We’re all becoming increasingly aware of the importance of frequent exercise. However, for many of us, it’s hard to find the time and the space to do it. Indoor fitness equipment can provide a solution for many people. You’ll be able to work out in the comfort of your own home or office. Plus, you’ll be able to multitask and avoid missing out on family time.
From elliptical trainers to water rowers, there many types of indoor exercise machines. And they’re not all created equal. Each type provides a different type of workout, and are ideal for different situations. An indoor bike trainer, for instance, is a low-cost, space-saving way to get a great cardio workout without needing dedicated space for a home gym. It’s ideal for someone who already cycles outside, and simply wants to bring that exercise indoors. Depending on your lifestyle and your fitness goals, specific machines may be more suited to your needs.
There are a lot of options available. We’ve compiled some easy guides to the best in indoor bikes, rowing machines, treadmills, and elliptical trainers. Our guides are styled to help you find the option that’s best for you. We’ve provided a chart of our Top Three selections at the top of each article. This shows you our picks for Best Value, Best Quality, Best Seller, etc. You’ll see a quick breakdown of each, to help you quickly narrow down what you’re looking for. Then you can scroll down for the full reviews.
In our reviews, we’ve compared the features and specifications of each product. We’ve broken them down to show you exactly how these features can benefit you. Then, we’ve read through hundreds of online reviews, and consolidated them to give you a solid overview of what previous buyers are saying. And remember, if you don’t see quite what you’re looking for in our recommendations, you can still take our guides to What to Look For along for your own shopping. After all, shopping for exercise equipment shouldn’t be a workout in itself!
Indoor bikes are a great way to take a familiar exercise indoors. Cycling is a relatively low-impact activity, and provides a cardiovascular workout. It’s also great for developing leg and core muscles.
If you’ve already got a bike, a bike trainer can be a low-cost way to adapt your setup for indoor use. Trainers range in type from magnetic resistance to fluid trainer systems, and are available for anything between $50 and $300. Generally, you’ll want to find a trainer of comparable quality to your bike. The better the trainer, the more realistic the ride. Magnetic trainers usually have adjustable resistance
Resistance machines provide a more comfortable, high-tech way to cycle inside. Upright/spinning bikes have a similar feel to a road bike, but have more comfortable seats and handles. They often feature computer systems with advanced body metrics, pre-programmed workouts, and integration with your fitness apps. They’re a good way to keep your workouts varied and engaging. We’ve also reviewed a number of recumbent bikes. Much like spinning/upright bikes, they use an adjustable resistance system and include computer consoles. However, the form is modified to take stress off your joints and back. This means you’ll have a low-impact workout. You’ll also be much more comfortable, as the recumbent position includes a full seat with back support. Budget models for both start at around $150. Machines with advanced computers are more around the $500 mark.
Rowing machines provide a full-body cardiovascular workout, and are also a great way to build muscle in your upper and lower body. They also provide strong core engagement and promote healthy, supported posture.
Budget rowing machines use either piston resistance or magnetic resistance. Piston systems, while cost-effective, do modify the rowing motion slightly. This allows them to take up a smaller footprint, but it does mean you’ll have a less realistic rowing experience. If you’re a casual or beginner rower looking to save space and money, piston rowers can serve you well. Magnetic systems are more durable, and can take more strain. They’re suitable for most people who want an adjustable but realistic row. You’ll find these for anywhere between $150 and $500.
Air rowers are what you’ll find at most fitness clubs and gyms. They’ll be the most familiar to you, with a rolling track and large fan at the other end of the machine. These make you row against air pressure, so resistance will automatically increase as you row faster. Air rowers provide a very realistic rowing experience. More expensive models such as the Concept II are used in professional training and competition. They’re professional-grade, and will have long warranties and excellent reviews.
Water rowers are the most high-end type of rowing machine. They feature polished wood frames and a water-based resistance system. The wood construction provides a smoother ride than metal, and softens mechanical vibrations. Water resistance mimics the feel of rowing on the water, and provides a quieter workout than you get with an air rower. They’re generally a little over $1000 (or so).
Treadmills have been household staples for a long time. On a treadmill, you’ll be able to walk, jog, or run as easy or as fast as you want. However, modern treadmills aren’t limited to the simple tread motion. Newer models have more sophisticated technology and built in computers. These control adjustable inclines, pre-programmed workouts, and advanced fitness tracking. You’ll also find features that let you play music, sync workout data with your phone, and coordinate with your accessories.
Generally speaking, all treadmills work in the same way. There’s a motor-driven tread, which you run on. When you’re shopping for treadmills, you’ll want to look for differences in the construction quality, the computer setup, and the flexibility of the setup. Some machines are designed to be folded up for storage, but many treadmills are designed to stay setup for the longterm.
Our reviews are divided into the best overall models, the best folding treadmills, and two dedicated pages for the best models from Horizon and Proform. Horizon is a leading brand providing excellent quality and lots of great workout programming. Horizon models start around $800. ProForm offer comparable models, but also provide more affordable treadmills around the $500 mark. Both companies provide extended warranties and are reported to have great customer service.
Elliptical trainers mimic the motion of running, but they’re designed to minimize the orthopedic impact of your workout. Also, the swinging arms help engage the upper body, and make sure you’re getting a full-body workout. You’ll use more muscle groups, and engage more of your core than you would while walking or running. They feature adjustable resistance, and many models have an adjustable incline, much like a treadmill. Elliptical machines have a fairly large footprint, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a room with high ceilings to put one in.
If you’re looking for a full-body workout with virtually no impact, elliptical trainers may be right for you. We’ve found some top choices for value, build quality, and electronic features from across the marketplace. We’ve broken the elliptical recommendations up by brand. Schwinn is one of the most recognizable exercise companies out there. They’ve got a reputation for quality machines, from road bikes to spin bikes to elliptical cross-trainers. Plus, their equipment comes with extended warranties. Octane is a new company that is dedicated solely to the production of great elliptical machines. Their award-winning equipment features highly sophisticated training software and programming to help you get the most out of your workouts. We have individual review pages for each of these leading companies.