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If you think you have to spend thousands to get a sturdy, high-quality elliptical, think again. I’ve tested dozens of the most popular ellipticals on the market in the quest to find you the best option possible. In this case, I’m here to guide you towards the best elliptical under $500.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a great starter machine, or you need a compact option for your apartment, I have you covered. I’ve done all the dirty work for you––I’ve scrutinized warranties, stride lengths, overall durability, and more. Think of me as your personal exercise genie––I’m here to grant your wishes!
Electrifying Your Elliptical Reviews
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were definitely talking about my elliptical reviews when they sang “You’re The One That I Want” in Grease (RIP, Olivia). However, I’m definitely not the only one who makes electrifying reviews at GGR. Our team of expert product testers and reviewers is full of fitness-savvy individuals with the experience and certifications to back it up––we’re certified personal trainers, former NCAA D1 athletes, and nutrition coaches. It’s safe to say that we know our stuff.
5 Best Ellipticals Under $500
- Best Overall Elliptical Under $500: Sunny Health and Fitness Elliptical (SF-E3912)
- Best Under-Desk Elliptical Under $500: Cubii Jr1 Under Desk Elliptical
- Best Elliptical Under $500 for Beginners: Body Rider Fan Elliptical
- Best Elliptical Under $500 for Small Spaces: Gazelle Freestyle
- Best Compact Elliptical Under $500: Exerpeutic Elliptical
Best Overall Elliptical Under $500: Sunny Health and Fitness Elliptical (SF-E3912)
Good for: People who want a durable elliptical to help them reach their fitness goals
Best Overall Elliptical Under $500
Pack a cardio workout in the comfort of your home with the SF-E3912 Pre-Programmed Elliptical Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness. Stride 15.5 inches when you step onto the wide and textured foot plates. Grab onto the handlebars to engage muscles in your upper body and maintain balance during your exercises. Grip the pulse sensors to keep tabs on your heart rate as you stride. Alternatively, you can link a compatible wireless heart rate belt to this cardio trainer to take advantage of heart-rate targeted workout programs and features. Maintain stability on any ground surface when you adjust the front and rear stabilizers on this elliptical cross trainer. Control workout resistance when you increase and decrease the 16 levels of programmable magnetic resistance when the elliptical is plugged in to a power source (adapter included).
- Machine doesn’t shake
- 330-pound user weight capacity
- 16 levels of resistance
- 24 user programs
- LCD display shows a variety of metrics
- Stride length is short
- Frustrating assembly
- Small bottle holder
Sunny Health and Fitness is known for making excellent, budget-friendly cardio machines for home gyms. Much to no one’s surprise, the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical is no different. At just $430, this sturdy machine is a good option for getting your heart rate up. The mid-sized footprint provides a traditional elliptical feel without the bulk (or the price tag).
I’m particularly impressed by the SF-E3912’s 330-pound weight capacity. The industry standard is 300 pounds for any elliptical (regardless of price), so this is excellent for a machine under $500. The high weight capacity shows through, as this machine is almost unmoving when you use it.
The 16 levels of resistance make it simple to kick up the intensity a notch and the 24 preset programs provide variety to users. Although the LCD monitor isn’t anything crazy, it shows the important metrics like calories burned, watts, resistance level, time elapsed, speed, RPM, and distance traveled. If you prefer to view your own programming, you can easily attach your smart device to the tablet holder above the monitor.
For the price, there isn’t much to dislike about the SF-E391. However, the stride length of just 15.5 inches is pretty short. For context, the industry standard is between 18 to 20 inches. If you’re a shorter individual, this likely won’t matter much to you and you may not even notice it. For all my tall folks out there, you may find this elliptical feels more like a stepper versus elliptical due to the short stride length.
Check out our full Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical review.
|Footprint||55” L x 23” W x 64.5” H|
|Weight capacity||330 lbs|
|Warranty||3-year frame, 180 days on parts and components|
Best Under-Desk Elliptical Under $500: Cubii Jr1 Under Desk Elliptical
Good for: Seniors or those who work from home
Best Under-Desk Elliptical Under $500
If you are looking to get your legs moving while at work, you’re in luck. The Cubii JR1 is an under-the-desk mini elliptical with eight levels of resistance that allows you to keep your legs active while seated. Whether you are at work or at home, the smooth gliding motion is designed to be quiet so no need to worry about disturbing those around you.The Cubii JR1 is lightweight and portable so can be brought to and from work with ease. All users are able to access the Cubii Studio+ fitness platform where you can join live or on-demand classes. Track your progress on the small LCD screen, which displays calories burned, distance traveled, RPM, and minutes active. Looking for motivation? Join the Cubii Comunitii to connect with others on their fitness journey.This machine is not intended for any high-intensity training, so if you’re looking to jack up your heart rate and get on a good sweat, you will likely be disappointed. The resistance is mediocre but it certainly is a convenient way to keep your legs moving when they’d otherwise be sedentary.
