Pros: lots of features but easy-to-use
Cons: remanufactured so check for a warranty
While in California we stayed at a hotel with a fitness room. There were several Star Trac Natural Runner Plus Elliptical Cross Trainer (model number 4500HR). These were re-manufactured and I asked as I always do knowing I might review the machine. You will pay about $2600 for it. That certainly is a lot more than other machines, so let’s see if it is worth the money.
A CrossTrainer is a machine that has moving arms so you can get a slight upper body workout while getting a cardio vascular workout.
The Natural Runner's Specifications
Star Trac's CrossTrainer is very large coming in at 67 inches by 86 inches wide by 33 inches high. This is a large, heavy (260 pounds) machine that will take a user's weight in the 350-pound range. (This is an educated guess based on other machines and my experience.) In spite of its hefty weight it has rollers so it can be moved but this is not a portable machine by any stretch of the imagination.
The Star Trac Natural Runner Plus Cross Trainer's console displays the distance, speed, time, calories per minute, heart rate, level, the profile of the program chosen. The heart rate sensors are built into a separate set of smaller arms than the ones that move.
The pedals are extra-large with treads on them and a lip that kept my foot from sliding out. This machine is one I would call a traditional elliptical with moving arms. The arms are integrated into the machine and move with the pedals which are on a track.
The console isn't fancy. I used up and down arrows to set my data on the console and numbers from 0 to 9. Those numbers, which are called quick set, come in handy. Rather than having to push the arrow from, let’s say, 3 to 4 on the speed, I just hit 4 and the machine will go faster. I found a heart rate monitor in the handle. The handles are large and easy to hold onto while getting on and off the machine.
There are 15 levels of intensity, which is more than enough for even an elite athlete. The stride is 20 inches. The stride length is the distance between your front and back feet at full extension on an elliptical trainer. It is one of the more important features, along with stability, durability, and price that can make or break your decision. The perfect stride length “depends.” From http://ezinearticles.com/163865 “Basically, it depends on your height, which is usually proportional to the length of your legs. Sure, some people have longer or shorter legs relative to their overall height, but in general, it usually follows that the taller you are, the longer your legs. As a general rule of thumb, unless you're shorter than 5'3", then the minimum stride length you should accept is 17" with 16" as the absolute minimum. You want to be able to fully extend your legs during each stride to achieve a full range of motion through your hip joints. You don't want to come up short on your strides, nor do you want to hyper-extend either. Both conditions are undesirable.”
Some of the programs include quick start and manual both of which will let you put in how fast you want to go and what resistance you want and will not change automatically unless I changed it manually. Other programs that work automatically include trail blazer, 1/4 mile track, forest walk, and personal trainer. All in all there are 11 programs that the Personal Trainer Studio, which allowed me to customize and save programs. I used this feature because we were vacationing for a week.
If I chose a program it showed up in graph form which is the way most machines work especially those in this price range. I selected forest walk and then I was prompted to select a goal - how much time I wanted to work out; how many calories I wanted to burn; how far I wanted to go; and what level resistance I wanted.
The Star Trac Natural Runner was a very easy machine to operate. It had two integrated water bottles and not so many bells and whistles that anyone would be overwhelmed yet enough programs to keep me from getting bored.
The ride was smooth though a bit noisy; however, these machines are used a lot and in spite of their use I thought the few that were in the room to be in excellent condition.
I like it! You should get at least a 6-month warranty on a re-manufactured Star Trac Natural Runner Plus Elliptical CrossTrainer. I wouldn't buy it if there were no warranty unless the cost was half that price.
All my fitness equipment reviews can be found here.