The best ellipticals for rooms with low ceilings need to be comfortable to use, have enough features to provide a solid workout, and most importantly, have a low step-on (or step-up) height.
Ellipticals can make great options for home fitness equipment, unfortunately not all of our homes are equipped for ellipticals (see what I did there?)
Anyway, ellipticals tend to require more ceiling room than most other home fitness machines because of the arc of motion you go through.
So, if you’re tall and your ceilings are low, it could be a recipe for disaster.
And giving yourself a concussion probably isn’t one of the benefits you’re thinking of when purchasing a new elliptical.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up the dream of owning your very own elliptical quite yet – there still may be hope.
In this guide, I’ll go over everything you should know before you decide whether or not an elliptical is feasible, given your low ceilings.
I’ll also go over the top options the market has to offer for rooms that are ceiling height challenged.
After reading, you’ll be ready to find the right elliptical to match your ceiling requirements.
Let’s do this.
|Step-up Height||Stride Length||Flywheel||Warranty||Price|
|#1 Life Fitness E1||6.5"||20"||16 lb||Lifetime frame|
5 year parts
1 year labor
|#2 TRUE Fitness M30||9"||21"||n/a||Lifetime frame|
5 year parts
1 year labor
|#3 Horizon Evolve 5||10"||20"||23 lb||Lifetime frame|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#4 Horizon 7.0 AE||10.75"||20"||23 lb||Lifetime frame|
3 year parts
1 year labor
|#5 Sole E35||14"||20"||25 lb||Lifetime frame|
5 year parts
2 year labor
|#6 NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i||14"||18"||18 lb||10 year frame|
2 year parts
1 year labor
Space Considerations When Purchasing An Elliptical
We all know ellipticals are great because they provide cardiovascular exercise and they are low-impact, plus they can also offer a pretty solid full body workout if you are using one with upper body handles.
Unfortunately, nothings perfect in this world, not even ellipticals.
The biggest downside to ellipticals are how much space they take up.
Ellipticals are right there with treadmills as the pieces of home fitness equipment that take up the most floor space. Treadmills are wider, but high end ellipticals can be almost as long.
And ellipticals throw an extra monkey wrench in the mix with the ceiling height consideration.
Let’s Talk Ceiling Heights
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a little concerned about how high your ceilings are. Let’s discuss this a little and see if you actually should be worrying about this or not.
The average ceiling height in American homes is 8′.
With newer construction, it’s not uncommon to see 9′ and 10′ ceilings.
If you have a 9 or 10 ft ceiling, you have nothing to worry about- choose any elliptical you like and you will have plenty of head space regardless of how tall you are.
Shaq could use an elliptical in room with a 10′ ceiling.
If you have 8′ ceilings, you probably need to check a few things.
First of which is how tall you and any other possible elliptical users are.
If you’re under 6′ tall, you really shouldn’t have any issues with 8′ ceilings – you should be safe to purchase any elliptical you like without considering how high the step-up is.
If your exercise room has a ceiling that is lower than 8′ or you are over 6′ tall, than you need to do some math – don’t worry, it’s easy math.
You basically need to figure out how high off the ground the elliptical is going to put you at its highest point during use.
This is commonly referred to as the step-up height or step-on height.
Add this value to your height and you will know how high your head is going to be while using said elliptical.
And as long as that value is lower than the height of your ceiling, you should be ok.
But it’s always a good idea to have a little buffer room to accommodate for any extra bounce that might occur – 4-6 inches is good practice, but that’s not always going to be doable for homes with really low ceilings.
Example: I’m 6’1″ (73 in) tall. Let’s say the elliptical I’m considering has a step-up height of 14″. 73″ + 14″ = 87″. That means I’m gonna need a ceiling taller than 87 in in order to ensure my head doesn’t hit it during use. An 8′ ceiling is 96″, so that would work just fine, but a 7′ (84 in) ceiling would be a no go.
This is all sounds good and pretty straightforward so far, but the problem is it can be difficult to find a precise step-up height for most ellipticals.
