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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 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. Finding the best compact elliptical doesn’t have to be challenging or even impossible. With the help of fitness equipment experts at Garage Gym Reviews, you can sit back, enjoy all the hard work we’ve done and choose your newest home gym addition with ease.

Fitness Industry Standard Experts

At Garage Gym Reviews, our team of product testers and reviewers are experts on all things fitness. We know the elliptical industry standards like the back of our hand, and could probably recite them to you in our sleep. Besides our cardio knowledge, we have a variety of fitness certifications under our belt––we’re certified personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and CrossFit coaches. 

5 Best Compact Ellipticals   

Best Folding Compact Elliptical: NordicTrack Commercial SE9i Elliptical

Good for: Those who want a folding elliptical with all the bells and whistles

Best Folding Compact Elliptical
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

Interactive Training Meets Space Saving Tech. Our massive workout library always incorporates LIVE Interactionsâ„¢ so our world-class trainers auto-adjust your elliptical's incline and resistance so you can bid micromanaging goodbye. Working out doesn't have to be a pain in the joints. The SpaceSaver SE9i elliptical will get you real results without the joint discomfort.

Pros:

  • Folds vertically
  • 325 lb weight capacity
  • 14-inch touchscreen
  • Compatible with iFIT programming 
  • Stellar financing options
  • 24 levels of resistance

Cons:

  • Can be slightly shaky in use 
  • Warranty is voided if stored in your garage
  • Small water bottle compartment

With all the foldable exercise bikes and treadmills on the market, you’d think there would be plenty of ellipticals under the same umbrella, right? Wrong! Foldable ellipticals are surprisingly uncommon, so when I come across a great one, like the NordicTrack Commercial SE9i Elliptical, I get excited. 

When fully expanded, the SE9i does have a long frame. However, the machine does fold vertically when you need to store it away for a more compact footprint. Plus, if you’re a fan of interactive programming, the SE9i has a 14-inch touchscreen, which is compatible with iFIT programming (membership sold separately).

front view woman using NordicTrack SE9i

If you decide to pay for an iFIT subscription, you can take advantage of the SE9i’s Automatic Trainer Control feature, which allows your machine to adjust the 24 resistance levels to match your current workout class. Not for you? No sweat, you can simply turn off this feature via a toggle in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Although the SE9i generally felt sturdy, I did notice the machine can get slightly shaky at higher resistance levels. It isn’t deal breaking, but it is something to be aware of, especially if you’re close to the 325-pound weight capacity. 

For those who like to set up their home gym in their garage, bad news: the SE9i’s warranty will be voided if you store the machine in your garage. 

Take a look at our full NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i review

Footprint80” L x 32” W x 67” H
FoldableYes
Warranty10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor
PriceAround $1,400
Product weight218 lbs

Best Affordable Compact Elliptical: Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer 

Good for: Beginners or people who want a simple elliptical machine

Best Affordable Compact Elliptical
Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer
Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer

While fancy extras on a fitness machine are nice, they certainly are not necessary to get a good workout. The Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer exemplifies this point. It’s a basic, but highly-efficient elliptical machine designed to work both your upper and lower body. Dual-action handlebars keep your core and arms engaged while your legs pedal away on this non-impact elliptical.This Body Rider elliptical is very compact, measuring about 25 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 36 inches high making it a viable option for anyone living in small spaces. The compact size does compromise the stride length, so it’s less than ideal for taller individuals.Equipped with transport wheels and weighing less than 60 pounds, this machine is easily transported out of the way when not in use. If you’re new to the world of cardio, this elliptical has you covered as it comes with an instructional workout video to help you get started.A chain-driven fan wheel drives this elliptical. The belt-tension control knob increases or decreases resistance and, as you increase your speed, air resistance is built up which contributes to a more challenging workout.While the Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer may not provide a workout difficult enough for a seasoned cardio fanatic, it could be a great choice for beginners and those with knee or joint pain. There are reviews that state the pedals are angled too far forward, which creates unnecessary stress on the knee for some. That said, there were recommendations for some DIY fixes to combat this problem.A basic computer tracks fitness metrics including calories burned, speed, time, and distance displayed on a small monitor. The display is a bit lackluster but, for less than $150, it provides all you would expect and need in a machine at this price point.

Pros:

  • Under $150 
  • Easy to move
  • Doesn’t need an outlet to work
  • Simple to build
  • Stable machine

Cons:

  • Short warranty 
  • No tech features
  • More of a stepper than an elliptical due to the short stride length

For under $150, you can’t beat the Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer. This cardio machine has a small footprint, and at just 58 pounds, it’s simple to move solo. Plus, the assembly is easy and won’t leave you muttering obscenities under your breath.

