This past Saturday, I rode in the Ride for Wellness, a cycling event to benefit local community programs, put on by the McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union in East Windsor. Beautiful weather, a nice course, and I got to play with my latest cardio addiction, the Elliptigo.
Technically, the Elliptigo is a bicycle: handlebars, wheels, tires, gears, handbrakes…minus a seat. But practically, it combines the best aspects of running, without the impact, and the indoor elliptical machine, with more core work and actual changes in scenery. The balance is similar to a bike, but without the seat, coasting is a more active process than on a bike.
As transportation, it’s a bit less efficient than a bike, but a lot better than walking or running. This summer, I used it almost daily to commute between my home and the studio, about an 8 mile trip each way; which, allowing for being very cautious in traffic, took about ten minutes more than on a bike, and hours less than walking. You do have to work around carrying things, like a briefcase or a laptop, because the higher center of gravity makes for a more delicate balancing act.
As a workout, however, it’s great. I’ve never been much of a distance runner; it just never appealed to me, and a lifetime of flat feet leads to additional complications. But with the Elliptigo, there’s no impact, so there are fewer feet and ankle dings. The stride is longer than on a bike, so the leg motion is similar (but not exact) to running. Runners with knee issues seem to be the most interested. The hard core bicycle riders haven’t seemed to be as interested as the runners.
For the casual or fitness cyclist, however, the more upright position involves the hips more, and the core and upper body have to actively stabilize both yourself and the machine. Your workout time is more active with the Elliptigo than with a bike. A half-hour on an outside bike may not be 30 minutes of exercise, because you can “accidentally” forget to pedal and coast. On the Elliptigo, coasting isn’t that much of a break, because you can’t sit, and you still have to balance with your legs and stabilize with your upper body and core. Hills are a particular challenge. You’re already on an incline, and then you go up the hill, and at the top you think “coast down”. Except you can’t really relax on the way down, because if you lock your knees you get top-heavy, and so heading down is a different kind of work than heading up.
My experience with test riders is about half get it right away. The other half, I have to catch before they crash. And there doesn’t seem to be a link with athleticism or being in shape, since some of those I caught were very athletic and in shape. I’d suggest trying it several times before deciding to buy, just to be sure. It is available online and from a few retailers.
I don’t sell the Elliptigo, nor am I involved in any kind of affiliate arrangement, but I do use it as part of the personal training through the studio. An Elliptigo workout session consists of a quick lesson in starting, and most important, stopping, and then the client uses the Elliptigo while I accompany him/her with a conventional bike on local, low-traffic, roads. Then, should the clients’ quads decide, “we don’t like this anymore”, we switch for the return trip.
So, for a change of pace, to give your knees a break, to see how all that work on the indoor elliptical translates to actual moving around, to get your cardio workout outside of the same four walls of the gym:the Elliptigo.