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Everything You Need To Know About Life Fitness’ E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer [A Review]

life fitness e1 elliptical cross trainer review

Even though the E1 is Life Fitness’ entry-level elliptical trainer, it puts most other brands’ top-shelf models to shame. I guess that says more about Life Fitness than anything else.

Highlights of this elite home elliptical machine include a 20″ stride length, 20 levels of quiet resistance, and a robust frame that can hold folks weighing up to 400 lb.

You might also notice that it comes with a rear-drive design, making for a flatter, more natural stride.

And to make things even better, Life Fitness backs their E1 with one of the longest parts warranties in this price range.

If you’re looking for a high-end elliptical that won’t completely destroy your budget, Life Fitness’ E1 is a pretty safe bet, but before you buy you have to know what to expect.

And that’s where I come in.

In this comprehensive review, I’ll go over all the specs and features this elliptical has to offer. I’ll also try to compare it to some of the other top ellipticals in this price range to see how it stacks up.

After reading, you’ll know whether or not the E1 is worth investing in.

Alright, let’s do this.

The Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross-Trainer

life fitness e1 elliptical cross trainer review

Image courtesy of Life Fitness

Life Fitness is a premiere fitness brand and even though they’re mostly known for their commercial equipment, they’ve got quite an extensive lineup of machines marketed for home use as well.

They offer a little bit of everything too, from treadmills, bikes, and rowers to home gym machines and strength training gear.

When it comes to ellipticals, they’ve got 5 or so models to choose from.

The E1 is their most affordable model and will cost ya somewhere in the neighborhood of $3k, give or take depending on which console you choose.

But more on that later.

Let’s start with a look at the performance specs, starting with what I consider to be one of the most important considerations – the stride length.

Pros

  • 20″ stride length
  • Flat stride motion
  • Low-impact, rear-drive design
  • 20 levels of resistance
  • Heavy-duty frame
  • 400 lb weight limit
  • Low step-up height
  • Choice of consoles
  • Generous selection of workouts
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • No adjustable incline settings
  • “Track Connect” console expensive
  • Fairly light flywheel

Stride Length

The stride length on an elliptical is kind of like the running surface on a treadmill – it tells you how much room you’re gonna have to work with.

More specifically, it tells you how far apart your feet will move front to back with each step.

This spec is measured in inches (here in the US anyway) and can vary significantly between ellipticals.

Smaller, cheaper ellipticals tend to come with stride lengths in the 14 – 16″ range, while nicer, larger models usually come with stride lengths in the 18 -20″ range.

The optimal stride length for you is based largely on your height and leg length, but when in doubt, go larger (for more info on finding your perfect stride length, check my guide on the topic).

The gold standard for home ellipticals is a stride length of 20″ because at this length, folks of most heights can hop on and use the elliptical comfortably.

With this in mind, the E1 comes with a 20″ stride length.

This is what we should expect to see from an elliptical in this price range and the E1 doesn’t disappoint.

The stride length here is large enough to accommodate most taller users comfortably, which is great, but you’ll also notice that the E1 is a rear-drive elliptical, meaning the flywheel compartment is in the back.

This design makes for a flatter stride movement when compared to front-drive ellipticals.

When it comes to rear-drive vs front-drive ellipticals, one isn’t necessarily better than the other, but there are differences to consider.

I mentioned that the rear-drive models tend to feel flatter (like walking or running on flat ground as opposed to walking uphill or up stairs), but they also tend to take up a little more space and cost more.

They also don’t reach inclines as steep as front-drive models, so if you like working against steep inclines, a rear-drive elliptical might not be the best option for ya.

Speaking of which, the E1 doesn’t have any adjustable incline settings.

But on the other hand, the flatter stride pattern the E1 offers is a little easier on the joints, especially the knees and hips, which could be a major benefit for folks dealing with aches and pains.

The last thing I want to mention here is that the E1 weighs about 211 lb assembled, making it pretty heavy-duty for a home elliptical.

It also comes with a very high weight capacity of 400 lb.

Seeing such high numbers in these 2 specs is a good indicator that the E1 should feel sturdy and stable under your feet (plus the fact that it’s a Life Fitness product).

Users seem to agree that the E1 is stable, quiet, and comfortable to use.

Overall, the E1 scores highly with a 20″ stride length and a heavy-duty frame. It doesn’t have any incline settings, but folks looking for a gentle movement pattern will likely appreciate the rear-drive design.

Resistance

Ellipticals are great because they offer a lower-impact mode of exercise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout on one.

