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Train with the Intervals Program on Your Exercise Bike for a Change of Pace

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise BikeThe Intervals program on a Vision Fitness® upright or recumbent bike can be a valuable tool in your fitness regimen. Bikes are a great way to get your cardio training in, while giving your skeletal system a break from the stress of a weight-bearing exercise like treadmill running. One of the keys to exercising on a bike is maintaining a sufficient level of intensity so you are maximizing your time spent exercising. Unlike a treadmill that forces a user to keep up, on a bike, the user must push himself/herself to keep the level of intensity up where he/she is truly benefiting from the workout. This is where a program like Intervals can really help.

What is interval training?
Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the level of intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. The goal for interval training is to push the body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level with the objective of improving your performance.

The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrates. A general parameter to measure where this threshold is would be 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. According to the web site www.medicinenet.com, train below 85 percent and it’s aerobic; train above 85 percent and it’s anaerobic. (For more info on monitoring your heart rate, click here.)

Using the preset Intervals program

After selecting the Intervals program on your console, you will be prompted to enter in your age, your desired time and your weight. Once you have done this, the console will then ask you to enter in the difficulty level. This may require a trial and error period as you figure out which level will best challenge you. The resistance level will automatically change from segment to segment, alternating between a higher level of resistance (the active phase) and a lower level of resistance (the rest phase). These changes in resistance are designed to push you past your aerobic zone and into your anaerobic zone during the active phase, as described in the paragraph above. The duration of each segment is determined by the total time you entered in the beginning.

The benefits of interval training are numerous, and it is becoming the preferred method of training for many of today’s elite athletes. Benefits such as burning more fat, decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, strengthening your immune system, and lowering cholesterol, are all attributed to interval training according to Dr. Joseph Mercola (www.mercola.com). Also, it can ultimately put less stress on your joints because you are exercising for shorter periods of time.

The beauty of this program, especially on a bike, is that anyone can start it and begin to reap the benefits immediately. Interval training can closely simulate participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and lacrosse. All are activities that include quick bursts of energy intermingled with periods of active rest.

Interval training has long been a favorite of coaches because it can be an effective means of improving an athlete’s cardiovascular capacity, thus helping their performance on the field. It can also help an individual burst through those dreaded “plateaus” we have all encountered at one time or another after performing the same exercise routines for an extended period of time.

For me personally, the active phase helps push me to workout harder, while reducing my perception of how long I have been working out, a big-time bonus in my opinion. So if you are looking for some variety and want to spice things up, I suggest you get off your feet, get on a bike and challenge yourself with an intense Intervals program.

 


Tips for Purchasing a New Exercise Bike

During my days as a sales representative, it always amazed me when people in need of an exercise bike would typically ask a lot of questions about bikes, but would rarely get on and try them. There are many exercise bikes on the market and, like any other product, there are designs that will fit your needs and others that won’t. The most important thing to do is try out a variety of models and choose the best one for you. Here are some tips on what to look for in an exercise bike.

Comfort

There are two major frame styles of bikes from to choose: recumbent and upright. The number one question I received over the years was, “Which is better, recumbent or upright?” There is no right or wrong answer. Both styles keep you moving and raise your heart rate. Because both styles of bikes require you to sit, a comfortable seat is extremely important.

Recumbent bikes

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike
Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike with reclining seat feature.

This is a great option for users who require extra lumbar support. Many recumbent bikes, like the Vision Fitness® R20, now offer adjustable mesh seats which tend to be more comfortable and use a more breathable material that significantly reduces the amount of sweat build-up.There are also seats, such as that on the R40, which have an additional “recline” feature, allowing the user to be slightly tilted back, thus opening up the diaphragm and enabling easier breathing. It is a wonderful feature for pregnant women who would like to (comfortably) continue their cardiovascular training. A “walk-thru” recumbent bike makes it easier for a user to comfortably enter and exit the bike. This is particularly important for those who have sustained a lower-body injury and/or users with mobility setbacks.

