Pros: Natural motion, many options and 20 resistance levels make it very flexible and usable
Cons: Price and size, if you're looking to buy rather than use it at a gym
The Life Fitness 9500 HR is without doubt the best all-round cross trainer (elliptical trainer) that I have used so far. Like all cross trainers it has foot platforms that go round in an elliptical arc (thus the name Elliptical trainers) while simultaneously having handlebars that move forward and back (thus the name Cross trainer you exercise your arms and legs at the same time). Dont expect to build your arm muscles much with these things, by the way, but using your arms as well has obvious benefits you can keep going for longer, burn a few more calories, and it does tone your arm muscles.
Several things make the Life Fitness HR9500 superior to the two Reebok cross trainers that Ive used. Firstly, instead of 10 you have 20 levels of resistance, which allows more control over how hard you want to work. Secondly, a heart rate monitor built into the handlebar grips, allowing the machine to have Fat burn and Cardio modes, which automatically adjusts the resistance to help keep your heart rate in the desired range. (Burning fat is a lower heart rate about 124bpm for a 29 year old while cardio works your heard faster, being about 153bpm for a 29 year old. The rate will reduce the older you get, its based on your maximum predicted heart rate minus a set figure.) This is a useful feature much like that found in most treadmills. Thirdly, and perhaps most crucially, the elliptical motion is longer, resulting in move even working of the anterior and posterior muscle groups in your legs (whereas other machines tend to focus on your posterior muscles those at the back of your legs). This smoother motion feels very natural and thus makes it easier to keep going for longer on low resistance levels it is very easy to keep going for a long period of time without feeling much strain in your legs, and you still burn a lot of calories that way.
(A small proviso to this if you have had any problems with your knees, particularly ligament / meniscal tears, you might find that this machine causes you problems. The moment you feel a twinge of pain behind your patella (knee) you should stop immediately. This doesnt necessarily mean that you shouldnt use the Life Fitness 9500 HR at all, but be cautious.)
In addition to this you have several other settings for hill climbing, random, zone training, and easy strolls to work your muscles in different ways and to different extents. The display shows you calories burned, distance covered, speed (in rpm), time left / done. You can change the time at any point and, depending on the programme youre running, you can change either the resistance level or desired heart rate. You always get a cool down at the end (3 of 5 minutes, depending how long youve worked out for) , which is a good way of burning extra calories without much appreciable effort. (It also helps your muscles to cool down gradually, which is obviously a good thing.) Some people might find the minimum time setting of 10 minutes a little too much to begin with, but if so you can always get off before the end until youve built up your endurance a little! If you really want you could use the machine backwards but personally I wouldnt recommend it!
The Life Fitness 9500 HR is almost a perfect machine, and of it type is the best Ive used. (Admittedly Ive only used 3 different ones, but you cant really expect the gym I go to have every model ever made!) The price and size (RRP $4,995 though youll probably get it for half that, with dims of 82 x 25 x 62 inches) are quite prohibitive, but most people will like me use it at their local gym so these are fairly irrelevant. If you actually have enough money to buy one youll likely have enough space to put them, I guess.
Overall Im giving it 5 stars because it really does give you a good workout, is well designed, and has enough options to keep anyone happy. 5 stars though thats as a user not a buyer (so not really taking the price / size into account), if your gym has one then start making use of it if youre not already.
Thanks to Openroad for adding this to the database for me.
This review was an entry into the Expand the Database Write Off - why not join in yourself?
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