The Horizon EX56 Elliptical – A best buy elliptical gets a nice upgrade

The Treadmill Sensei is glad the Gods of heat have heard his pleas because it finally cooled down yesterday. That makes me very happy because the electric bill here at the DOJO should go back down now that we can turn the air conditioner off. It also means that Hikaru won’t be sweating nearly as much as he was, which is good for every at the repair shop.

Every year there is one consistant thing we can all be assured will take place in September. The event is as reliable as the changing of the seasons: Horizon Fitness updates and renames their equipment. This sort of thing normally annoys me a bit even if Horizon always puts out some quality treadmills and ellipticals. It annoys me because most of the time Horizon is just re-releasing the same equipment with a new paint job and some minor tweaks. This year, aside from the Horizon EX56 elliptical I’m reviewing today, it looks like they’ve gone with some major and very exciting changes. I look forward to being able to share those changes with you, my loyal readers, over the next week.

But first, let’s talk about the new Horizon EX56 Elliptical. Not having heard anything from the folks at Horizon for 6 months or more (I guess they don’t like the Sensei), I was very surprised when we received the call to do an inside delivery and set up on a Horizon EX56 Elliptical. I had to check the paperwork twice and call the company who was having us do the installation because I was convinced there was a typo. Not only was I unaware about what the new units were but I had no clue they were already out and available to the public! Like Uncle Chris teases me, I guess that’s why I’m not the Elliptical Sensei!

The Horizon EX56 is the updated version of the Horizon EX55 (and the old Horizon EX22). It uses the same frame that has been perfected by Horizon over the past 3 years or so, a frame which is incredibly sturdy especially considering the under $600 price of the elliptical.

It also has the same 18″ stride, 8 programs, 8 resistance levels, 14.3 pound flywheel (huge for the price) and heart rate monitoring of the previous units. The changes come in their updated articulating foot pedals, which are great to see on an under $600 elliptical. Combined with the sturdy frame and the 18″ stride, the Horizon EX56 we received here at the shop felt a lot more like a $1000 elliptical than one with a budget price.

The only other major change is in the console on the EX56 elliptical. They’ve put on an upgraded and much more powerful console with a better look. While it has the same number of programs as the old EX55, it’s got much more reliable electronics inside and should last a lot longer with little to no maintenance.

I was able to work out on the Horizon EX56 elliptical here at the shop for about 4 days — not as long as I would have liked, but it held up very well. We didn’t tell the owner, but Hikaur gave it a 3 hour work out and it held up even in spite of him being 50 pounds or more over its suggested maximum user weight…something I wouldn’t suggest you doing at home. The listed 250 pound limit is probably about right for any sort of regular or heavy duty use.

This year, the Horizon EX56 elliptical continues Horizon’s streak of producing best buy ellipticals under $600 and ellipticals for people wanting a great workout on a budget. For keeping the best parts and adding on some great new ones, the Treadmill Sensei gives the Horizon EX56 Elliptical 4.5 out of 5 golden buddahs.

An upgraded unit gets an updated 4.5 golden buddahs.


**UPDATE** The Horizon EX56 is no longer available for sale, so if you’re interested in a Horizon Fitness elliptical machine you can visit the official Horizon Fitness site and get free shipping on new models or glance at some of the older models still for sale here.

Horizon EX56 Elliptical Specifications
Stride: 18″
Flywheel: 14.3lbs
Display: LCD
Programs: 8
Resistance: 8 Levels
Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
Heart Rate Control: No
Max User Weight: 250lbs
Unit Weight: 125lbs
Price: Under $600