Upright bikes

For the average person who is used to and enjoys a more traditional bike, an upright frame is the way to go. Much like with the recumbent, a comfortable seat is extremely important. Ensure that you have enough padding/comfort so you can sustain your workout for your intended duration. Remember, if you’re not comfortable on any given piece of equipment, you won’t use it!

Adjustability/Stability

The more adjustability you have, the more you can customize your perfect fit. Recumbent bikes have a front/back seat adjustment, while upright bikes have an up/down adjustment.

Check the seat adjustment for ease of use. It should have a very simple lever to pull, and the seat should slide smoothly to accommodate your height. If it is a struggle to adjust the seat, check out alternative bikes. If the bike will have multiple users, seat adjustments that contain a numbering system might be best. Numbering systems are an easy way to remember your preferred position and quickly adjust.

The stability of a bike is also very important. The last thing you want is for your bike to be rocking back and forth or from side to side. Better bikes have adjustable stabilizers to provide a more stable ride. Shake the recumbent exercise bike while you are sitting on it. Poorly made recumbent exercise bikes wobble as you peddle. A quality machine should not move at all after you’ve properly stabilized it.

Quiet/SmoothVision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Quality components are important for any piece of mechanical equipment. Exercise bikes are no different. Higher-end bikes will use a wider internal drive belt, which provides more surface area and a smoother, more fluid feel. Make sure the pedals of the recumbent exercise bike move in a smooth motion. It should feel natural and not make any funny noises. If you need to move your legs at unnatural angles, the machine is not a good fit.

Finally, purchasing an exercise bike is an investment in your health and wellness. Take the time to seek out a specialty store in your area and speak with a trained sales associate. They are there to help you find the perfect piece of equipment and assist you in reaching your goals comfortably and efficiently.


7 Tips to Consider When Purchasing a Treadmill

Are you looking to buy a treadmill in the near future?

Walking into a fitness store can be an overwhelming event. There’s typically a wide variety of equipment to view and consider buying for your home. But it doesn’t have to be a fearful experience. Armed with some sound advice, you can find the perfect treadmill to bring home and enjoy for years to come. Knowing a little in advance what you may be looking for will help your specialty fitness retailer provide suggestions on the treadmill for you. Here are seven tips to consider when purchasing a new treadmill.

1. Never ever buy a treadmill you don’t have an opportunity to try first

This advice should be applied to the purchase of any piece of fitness equipment. The way a treadmill fits and feels to you is perhaps the single most overlooked consideration and will have a tremendous influence on whether or not you enjoy using it and whether or not you want to get on and use it again. Reviews are helpful, but do not rely on reviews alone. Even if you shop direct from the manufacturer, usually you can find a store that carries the machine you want to try.

2. Space and placement

Know where you want to put the machine and measure the space before you go shopping. If you are considering a folding unit, know that this feature adds to the cost of any unit and ask yourself if it is a necessary feature, meaning will you actually fold it up when you are not using it.

3. Don’t think that just because you plan on walking that the motor isn’t important

Walking can, in many cases, create more work for a motor than running. This is because at slow speeds the amount of time your foot is in contact and “dragging” or being pulled across the deck surface is longer than when running. Your push off at the end of a running stride will also “push” the belt. This push is missing while at walking speeds. This “push” also occurs when walking at inclines, both of which assist the motor. When the motor is running fast it also has the assistance of inertia.

4. Programs are not bells and whistles

There is a varying degree of quality and effectiveness in programming options, but in general, programs should help you achieve your goals faster while keeping you engaged in your workout. Ask yourself if your current or past “routine” is getting or had gotten you the results you are after. Ask your sales consultant if the unit has any programs that are specific to the goal you are trying to achieve. Great examples of this would be Sprint 8®, Glute Burn, 5K, HR Control and Virtual Active™ programs.

5. Controls

Are the controls for speed and incline displayed and accessible in a way that is easy and comfortable for you to use when walking or running on the treadmill the way you will use it at home? Can you change speed and incline while running or walking at full stride or a high incline without jeopardizing your safety? Again, it is important that you try the treadmill before you buy it, go shopping in comfortable, preferably workout, clothing. Don’t forget to consider the design of the side steps: Are they wide enough, and are they slip resistant?

