WHY I DECIDED ON THIS ELLIPTICAL: I looked at a lot of ellipticals both online and in stores before I decided to purchase this particular one. The biggest deciding factor was the many positive reviews from people who've bought and used this elliptical, which gave it a great rating. A little thing it has which is nice is a water bottle holder which is right under the display where it's easy to grab the bottle while you're on the machine. This was an important feature to me which surprisingly a lot of ellipticals either don't have or have in a place where it's not easy to access the bottle! I also liked that it is iFit enabled and a has a port for an iPod but this did not steer me towards buying this machine. I thought of these are extras that I MIGHT use one day. After reading nothing but really bad reviews on the iFit system, I've decided not to use this feature until they've worked out all the bugs and problems with iFit before I even try to use that aspect of the machine. The iFit programs are ones you purchase which enable you to "walk" in different countries during your workout and there are also personal trainer programs such as Jillian Michaels that you can buy. The programs pop into the slot at the front of this elliptical. Even knowing that I wouldn't be using the iFit feature for a while, if ever, I thought this machine was the clear winner for a machine priced under $900. PURCHASING & PICK UP: We bought this elliptical and had it shipped to our local Walmart store. We got an email saying it was ready for pickup, a full 10 days before it was estimated to be there! Thankfully I had already purchased and received a rubber mat to put under it. My husband and a friend with a truck went down to pick it up. It came in a big box. Be warned that the box is HEAVY, over 240 pounds I believe, and bulky as well, so be sure you have at least two strong people to pick the box up and a pick up truck or maybe an SUV with the seat taken out of the back, to have enough space to transport it and bring it into the house. The dimensions of the box were included in the email I received from Walmart and also can be found on their web site on the elliptical's description page, as can the assembled dimensions of the elliptical, which will help you in figuring out where to put it. ASSEMBLY: You will need a good amount of space to unpack all the parts and assemble them. The elliptical comes almost completely disassembled. The flywheel is attached to the frame. The parts are all clearly marked with letter and numbers which all correspond to the directions/manual include in the box. The frame and flywheel are the heaviest parts and after putting the rubber mat that I had purchased from amazon.com to place under the elliptical down on the carpet, we then placed the frame and flywheel onto the mat. It took my husband and I about two and a half hours to put this elliptical together. I had told my husband I wanted to take the lead in assembling this and he could be my "assistant" so I could get practice in doing things like this. I am not mechanically inclined and have little experience putting things together, but I thought I'd give it a try. I found the assembly instructions were clear and the elliptical was surprisingly easy to put together. Just follow the directions step by step and you can do it too. FIGURING OUT WHERE TO PUT IT/PLACING IT: I was concerned with finding the perfect place to put the elliptical since I thought it would be very hard if not impossible to move it once it was placed, since it is heavy. I wanted to place it near the corner of our family room directly across from our tv so I could watch tv while exercising on it. Also placing it near to our ceiling fan was important to me so I could get some breeze from the fan while exercising. The elliptical does have a fan in it but it is not great and provides little breeze. I took some time measuring the distance from the side wall and back wall of our family room to where I wanted to place the elliptical to ensure it was in the proper place. However, once placing it, I found that you can move pretty easily it since it does fold up to some degree, and has rollers on the bars it sits on at the front and back. To move it, fold it up and then you can move it pretty easily. You might need a second person to help maneuver it. So don't worry to much about placing it perfectly or worrying that if you don't, you won't be able to move it because you can. SIZE OF THE ELLIPTICAL VS ME & YOU: Once the elliptical was assembled by me, with just a little guidance from my husband (YEAH! I did it!!), it looked SO big to me! I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to get up on it and use it, since I am only 5'4. I am happy to report that I was able to get on it and use it easily. The pedals are quite wide and the elliptical is very stable. I am able to step off after using it by putting both my feet and all my weight onto one pedal. There is also a wide "bar" between the pedal and main or center part of the machine and you can also use that to step onto to get on/off. So no matter what height you are, you should have no trouble getting either on or off or using this elliptical. AFTER OWNING IT A MONTH/PROGRAMS: I've been using this elliptical for about a month now, six days a week. The machine is very quiet and smooth. The pedals move freely, easily, and smoothly. There is no squeaking anywhere (be sure you use the supplied grease and follow the instructions to grease the necessary parts, as we did). I found it a little hard to figure out where all the different pre-programmed workout routines were. The manual, while great for assembling the machine, does not tell you anything about what types of workout programs there are or hot to access them. I wanted to use a beginner one, and I found it and the intermediate and advanced ones by pressing the "Intensity" icon on the left side of the display. To give you an idea of my fitness level starting out, about the only exercise I got was walking my dog a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half a day and going up and down the steps in our two story house during the normal course of my day. The 20 minute Beginners workout was quite challenging for me and a month later is still challenging. It starts out at a 10% grade of incline which is easy. After about 3 mins or so, it goes to 15% incline. A couple more mins then back down to 10%. From there it increases to 15% again, then 20, then 25%. I found the 20 and 25% inclines very challenging for about the first week or so. After that as my aerobic fitness and leg strength increased, I found it to be easier and continue to find it easier each day. The machine will beep every so often to let you know what your goal of steps per minute is and if you are meeting that goal. I found that during my first week, I was stepping at a rate in the low 40's during the 10 and 15% incline, and in the low 30's during the 20 and 25% incline. After my first week or so, I was able to increase my step rate to the high 40's during the lower inclines and the high 30's during the higher inclines and this continues to improve each week. You can also just walk laps around a track if you want to do flat walking without a change in incline. This would be good for a warm up before changing to an incline program, or if you just want an easier workout for the day. Once I am able to do the whole Beginner's program at the goal stepping rate of 45 to 60 steps per minute (depending on the incline), I will move up to the Intermediate program, which is 30 minutes. SUMMARY: if you're trying to decide between the many ellipticals out there for sale, I strongly recommend this one. Easy to assemble, easy to place and move, easy to get on and off, and easy to use, with a slight learning curve to figuring out where all the programs are and how to get into the one I want. I am very happy with it. So far it's been worth every penny.
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