Pro Fitness CrossTrainer
I decided to buy one of these Pro Fitness Cross Trainers as I need to increase my fitness levels and also loose weight. I had a good look around first at various bits of exercise equipment but settled on this, mainly due to the reasonably cheap cost and had loved using something similar at the gym. Once I got it home I was quite ... worried about how I would manage to assemble it on my own but needn't of as it was reasonably easy. I would say to put the handlebars the wrong way around (with the letters L/R pointing outwards) as it is easier to grip and they don't whack you in the chest this way round. I am not the tallest person in the world ( 5ft 3) but with 4 different height settings i found one which suited. The one problem I have notice is the screw handle which keep the bars in place do seem to work there way out a little so need to be tightened (by hand) every so often.
Once set up the cross trainer is easy to use, a simple twist of a knob to change the resistance from easy none at all to a good hard push.
It Does make a little bit of noise but to honest that's to be expected from a belt driven piece of kit, nothing turning the TV up a few notches won't solve.
To sum up It is a lovely cheap bit of kit, easy to use and the results can be seen in no time at all if you put the time in and don't use it as a clothes horse.
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A few years ago and having a body to die for... literally ... being several stones over weight, asthmatic, anaemic, and being the proud owner of my grandmothers knees, an untimely end was looming large.. I think it's the knees that will get me in the end, staying upright at crucial moments of perambulation can be a problem. I decided ... enough was enough and it was time I did something about it. Ok the asthma, knees and lack of metal in my blood were things that I couldn't do much about but the weight I reasoned was at least partially in my control. As you can probably tell from that statement my intention for using this machine was primarily weight loss, but the increased fitness would be a huge bonus. So come circa 2006 I girded my loins and thought here we go again.
I am concentrating on my piece of equipment but the DooYoo heading does not specify a brand of air glider, so what I have written is also general about how useful this type of exercise seemed to be for me, and those bits should be relevant to any machine of this ilk.
I had seen the air glider in various almost identical incarnations advertised on a few shopping channels, the one I opted for was the XL air glider from QVC as I checked the prices and functions offered elsewhere and it seemed to be a good buy. It cost me £79.99 at the time, it is still advertised on QVC America at $99 but I can't find it on the UK site, there are similar products available from as little as £49 at Amazon (reduced from about £79). Apparently the Carl Lewis Air Walker is the dogs bollocks of gliders, with the Tony Little Gazelle freestyle glider is seemingly quite good too (and of course these are more expensive), but as mentioned above this is not the one I have. At the time I bought elliptical gliders were the big thing touted as mimicking a skiing action giving a whole body workout, the glider was not quite as sophisticated as that but had a very similar action which worked the arms and upper body as well as legs and glutes (I am not a fitness expert so am not sure exactly which muscle groups this specifically targets). I think that my type of glider is slowly being replaced by more up to date models but I believe that you can still get this and similar if you look for it.
This and other similar gliders is foldable for storage, and is based on a large metal X-frame which is hinged so that it folds flat but still takes up several feet in length and width but is only about six inches deep. It is quite a svelte shape to store under beds but mine lives propped up against my living room wall as this is the room I use it in. This is a very heavy item which is a problem if you want to use it in one room and store it in another, as unless you are quite tall and freakishly strong there is no way you can carry it easily between rooms, there's no way I would get this baby upstairs without doing myself an injury. It is REALLY heavy; and the awkward shape makes it even more difficult to move. So I would recommend deciding where you will be using this and keep it there.
The glider comes boxed and is already 'folded' of course. Setting up and folding away are simple. You open up the X of metal, there are two strong thick plasticised wire cables which prevents the glider from opening too far. You should ensure that these are taught and the frame is completely open before using. The foot rests on which you stand clip to the frame with attached sturdy plastic 'thingies' when stored, when setting up you just unclip these and lower the rests so they are in the position for use. The back of the footrests is held by a taught strong flexible cable. I have had this item for 5 years and these cables are just as taught as they were when first purchased.