6. Where you buy is important

Buy from a dealership/salesperson that you can come back to for support and questions after the sale. Although a treadmill purchase can be a pricey endeavor, remember that it is still a mechanical item with many moving parts that must work in unison. And even the very best quality exercise equipment has the potential need for support and service.

7. Prepare yourself for an investment

Know that a quality treadmill should last you for many years and that it is a long-term investment. Although everyone should work within their budget, don’t skimp where you don’t have to. This purchase is a long-term commitment to yourself, and you’re worth it. You don’t want something you won’t enjoy, and you don’t want to buy a treadmill every couple of years.

Print these buying tips out, write them down or save them in a file on your computer. However you choose, make sure you consider these tips when walking into any fitness store to make the next treadmill purchase for your home.

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Switching From Miles to Kilometers on the New Vision Fitness® Consoles

Product personalization is a key consideration when choosing a product, including fitness equipment. One great feature all new Vision Fitness® consoles have is the ability to switch your speed readout from miles to kilometers. The Elegant and Touch consoles also allow you to see distance in either miles or kilometers at any time in your workout, no matter what your Region settings are. See below for your console, and see how you can start changing the speed feedback in your workout to fit your preferences!

Classic Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. For the switch function mode on a treadmill, press the INCLINE UP arrow button to take you to ENG3. For an elliptical or bike press the RESISTANCE UP arrow button to take you to ENG2.
  5. Press the ENTER button.
  6. Now press the START button, the display will change between Miles and KM (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press and hold the STOP button for 3-5 seconds to exit. The console will beep and begin to scroll SELECT ENG MODE. At this point you can release the button.
  8. Finally, press and hold the STOP button again to exit Engineering Mode. The console will beep and return to the main screen. At this point you can release the button.

Elegant Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode.  At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Now press the third ATM-style button on the left side of the screen to select Region.
  5. Once in Region, you can press the top right ATM-style button to select Continue 3 times to go to the page to switch from Miles or Kilometers.
  6. Using the middle left ATM-style keys, select STANDARD (Miles) or METRIC (Kilometers).
  7. Once it is displaying the desired output, press the bottom left ATM style button to select Finished.
  8. Finally, press the STOP button to return to the main screen.

Touch Console

  1. Start by turning the unit on.
  2. For a treadmill, step on the side rails and insert the safety key.
  3. For a treadmill, press and hold at the same time, the INCLINE UP and SPEED DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. On an elliptical or bike, you will need to press and hold the RESISTANCE UP and RESISTANCE DOWN arrow buttons for 3-5 seconds. The console will beep and enter Engineering Mode. At this point you can release the buttons.
  4. Using the touchscreen, press the selection for Region on the left side of the screen.
  5. Once in Region, press the word UNITS, then make your selection for Metric (KM) or Standard (MI) with the buttons that appear in the top right side of the screen.
  6. Once the desired output is selected, press the HOME button in the top right side of the screen to exit Engineering Mode.

Having the ability to switch between miles and kilometers allows you to optimize your console’s functionality, train in metric or standard speed and will provide a better overall workout experience.


What to Look for When Buying an Elliptical

Shopping for an elliptical can be a little trickier than shopping for a treadmill or bike. The feel of an elliptical’s footpath is very personal. What may feel perfect to one person, may feel short and choppy to the next. Body size, hip width and upper torso dimensions can all play a role in choosing the elliptical that is right for you. It is important that you try a few different brands, preferably at a specialty fitness store where you can receive some expert advice as well. Here are a few tips on what to look for when shopping for a new elliptical trainer, or cross trainer.