- Accessible option
- Comes almost fully assembled
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance
- Stable and virtually unmoving
- Lightweight and portable
- You can’t stand on the machine
- 250-pound weight capacity
- 1-year warranty is short
If you feel like you’re constantly stuck at your desk all day without much movement, you might enjoy the Cubii Jr1 Under Desk Elliptical. This portable and compact machine fits comfortably underneath most desks, provided your knees have three inches to move. Although you won’t burn thousands of calories on this machine, it is a great option for those who want to keep their lower body moving throughout the day.
My grandfather is 86 years old and loves using his Cubii Jr1 Under Desk Elliptical. He has limited mobility and doesn’t have the proper balance for a traditional elliptical machine. The Cubii has allowed him to get some sort of exercise in, even though he is mostly limited to a chair. I like this machine as an accessible option because it can be used by a wide variety of people.
Plus, the eight levels of resistance are easy to switch between, thanks to the small monitor. I like that this machine is particularly quiet, so you likely won’t disturb any housemates when you use the Cubii.
It is worth noting that you cannot stand on this machine. It is strictly meant for use underneath a desk or while sitting down. The warranty of one year will be voided if you stand on the machine and consequently break it.
|Footprint||23.15” L x 17.56” W x 10” H|
|Weight capacity||250 lbs|
|Warranty||1 year (plus an additional year if you register your machine within 90 days of purchase)|
Best Elliptical Under $500 for Beginners: Body Rider Fan Elliptical
Good for: A starter elliptical machine for new exercisers
Best Elliptical Under $500 for Beginners
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.
- Simple for beginners
- User-friendly display
- Portable and simple to move
- Doesn’t require an outlet to work
- Has well-cushioned handlebars
- Weight capacity of 250 pounds
- Stride length is super short
- Foot pedals are on the smaller side
Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you’re a beginner, the Body Rider Fan Elliptical is a great place to kick off your journey. At just under $200, this easy-to-use elliptical is an inexpensive way to get moving and grooving. I’m especially a fan of the simple display and uncomplicated buttons.
When you’re new to something, the last thing you want is a lot of intricate and complex controls. Luckily, the Body Rider has none of this mumbo jumbo. In fact, you don’t even have to plug this machine into a wall to get started. This opens up lots of options for places you can put your new elliptical. Want to stick the Body Rider in your walk-in closet? Go for it. Want to do an elliptical workout in your shed in your backyard that has no electricity? Get after it.
The Body Rider is impressively portable, partially because of the weight of the machine and partially because of the included transport wheels. I’m impressed by the general sturdiness of this machine, too, especially considering it is just 58 pounds.
It is worth noting that the stride length is exceptionally short. I’m talking about just 12 inches, whereas the industry standard is 18 inches and up. If you don’t mind the feeling of a step machine, you likely won’t mind the stride length. I’m on the taller side, and I found it to be an enjoyable experience anyway.
However, if you have large feet (like GGR writer Anthony O’Reilly does), you may struggle to fit your entire foot on the pedal. I’m a women’s size 9, and found that my foot brushed the edges of these pedals. Anthony didn’t stand a chance with his men’s size 15 feet, but most people don’t have Anthony-sized tootsies.
Read our full Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer review.
|Footprint||38.58” L x 9.06” W x 24.8” H|
|Weight capacity||250 lbs|
Best Elliptical Under $500 for Small Spaces: Gazelle Freestyle
Good for: Those who need to be able to fold their elliptical
Best Elliptical Under $500 for Small Spaces
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.
- Only 46 pounds and portable
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Comes with free DVDs for workout suggestions
- Doesn’t require an outlet to work
- No resistance
- Can be tough for people to get on and off
- Tiny feet pads
The Gazelle Freestyle is an ideal choice for someone in a small space. I can tell you from firsthand experience that most ellipticals do not fold, but the Gazelle does, and into a compact size at that. I found it extremely easy to fold and store in a closet, which definitely is a value-add.