There are two hydraulic resistance pistons which are attached to the frame and the bar which runs from the handgrips to the front of the foot rests. These pistons make the action nice and smooth but give as the name clearly states.. resistance. The resistance can not be altered and the calories burned etc displayed on the monitor is adjusted by the amount of effort you put in the speed you reach and the distance travelled. If you are particularly unfit, or have physical problems (or apparently just want a cardio work out) then you don't attach the pistons. I would never use this machine without them as your feet just whizz back and forth and it seems to do nothing. My kids liked this without the pistons attached as they would sit on the foot rests and use it as a swing. When in storage these pistons must be detached from the moveable 'arms'. You will need to wait a few minutes after finishing your session before detaching these as they get quite hot with the friction. When you need to pop them back on for use next time it is quite easy; you just pull the pistons out slightly and with a wiggle they will pop on the slim metal protuberances designed to take them.
During the last year or so the left hand piston while it works perfectly and gives the same resistance as the right when you first hop on, within 10-15 minutes becomes less resistive, allowing the left leg to work less hard than the right, not wanting to be lopsided I took to turning my back on the hand grips and working that way to give both legs the same workout. When I first bought this glider I'm sure I read something about being able to top up the fluid which helps the piston work, or being able to replace a piston should it need it, unfortunately I have long since lost the instruction, perhaps I should look into it.
This glider has a monitor attached centrally on the top front cross bar so that you can see it easily when exercising. It require batteries which last for ages, I have only replaced them once in 5 years. The monitor tells you the miles per hour you are achieving, the distance you have 'travelled', your heart rate (which I never figured out how to use and how it monitored that because there is nothing to connect you with the monitor?), it also gives a reading of how many calories you have burned, obviously this is not precise as it is not hooked up to you at all but uses a calculation based on distance, miles per hour and speed.
The foot rests are big enough in length and width to take the most whopping feet, my husbands feet are a 12 and he had no trouble with the foot plates. They have a lip at the front to stop your feet shooting off, and quite deep grips on the surface. There is no lip at the back so if your feet are mahoosive then they should be able to protrude a little without too much problem. The rests aren't rubber (or if they are they are very hard rubber) so can be a bit slippery despite having a good pattern of deep grips, but most trainers should be fine. The grips are quite hard so don't wear down, on the couple of occasions that I enthusiastically hopped on for a quick 20 calorie sprint in bare feet, I had to hope off again sharpish, ouch. I also found that my feet would work their way quite quickly to the front of the rests and press sometimes uncomfortably against the toe guards....especially if I was exercising in my slippers.... Ok I know you're supposed to use suitable foot wear but I'd spent my last pennies on the infernal machine, and didn't own a pair of trainers.
The hand grips are very comfortable and angled slightly away from you, and are encased in thick black foam which gives a good grip. I loved this aspect of the glider as I felt it really did give a good workout and wasn't too focussed on lower body. However after I'd been using the machine for about a month I noticed a tendency for the clever little monitor to slip slowly around the bar towards me which was ok as long as it worked, but once it reached a certain degree of tilt it would stop racking up the calories burned. Now watching the calories, or miles (if I'm honest 'parts' of a mile) mount up was the only thing - apart from music blasting my eardrums to kingdom come that was keeping me motivated, so I simply wouldn't just accept that this was knackered. I tried tightening the screw which held it to the bar this seemed to work for a short time, but it would quickly work loose again, during the same exercise session that I had 'fixed' it in.
I pretty much gave up using the arm exercisers for quite a while as I had to keep twisting the damn monitor back into place. When I had been using the machine for some time I learnt approximately what pace and length of time would equate to the calorie burn I was looking for so started to use the arm pieces again. I should perhaps have returned the item, but I was seeing weight loss results and was firming up of my flabby butt, so did not want to have to fuss with returning it, waiting for a replacement and then getting one that would probably have the same problem anyway.
I bought my machine in 2006, but it looks identical to many being sold now, hopefully they may have sorted out this monitor slippage glitch by now, but if you can check this out before buying a glider I would. Perhaps I was unlucky and got a slightly faulty one, but to me it looked as if they'd 'spoiled the ship for a ha'porth of tar' as it did seem to be fitted quite poorly to the frame.