The first thing you should think about when buying an elliptical is whether or not you are comfortable with the motion/movement of a particular brand’s unit. Unlike treadmills and bikes, each manufacturer’s elliptical will have a different feel. Some of that is due to a company’s philosophy, but in reality, much of it is due to the different patents that vendors have on their machines. Once you feel comfortable on a machine, you then have to analyze whether or not the design of the elliptical puts your body in a natural position for working out. Remember, you are going to be using this machine at least three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. If the elliptical is not designed properly, your body will eventually “rebel” in the form of discomfort and pain.

You need to pay attention to three things when analyzing whether or not the manufacturer took the time to design the unit properly.

  1. Pedal spacing
    This is the distance between the pedals. Many ellipticals, especially on the lower end, will have 5-6 inches between their pedals, placing the hips too far apart. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the hip joint. If you have ever seen your footprints in the sand or snow, you’ll notice how close together they actually are when you walk or run. Pedal spacing in the 2-inch range or less is the most desirable.
  2. Arm spacing
    Just as with the pedal space, the distance between the arms is important as well. Many elliptical arms measure 22-23 inches apart. This is too wide and will put undo stress on the shoulder joint. An acceptable range here would be from 16-18 inches apart.
  3. Posture
    While engaging the upper body, does the unit pull you forward causing a bend in the lower back? If it does, run – don’t walk – away from that elliptical because it will cause you lower back pain for sure.

Finally, if your budget allows, look for an elliptical with some sort of adjustable incline.

elliptical incline
By changing the elliptical incline, you can target different muscles and change the pedaling motion from a running feel to a stair climbing motion.

The ability to adjust the incline will challenge you more, help you achieve your goals quicker and will work the quads, hamstrings and glutes at different angles. This can better develop and tone your lower body. It also adds variety to your workouts and can help prevent you from hitting those dreaded plateaus that can happen from time to time, because you will be constantly challenging yourself and your muscles with new levels of intensity. Fitness and personal growth most occur when people are pushed outside of their comfort zone. The ability to adjust the incline on your elliptical will do just that.


Using the Training Calendar on the Touch Console

One of the cool training tools you’ll discover on the new Vision Fitness® Touch console is the training calendar. For many, starting a fitness routine is not the difficult part; most often it is maintaining your program that is the challenge.

Why? Typically, it has to do with personal motivation (or lack thereof) and not being able to see results. If you can’t see your initial progress, it can be discouraging and cause you to give up on your program. The Vision training calendar is an easy to use tool designed to keep you motivated and allow you to see your progress.

Using your own personal user profile, the Touch console will keep track of various pieces of information that are important to you and will motivate you to keep going. Here is a quick guide to getting started with your calendar. Please note that you will need to create your own USER PROFILE to fully engage in the benefits of the workout calendar.

  1. From the home screen, press USER INFO and select a user from the list on the left. (The calendar can track as many as five users.)
  2. Now press the CALENDAR BUTTON on the right.
  3. SAVED WORKOUTS will be displayed by an asterisk (*) on the day they were saved.
  4. Press the * to select that day. A WORKOUT SUMMARY window will appear to the right of the CALENDAR. Press START to begin using the selected SAVED WORKOUT again.
    • Use the arrow keys (< January >) at the top of the workout calendar to scroll between months.
    • You can view the workout summary for each day and each week by touching the number of the week shown on the left-hand side of the calendar (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
    • If there is more than one workout, this will be indicated by arrow keys and the number of workouts (< 1 of 3 >) at the top of the workout summary. Use the arrow keys to scroll between the workouts.
    • The WORKOUT SUMMARY shows you the date and time of day of the workout, distance, time, pace and calories burned. To view a detailed summary, simply touch the WORKOUT SUMMARY box. On this screen you will find your workout averages (labeled WORKOUT DATA) and individual STAGE averages.

So where does the motivation come into play? Your motivation kicks in when you compare current results to past results and see improvement! You can choose to view your results on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Now THAT’S motivation!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an avid fitness buff, the training calendar is designed to keep track of your personal information and show you the path to your own success.


7 Helpful Tips to Consider When Purchasing Cardio Fitness Equipment

Choosing the right piece of fitness equipment can seem very daunting these days for the average consumer. The Internet is flooded with information, and there are so many choices. The truth is, there are many good options out there. However, there is a lot of misinformation as well. Here are a few tips to help you wade through the overload of choices and information to choose the best cardio fitness equipment for your home gym.

