Time does not pass quickly when you're going nowhere fast. Suddenly, however, a new crop of stationary cardio exercise machines has livened up the indoor workout world, adding everything from Internet compatibility to ecology aids to creative new movement patterns. Here's some innovative aerobic body blasters worth working up a sweat for.
It runs on you
Woodway EcoMill: Curve-shaped manual treadmill with no motor, no buttons and a running surface made of 60 tank-tread-like rubberized slats that travel around a track, rather than a conventional, continuous tread belt pulled over a hard deck by two rollers. Your steps spin an on-board generator that powers the control panel readouts and can charge your cellphone through its USB port.
Likes: You use no electricity -- in fact, you generate enough to power several 100-watt light bulbs; after-market products even allow you to hook it up to the grid. The running and walking experience is far more engaging, natural and joint-friendly than on a motorized treadmill. With the exception of the generator and a bit more resistance, the EcoMill is identical to the Curve model ($6,950; formerly the Speedboard) that got a rave review in this column two years ago. Woodway claims that both make you fitter than normal treadmills, burning 30% more energy at the same level of perceived exertion.
Dislikes: None (except the price).
Price: $7,995. (800) Woodway [(800) 966-3929]; woodway.com
The iPad holder
True ES 900 recumbent: Solid, club-quality bike with comfy mesh seat and a console that holds an iPad.
Likes: Watch a movie! Email your friends! By safely and snugly holding an iPad in place with a built-in shelf, plug and small rubber grommets that raise it slightly off the surface of the bike's control panel, this becomes a multitasking exercise machine. The bike's functions are not impeded by the tablet; resistance-adjust buttons are located outside of the tablet footprint and on the handles. Other standout features: a superb, custom-fit, elastic-mesh seat with effortless reclining and length adjustability; a wide variety of programs; a self-generating motor for no-plug-in freedom; and a step-through design that aids safety for elderly or overweight users.
Price: $2,799. (800) 426-6570; truefitness.com
Octane Lateral X LX8000: Elliptical trainer with adjustable foot pads that can be rotated outward to create a side-to-side skating-ish motion or adjusted to create more of a stepping motion.
Likes: Adds interesting variety to elliptical workouts that challenges muscles in new ways -- a classic "muscle confusion" strategy that works to increase all-round fitness. It might be good sport-specific training for skiers and skaters. Comes with nice standard Octane features such as converging-path, multi-grip handlebars and a large number of programs.
Dislikes: The stride length on the normal elliptical mode is a bit choppy compared with regular Octane ellipticals. A commercial model, it is certainly more expensive than any future home versions (no dates planned) would be.
Price: $6,999. (847) 638-1582; www.octanefitness.com
Sway to go
Relay Fitness Evo ix Fitness Bike: Upright, non-motorized, stationary spinning bike that can lean up to 10 degrees side to side, somewhat replicating the feel of a real bike.
Likes: A stable, smooth and fun ride. The design uses a chainless centered flywheel and conventional resistance dial and has two nice features not found on standard spin bikes: a data console showing distance, time and RPM; and the side-to-side lean, which makes hard efforts that involve rocking out of the saddle more achievable. The lean is less extreme than that of the Real Ryder spin bike reviewed positively here in 2009, and this bike costs far less. With huge adjustability (the handlebar rises as high as 16 inches and the seat 12 inches), it'll fit most bodies.
Price: $1,299 (models with more data and features run as high as $1,899). (888) 628-2634; relayfitness.com