Thursday, 23 May 2024

Elliptical Trainers

Horizon Fitness Elite E7 Elliptical Machine Review

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UPDATE: The Horizon Fitness Elite series is no longer available. But, check out the Evolve 3 for a ready-made replacement.

The Horizon Fitness Elite E7 elliptical features a 20-inch stride length, 10 degree power incline, SixStar frame design, and compatibility with Horizon’s ViaFit™ web app. But as the entry-level model in a collection that also features the Elite E9, which is the best elliptical machine for helping you achieve your personal fitness goals?

In this review we’ll compare the Elite E7 to other Horizon Fitness ellipticals, both folding (Evolve 3 and Evolve 5) and non-folding (Elite E9). This means taking a closer look at how well ViaFit™ integrates with the existing fitness apps and wearable tech you might already be using. Apps such as Fitbit, RunKeeper, and the popular food journal from MyFitnessPal.

We’ll also be comparing the workout programs, entertainment features, and fitness tracking options against similarly priced ellipticals from other leading fitness equipment companies. This includes NordicTrack, ProForm, and Vision Fitness.

Design and safety features

The Elite E7 elliptical features their SixStar Certified frame

The Elite E7 is the most affordable Horizon Fitness elliptical to include power incline, with a maximum gradient of 10 degrees. This is the same as for the Elite E9, and a significant upgrade over the the EX-59 and Evolve series ellipticals, which aren’t fitted with any incline system.

Despite being an upgraded version, the Elite E7 shares many of its features with Horizon’s Evolve 5 elliptical. This includes the 20″ fixed stride length, 23 lb flywheel, 10″ step-on height, and 20 electronic resistance levels.

If you compare the Elite E7 to the Elite E9, you’ll also notice the same similarities, with the exception of the flywheel which increases to 30 lbs in weight for the E9. But as with most elliptical machines, the main upgrades are in the workout variation and console technology, which is something we cover in detail later in the review.

In terms of frame design, the Elite E7 is SixStar Certified non-folding, with a front drive system and lifetime warranty. So what does SixStar mean for your workout experience?

SixStar frame design elements:

  • 1. Overlapping pedals: During your workout your stride follows a fixed path. Having the pedals close together helps to eliminate stress on your hips and back.
  • 2. Straight body posture: Careful consideration has been given to the angle and placement of the handles so that you maintain an upright position that’s natural for your spine.
  • 3. Low step-on height: Running on an elliptical trainer is a low impact exercise. Having the pedals close to the ground makes it an excellent alternative to recumbent bikes for anyone looking for full-body rehabilitative cardio.
  • 4. Optimal handlebar spacing: The angle and distance of the moving and static handles has been designed to be the ideal distance from a range of different users heights and body types.
  • 5. Natural foot path: As well as being close together, the pedals maintain a flatter elliptical motion to mimic walking, jogging, or running.
  • 6. Smooth momentum: Horizon use a large drive-pulley ration to create a smoother stride, similar to the way the Johnson Drive System works with their treadmill motors.

Weight capacity and warranty have both been increased compared to the Evolve series ellipticals, with the Elite E7 now supporting up to 325 lbs. Lifetime warranty is standard across all Horizon ellipticals, but their Elite series machines have an additional 2 years coverage on parts (5 years total) compared to the Evolve 3 and Evolve 5.

Safety features
The Horizon Elite E7 user manual comes with all the usual safety advice around the movement and location of the elliptical, but as with their Evolve series, there’s no specific safety features.

Elliptical machines are very safe pieces of equipment anyway, which is one reason why they’re so popular for home gyms. They’re self powered which means they don’t rely on a motor to generate belt speed in the same way a treadmill does.

Throughout our elliptical reviews we’ve come across a very small number of machines that have safety pins for locking the foot plate movement. These same machines also have a passcode protected console, and are a part of Precor’s Precision collection (EFX 425).

Horizon Fitness Elite E7 Elliptical

Horizon Fitness Elite E7 – Features Summary

  • SixStar certified frame
  • 20″ stride length
  • 23 lb flywheel
  • 10″ step-on height
  • 10 degree power incline
  • 20 Electronic resistance levels
  • 42 Workout programs
  • Contact heart rate monitoring
  • Polar Wireless Receiver and Free Polar® Chest Strap
  • ViaFit connectivity
  • 8.5″ blue backlit LCD display screen
  • Passport Ready
  • 325 lb weight capacity

Display console design

The Horizon Elite E7 features a Passport Ready console with blue backlit LCD display

The Horizon Elite E7 has a larger console than their Evolve 5 elliptical, but still relies on a backlit screen to display your workout feedback. This includes your time, speed, distance, RPM, incline level, resistance level, and number of calories burned.

The 8.5″ extra-wide screen is split into 3 main sections; a bar of workout feedback, a matrix representing the profile of your current workout program, and a simulated 400m running track. The running track replaces the CardioCompass feature we saw on the Evolve 5 elliptical, but you can still keep track of which activity zone you’re in thanks to the E7’s heart rate display.