Some manufacturers supply it with the specs, but many don’t.
You can search online for these numbers until you’re blue in the face and often leave just as confused as you were before you started.
And if you read user reviews, you will see different values for the step-up height for the same machine.
And then there are the ellipticals with adjustable incline settings.
Adjusting the incline doesn’t necessarily increase the step-up height, but it’s different from machine to machine.
Personally, I like concrete answers to these questions and it seems these can be difficult to find.
But I have some info for ya here that I think will help.
Most home ellipticals have a step-up height between 12-14″.
If the step-up height is unknown, add 18″ to the height of the tallest user to determine the lowest safe ceiling height – and this 18″ estimate will include the step-up height as well as a little safety buffer.
When in doubt, you could always contact the manufacturer directly, but they tend to be super conservative (user height + 18-24″) – I’m guessing they don’t want to be sued.
When your ceilings are really low, the step-up height is probably the most important spec you’re going to focus on and I get that, but there are other factors worth comparing too.
Things like flywheel weights, stride lengths, warranties, and additional features are important stuff as well.
But first and foremost, you gotta make sure you aren’t gonna be smacking the ceiling every time you hop on your elliptical.
Luckily, the ellipticals I’ve picked below score highly in the performance side of things too.
The 6 Best Ellipticals For Rooms With Low Ceilings
#1 The Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross-Trainer
Step-up height: 6.5″
Life Fitness is one of the most beloved fitness brands on the planet and for good reason – their machines are awesome.
They made their name of course as a commercial brand, supplying high-end cardio and strength training machines to gyms around the world.
But they’ve got an extensive lineup of home machines too.
And yes, Life Fitness is a luxury brand, but remember what they say – you get what you pay for.
Anyway, the E1 is their entry-level elliptical and comes with a lot of great features, but most importantly, it comes with one of the lowest step-up heights I’ve ever seen.
With a step-up height of only 6.5″, the E1 is able to operate in homes with very low ceilings.
You’ll notice that this elliptical is a rear-drive model, so the pedal motion is quite linear – which is a good thing for folks dealing with achy joints because it tends to be even lower impact.
Other than the exceptionally low step-up height, the E1 also comes with a 20″ stride length, allowing folks of most heights to be able to exercise comfortably.
It also comes with a 16 lb flywheel, 20 levels of smooth magnetic resistance, and a heavy-duty frame that can support folks weighing up to 400 lb.
Additional highlights of the E1 include:
- Choice between consoles (Track Connect and Go)
- WhisperStride Technology
- Access to plenty of built-in workouts
- Heart rate monitoring
- Warranty: lifetime frame, 5 year parts, 3 year console, 1 year labor
Overall, if you’re looking for a high-end elliptical that’s designed effectively for low ceilings, Life Fitness’ E1 is a great choice (P.S.- all of Life Fitness’ ellipticals have the same low step-up height). See full review.
#2 The TRUE Fitness M30 Elliptical
Step-up height: 9″
TRUE Fitness is another premiere fitness brand known probably more for their commercial-grade equipment than their home lineup.
And I’m not sure they’re quite as well-known as Life Fitness, but they’re certainly in the same league.
The M30 is TRUE’s entry-level home elliptical, but it’s hard to tell by looking at it.
At first glance, this model looks a little different than your traditional elliptical and that’s because this bad boy is a center-drive elliptical (as opposed to a front or rear-drive option).
You don’t see that many center-drive ellipticals, but they can work great and they usually don’t take up as much space.
The M30 only has a 9″ step-up height, which is great for low ceilings, but it has a really compact footprint for an elliptical too.
With a footprint of only 42″ x 30″, the M30 can work well in homes with limited space as well (keep in mind you’ll need a little extra space to actually use it).
Other highlights include a 21″ stride length, a heavy-duty frame, and convenient side steps to make getting on/off the M30 a lot easier.
This elliptical also comes with several built-in workouts, including TRUE’s HRC Cruise Control program that lets the elliptical automatically adjust the resistance to help you maintain your goal heart rate.
