As someone who worked out fairly regularly, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I realised that I hadn't exercised in 2 months and had gained quite a bit of weight due to that. My original cross trainer had broken and with the stresses of Christmas approaching, work and exams, I just never got round to replacing the cross trainer or working out in any other way. It wasn't until the dress I'd bought to wear on Christmas Eve wouldn't fully zip up that I realised quite how badly I'd let myself get out of control and it was then and there I decided I needed to replace my poor, broken cross trainer.
I'm not one for spending a lot of money on things unless I know it's going to be worth it. I hate returning things, especially when those things require a good few hours of hard labour to test it out in the first place! After reading many reviews, considering my budget and focussing on my requirements, I settled on the Roger Black Gold Cross Trainer from Argos. There was a good deal on it (which is still running now, but I'll focus on that later) and it has a wide range of tension and resistance which was of huge importance to me.
*I won't be commenting on my horrendous experience with Argos and their delivery system as that is nothing to do with the product itself, however I will be posting a review on that service in the near future if you're interested.*
As stated on the website, the product weighs 46kg and requires assembly, so I expected it to be quite a large, hefty box however I was quite taken aback by the actual size of the box given to me. The cross trainer comes packaged well in an incredibly sturdy cardboard box which is packed full with polystyrene to protect the inside product. The box has a clear print of what the finished product should look like, along with the name of the product, the weight of the box and a warning that moving the box in any way requires two people to do so for their own safety.
I'm also advised that assembling the cross trainer also requires two people and 1-2 hours so after roping my mum into the mix and hunting down a screwdriver, we had our little building team ready to go!
Opening the box? Easy.
Getting the bugger out of the box? Not so easy.
The polystyrene packed into the box made it incredibly difficult to get anything out of the box, it was simple enough to pull out the little bits and bobs that would have to be bolted together later on, but the base of the cross trainer was already in tact and it was not coming out of that box! We could lift it no problem between the two of us, however lifting it brought the box with it instead of leaving it empty on the ground. Only the two of us were home, so we decided to cut open one side of the box and get it out that way.
Easier said than done.
15 minutes and a coping saw later, the side of the box had been cut out and we could safely remove the cross trainer base from the box. This was looking like it was going to be a long two hours!
The provided instructions are not particularly great, the diagrams, although large, are poorly constructed and the written steps to alongside them are only useful if 1) you have experience with bolts and washers (not me!) or 2) the diagrams are clear (nope, not this either).
One thing I did find useful in the instruction book is that they provide an image, description and measurement of each and every type of bolt/washer/part that you'll need and a ruler along the bottom edge of the page to measure it up with. What they didn't do, however, was noticed that this ruler covered up the name and dimensions of the parts in the bottom row of the table, so it ended up being a bit of a game. It also wasn't made clear whether you measure the inside of the washer, or the entire washer itself - I discovered that you measure the inside of the washer though, so not to worry, it wasn't too much of a disaster.
The bolts etc all came packaged on two sheets of cardboard with a sticky covering laid over to keep them in place. At first I thought it must've been a genius who thought of this because they included a little diagram, the name and measurements of each part on the cardboard too - "great!" I thought, "I can match these up perfectly and it'll be easy!"
Nope. Nothing is easy in life. When you pull the sticky covering off, it also pulls off the printed measurements etc too, so you're left with a cardboard sheet and loads of parts in one hand, and a sticky covering with ripped up measurements in the other hand. Maybe not a genius after all...
Getting to the actual assembly wasn't too problematic to start with though, you begin by bolting on the feet and you work your way up from there. The cross trainer parts weren't a problem at all actually, every problem we had was either with the bolts/washers etc, or my mum just being a pain and getting in the way! We often found that the bolts and screws didn't quite line up with the holes, which meant that we either had to find a way to just jam it in, or leave it out altogether. In the case of having 4 bolts to hold something in place, and only one not fitting, we figured we'd just leave it out and get my dad or boyfriend to try it later on. I would recommend that you have a spanner and screwdriver to hand before attempting to build this though, as they provide two allen keys for you to tighten things, yet half of the bolts and screws can't be tightened by an allen key. Brilliant!
2.5 hours later, the thing was built and quite frankly, I never wanted to see it ever again. No more bolts. No more screws. No more washers. They can just stay out of my life for the next few years!