If the built-in receiver picks up your heart rate signal (using the contact sensors or a chest belt), one of 5 heart rate zones will be illuminated:

  • Warm Up: 0-60% of maximum heart rate
  • Weight Loss: 60-70% of maximum heart rate
  • Improve Fitness: 70-80% of maximum heart rate
  • Improve Performance: 80-90% of maximum heart rate
  • Maximum Performance: 90-100% of maximum heart rate

The top of the console also features a built-in workout fan, audio jack for connecting your media player, speakers for listening to music, and a reading rack that can be used to hold your tablet. There’s even an Energy Saver mode, which can automatically set the console to standby mode if there are 15 minutes of inactivity.

But what about the technology that’s unique to Johnson Fitness (parent company of Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness). How can the Passport Ready console with ViaFit connectivity benefit your fitness routine?

Passport Ready
Passport is something that’s unique to Johnson Fitness, which is the parent company of Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness.

But most of their equipment (including the Elite E7 elliptical) is only setup to be ‘Passport ready’, meaning you’ll have to purchase the Passport Player separately (usually $199). The alternative is if you see ‘Virtual Active Integrated’, which means this Passport Player is already built into the console. It’s something that’s reserved for their top-of-the-line machines, such as the Vision T80 treadmill with either the Elegant+ or Touch+ console.

Passport Player can connect to your home entertainment system and display workout data on your television, together with high-definition footage of real-world locations. The resistance automatically adjusts to match a change in terrain for the route you’re following, and you have two destination courses pre-loaded on the Player; Northern Italy and the American Southwest.

If you want to experience different workout locations, you can purchase Passport Packs (A, B, and C), which each include 6 new locations (usually $99 per pack).

ViaFit connectivity
This is another exclusive to Horizon Fitness and Vision Fitness equipment, and allows you to send workout data to a wide range of fitness apps.

After buying the Elite E7 you can visit the ViaFitness website and setup an xID account, enabling you to save and share workout data via Wi-Fi. You can then pair the elliptical machine with your account and automatically sync your workout data.

As well as syncing to your ViaFit account, you can also share the data with other fitness apps, such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, Fitbit, and MapMyFitness.

Heart rate monitoring
The Horizon Elite ellipticals (E7 and E9) are both fitted with a built-in Polar Wireless Receiver. This means you’re able to wear a Polar® chest strap (included) and still transmit your heart rate to the console.

It’s a big upgrade over their Evolve series ellipticals, which are only fitted with contact sensors. Because the sensors are built into the static handles, you’re unable to use the moveable upper body grips at the same time as tracking your pulse.

With the Elite E7 you can wear the Polar® chest strap to transmit your pulse rate when using the moving handles, creating a full-body cardio workout.

Workout programs and user profiles

Before buying a new elliptical machine, one of the most important areas for comparison is the workout programs. This is understandable, as not having enough workout variation can lead to boredom, which is one of the top reasons why people skip workouts and even stop their fitness routine.

Fortunately when it comes to workout variation, Horizon Fitness are one of the best companies in the industry, especially when it comes to the ellipticals in their Elite series.

In terms of pre-programmed workouts, the most we’ve ever seen built into a console is around 38, which was on NordicTrack’s top-of-the-line FS9i FreeStride Trainer. They also have traditional ellipticals with up to 35 workout programs, while ProForm’s Pro 16.9 elliptical also has a collection of 35 workout apps.

That’s why it’s so impressive to see the Horizon Elite E7 go above and beyond the best workout variation on a home elliptical, with 42 programs supplied as standard. Because the console is Passport Ready, this also gives you access to a further 20 high-definition destination courses (2 preloaded on the Passport Player and 6 more courses in each of the three Passport Packs).

But these destination courses come at a cost, which if you want all 20 will cost in the region of $500 ($199 for the player, and 3 packs at a cost of $99 each).

So what if you didn’t want the added expense? Can the workout variation compete with NordicTrack and ProForm ellipticals in the same way the program quantity does?