1) Where to Buy

There are essentially three places to purchase a piece of exercise equipment: online retailers, big-box retailers and specialty retailers.

Online Retailers

Online retailers are convenient and may offer a good price. However, there are numerous concerns and potential hassles with buying a piece of fitness equipment online. These include shipping damage, assembly issues and lack of service support, among others. I strongly suggest that you test drive any product at a retailer before making any online fitness purchase. It’s very easy to make something look good on a website or TV (i.e., your typical infomercial), but the final product may not be what you initially thought. Not taking this step of trying a product out in advance can lead to disappointment.

Big-Box Retailers

These retailers typically offer a selection of fitness equipment that is very feature-heavy with varying levels of quality. Usually the products found here stress style and features over quality and durability. The depth and breadth of fitness or exercise equipment knowledge can vary widely among the staff. Don’t expect much on the service side either, as some stores do not have a dedicated service staff, which means you will likely be calling an 800 number if you have problems.

Specialty Retailers

They will typically carry products that stress quality and durability over features and fluff. Many specialty retailers have staff that have a background in fitness and are trained by factory representatives on all the key details of the products they carry. Plus, they’re a reliable source to contact if you have any questions or equipment troubles after the purchase. Many offer assembly and delivery to your home. Overall, you can expect a higher level of service after the sale and their prices can be very competitive.

2) Why are you buying cardio equipment?

Things to consider when selecting which piece of equipment will work best for you:

Why are you purchasing it? Are you purchasing this equipment to train for a marathon, and do you need a place to work out safely in inclement weather? Are you looking to rehabilitate from an injury, heart attack or surgery? Or maybe you’re just trying to get serious about your fitness or your family’s fitness? What do you hope to accomplish with the purchase of this machine?

Who will be using it? Are you the sole user? Will it be a piece of equipment used by the entire family?

Where are you putting it? Will it be need to be stored away, or will it be a permanent fixture?

With these things in mind, take a look at the deck length, motor size, folding and non-folding options, program options, etc.  However, don’t get too caught up in comparing the specs of one manufacturer to another because:

3) It’s not necessarily about the specs!

If you plan on buying a treadmill, for example, based only on how big the motor size is versus the other guy, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Different brands and different manufacturers have different philosophies on how to build treadmills. A bigger motor is not necessarily a better motor. A longer deck with a fan and speakers doesn’t mean your treadmill is a better value than one without.

Specialty brands typically will use higher-quality motors that run cooler and more efficiently than models or brands you find at a big-box store. They use thicker, higher- quality decks, better belts and larger, higher-quality rollers. There is less plastic and more steel for a sturdier feel. Get the idea?

Similarly, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers have a variety of flywheel weights, but it’s important to also consider the gear ratio. The faster the flywheel spins, the smoother the ride. With either, it’s also important to consider the feel of the machine, whether it be pedal spacing or seat comfort.

Just remember to ask yourself if you want a product that is loaded up on the specification sheet, or a product that doesn’t sacrifice durability and performance in order to look good on paper. Make sure you see the products in person and talk to a knowledgeable fitness consultant before making your choice.

4) Long Warranty = Best product???

Consider the car industry. The best cars don’t necessarily carry the best warranties, do they? Warranty in the fitness industry can be used for a few reasons:

  1. To maintain market share due to lack of innovation.
  2. To BUY market share because the company or product has not been around very long or they are battling another competitor.
  3. Or they simply make a very good product and are willing to back it up.

My suggestion is to be careful buying a cardio machine based only on the warranty. You may get a long warranty but an outdated product. Also, be aware that the warranty is only good if the company is in business, so be sure to check the history of the manufacturer you are considering to make sure they have a track record and have a good chance be around long enough to honor that warranty.