TRUE also backs the M30 with a generous home warranty (lifetime frame, 5 year parts, 1 year labor), which is always nice.
Overall, if you’re looking for an elite, compact elliptical, TRUE’s M30 is definitely worth checking out.
#3 The Horizon Fitness Evolve 5 Elliptical
Step-up height: 10″
If you’re looking for a more affordable elliptical, Horizon’s Evolve 5 is certainly worth checking out.
Horizon Fitness is part of the Johnson Health Tech family, the 3rd largest fitness equipment manufacturer in the world.
Horizon also produces treadmills and exercise bikes for the home and if you ask me, I think they’re one of the best moderately priced fitness brands around.
Anyway, the Evolve 5 has a lot going for it other than just a 10″ step-up height.
This elliptical comes with a spacious 20″ stride length, a 23 lb flywheel, and 20 levels of magnetic resistance to work with.
The only thing missing here is that it doesn’t come with any adjustable incline levels, but what it does come with is a folding frame.
Yeah, I know, not many ellipticals can say that.
You can fold the Evolve 5 in half after use, allowing you to save all kinds of floorspace.
The console on this model is pretty simple, but it does come with several built-in workouts to choose from.
And since this is Horizon we’re talking about here, of course this elliptical is backed by a solid warranty: lifetime frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor.
Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable elliptical that’s not only low to the ground but can also fold up for storage, the Evolve 5 might be the right option for ya. See full review.
#4 The Horizon Fitness 7.0 AE Elliptical
Step-up height: 10.75″
Yup, another Horizon elliptical made the list – what can I say, they have some good stuff to choose from… plus they have pretty small step-up heights.
Anyway with a step-up height of just under 11″, the 7.0 AE is a smart choice if your ceilings are low (or you are tall) and every inch counts.
This elliptical isn’t quite in the same league as the E1 or M30 mentioned above, but it’s not nearly as expensive either – with an asking price of around $1k, the 7.0 AE is much more affordable.
This elliptical comes with a 23 lb flywheel, a 20″ stride length, and 20 levels of power incline for added workout variety.
It also gives you more control over the feel of the ride as well as allowing you to concentrate on different muscle groups (higher inclines should activate your glutes more).
Here are some additional features I think you will like:
- Several built-in workouts
- Bluetooth compatible
- 20 levels of magnetic resistance
- Heart rate monitoring
- Large LCD display screen that makes viewing your metrics easy during your workouts
- Built-in speakers allows you to jam out to your favorite music while you exercise
- Warranty: lifetime frame, 3 year parts, 1 year labor
- 325 lb weight capacity
Overall, if you’re looking for a quality elliptical with a low step-up height and that takes it pretty easy on your budget, Horizon’s 7.0 AE is a nice choice. See full review.
#5 The Sole E35 Elliptical Machine
Step-up height: 14″
If you’re familiar with my work, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of the Sole brand.
I like ’em so much because their machines are straightforward, they’re built heavier-duty than most competitors, and they’re priced fairly.
Sole offers several quality ellipticals to choose from and they all come with the same 14″ step-up height, but I chose the E35 because it’s one of their mid-range models and it’s a good example of what Sole ellipticals are all about.
The most noticeable thing about the Sole E35 is how sturdy it feels.
Stepping on this machine feels like it does when you step on an elliptical in your local gym. It’s a bigger, heavier elliptical and the difference is hard to miss.
And I mean that in a good way.
The Sole E35 has a 25 lb flywheel, which is on the heavier side for home ellipticals, making for a smooth pedal motion.
And like all the best ellipticals out there, the E35 comes with a spacious 20″ stride length.
This model also comes with adjustable angle pedals, allowing you to customize for a more comfortable workout.
I should also mention that the E35 has a power incline up to 30 deg, allowing you to really crank up the intensity of your workouts.
Combine that with the 16 levels of resistance and you can really fine tune your workouts to your liking.
