Since even budget-based elliptical cross trainers carry a fairly hefty price tag, it is important to find exactly the right one for you and members of your household.
There are a multitude of factors to consider when buying an elliptical machine: overall size, different workout programs, resistance levels, and extras such as music speakers or iPod holders.
From a purely physical-fitness and comfort viewpoint, one thing that should never be overlooked is stride length.
A too-short stride length makes the legs move in an overly short oval that feels awkward and uncomfortable. Ultimately, this does not provide the maximum benefit that such a multi-faceted machine can deliver.
On the other hand, if you try an elliptical trainer with a stride length that is too long, you can pull muscles in your legs because you are extending them too far. The whole point of exercise sessions is to become healthier and look better, not end up limping from the wrong workout machine!
Most fitness experts agree that the best elliptical stride length generally is determined by one's height, although that is not always the case since some shorter people have long legs and a long stride, and vice versa.
For the most part, however, people who are under 5 feet 3 inches can easily handle an elliptical machine with a stride length of 16-18 inches and can extend that up to 20 inches. People who are 5 feet 7 inches or taller should start with an elliptical that has a 20-inch stride length and it can go up from there.
Many elliptical models offer the 20-inch stride length because it suits a large number of people, which is why it often is found in commercial gyms and community recreation centers.
If more than one person in your house is going to be using your new elliptical trainer, the best solution might be to get one with an adjustable stride length that suits everyone.
However, the only true way to determine how comfortable a particular elliptical cross trainer feels is to actually try it.
If you can visit sporting goods stores to try different models, it's a good idea to do so. It might even be worth it to check a few local gyms and purchase a day pass just to hop on the ellipticals there to see what they feel like.
Stride length is not the only consideration when it comes to shelling out the money for a good cross trainer, but it is a key component as far as finding the best model for you and other people in your home. In the end, everyone will benefit from better health, avoided injuries and a comfortable ride.