isn’t obnoxiously large, but it wouldn’t be considered a compact option. 

How We Picked and Tested The Best Compact Ellipticals

We take into consideration a lot when deciding which pieces of fitness equipment belong on a list. Here are some of the main questions we asked ourselves when testing various compact ellipticals:

  • Size and Portability: What is the footprint of this elliptical? How does this compare to the average elliptical? Can it be stowed away easily? 
  • Foldability: Does the machine fold?
  • Warranty: What does the warranty look like for the frame, labor, and parts?
  • Price: How expensive is this elliptical? 
  • Stride length: What is the stride length? How does this compare to the industry standard?
  • Delivery and Setup: How was the delivery of the machine? Are the assembly instructions simple to follow along with? Do you need a second person to assist in the assembly process?
  • Weight capacity: What is the user capacity of the machine? Is it inclusive?
  • Handlebars: Are there dual handlebars? Are the handlebars cushioned at the top for a more ergonomic experience?
  • Durability: What is the machine made of? Are there lots of plastic components? 
  • Workout experience: Does the machine shake while in use? Is there any play in the frame? Was the experience enjoyable? 
  • Resistance: What type of resistance does the machine have? Is it magnetic resistance?
  • Flywheel: How large is the flywheel? How does it compare to the industry standard?
  • Technology: Is there a touchscreen, LCD display, or LED display present? Can it be connected to interactive programming? How large is the screen? Are there preset workout programs? Is there Bluetooth connectivity?
  • Extras: Is there a cup holder, accessories holder, device or tablet holder? Is there an included heart rate monitor?
  • Adjustability: Are any of the foot pedals adjustable? Does it have an adjustable stride?

Benefits of Compact Ellipticals

Certified personal trainer and Garage Gym Reviews Staff Writer Anthony O’Reilly knows a thing or two about cardio equipment. Here’s his take on why you should purchase a compact elliptical.

“Compact ellipticals provide a full-body workout and have the same cardio benefits as larger versions with the added benefits of fitting in apartments and smaller home gyms,” Anthony explains. 

Makes sense to me. In fact, compact ellipticals are usually much easier to store than their larger counterparts. Although few and far between, there are a couple ellipticals that actually fold (I’ve recommended a few of my favorites above) for an even smaller footprint. 

Plus, compact ellipticals are generally cheaper than something like a full-sized, commercial elliptical you’d find at your local YMCA or Planet Fitness. You’ll likely be able to save money, and have a smaller machine that takes up less space. Win-win!

Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Compact Elliptical

Still not sure what to look for in a compact elliptical? Here are the five main components I’d keep in mind before choosing a new machine. 

Footprint

Analyze the space you plan to use to house your elliptical. You’ll need to carefully measure the dimensions to make sure you have enough room for your new cardio machine.

Portability

Transport wheels can be a handy feature on elliptical machines to help the owner move the machine with ease around a room. It can also be worth noting the overall weight and foldability of your potential elliptical, especially if you plan to move the machine up or down the stairs. 

Weight Capacity

Since compact ellipticals are, well, compact, they may not always have a weight capacity that matches up with the industry standard of 300 pounds. Make sure to check before purchasing, especially if you’re a heavier individual.

Warranty

The industry standard on an elliptical frame warranty is 15 years to life, but if the machine is a budget option, don’t expect this to always be the case. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of spending more money now for a longer warranty versus getting a cheaper elliptical with a traditionally shorter warranty.

Price

Again, make sure to decide your price range ahead of time. If you’re interested in a high-end elliptical but can’t afford it all at once, check to see if there are financing options available. It is also worth waiting for a holiday sale, like 4th of July or Black Friday if you need to save cash.

Best Compact Elliptical FAQs

Are compact ellipticals any good?

Yes, compact ellipticals can be a great addition to your home gym. Plus, they take up less space than a traditional elliptical while still helping you reach your fitness goals.

Can you lose weight with a compact elliptical?

Combined with diet, any type of cardio workout can potentially help you lose weight. However, please discuss any concerns or questions related to weight loss with your doctor or a licensed medical professional.

Can I get a low-impact workout on a compact elliptical machine?

Yes, compact ellipticals are an excellent way to get a low-impact, full-body workout in, regardless of your fitness level. An elliptical can be an excellent piece of exercise equipment for home use, because it gives the user a total body workout without leaving their home.

What are your top picks for the best budget elliptical machine?

I’ve created an entire roundup of the best budget elliptical machines on the market for a home workout. Here are my high-quality favorites: 

Best Budget Elliptical Overall: Horizon EX-59
Best Budget Elliptical With Incline: Sole E25
Best Elliptical Under $1,000: ProForm Carbon EL
Best Quiet Budget Elliptical: NiceDay Elliptical Machine
Best Budget Elliptical for Beginners: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical
Best Value Budget Elliptical: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

Further reading

Urethane vs Rubber Bumper Plates Cover Image
Urethane vs Rubber Bumper Plates

When it comes to bumper plates, you pretty much have one material choice and that is rubber. Read more

What Is the CSCS? The Gold Standard for Strength and Conditioning Coaches (2024) Cover Image
What Is the CSCS? The Gold Standard for Strength and Conditioning Coaches (2024)

For those who live in compact spaces like me, you’ll know that sometimes we have to get creative. Whether this means getting a sofa that doubles as a guest bed or getting a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells to save space, finding products that are small or multi-use is key to maximizing your home or garage. The same is true for cardio equipment, including the best ellipticals.  » Read more about: 6 Best Compact Ellipticals (2024): Big Value in Small Packages  » Read more

How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press: Tips From A Personal Trainer Cover Image
How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press: Tips From A Personal Trainer

The close-grip bench press is a great exercise to build muscle in the triceps and chest. See how to do it properly direct from a CPT, including variations. Read more

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Review (2024): We Tested This Budget-Friendly Machine Cover Image
Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Review (2024): We Tested This Budget-Friendly Machine

Our Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Review goes deep into this budget-friendly home running machine. Read more