But that all depends on the resistance system.

Most ellipticals are designed a lot like exercise bikes in that they use weighted flywheels paired with magnets to create the resistance you work against.

Now we don’t see massive flywheels on ellipticals the way we do on many spin bikes, but having a heavier flywheel on an elliptical is still often beneficial.

And like exercise bikes, that’s because the extra weight helps provide a smoother pedal motion.

The E1 comes with a 16 lb flywheel, which is actually on the lighter side for home ellipticals.

For the sake of comparison, Sole’s E98 comes with a 32 lb flywheel, as does NordicTrack’s Commercial 14.9.

There’s also Spirit’s XE395 which comes with a 30 lb flywheel.

So, there are plenty of similarly priced or cheaper ellipticals out there packing heavier flywheels than the E1, but all of these models are front-drive, where having a heavier flywheel might be more important to ensuring a smooth feel.

As a rear-drive elliptical, the E1 has a more natural stepping pattern to begin with, so maybe a heavier flywheel isn’t as important?

To be honest, I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that users overwhelmingly agree that the E1 offers a smooth workout, so that 16 lb flywheel must be doing something right.

And no offense to any of these great brands, but none of them are in the same league as Life Fitness.

The E1 comes with 20 levels of magnetic resistance, giving you a fair amount of control over the intensity of your workouts.

I already mentioned that the E1 doesn’t have an adjustable incline, so if that’s an important feature for you, this probably isn’t the right elliptical for ya.

Overall, the E1 has a pretty light flywheel when compared to other home ellipticals, but users don’t have many complaints when it comes to smoothness of operation.

Features

The Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross-Trainer comes with the following features:

“Go” vs “Track Connect” console- you get to choose between the standard “Go” console and the more tech advanced “Track Connect”. The “Go” console is pretty simple and isn’t bluetooth compatible, but it still comes with a dozen or so built-in workouts and 2 user profiles. The “Track Connect” console is bluetooth compatible with fitness apps, comes with a few more workouts, 4 user profiles, and a small media shelf.

Heart rate monitoring- there are grip monitors in the stationary handles and the “Track Connect” console is compatible with strap monitors.

Low step-up height- the step up height refers to how far off the ground you are while using the elliptical. With a step-up height of only 6.5″, the E1 is a great option for homes with low ceilings.

Water bottle holders- yup, you get two bottle holders here, so there’s no excuse for not staying hydrated.

Assembly

Life Fitness requires you to pay for professional assembly on some of their higher-end models, but that isn’t the case with the E1.

So if you want to save a little cash and assemble yourself, have at it.

And the process itself shouldn’t be too bad either.

The majority of this elliptical comes preassembled – you won’t be messing with anything around the rear-drive and the pedals come pre-attached to it as well.

You will have to attach the front stabilizer, the mast, and the moving handles. You’ll also have to attach the handles to the pedals at the bottom.

Then there’s just a few covers to add, as well as connecting which ever console you choose.

Overall, the assembly manual is pretty easy to follow and I think most folks who are a little handy should be able to get the E1 assembled fairly painlessly.

When in doubt though, there’s always professional assembly if you need it.

Warranty

Life Fitness backs their E1 Elliptical Cross-Trainer with the following residential warranty:

  • Lifetime frame
  • 5 year parts
  • 3 year console
  • 1 year labor

I think this is a really good warranty for this elliptical.

You can’t beat a lifetime frame guarantee and few brands offer more than 5 years on parts at this price range (that said, Spirit Fitness offers 10 year parts guarantees on a lot of their equipment).

A year on labor is pretty standard, so nothing too special going on there.

Overall though, this warranty matches a lot of the best warranties out there. Sole ellipticals do come with a slightly better labor warranty (2 years), but that’s not that big of a difference.

Final Thoughts

Ok, that’s about all I’ve got when it comes to the E1.

Like I said at the beginning, this elliptical has a lot going on for it and it receives overwhelmingly positive remarks from users.

The rear-drive design and low step-up height make it easy to access, while also providing a flatter, lower-impact feel than most front-drive ellipticals.

The flywheel is a bit light, but that doesn’t appear to affect the smoothness of its operation one bit.

I like that it comes with such a heavy weight limit because that’s indicative of superior frame strength.

The biggest downside is probably that it doesn’t come with any adjustable incline settings (well, that and the fact that you have to pay more for bluetooth).

But if you’re looking for a comfortable, low-impact rear-drive elliptical, the E1 is a great choice. Recommended.

Will

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