Cross Trainer Buying Guide

Cross Trainer Buying Guide

If you are considering buying a cross trainer for your home, you have come to the right place. There is a baffling array of gadgets and gizmos, so choosing the best cross trainer can be difficult. We have provided lots of great information below but if you’d rather speak to a personal trainer, please feel free to contact JTX Fitness.

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Setting Your Budget

This budget will enable you to buy an entry level cross trainer for home use only. Many cross trainers at this price are the 2-in-1 style that incorporate a seat. Cross trainers at this budget are likely to have manual resistance. We would not recommend you choose this type of cross trainer if you are planning on regular or intense workouts. Stride lengths are likely to be very short which will restrict you to a walking type movement. Warranties are often 1 year at the most and the build quality lower than you might expect.

You can expect to buy a good quality, low impact home cross trainer at this price range. Unlike entry level cross trainers, you would be able to enjoy regular workouts on a much more reliable machine. Expect a 16” stride length, 40-55Kg machine weight and a 2 year home use warranty.

We recommend this price range if you are looking to invest in a high quality home cross trainer. At this budget, there are so many to choose from and deciding on the best cross trainer for your needs can be tricky. There are a few key features that will make a big difference to your workout: we believe a long stride length, incline features and high build quality are worth paying a little extra for:

Stride Length

Cross trainers at this budget are likely to have stride lengths between 16” and 21“. The longer the stride length, the smoother and more fluid the motion. ‘Variable’ or ‘adjustable’ stride cross trainers bridge the gap between the smaller home use cross trainer and the superior workout you experience on a gym cross trainer. There are a variety of names for this type of machine including adjustable / extendible stride length or ‘extended motion technology’. Through clever engineering they create a long stride length in a compact machine. This makes them popular for regular, high energy workouts at home. See the JTX Tri-Fit cross trainers for a great example of a compact cross trainer with a gym quality motion and long stride length.


Investing in a cross trainers with an incline feature will enable you to better target your stomach and thighs. It will also allow you to add intensity to your workout.

There are two different types of incline: Power Assisted or manual. The power assisted incline is adjustable from the console during your workout. A manual incline achieves the same benefits but must be adjusted before you start to exercise.

It’s important to understand the relationship between the stride length and the incline. Most UK cross trainers with a variable stride length and an incline feature must reduce the stride length to increase the incline. The design of the JTX Tri-Fit allows you to use the full range of incline without compromising the stride length. This means you can workout on the maximum incline and maximum stride length. This is not always possible with electronic incline adjusters.

Build Quality

This is a difficult feature to identify but will make a big difference to the quality of your workout. The total weight of the machine is always a good indicator, the flywheel size and maximum user weight are also good stats to check. The terms and conditions and warranty offered also tend to demonstrate confidence in a product.

Thanks to our unique business model we are able to offer a great range of cross trainers between the £500 – £100 price range. Because we manufacture and retail, cutting out the middle man we are able to offer the very highest quality of cross trainers in this very competitive price range. Each of our machines feature great build quality and fantastic value for money. Find out more about JTX Fitness Cross Trainers.

If your budget stretches beyond £1000, you should be able to get a commercial style cross trainer. These cross trainers have been designed to withstand constant use.

We are excited to offer the JTX Zenith cross trainer at such a competitive price. It has a smooth ride and stability to rival many of the high end, commercial specification cross trainers found at this price point.

JTX Zenith: Gym Cross Trainer

JTX Zenith: Gym Cross Trainer



or from £45/month
Find Out More >>

Types of cross trainer

Incline Cross Trainer

Allows the user to target different muscle groups. The level of incline can be changed to simulate walking up hill or training on the flat. Particularly good for targeting core muscles and upper thighs.

Variable Stride Length Cross Trainer

Provide a range of stride length settings in one machine. Allows the user to choose between a walking (shorter stride) and a more intensive, running motion (longer stride). These are also a great option where different family members, with different natural stride lengths are likely to use the cross trainer.

Electro-Magnetic Resistance Cross Trainers

This type of machine uses a varying magnetic field to control the resistance level. This is the type of resistance found on most good quality cross trainers.

