By EJ Young
I have to admit I first noticed the HCI PhysioStep RXT-1000 Recumbent Elliptical Trainer because of the nonathletic-type model sitting on the machine. I thought to myself, Hey, this looks like it would work for former athletic types. Well, maybe “former athletic type” is a stretch.
My days as an athlete weren’t exactly glory days and maybe they have passed me by, but just because I’m in my 50’s and overweight doesn’t mean I’m ready to throw in my sweat towel just yet!
Avoid Unnecessary Pain by Joining the Latest Exercise Trend
Armed with weight-loss reality show inspiration, and a free trainer (aka my ultra fit daughter with a Jillian Michael’s mentality), I was ready to take a serious look at exercise equipment to help me shed some excess poundage. The tricky part was hooking up with a way to continue strengthening my quads and increasing range of motion from a total knee replacement, AND get a good cardio workout, AND loose pounds. It might sound kinda crazy but I think the HCI PhysioStep RXT Recumbent Elliptical Cross Trainer has the features to help me do all tasks. The bonus feature? I’m pretty sure I can manage to use it without falling off! (Yes, I did crash my bicycle trying to slam on imaginary pedal brakes and broke my collarbone instead, but I’m trying to block it from my memory). Back to my latest drama.
With my task-master trainer in tow, we checked with local physical therapists and gyms asking questions and browsing the equipment. After talking to a few experts it seemed like elliptical was the way to go for someone in my physical condition. One physical therapist made me feel a little less out of the loop when he said I matched up with the latest exercise trend. He cited a study completed recently by the American Council on Exercise stating that the 55+ crowd is the fastest growing group joining health clubs these days. It makes sense that workouts should match with the needs of club members. That’s the trend part. Due to aging, older members and their trainers are opting for low-impact workouts that aren’t so hard on joints. Using an elliptical machine gives a workout similar to a stair stepper/ski machine without adding stress to the knee.
After all the info, I still was iffy about sitting or standing on an elliptical machine because of my still-painful knee replacement. That’s when it ‘clicked’ that the word “recumbent” in the PhysioStep RXT-1000 Recumbent Elliptical Trainer means you can recline. Now I get it! It’s like combining the other latest trend—using recumbent bikes, with an elliptical machine. That way the old people (older than me, of course) don’t need to worry about too much stress on the lower back or the knee and still get in a moderate workout.
After clarification, the idea of using a recumbent elliptical machine made sense, but I still had some questions. For starters, as a slightly overweight individual (okay more than slightly) my first concern was safety—for me, of course.
Is the PhysioStep RXT-1000 Recumbent Elliptical Trainer sturdy and safe?
The HCI homepage states the machine is ideal for a variety of age groups and users, including active, aging, rehabilitation and “deconditioned” users. That might be a nice way of saying “out of shape” or “fat couch potato”. As I supposed I fit into the “deconditioned” user category, I worried that the machine might not hold me. Reading the specs I noticed the machine weighs 209lbs with a base measures 48x32x44. That should be able to hold me! OMG I hope so. . . it holds up to 350 lbs so it must be sturdy! It also comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame. The warranty assures me the machine is sturdy. It can be used in private homes, but it is made to endure the heavy use of gyms, health clubs and clinics. That adds another check mark in the safe and sturdy category. Specific features such as a walk-up rail, non-slip surfaces for footplate, seat and other surface areas with adjustable positions to accommodate the size of the user, all point to added safety and reliability.
What about features? Will it perform all the functions I need?
All the features for the HCI recumbent elliptical machine are impressive. From instant readings on calories, pulse, heart rate, time, distance, track speed, RPM, distance and watts to the easy to read high resolution over-sized LCD display monitor, this trainer seem to have it all. Multi-functional features include concentrated UBE (upper body) and concentrated leg and core workouts and low impact full body workouts. The 18 built-in exercise modes highlight conditions such as fat burning, hill or strength intervals and mountain climbing to name a few. All the heart rate sensors are most impressive with a large easy to grip sensor that can be used wireless of is compatible with polar receiver. It measures contact heart rate and telemetric heart rate and comes with a chest strap. Another cool detail is the Quick Keys feature which brings up user profile, heart rate, recovery and a quick start mode.
Will I be able to use it without experiencing moderate pain?
The comfort level—or lack of joint pain from high impact, is completely addressed with this recumbent elliptical. Even an obese user should feel comfortable due to safety features previously noted. In addition to over-sized sure-grip pedals, Velcro straps keep feet from slipping. Micro-adjustable settings allow a good match to the size of the user. The seat itself is adjustable to slide back and forth while the adjustable seatback is ergonomically correct offering lumbar support. The lever for adjustments is over-sized and easy to use. Even the arm positions have a quick adjustable setting. During workouts, the elliptical feature uses a natural motion avoiding stress on joints. If you need hydration, a handy water bottle holder allows you to continue without getting off and on the machine. Overall, the level of comfort was amazing for such a good workout.
Will I be able to set it up without professional help?
Due to bad parental experiences with “assembly needed” devices, I was curious about setting up such a complex training machine. Several people who own the machine claim it takes less than an hour when two people are setting it up. One lady said it only took about 45 minutes after reading the simple instructions. The HCI PhysioStep RXT-1000 is self-generated so it doesn’t need to be placed near an electrical outlet. Minor changes with parts of the machine allow different functions during usage.
How does it compare to similar products for best value?
The HCI RXT-1000 recumbent elliptical trainer blew away the competition for value. It was by far the least expensive of all similar machines listed in Consumer Reports and was rated as a “Best Buy” in Consumer Magazine. It costs less and it offers more features (or at least equal features) than the following brands of recumbent elliptical trainers: ST FITNESS, Star Trac, E3 Resistance System with Platform, NuStep T4, Bio Step and Scifit Rex.
After researching in person and on line, I found the best equipment for me is a recumbent elliptical machine. A search for the best value for that equipment uncovers HCI PhysioStep. Amazon offers the best deal on the machine. It’s listed in the sports section under the health subtitle, then type in “HCI PhysioStep RXT-1000 Elliptical Trainer”. Super saver shipping is available on this product at Amazon which translates to free shipping!
The only drawback for me is still the price, but considering the alternative, I think I’m worth the investment. Getting healthy will add years to my life and make those years of life higher quality. The Health Care International homepage has a demo you can view to see how the magic works on the recumbent elliptical trainer.