Workout program categories

  • ManualThis is the standard program that begins when you press the ‘Start’ button. You don’t follow any preset profile of speed and incline settings, giving you complete freedom over the intensity of your workout.
  • DistanceHorizon’s Elite series treadmills include all of the same workouts from their Adventure treadmills, but with a number of more challenging targets.With the Elite E7 you can choose from 13 distance workouts, which include targets of 1 mile, 2 miles, 5k, 5 miles, 10k, 8 miles, 15k, 10 miles, 20k, and half marathon. You can also select 15 miles, 20 miles, and marathon as your goal, which aren’t available on the Evolve 3 or Evolve 5 ellipticals.
  • CaloriesThis is another of the workout categories that’s based around goal-setting, only this time you set a target for number of calories burned.Elite series treadmills have the same options as the Adventure series, which includes targets for 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 calories burned.
  • Steps10,000 steps per day is widely considered the recommended minimum for a healthy adult individual, which equates to around five miles per day. It’s the default setting for wearable fitness tracking devices like Fitbit, and has been a government target for populations around the world based on scientific studies.Horizon have taken this into consideration and created a goal workout based around the number of steps taken. These are the same options that you’ll find on their Evolve series ellipticals, which includes 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, 9000, and 10000 steps.
  • IntervalsAs with the Steps and Calories programs, Interval workouts follow the same preset profile of speed and incline settings as Horizon’s Evolve series treadmills.The Elite E7 has 10 intensity levels to choose from for the speed intervals and peak intervals, and 12 intensity levels for the endurance intervals. These are designed as an effective option for fat-burning and improving your endurance.
  • PerformanceThis is a workout category that’s unique to Horizon’s Elite series treadmills, with a series of sprints, run/walk, and hill training programs.Each of these targeted performance workouts is available at three intensity levels; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Which level you choose influences the combination of resistance levels. This can range from 2 mph and 0% for a beginner warm up, through to 6 mph and a 10% incline for advanced hill training.
  • CustomThe Elite E7 elliptical has 2 custom workouts, which is the same as the upgraded E9 model. This allows you to create your own custom profile of speed and incline settings, and assign the program a target duration.

User profiles
Up to four users can be saved under a ViaFit account, which connects to the Elite E7 elliptical console.

If you have your ViaFit account setup before starting your first workout, you can select your user ID and begin your run. Your workout results will then automatically sync back to your ViaFit user profile when the workout is complete.

Ease of assembly

If you’re buying the Elite E7 elliptical direct from Horizon Fitness, their policy is to schedule delivery and bring the boxes inside the first ground-level door or into your garage.

The Johnson Fitness website (Horizon’s parent company) has a complete collection of owner’s manuals, diagrams, and other guides for assisting you with the elliptical assembly. Contacting Horizon for after-sales service and support is also incredibly easy, with an email address, contact number, and contact form available through their official website.

But what if you’re looking for more than ground-level delivery? What if you want a trained service technician to assemble your new elliptical machine for you, so you don’t have to worry about heavy lifting and following diagrams?

Professional assembly services
Unfortunately we weren’t able to find any additional levels of home delivery from Horizon themselves. This would be where a technician visits your address and assembles the elliptical for you in your room of choice.

However, if this is a service you’re interested in, Amazon have recently started offering a number of home assembly services. This includes home gyms, treadmills, and elliptical machines. To check whether your zip code is covered, please use the form below.

Elliptical Machine Assembly
Start by confirming your service location

Amazon’s elliptical trainer assembly service already has hundreds of 5 star rated reviews, with customer feedback for the various installers.

The service itself includes assembly of 1 elliptical per product instructions, with a typical assembly time of 4 hours. Amazon have also started offering an ASAP version of the service. If you submit an order before 10am on a business day, a service pro will come to your home that same day.

Maintenance required
Horizon Fitness include a recommended maintenance routine with each of their ellipticals. These are fairly standard steps to ensure the continued operation of any home elliptical, but still worth a mention.

  • After each use: Wipe down the elliptical with a damp cloth and inspect the power cord for damage.
  • Every week: Clean underneath the elliptical.
  • Every month: Inspect all bolts for proper tightness. Clean debris off pedal arm wheels and guide rails.

The Elite E7 user manual also includes troubleshooting solutions for issues such as lack of illumination at the console, or erratic heart rate readouts.

Horizon Fitness Elliptical Guide

What’s covered by the warranty?

  • Frame: Lifetime
  • Parts: 5 years

  • Labor: 1 year

Review Overview

Overall Review Rating


So bottom line, should you buy the Horizon Elite E7 elliptical?

That all depends on what you’re looking for from the built-in workout programs. The Elite E9 is usually only $200 more than the E7 model, but for that you get a touchscreen Virtual Active integrated console.

As we mentioned in our review, Virtual Active means you have two destination workouts pre-loaded and ready to use. The Elite E7 is only Passport Ready, meaning you need to buy the Passport Player to access these same programs (usually costs $199 for the Player).

So if you were considering buying the Elite E7 and buying the Passport Player later, don’t bother. You’re much better off just buying the Elite E9 and getting the longer labor warranty, touchscreen, Virtual Active console, higher weight capacity (325 lbs) and heavier flywheel (30 lbs).

However, if you don’t intend to use the destination workouts, the Elite E7 is currently the best Horizon elliptical for home gyms. It offers an exciting combination of challenging power incline , industry-leading warranty, large console screen, and excellent workout variation.

The Elite E7 is often available for the same price as the Evolve 5 elliptical from Horizon’s folding elliptical series, which in our mind also makes it the best option in terms of value for money.

Product dimensions: 75"L x 24"W x 66"H  Product weight: 214 lbs Weight capacity: 325 lbs

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