The frame did not shake during my workouts on this machine, likely thanks to the steel components. The user experience is pleasant and simple. You won’t find any crazy technology features on the Body Rider, but I love not needing an outlet for the machine to work. You’ll still be able to view a few metrics on the small LCD screen such as distance traveled, time elapsed, and calories burned. 

body rider fan elliptical trainer in use

Although it didn’t bother me, it is worth noting that the stride length is quite short at just 12 inches. For context, the industry standard for an elliptical stride is between 18-20 inches. I still found myself enjoying my workout, but for a taller person, the Body Rider will mimic a step machine more than a traditional elliptical. 

The warranty of just one year is really short, but for such a budget-friendly elliptical, it matters a lot less. The Body Rider is sturdy, provides a good user experience, and is easy to move. What more could you ask for in a $150 elliptical? 

Read our entire Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer Review.

Footprint38.58” L x 9.06” W x 24.8” H
FoldableNo
Warranty1-year frame, parts, and labor
PriceUnder $150
Product weight58 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
Niceday Elliptical Machine

Arriving 90% pre-assembled, the Niceday Elliptical Trainer is an easily installed, sturdy, and quality elliptical for someone looking for a low-impact, efficient workout. Equipped with large pedals and constructed with steel, the Niceday Elliptical Trainer supports weights up to 400 pounds and is designed for users between 4 feet, 9 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches tall. But, the 15.5-inch stride will likely feel too small for those over 6 feet tall.A 16-pound flywheel offers 8 levels of magnetic resistance without the need for any electrical source. A battery-powered digital monitor displays time, speed, distance, and calories so you can stay on track towards your fitness goals. According to Niceday, all data is dual-calibrated by algorithms to ensure accuracy of fitness metrics provided.The magnetic resistance is intended to reduce noise emission, which is recorded at only 20dB. There are some reports that the machine is noisier but often this is because of poor maintenance. Should there be any part that is damaged or making noise, Niceday offers a life-long promise and pays for all replacement costs.

Pros:

  • 400-lb weight capacity 
  • Lifetime parts warranty
  • 16 adjustable resistance levels
  • Quiet machine
  • Oversized, textured pedals

Cons:

  • Light flywheel 
  • Short stride length
  • No water bottle holder

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 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
Bowflex Max Trainer M6

The Bowflex Max Trainer delivers full-throttle, high-intensity cardio that progressively gets harder as you get stronger. Challenge yourself with addictive, fast-paced, HIIT-style workouts that skyrocket your heart rate and propel you into the best shape of your life.

Pros:

  • Compatible with JRNY programming and Explore the World
  • Space-saving narrow design
  • 16 levels of resistance 
  • Stable exercise machine
  • Bluetooth compatible

Cons:

  • Assembly requires two people 
  • Subpar warranty for the price
  • More of a stair stepper than a gliding elliptical machine

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 2022, 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. 

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 Rated Compact Elliptical: Gazelle Freestyle

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

Best Rated Compact Elliptical
Gazelle Freestyle
Gazelle Freestyle

Looking for a non-impact and joint-friendly piece of fitness equipment that provides both good cardio and muscle building? If so, consider the Gazelle Freestyle glider, with which you can perform exercises that both build muscle and improve cardiovascular endurance. A basic yet functional monitor allows you to track speed, distance, and time. Equipped with pulse grips, the Freestyle also records heart rate and calories burned allowing you to stay on top of your fitness goals.The Freestyle glider is a solid option for the beginner and advanced athlete alike. The large range of motion enables you to move at any speed seamlessly without putting unnecessary stress on your joints. The Gazelle Freestyle glider has an impressive max user weight capacity of 300 pounds with a relatively compact footprint. If you are short on floor space, the Freestyle can be folded and stored out of the way when not in use. A free nutrition guide, two workout DVDs, and an exercise manual is included with your purchase. The machine is comfortable, equipped with extra-wide and non-skid platforms as well as high-density foam handlebars. There are some users who report this newer model feels less sturdy than previous ones and that the monitor is disappointing. But, the vast majority of consumers were impressed with its ease of use and effective workouts. 

Pros:

  • 4.6 star customer rating with over 1,000 reviews on Amazon
  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Inexpensive price 
  • Lightweight at 55 lbs
  • Doesn’t need to be plugged into an outlet

Cons:

  • Short warranty
  • Difficult to mount and dismount
  • No incline or resistance options

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 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

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 handle bars? 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.

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 7.0 AE Elliptical
Best Lightweight Budget Elliptical: Body Rider Body Flex Elliptical
Best Quiet Budget Elliptical: NiceDay Elliptical Machine
Best Budget Elliptical Under $500: Gazelle Freestyle
Best Budget Elliptical for Beginners: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical
Best Value Budget Elliptical: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

Further reading

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