Plus, the machine is only 46 pounds, which means it can easily be moved around a room or within an apartment. I’m also impressed with the 300-pound weight capacity, which makes this piece of exercise equipment a more inclusive option than many other budget-friendly ellipticals.
Although I don’t personally have a DVD player anymore, the Gazelle comes with free DVDs with suggested workout ideas. If you have a device you can view these on, you may appreciate having some workouts to follow along with.
I like that the Gazelle doesn’t need to be plugged into an outlet to work––simply step on the machine and start striding. Fair warning: If you have balance issues, the Gazelle may not be the best option for you. Since there isn’t any resistance on this machine, the legs of the Gazelle move very easily, which can make it difficult to mount and dismount.
Check out our full Gazelle Freestyle review.
|Footprint||44″ L x 33.5″ W x 53.5″ H|
|Weight capacity||300 lbs|
Best Compact Elliptical Under $500: Exerpeutic Elliptical
Good for: People who need a compact machine for a small space
Best Compact Elliptical Under $500
One of the most affordable ellipticals on the market, the Exerpeutic Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical offers a lot of perks at a low price point. Measuring 23 inches wide, 54 inches long, and 63 inches high, this compact elliptical weighs only 74.5 pounds and is a good choice for smaller living spaces. If you are considering this elliptical, be sure to add 21 inches to the tallest user for proper ceiling height clearance.The Exerpeutic Magnetic Elliptical is basic but provides a solid workout with eight levels of magnetic resistance and Bluetooth connectivity to the MyCloudFitness app. With this app, users can track historical workout data and set workout goals based on calories, time, or distance. A 3.4-inch LCD monitor displays distance, calories burned, time, speed, pulse, and each stat scans through as you workout.Looking for more? Purchase a premium subscription to MyCloudFitness for access to personalized programs, coaching videos, and engaging scenic routes. Simply place your phone or tablet on the included device holder, connect via Bluetooth, and get moving.Assembly is reportedly time-consuming, however there is the option for expert assembly. There are some reviews indicating a squeaking sound. But, with proper assembly, lubrication, and maintenance, this issue can be resolved.
- Small footprint
- Overall quiet machine
- Financing options are available
- Smooth while being used
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Pulse sensor data isn’t very accurate
- Device holder is small
- Lacks a cup holder
If you think an elliptical machine is out of the question due to space concerns, think again. The Exerpeutic Elliptical is a compact option under $500. The overall footprint is much smaller than the typical elliptical, making it accessible for people in smaller homes or apartments. Head of Content at GGR Kate Meier tested this machine and was impressed by the overall sturdiness.
RELATED: Best Compact Elliptical
“It’s pretty stable and appears to be fairly durable,” Kate explained. “There is little to no wobbling while in use, and a good amount of steel is used in the base construction.”
Kate was also a fan of the smoothness of the machine and how quiet it is overall, although she does note that changing the resistance can be noisy.
“When you change the resistance via a knob on the Exerpeutic elliptical, it does make a loud clicking noise,” Kate said. “Otherwise, the elliptical is pretty quiet.”
I’m personally impressed with the 300-pound user weight capacity on the Exerpeutic. This impressively hits the industry standard, even though the machine is under $300.
It is worth pointing out that although the Exerpeutic does have a pulse sensor, the data is not accurate.
“The pulse reading never matched up with what my Apple Watch said, but that is in part due to the pulse reading coming from sensors on the handles, which are known for being unreliable,” Kate shared.
Read our full Exerpeutic Elliptical review.
|Footprint||54” L x 23” W x 63” H|
|Weight capacity||300 lbs|
Other Ellipticals We Tried and Researched
The top five ellipticals that made this roundup weren’t the only ones we’ve tried and researched. Here are three we considered, but didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.
Schwinn 411: Although we’re big fans of the Schwinn 411, it didn’t make this list simply because of the $599 price. The 16 levels of resistance combined with the 18-inch stride length make the 411 a good choice for those looking to spend a little extra cash.
Horizon EX-59: The Horizon EX-59 is a good option for those who have lots of extra space to store their elliptical. Although this machine is very sturdy and has an excellent stride length, it is almost 150 pounds, which doesn’t make it simple to move.
Aukfa Magnetic Elliptical: The Aukfa is portable and under $350, but the machine isn’t the most stable option on the market. Plus, if you’re looking for a machine with a long stride length, this isn’t your best pick.
