Pros: Easy to use, compact, variable intensities, gentle on the knees, and can be very fun!
Cons: Added monitor was flimsy, can begin to squeak after a while
My husband has Degenerative Joint Disorder (DJD) in his knee. He had surgery in 2002 to help the situation, but the DJD would continue to be an issue for him. To add salt to the wound as they say, he also serves in the US Army, where physical fitness is a must. For those of you unfamiliar with the Army, soldiers are required to pass physical training tests every so often. Besides meeting height & weight requirements, they must pass a run test (or it's equivalent). My husband, with his bum knee, must chose a run equivalent - he choses the walk (2.5 miles in less than 35 minutes). So there were no couch potato days in his future because of his knee. He had to find an alternative way to stay fit.
His surgeon recommended elliptical trainers and mentioned the Fitness Quest Gazelle. We were a little tight on cash at the time, so we looked more extensively at the Fitness Quest Gazelle line, as they were less expensive than most elliptical trainers. We had not gotten far into our research when we happen to find the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge at AAFES. (AAFES stores are a military benefit; they offer us very competitive prices, sometimes discounts, and no sales tax on various items). We knew we would not find this machine somewhere for a lower price.
My husband was a little reluctant to buy the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge though. He was concerned with buying exercise equipment that would end up as a coat rack. As so many treadmills do. He wanted the machine, but only if I though I would use the machine as well. At the time, I had been walking 6 days a week for the past 4-5 months. Walking, outdoors is definitely my preferred exercise, so I hadn't really considered the Fitness Quest Gazelle or any other indoor machine. I have never even cared much for treadmills because I hate that I'm not going anywhere - plus there's that coat rack thing. However, I figured I could give the machine a try on days when I am unable to walk outdoors (I have two girls who are too little to stay home alone, but too big to fit in strollers anymore). So we purchased the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge.
My husband assembled the machine, so I can't comment a great deal on this aspect. I don't remember a lot of swearing though. I also recall his mention that it was easy to assemble. It did look simple enough. I can also guarantee that it assembles into a sturdy machine. I believe the upper weight limit on this model is 250 pounds. I am a large woman to begin with, but I have also been overweight for some time (and at one time right near that 250# mark). I have never worried about the machine collapsing on me though.
The Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge came with very little instruction, although it is simple enough to use. Basically, you can just step on the petals, hold onto the handles and start swinging your arms and legs. It is a very unusual movement and does take some time getting used to it. I remember that I only tried to move my legs at first and would hold onto a stationary part of the machine for stability until I was able to get the hang of it. I also remember that it took me some time to be able to let go of the machine completely and swing my arms at my side. But I do have some balance issues. I also used to have cramping in my feet because I wasn't moving my foot naturally (like when walking). I was basically "gluing" my feet to the pedals though and not allowing for the natural movement. Another balance issue on my part.
We've used the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge for about 2 1/2 years now and the movements have all become second nature. We had to catch a few of the infomercials for the item on TV to see what some alternative moves on the machine were (since our instructional booklet was very limited). We have both found enough variations though to keep the machine from getting monotonous during use. Plus some of the stretches I've found you can do are great for my lower back.
We are both very surprised how much we use this machine after all this time. The winter after we purchased the machine, I used it every day to work out rather than fight with mother nature and my toddler for outdoor walks. The machine was very easy to pull out (we kept it folded behind our couch due to very limited space). I would pull it out, pop in a TV show I had taped and just "go." I actually ended up using the machine more than my husband! I grew to love the movement and appreciate that it works my body a little differently than walking. It is very gentle on the knees (I also have a bad enough knee that I have to avoid high impact). The intensity of the workout you get is what you put into it. I can work up quite a sweat on the days when I feel like "running," but I can also use the machine for a gentle "stroll." This makes the machine great for all levels. My husband has also had a very good experience with this machine.
We have only a few complaints about the machine. First, the limited instruction book - as mentioned before. Second, the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge came with a digital monitor that sat between the two handles. It reads distance, calories burned and time. The monitor was not very durable. Our machine fell once from being propped against the wall (in the folded position) and the monitor broke right off. It wasn't a large loss to us though. I know I never used it for anything but time.
Another complaint I have about the machine is that every so often it needs "greased." The machine will begin to squeak after a while and we have to add machine oil to stop the noise. I also wish there was some place to put my water bottle, a remote or a MP3 player. I find these things annoying, but I can live with them. Especially since it has so many other plus features.
Overall, I would recommend the Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge. Most of the complaints I have I believe would disappear if I had a better model. I know higher models do have the bottle holders. This has turned into one of the best exercise equipment purchases we have ever made. It's easy, compact, and great for everyone. In fact, one plus I have forgotten to mention - this machine is relatively safe around little children. When we did have a treadmill, I was always concerned about my children near the belt. The Fitness Quest Gazelle Edge has some parts that could pinch, and the risk of being hit by a swinging part (much like the swings on the playground though). However, I feel much better using it around my little kids. In fact, now that they are both a little older, we often have to fight them for the machine!