When I received the machine it required you to fit big plastic 'corner guards' to the frame where the cross bar met the 'X', this was to protect you from pinching should you rest your hand on this junction whilst the machine was in use, and also I presume to give a little more strength? They were fairly simple to fit; they came in two halves which screwed together. However with the vibration of the machine one did split and they needed tightening quite often. Also some of the bolts would work a little loose and needed tightening. They never came out though, and didn't seem to affect the functioning of the machine.
I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact weight bearing limit for this machine it's been a long time since I've seen the instructions (which were clear and easy to understand when I received the item). I think it is around the 17/18 stone mark, some machines go higher. I 'think' this could have some bearing on the reason that the corner guard split and sometimes the bolts would work loose - as between myself and my husband we really gave that machine one hell of a pounding. I used it (barring illness and days out) every single day for about 18 months, and a few times a week for some time after. Him indoors also used it a few times a week, neither of us were lightweights when we started, both of us being at the upper weight limit, actually one of us was about a stone over... ok it was me (hides head in shame), and this not so little machine took the punishment, and still works today. Yes it does now have a couple of gremlins (which to me gives it character) but it still works and I still feel that it could be of great benefit if I used it more regularly.
When losing weight previously it has always been very hard work despite following a healthy balanced weight loss plan religiously I would find myself stalling way before I technically should have. I did go a bit doolally with my diet on this occasion as I cut right down, but I know my body and that simply eating healthily and sticking to a balanced diet will not have much effect, only drastic measures will work and then usually only slowly. So most of the credit for speeding up my weight loss must go to the glider.
If you have mobility problems or are quite unfit like me when I started out you can use this while holding on to the cross bar at the front instead of the hand grips. This gives you more support and of course is not quite as strenuous a work out - though you can get more speed up this way, so can be equally calorie consuming. I also used mine standing sideways with one hand on the cross bar to steady me and scissored my legs so that the inner thighs got some extra toning exercise, but I didn't do this for long periods as it was a little awkward and not particularly aerobic. Also of course this is very low impact exercise so is good if you have damaged joints or simply don't want to risk damaging your joints as there is little pressure put on your body in a jarring weight bearing capacity.
As previously mentioned I used the glider every day (well almost every day) starting with two sessions of just 10 minutes a day, but this quickly rose to between half an hour and an hour daily, with gradually increasing speed and vigour. By the time I'd lost a few stones my little legs were flying, and I was leaping off the glider hardly out of breath with a manic glint in my eye ready to take on the world (I believe this is known as an endorphin rush, and can be quite dangerous in the hands of someone as mental as myself). Over the course of about 9 months I lost 7 stones, and had the best shape to my legs and backside that I have ever had. My lower half has always been a horror story having child bearing hips, (no one tells you that you can have child bearing thighs and bum too!) and these problem areas had for the first time been very efficiently whittled down. Thanks largely to this product I felt healthier and more alive than I had since I was a teenager. I dropped from a size 28 to a small 14, (and if I'd been able to have the mummy stretched stomach hacked and restitched I reckon it would have been down to a size 12), I could run for the bus, and buy clothes in 'normal' shops. For a couple of years I had a life. Now I'm not for one second claiming that anyone who is over weight can't enjoy life to the full, but for me being fat had/has a profound depressive effect.
Despite some negatives I found this machine to be exceptionally effective. It was cheaper than most similar products, so I accepted it being a bit more cheaply put together than perhaps I should have; on the basis of you get what you pay for. However it was effective in what it was meant to achieve and didn't fall apart in the most important 'way' so I was very happy with the results.
I gradually used the glider less and less and some of the weight has crept back on (as it often does with 'dieteres') and lately I have been eyeing up my neglected glider and wondering if I could handle another assault on the flab or if I should just resign myself to dying ... well it's already too late to die young... but prematurely I could still manage. Anyone know of some diet pills that work?
The dimensions are given as 41-1/2"L x 27-1/2"W x 54-1/2"H (I presume this is when open)
3 stars for build quality
5 for results
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Kettler Mondeo ST Elliptical Trainer
A few years ago, as part of the family fitness drive, I did some research into trying to find some form of exercise machine that I could set up in the home that we would all be able to use on a regular basis. In this fitness area, many people seem to just choose a simply stationary cycle, but that doesn't really exercise your top half ... too much. Road runners (or treadmills with the rolling road) are good, but take up a lot of room. But much of the advice I was coming across seemed to be pointing towards an Elliptical Trainer which would give your whole body a workout.
