A Look at the Latest Technology on Elliptical Trainers – 2020 Preview

As we approach the end of 2019, we thought we’d review the advances in technology on elliptical machines and give you an idea of what you can expect going into 2020.

It’s really amazing how far these cardio machines have come in recent years and how different they are from their predecessors. Gone are the days of manual resistance changes and dot matrix displays with limited workout information. Now you have flat screen displays, streaming studio workouts, tracking and sharing capability, global destination workouts…the list goes on and on.

Let’s take a look at some of the latest elliptical advances and how you can take advantage of them in 2020…

Touch Screens are Taking Over

This trend really picked up steam in 2019, as manufacturers realized that people enjoy the usability of touch screens. Smart phones are touch screen…health club ellipticals, treadmills and bikes are touch screen…so why not bring that experience into the home gym?

Of course, touch screens are more expensive than their LCD counterparts, so not all ellipticals have them. The cheaper ellipticals, especially those under $500, typically don’t have touch screens. But you can find them on more and more machines in the $1000-$1500 range, where previously only the high end $3000+ ellipticals had them.

Touch screens allow you to not only control your workouts, e.g. choosing a resistance level or a built in program, but also use your home WiFi connection to stream videos, access fitness apps and do anything else online that you enjoy while working out. So they take some of the boredom out of exercising, which means you’ll spend more time on the machine.

These days almost all of the NordicTrack elliptical trainers have flat screens, even the base SE7i and C 9.5 models. Both are under $1000 currently.

ProForm also offers a lot of touch screens, and Sole and Life Fitness are getting in on the trend as well. So be on the lookout for more touch screens in 2020, as they truly make for a more enjoyable experience.

iFit Coach - NordicTrack and ProForm ellipticals

Interactive Apps and Experiences

Another huge focus of the fitness industry has been interactive programming, taking you way beyond the typical built in workout programs that most elliptical have. It’s not just about cardio fitness anymore…it’s about sleep, nutrition, strength and more…a total wellness focus.

What do we mean by that? Well, manufacturers have been introducing their own apps and programs that integrate with their ellipticals in unique ways. What they have in common though is that they expand the workout experience to motivate you to reach all of your health goals and be as healthy as you can be.

One of the first successful interactive programs was iFit Coach, which is an ICON Fitness product found on NordicTrack, ProForm and some of their less popular cardio brands. It remains one of the most comprehensive experiences, but some of their competitors are catching up.

iFit is a membership program that gives you a huge library of on-demand streaming fitness classes, both on and off the elliptical, as well as Google maps to train anywhere in the world, workout tracking and sharing, diet suggestions and recipes, sleep recommendations and a whole iFit community to interact with. In many ways it takes the place of the gym, as you can do almost everything you would do there right in your own home.

Realizing the growing popularity of iFit, Bowflex stepped up in 2019 and introduced their version of iFit called Bowflex Max Intelligence. This is also a membership program that gives you interactive maps, streaming fitness classes, Bowflex radio and more.

Other brands like Sole, Horizon, Life Fitness and Precor also have their own apps, yet currently they are not as comprehensive as those from ICON and Bowflex. But I’m sure they will all be stepping it up soon so they can take advantage of this growing trend. There have been rumors of a Peloton elliptical, but we’re not sure how much truth there is to that. We’ll be keeping an eye out for it.

New Bowflex Max Total - 2019

Enhanced Strides and Hybrid Ellipticals

Have you ever been on an elliptical and the stride was just too short for you to get a full motion? This is often the case on very cheap ellipticals, that sometimes have a 14″ or 16″ stride length. Well one of the welcome changes in that regard has been the introduction of new ellipticals with not only longer strides that can accommodate taller users, but also machines with total freedom of movement allowing you to stretch out to a full running stride.

With these machines, like the popular NordicTrack FS7i, you can choose short, medium or long strides, and make changes on the go rather than having to change any settings. This is great for those who want to change up their routine from one workout to the next, to target muscles differently and add some variety.

Along with longer strides are also hybrid machines which are two or more machines in one. Ellipticals like the Bowflex Max Trainer and the ProForm HIIT Trainer give you an elliptical and a stepper machine in one, so you can reap the benefits of both of those machines.

Hybrid machines are also great for those with smaller gym spaces in their homes, as you are eliminating the need for two machines. So you’re saving money and space with these special elliptical trainers.

If you’re on the taller side or like the idea of two or more cardio machines in one, keep an eye out for these newer elliptical machines in 2020.

Other Elliptical Advancements

Some other things to keep an eye out for are decline capability, something a bit different than the incline you typically find on ellipticals. This gives you a unique downhill motion that works muscles in the legs that you don’t normally hit. It’s still rare to find decline on a residential elliptical, but start with NordicTrack and ProForm if that’s something that interests you.

Look for more Bluetooth capability, especially on machines that are not WiFi compatible. Bluetooth will allow you to sync your workouts to fitness apps on your smart phone or tablet, and sometimes be able to control the machine like on the new Horizon Peak Trainer 5.0. It comes with a free app that allows you to control the resistance and incline with the touch of a button.

Further to our discussion of apps above, look for more membership based programs and decide if that’s something that interests you. Many of them, like iFit Coach, come with one year free membership so you can decide if you like it before you commit. It’s not for everyone, but millions of people love the workouts and the community…and it’s less than the cost of a gym membership most of the time, so it may just be what you are looking for.

The Bottom Line for Ellipticals in 2020 and Beyond

So there you have the most significant developments in the elliptical world. More touch screens, more interactive programming, more freedom of movement and more built in capability. So it looks like the theme here is “MORE!”

I’m sure there will be more new additions in 2020, but for now that’s what you should look out for. If anything new pops up, we’ll be sure to cover it on Elliptical Review Guru!