5) What a great deal

We all love a good deal, but if you think you are getting a “Great Deal,” you should be aware that it is commonplace for many online treadmill brands and big-box fitness equipment brands to inflate MSRP to give you the appearance of a “Great Deal.” The reality is the treadmill that is priced at $1,000 off online or in the Sunday ads of the local newspaper is likely $1,000 off almost every day of the year. That high MSRP and huge discount do not mean the product is not a good product – just understand you are not necessarily getting a great deal.

6) Do your research

However, make sure you understand that those “reviews” you are seeing on the Internet are likely marketing sites that get paid to tell you how great a product is. Many of these sites have disclaimers hidden on the site, which will disclose how that site makes money. It may be a situation where the manufacturers for the products they are promoting pay them commission or fees to promote them. So it is in your best interest to be skeptical. Visit the manufacturer’s website, and visit your local retailer to try out the products and ask questions.

7) Put it in perspective

There are too many customers that don’t put things in perspective when purchasing exercise equipment. Exercising regularly has the ability to improve every aspect of your life, but too many people want to put a $500 price tag on it. Purchasing a piece of exercise equipment is an investment in yourself and your health. There is nothing more valuable than that. If you spend X amount on a treadmill or an elliptical, but it lasts you 10 years, you essentially have invested how much per day? How much do you spend a day on coffee? How much money do you spend on your cell phone bill per month? If you don’t look at the overall picture and try to buy the cheapest product, you are likely to be very disappointed and probably are not going to achieve your goals.

Keep these seven tips in mind the next time you’re looking to add some fitness equipment to your home gym.


Put Your iPhone or iPod to Good Use With New Vision Fitness Consoles

Using an iPod or iPhone with your new Vision Fitness® console can open a whole variety of features you wouldn’t expect from a piece of fitness equipment!

The new Vision Touch console is able to transfer the audio and video from an iPod or iPhone through the iPod/iPhone cord to the console. This also allows you to control the device on the touch screen, and keep your eyes on the prize. A great undistracted workout means better results. Unable to stream video through your iPhone? Simply switch your iPhone to “Airplane” mode under Settings, and both the video and audio should stream just fine.

As you get into your workout, you may feel the urge to slow down, but your phone or iPod never has to! You can also charge your device using the USB port while you work out. Please note this is possible for devices that require 1 amp or less for charging. Simply plug your device into the USB port and watch your device charge as you work your way to a lean and mean fitness machine.

These are just a few new exciting features to check out that will help you use your Vision Fitness exercise equipment to its fullest potential!


Program Overview: Glute Burn

The Glute Burn program is found on the state-of-the-art Vision Fitness® Suspension Elliptical™ Trainers S7100, S7200 and S70. This interval-based, muscle-targeting program is made possible by the adjustable incline feature, which is not available from every elliptical manufacturer. The program automatically varies incline settings in ranges that target the glutes and hamstrings throughout the pedaling motion.

On the S7100, you are given eight 45-second intervals, which provide progressively challenging incline and resistance changes. The S7200 and S70 use a combination of incline and directional changes, along with console prompts, to help maximize results.

Glute Burn delivers movement and results similar to that of running stairs, but without the potentially harmful impact on the knees and joints. By reducing the impact-induced injury and fatigue, you will be able to put more energy into the workout. Not only is this program great for toning the posterior, but because the glute muscles are among the largest group of muscles on our bodies, this program is also highly efficient at burning calories. Use higher levels of resistance and lower RPMs to increase the muscle shaping and toning effects of this workout.


Fitness Equipment and the Sound of Silence

An important issue to consider when purchasing fitness equipment for the home is how much noise it will make. A quiet machine will make it easier to enjoy your workouts, whether you like to listen to music, watch TV or just enjoy the peace and quiet. Also, people tend to work out at different times throughout the day, and many of you enjoy working out either late at night or in the early morning. Our elliptical and suspension trainers are the perfect fit for you! When compared to nearly every elliptical trainer in the specialty market, we have not found a quieter home product. Try them out for yourself and test them against other brands, and you will see that this makes for an easy decision when you’re concerned with not disturbing others in the house.