Here are a few more features you should know about:
- 10 total workout programs, including heart rate and custom workouts for added variety
- 2 user profiles can be saved to improve accuracy of stats and reduce start up time
- Built-in speakers and mp3 port allow you to connect your phone or mp3 player to listen to your music through the elliptical
- Built-in fan and water bottle holder to keep you cool and hydrated as you work out
- Chest strap heart rate monitor included
- Warranty: lifetime frame, 5 year parts, 2 year labor
- 375 lb weight capacity
The Sole E35 is a beast designed to handle users of all sizes.
The long stride length and high max weight capacity makes this a great elliptical for the big and tall users. It also happens to come with one of the best warranties in the biz. See full review.
#6 The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i
Step-up height: 14″
NordicTrack is another giant in the home fitness industry. They’re known for producing high-quality treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes.
The SpaceSaver ellipticals are uniquely designed for homes with limited floorspace (hence the name).
The step-up height is about 14″ on the SE7i, but NordicTrack does recommend you add 17″ to your height to ensure you have plenty of head space.
The SpaceSaver SE7i is different from some of the previous ellipticals in a few key ways. The first thing you’ll notice is that this is rear drive elliptical (like the E1).
Opinions vary on which is better, but users tend to feel a little more balanced on a rear drive machine. Sometimes on a front drive elliptical you feel like you have to lean forward more to stay balanced.
Second, the SE7i is a folding elliptical, allowing you to save space when not in use.
It folds and is stored vertically, which cuts the floor space requirements in half. Simply unfold and use whenever you need it. This is a game changer if you have low ceilings and limited floor space.
The SpaceSaver SE7i comes with an 18 lb flywheel, a little smaller than the others we’ve seen thus far. It also has a smaller stride length of 18 in.
I’m guessing NordicTrack did this to make it a little more compact.
With the short stride length, this elliptical is going to be best suited for users under 6′. The taller folks out there might feel a little cramped.
And the SE7i does have a power incline that can reach 8 deg. for added workout variety.
Additional features you may enjoy include:
- 10″ HD touchscreen console
- iFit ready
- 22 digital resistance levels will give you enough load to work against regardless of your fitness level
- Adjustable, oversized pedals will keep your feet comfortable for the entirety of your workouts
- Out-of-the-box assembly makes it simple to have this elliptical up and running in minutes
- Warranty: 10 year frame, 2 year parts, 1 year labor
- 325 lb weight capacity
The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i makes a great treadmill for low ceiling homes because the step-up height is only 14 in.
Assembly is a breeze on this model and it can fold in half and be stored vertically.
And the folks out there looking for streaming workouts and a higher-tech experience will appreciate that touchscreen console.
The stride length is on the smaller side, so I would recommend this treadmill for people under 6′ tall, but if you’re looking for a solid streaming elliptical, this is a good option. See full review.
Having low ceilings can make it more challenging to find an elliptical, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be done.
The best ellipticals for low ceilings need to have low step-up heights and enough features to keep you interested.
Because let’s face it- even if the elliptical fits your space, if you don’t enjoy using it, odds are you won’t.
In order to determine how much ceiling height you need, you can add the machine’s step-up height to your height. But you should always add a few more inches to ensure a little buffer zone.
It will hurt if you hit your head on your ceiling!
Or worse yet, if you hit your head on a light or ceiling fan and break something.
If you aren’t sure about an ellipticals step-up height, take your height and add 18″ – this will give you a great estimate of how much room you need.
Most homes these days have ceilings that are at least 8′ high and with 8′ ceilings, you should be fine with any elliptical as long as you are 6′ or less.
If your ceiling is under 8′ then you definitely fall into the “low ceiling” category – unfinished basements often fall in this category.
If you are under 6′, odds are you can still find an elliptical that will fit.
If you’re over 6′ and have ceiling under 8′, you’re really going to have to do the math to make sure it’s going to work.
You may even want to consider a treadmill or bike.
Well, that about does it.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I’ll get back to ya.