For those who don't understand the concept, an Elliptical Trainer is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, where it exercises the upper and lower half of your body together. The motion is a sort of circular skiing motion where your legs are stepping through in a circular motion and your hands and arms are working as if digging in ski poles to drag you along. The motion is normally linked to a weighted wheel to which you can apply resistance, which in turn will make you work harder and hence get you fitter.
Before we bought this Kettler model, we went to a large Sports Warehouse in Nottingham to see what was on offer because they said that they had numerous models out on display ready to try. Their display range went from a very basic Carl Lewis budget model (commonly found in the likes of Argos) right through the price range to a top of the range model costing thousands of pounds for a Pro Gym, in total about 20 different models to try.
What was quite interesting was going through the range and actually trying the trainers. The cheaper ones tended to be very rickety and shaky, with lots of creaks and groans. The stepping motion also seemed to be very 'clunky' on some and not very natural. And to be honest, the motion of some of the really expensive ones didn't really seem to be that much better. If you are intending to spend some time on these things training, then the motion is very important, and the only way you can appreciate that is to actually try it out in store to see if it will be acceptable to your style of training. Also, these things can cost a lot of money, and it will be a very expensive mistake to make if you order it off the web, have it delivered, and then find you don't get on with it. So actually trying out these sorts of machines is vital to appreciate the differences and determine what suits you because they are not all the same.
After a couple of hours in store, we finally settled on this Kettler Mondeo model. Firstly, it looked kind of sporty with the red wheel trim and the red grips on the centre bars. Secondly, it felt good and smooth to use, where the motion followed through with no flat spots. Finally, it seemed to be very stable and very quiet, and also had plenty of useful features to cover all aspects of fitness, features that I will come onto.
At the time, the company had an offer on, so we paid £550 for it and took it away in the car. The first think to appreciate is that this is a very heavyweight piece of equipment which you aren't going to be able to carry into the house by yourself - you will need help. At home, it probably took me just under 2 hours to put it all together. There are a lot of pieces to hook up and connect together, and you will need time and space to do so.
Space wise, it isn't really that large. The quoted dimensions are 150 cm long by 53 cm wide by 156 cm high. Now the base is actually 105 cm by 53 cm. The wheel bit sticks about 4 cm beyond the back, and as the step arm (that you stand on) comes though, it pushes out to the front to give an overall length of the trainer at about 146 cm at 22 cm off the ground. So you need a floor space that is at least 146 cm by 53 cm. But as you go up, the top of the arms are actually 60 cm wide and these push slightly further forward to about 160 cm overall. So the maximum box size (if you were to place it all in a box) I think should be 160 cm long by 60 cm wide by 156 cm high.
Ok, now that we have got it in the house and set up, let's run through the features. To start with, you have the wheel at the back, 46 cm in diameter weighing in at 20 kg. The braking system for it (to provide the resistance) is magnetic and motor controlled, and it can be applied in increments from freewheel up to level 15, which are all computer controlled. The step bits on the sides where you stand are adjustable through 3 positions to adjust to your body dynamics and size. All of the joints and connections are fitted with double ball bearings, and the rear wheel assembly has high quality, self-aligning ball bearings. Of note, the trainer comes with a 3 year warranty, and companies don't give those lengths of warranties away unless they really trust their products.
Coming through to the front, past the supplied water bottle, and up you come to the red bars which are covered in a flat rubberised material. It is difficult to describe but it is like a very fine rubber sheeting, not quite enough to make it too spongy, but enough to ensure that your hands don't slip. These red bars also contain the hand grip pulse sensors on the sides. If you don't want to grip onto the oscillating poles either side, you can grip these red bars so that just your legs get the workout. The pulse sensors link into the computer which is located at the top as you move up the red bars.
