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By Lisa Browdy
I have an elliptical machine in my basement, and I actually do use it. But only in the winter months, and only with the television on. It is just too boring to use otherwise. If only there were an elliptical machine that would take me outdoors, watching the scenery pass by on a lovely spring day.
As if a Genie granted my wish, I received word that Greenline Wheels, Oak Park's eco-friendly bike (and other low-emission vehicle) rental emporium has acquired an EliptiGO, and is making it available for rental at $10 an hour. And for my first major perk as Health Blogger, I'd get to give it a test run (see video).
"The ElliptiGO is a full-body workout" says David Poppei, Greenline Wheels' lead cycle instructor. He should know, because he is also a certified personal trainer and appears to be in excellent shape. "The best way to build muscle and burn calories is to keep your body guessing, and the ElliptiGO is great at that."
If you haven't used one, an elliptical machine gets it's name from the oval motion made by the legs as they stride along, getting the heart rate up while easing the impact on the legs and feet. Many of them have handles that allow a back-and-forth motion in the arms, providing an additional upper-body workout.
The ElliptiGO does not have that feature (the arms stay stationery on the handlebars to allow for steering), but that is more than made up for by the fact that you are outdoors getting some Vitamin D and engaging your brain as you take in your surroundings – one needs to stay aware of traffic after all.
Poppei is a big proponent of bike safety, which he teaches to kids in the local schools, and says that because the rider's head sits higher than it does on a traditional bike, it is much easier to see and be seen.
After giving me a helmet (safety first!) and demonstrating the way to mount and push off (sort of like a scooter), I was ready for my test drive. Other than the need to keep in balance, the ElliptiGO was exactly like an elliptical machine, but much more fun. I wasn't halfway down the block before a passerby called out "what is that thing you're riding?"
After answering politely, I attempted to turn the corner. The length of the machine (probably 8 feet) made it a little awkward at first, like driving a minivan when you are used to a compact car. I soon was able to make a u turn on a side street.
My test drive wasn't long enough to make me winded, but with the three gears available for resistance, plus the ability to go farther or faster than I did, I can imagine the ElliptiGO would be an effective cardio workout. David Poppei, who has muscles on his muscles, says it "kicks my butt," so I'll take his word for that.
Of course the most effective workout is the one that is fun to do – otherwise it doesn't tend to get done. And I was hooked on the ElliptiGO from the first try, and eager to do it again. Poppei says that is the typical reaction. "I had one customer here who tried it, and the next day he went out and bought one," he recalls.
Considering that the ElliptiGO retails for $1,799 I think I'll just stick with renting one from Greenline Wheels.