How We Picked and Tested the Best Ellipticals Under $500
When we tested the machines that ultimately made it into this roundup, we asked ourselves these critical questions:
- Price: How expensive is the elliptical? What is the value comparatively?
- Footprint: What is the footprint of the elliptical? Would this machine be a good option for someone in a small space? Is it a compact elliptical machine?
- Stride length: What is the stride length? Would this elliptical suit someone who is tall or short? How does it compare to the industry standard?
- Display: Does the elliptical have an LCD screen?
- Warranty: How long is the warranty?
- Flywheel: Does the elliptical have a flywheel? How heavy is the flywheel? How does this compare to the industry standard?
- Extras: Is there a cup holder, device holder, or pulse reader? Does it have Bluetooth connectivity? Does it have heart rate monitoring?
- Sturdiness and Durability: Does the elliptical have stabilizers? Does it feel heavy-duty or high-quality for the price? Does it shake while in use?
- Usability: Is this elliptical good for all fitness levels? Would this machine be good for general home use?
- Adjustability: Does this machine have a good range of motion? Can it be adjusted in any way?
- Preset programs: Does the machine have any preset workout programs? How many does it have, if it has any?
- Resistance: How many levels of adjustable resistance does the machine have, if any?
- Portability: Can the machine be moved easily? Is it foldable? Are there transport wheels?
Benefits of Ellipticals Under $500
Trying to decide if picking up an inexpensive elliptical machine is the right move for you? Check out what certified personal trainer and GGR writer Anthony O’Reilly has to say.
“Ellipticals are one of the best ways to get a full-body cardio workout while minimizing stress on your joints,” Anthony explains. “And luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to reap those benefits, as there are plenty of machines that cost under $500 that can provide the resistance you need to tone your upper body and lower body, and give you a heart-pounding cardio workout.”
Buyer’s Guide for Ellipticals Under $500
Here are the key things you need to consider when buying an elliptical machine under $500:
Obviously, if you want to stay under $500, it is important to make sure the machine stays within your budget. However, there are a few workarounds you can utilize if you want to make a more expensive machine yours. Firstly, check holiday sales. Many cardio brands will heavily discount their products around major holidays, particularly during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. You can often save hundreds if you’re patient. I also recommend checking out various financing options, as plenty of companies offer 0% APR financing for quite a few months.
Footprint and Portability
Especially if you’re working with a small space, checking the footprint of your prospective elliptical is a must. I recommend measuring your space ahead of time to make sure your machine will fit. If you plan to move the machine around frequently, make sure the elliptical has included transport wheels, can fold, or is lightweight enough to pick up.
Budget-friendly ellipticals can often have a lower weight capacity than more expensive options. This means it is in your best interest to check this factor ahead of time, especially if you need a higher weight capacity on your elliptical.
Although we’d traditionally expect to see at least 10 years for a frame warranty on an elliptical, these conditions soften a bit when the machine is less expensive. Most ellipticals under $500 usually sport a frame warranty in the one-to-three-year range. Make sure to view the conditions of your warranty ahead of time, so you aren’t bamboozled by something down the road. For example, brands like NordicTrack and ProForm will completely void your warranty if you store your cardio machine in your garage, as discovered by one of our readers.
Best Ellipticals Under $500 FAQs
What is the best elliptical for under $500?
Our top pick for the best elliptical under $500 is the ergonomic Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical (SF-E3912). This machine is around $430 and is available on Amazon.
Is 30 minutes of elliptical a day enough?
Depending on your personal goals, 30 minutes per day on an elliptical could be enough for you. According to the CDC, Americans should get 150 to 300 minutes of “moderate-intensity” exercise. If you do 30 minutes on the elliptical six days a week, you’ll get 180 minutes of exercise, which hits the CDC guidelines.
Is an elliptical good for losing weight?
Combined with a proper diet, using an elliptical can be a helpful tool to lose weight. However, every person is different. Consult your physician or a licensed dietitian before attempting any changes in your diet or exercise regimens.
What is the best low-impact exercise machine?
Although a cross trainer is an excellent low-impact machine, there are other options available. Recumbent bikes, regular exercise bikes, and rowing machines all can provide a low-impact workout. If you’re looking for a combo machine, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer might fit the bill for you. This machine has the benefits of a recumbent bike combined with an elliptical machine––a win-win, if you ask me.
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