Ergometer Cross Trainer

Measures resistance in watts. This is a nice feature for athletes looking for pinpoint accuracy however it isn’t necessarily important to the vast majority of people using cross trainers. This feature often comes with a hefty price tag.

Belt Resistance Cross Trainers

Uses a belt and flywheel to manage the resistance levels. These machines are generally very cheap and low build quality. If you are looking for a cross trainer that is robust and reliable, we would recommend that you avoid this style of cross trainer.

Rear or Front Driven Cross Trainers

Rear driven cross trainers have the flywheel at the back of the machine and have a slightly more elliptical motion. The front drive cross trainer has a flywheel at the front of the machine and generally a slightly flatter movement. Selection of a front or rear driven cross trainer is down to personal taste. It is the quality of the machine more than the front or rear configuration which will dictate the quality of the workout.

Fan Elliptical Trainer

Fresh out of the 80′s this is a fan in a cage which has a very restricted resistance range. These cross trainers are budget machines that will offer a limited workout and are simply not built to last. We recommend electro-magnetic resistance if your budget will allow.

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Need Help?

We are home gym equipment specialists. We sell high quality treadmills, cross trainers, exercise bikes, vibration plates and rowing machines. Our friendly team of fitness experts are available for advice to help you beat your fitness goals whatever they may be.

Call Our In-House Personal Trainer

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01273 453855


Visit Our Sussex Showroom

JTX Fitness, Harbour Way Industrial Estate, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5HZ

Before You Buy a Cross Trainer

Choosing where to put your cross trainer

We recommend that you don’t keep electronic fitness equipment in cold rooms or garages. In the winter months particularly, the temperature can fluctuate widely. This can cause condensation inside the computer and circuit boards. If you do want to keep your machine in a room like this we certainly recommend keeping it under a heavy sheet or rug to help minimise the risk of damage.

It is also worth avoiding rooms which get extremely warm. This is not so much about maintenance, more because it will make it more difficult and uncomfortable when you come to workout.

If you can, we recommend you put your cross trainer in a room with a TV or stereo. Getting motivating tunes or your favourite TV series on will help you get in the zone and smash through your training.

Make sure you have enough space

Cross trainers can be surprisingly large. Add 10 – 15cm to the width and length of a cross trainer for easy access and enough space to comfortably workout.

Check the maximum user weight

Most cross trainer manufacturers provide a maximum user weight of around 20 stone (130kg). This often increases with the quality of the machine. If you weigh near or over 13 stone, we recommend you look for a machine with a foot print larger than 140cm long and 75cm wide to ensure a stable and enjoyable workout.

Choosing The Right Stride Length

This is the maximum distance between the rear of your front foot and the front of your rear foot as you workout. It is important to consider stride length when buying a cross trainer. In general higher quality cross trainers have a long stride length (over 18 inches). The stride length effects the range of movement on a cross trainer. Using a walking motion on a cross trainer only requires a short stride length. Increasing the speed and intensity of the workout extends the length of the stride. If you buy a cross trainer with a stride length that is too short your workout will be restricted and the movement can feel awkward.

Comparing Flywheel Weights

The flywheel weight is measured in kilograms. It’s an important factor which effects both the resistance and smoothness of a cross trainer’s movement is. In general, the higher the flywheel weight the better. Some unscrupulous manufacturers can list inflated flywheel weights so it’s also good to check the total weight of the machine. If the total machine weight looks too low for the flywheel weight advertised it is worth thinking twice.

Understanding Resistance Levels

This is a tricky one! In general having a larger number of resistance levels on a machine is better than only a few. The higher number of resistance levels will give you a greater range of resistance – similar to having more gears on a bike. However, cross trainer ‘A’ with 20 resistance levels might not offer more resistance than cross trainer ‘B’ with 10 levels (each level on cross trainer ‘B’ may just be spread further apart). So, in general, it is worth checking how many resistance levels a machine has, but we would not recommend using the number of resistance levels on a machine as an indicator of quality.