The computer is where it all happens, and it seems that they have now updated this computer element slightly on the newer trainers from the one I originally bought, because on mine, the red bars I have run up past the computer and loop over the top, whereas on the newer model, the bars stop at the computer. The rest of the trainer still appears to be exactly the same as before. Hence, looking at, and detailing my version of the computer, it looks fairly basic with an LCD display and only 6 buttons to choose from - Set, Program, + and -, Reset and Recovery. These control the 8 pre-loaded programmes that you can use to exercise with. But interestingly, whilst there are only 8 basic ones, each of these have so many variables that you can adjust to your own specifications that the list of programmes almost becomes endless. You can adjust for age, set your targets for exercise duration time (which can count up or down) or distance, or even set how much energy you want to burn off.
Coming back to those pulse sensors I mentioned earlier on the red bars, the pulse sensor input can also be input from a supplied ear clip which plugs into the computer, and this is common on the newer model as well. Using either of these sensor inputs, you can also adjust your training program to use your pulse rate settings in order to vary your workload on the trainer. It will use your pulse reading at any one time to vary the loading on the wheel according to your age, thereby ensuring that your heart rate and workload are working together to achieve maximum efficiency and training benefit. Using the pulse input, you can adjust and pre-set your exercise routine to be either Fat Burning, Fitness or a Manual level.
Once you have set everything, you can start the training. A quick movement of the wheel with the stepper or the handle will pull the trainer out of sleep mode and start up the computer. Down the left side of the screen you will have RPM (Revolutions per Minute), Speed and finally Distance. The right hand side of the screen has Pulse, taking those inputs from the sensors, and what your target pulse should be in comparison. Below this you have the Brake, indicating which of the 15 levels the brake is currently set at, and finally down to the Energy reading in KJoules. At the bottom in the middle is the exercise duration time, which will count up or down.
The main part in the centre of the screen indicates your training pattern. So it might be a hill that you are climbing, where a basic programme will see the brake intensity increasing with time, levelling off and then decreasing again. Or it could be a series of steps with the brake being applied on and off through a series of climbs, or any other variation than you can even alter yourself during training. As you continue the exercise, the section of that pattern that you are currently on will flash, so that you know where you currently are and what is coming next.
Actually in use, this trainer is very quiet. I have it set up in the bedroom and I've been using it whilst the wife was in bed, and I've not disturbed here. You can easily watch a TV, listen to the radio or hold a conversation with someone, where the only sound you'll hear from this trainer is the slight whirring of the wheel and the occasional additional whirr as the brake is incremented to a new level. There are no creaks or groans and the trainer is very solid and stable in operation, and can cater for individuals up to 150 kg (23.5 stones).
The motion is equally very smooth throughout the range. Apply the brake fully on and the weighted flywheel still manages to provide a smooth follow through to your step, meaning that there are no flat spots in the motion.
To balance the review, it is also worth noting any negatives with this trainer, and to be honest, there aren't that many. The first point I don't like is the supplied drinks bottle. They seemed to have removed this now on the newer model, but on the older models, it sits in a cage very low down on the back of the main upright stem at the front. The problem is that it is difficult to reach when you are using the trainer, almost making it useless to have, which is probably why they seem to have removed it on the newer model.
The second issue I have is to do with storage, because there is nowhere on this trainer to put a drink, or a phone or a TV control. In the end, I managed to slot in a small wooden shelf to sit on the level bit of the red bars just below the computer. The rubberised grip holds it steady and we can now put all our bits and pieces etc onto that.
The final bit that did become a little annoying was the computer display. On this older model, it is actually quite chunky, being made up of big dots, unlike your typical LCD display that will have smoothish lines and smaller dots. In the shop with bright lights etc it looked ok - not perfect, but ok. But when we got it home, to us it seemed fairly dim. It was readable, but we just wanted a bit more contrast between the black dots and the grey background. I contacted Kettler who did send me out a replacement unit, but it still had the same problem. I think it must have just been a bad design feature, because on their newer model, they have now replaced the computer screen with a much better display.
In summary, where does all this leave us? For pure build quality, smoothness of motion and the variety of training features, there is no doubt in my mind that this trainer fully justifies 5 stars. But then you need to balance that with the lack of storage issue and that slightly annoying display that taints that recommendation slightly.
So whilst it is good, I think in balance, the older model that I have is probably worth a 4 star recommendation. But get the newer model with the better display, and you are looking at a quality 5 star product.
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Elliptical Trainer Fitness
Manufacturer: Pro Fitness / Type: Cross Trainer
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