Unlike my previous cross trainer which was just a cheap air cross trainer (meaning the resistance is caused by air, not by having an actual resistance setting), this cross trainer has 16 resistance settings, a 6kg rear flywheel and 9 workout programs already plugged in to the system for you. This is also a mains powered cross trainer, although the electronic screen does have spaces for batteries, we haven't quite worked out why because the trainer itself needs power for the resistance etc to work.
On first use, I set it for a quick 20 minutes and didn't bother inputting my height, weight etc, although it does give you the opportunity to do this for a more accurate calorie count. It wasn't until I first started that I realised just how much more of a workout an electric tension control gives you as opposed to the air resistance. In the past, I could easily power on for an hour, only glistening slightly when I'd finished my workout. With this cross trainer, my legs were burning within 5 minutes, I was sweating within 10 and by the end of the full 20 minutes, I thought I was going to drop dead. Bearing in mind, this was on resistance level 2 - not exactly a high setting!
I'd met my match, and he was called Roger Black.
Alongside it being a torture machine, I noticed that it was 10x quieter than my previous cross trainer. My old one used to whir and whizz like an exploding washing machine, but this one is so smooth and can't be heard in any other room. The only noise it makes that can be heard elsewhere is a quick beeping noise it makes when you switch it on at the plug.
The attached computer is incredibly useful, with a multitude of settings for your workout. I've only been setting the time for mine because I can't really be bothered faffing about with the rest, but for someone who is interested in that, I can see it being a handy tool!
I've only used one of the set programs so far, and again, I wanted someone to shoot me. My legs and bum were burning by the very end, but boy will they thank me later! You can set each program for however long you want and it will alter it based on the length of workout you want, which is fantastic. The idea of the programs is to either mimic hill training or interval training, resulting in optimum fat burning for your cardio workout. You can even test this by the pulse sensors on the stationary handles, however I tend to stick with the moving handles to ensure my arms get a workout out too.
At the end of your workout, you'll hear another beep which is music to my ears. The sound of the Gods! It's over for another day!
It might feel like a torture machine to start with, but I've lost 6lbs in 3 weeks and I've gone from dying after 20 minutes to being able to push myself to 30 minutes. If I can do this in 3 weeks, I'm excited to see my progress in 3 months. I only have 4lbs more to lose until I get back to my original weight and from there I'd like to lose another 10lbs and tone up a fair bit. I'd also like to point out that although this may be stating the obvious, to see the results you have to put the work in. You have to push yourself, 9 times out of 10, exercise is tougher on your mind than on your body, your mind always wants to give up first. You can do it though, and you will progress if you keep pushing. Don't let the first workout being tough allow you to give up, remind yourself that the more you do it, the easier those 20 minutes will be!
I would highly recommend this cross trainer as it gives you a real workout without in the comfort of your own home. It doesn't take up too much space, however we have it in our spare room which has always been used for exercise equipment anyway. All of the dimensions are given on Argos.co.uk, but I'll also tell you that it's 73cm wide and 156cm long. I'd allow at least a foot at each side for movement etc too, so this will give you a fair idea of how much space you'd need if you wanted to purchase the product.
If you're looking for a good quality, quiet cross trainer that will really work your body, then I recommend this all the way. I could never go back to an air trainer because I've realised that it just isn't a workout at all.
As for the bolts etc, my dad managed to get the stubborn ones in and we haven't had any problems so instead of getting a young woman and her mother to build this, you should maybe recruit two strong men!
If you're interested, Argos are currently selling this for £174.99 which is the price I paid for it and £55 off of the original price. It is item number 335/8780 in Argos and can be ordered both online or in store, which makes it convenient for everyone. I didn't have the greatest of experiences with the delivery service from Argos, but it is currently being resolved and I hope you don't let the thought of that put you off of ordering this great piece of equipment.
Lastly, would I change anything?
I've loved the resistance levels and the quietness of the machine, but I would've loved for this to come with a bottle holder for my water. Any good workout requires hydration so I'm always a bit shocked when gym equipment can't accomodate a water bottle, but I'm looking into getting a bottle holder fitted myself anyway.
I'd also recommend that you put a mat under the cross trainer just to stop any wobbles there may be due to the surface of your floor or if you have any bouncy floorboards. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe how crap I am at DIY...
I'll be awarding this item 4 Dooyoo stars, with the removal of one star only being for the difficulty I personally had putting it together.
Thanks for reading, and stay healthy!