Check Customer Reviews

Reviews are a great way to understand if a company is as good as they say they are. We collate our reviews in association with TrustPilot, which means you can be absolutely sure they are independent, authentic reviews from genuine customers. Read JTX Fitness reviews.

Read The Small Print

There are a number of important considerations to look for in the terms and conditions:

  • Money-back guarantees: If you are buying fitness equipment over the internet make sure you have the right to change your mind once you have assembled the machine and tried it out. Most reputable companies have a 28 day money back guarantee as long as you return it in the original packaging and pay for delivery costs (approx £75- £100). Some companies restrict returns periods to 7 days and, worse still, state that the machine must be unopened and unused. We feel if you can’t open and test your machine the returns policy is worthless. All we ask if you aren’t sure that you want to keep your machine is that you keep your packaging and re-box it so we can pick it up. See our ‘no quibbles’ returns policy.
  • Cost for servicing or replacements during your warranty period: Make sure the warranty covers in-home repairs to include parts and labour. Otherwise you might be left with a cross trainer that can cost as much as the original machine to service.
  • Retailer or manufacturer warranty: Often warranties are from the original manufacturer rather than the company you bought the machine from. Make sure it is clear who your warranty is with. It is also worth understanding whether your warranty is automatic or needs activating, and, if so how you activate it. If the warranty is with the manufacturer rather than the retailer check they are in the UK and contactable. One of the great things about buying from JTX Fitness is that we are the manufacturer and retailer so you know exactly who to call. You also have the confidence that you are covered as our warranties activate automatically on purchase. Read more on our warranty details.
  • Second-hand warranties: If you are buying a fitness machine second-hand we recommend that you contact the original retailer to ensure the warranty is transferable - most are not!
  • After the warranty period: If the machine has a short warranty period it’s worth enquiring how much it will cost to fix the machine and the cost of parts.
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Workout Videos and Training Plans

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Cross Trainer Terminology

The controls on the front panel of the cross trainer.

The digital readout on the front panel of the cross trainer.

Another name for a cross trainer, typically used in America.

This refers to the mechanism in a machine which effectively creates a long stride in a small machine. Also known as Variable Stride Length or Adjustable Stride Length. 

The heaviest part of a cross trainer. It is used to create a smooth and stable workout. The size of the flywheel is one way to identify a good quality cross trainer. We would recommend buying a cross trainer with a flywheel of 10kg or bigger. NB Try to take into consideration the total weight of the machine too. If you are comparing two cross trainers and one is much lighter than another but it seems to have a huge flywheel we suggest you think twice. Compare JTX Cross Trainer fly wheel sizes here.

There are two types of heart rate monitor; hand sensor monitors and wearable monitors. Hand sensors come with most fitness machines and take your pulse through the hand grips, they are good as a guide but rarely very accurate. Wearable monitors such as chest straps and watches are generally much more accurate than hand sensors. Target heart rate training can be used to assist goals ranging from fat burning and weight loss to maximum aerobic capacity development. A target heart rate zone is selected before working out based on the users individual goal. A strap or watch will then monitor your heart rate, giving you real time feedback so you can maintain the right level of effort to stay in your selected target zone. Many fitness machines link to chest straps or watches and auto adjust resistance levels to help keep you in your target zone so it is worth checking product detail pages if you are interested in this type of training.

This is provided as a guide by manufacturers. You can expect machines with larger maximum user weights to be more robust. However this is also open to interpretation by retailers so use this alongside other specification details to identify a good quality cross trainer.

Most cross trainers will provide a range of workouts. These are designed to help you stay motivated by varying your workouts. They typically include things such as hill climb simulations and heart rate training options. For more workout inspiration, see our cross trainer workouts.

This is the maximum distance between the rear of your front foot and the front of your rear foot as you workout. Cross trainers offer a variety of stride lengths and it’s important to select the right one for you.

Changing resistance effects how hard you work when moving the foot-plates and handles backwards and forwards. Increased resistance or tension will make it feel like you are moving up hill or against a strong force which increases how hard your muscles are working. Increasing speed is the only other way to increase your effort on a cross trainer.

Find out more about cross trainer benefits here Cross Trainer Benefits Guide