As an upgrade over the earlier EX-57 design, the second generation Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainer features a number of useful improvements, including more entertainment options and an increased number of workout programs.
This elliptical machine review takes a look at these upgraded features in more detail. That’s in addition to the ease of assembly, customer reviews, and what it means to be awarded the Six Star certification.
Before buying any new elliptical, one of the most important measurements to look for is the stride length.
Unless the machine you’re buying has a sufficient stride length, you won’t be able to build up to a full running pace and your workout intensity will suffer as a result.
Fortunately, the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 has an 18 inch stride, which is suitable for the vast majority of user heights up to a recommended limit of 6 feet tall. (Any taller, and you’ll probably want to also look at the Schwinn 470, which is the same price but has a 20 inch stride).
To ensure your workouts remain challenging, Horizon have provided you with 10 levels of ECB magnetic resistance, which varies according to which of the preset workout programs you decide to follow.
The EX-59-02 also includes a number of design features designed to create a more comfortable posture while running, as well as improving the effectiveness of your training.
This includes oversized foot pedals, a low step-on height, and a FLATellipse stride motion, which are just a few of the reasons why this elliptical has been awarded the Six Star certification.
Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 – Features Summary
- Six Star Certified elliptical platform featuring the six key elements needed to deliver the smoothest, most natural feel
- 5″ LCD display
- 16 levels of electronic resistance and a heavy-duty 14.3-pound flywheel provide a smooth ride
- Low step-on height
- ZERO gap overlapping pedal motion replicates a natural stride
- MP3 compatible with built-in Sonic Surround speakers
- 10 programs; Manual, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Plus, Intervals, Intervals Plus, Constant Watts, Rolling, Reverse Train, Random, Calorie Goal
What it means to pass the Six Star Certification
One of the things that makes Horizon Fitness ellipticals so unique is that many of their top models carry what’s known as a ‘Six Star Certification’.
This certification is the sign that an elliptical features 6 very specific design features, each carefully derived from extensive biomechanics research.
The six key elements are as follows:
1. ZEROgap – If you’re a fan of spin bikes and studio cycling in group classes, you may have heard of a measurement called the ‘Q Factor’.
This is essentially the distance between the two pedals on the bike, with the idea that the closer the pedals are together (shorter Q Factor), the more efficient your cycling would be.
ZEROgap works on the same principal, but actually takes this a step further. This means that there is no gap between the foot pedals.
While this isn’t possible on spin bikes due to the width of the frame, keeping the pedals on an elliptical this close together has obvious benefits when it comes to eliminating stress on your hips and back.
2. SUREstep – If you’re looking for a low impact workout but don’t want to be limited in your choice to a recumbent bike, it can often be difficult to find an elliptical with a low step-on height.
This is why SUREstep is one of the key elements, as it ensures that the step-on height remains conveniently low (10 inches in this case).
3. StraightUP – This can’t really be narrowed down to any one feature, as it involves keeping your body upright to reduce fatigue and uncomfortable muscle strain, thereby creating more enjoyable workouts which in turn leads to faster results.
4. IDEALfit – This is one of the reasons why StraightUP was achieved, and ensures that the handlebars are optimally placed so that the grips are within easy reach for users with all frame types.
5. FLATellipse – Including this as an element means that the elliptical that passed the Six Star certification has a natural foot path motion, which closely mimics walking and running for a more effective workout.
6. SMOOTHpulley – Not a feature you’re likely to see, but certainly one you should benefit from in your workouts. SMOOTHpulley means the elliptical has a large drive pulley ration, which ensures the motion of the foot pedals is as smooth as possible, whether you’re walking or running.
Display console design
In comparing the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 to their earlier EX-57 elliptical, there have been a number of important improvements made to the display console.
Speakers have been added with an audio-in jack so you can listen to your favorite music, and the quick-select buttons for adjusting the resistance now increment one level at a time instead of two.
There’s also a thin storage pocket that’s been created in the console between the audio jack and the headphone socket, which is ideal for storing your phone or MP3 player.
In terms of workout feedback, the single screen 5 inch LCD display keeps you constantly updated with your time, distance, speed, calories burned, heart rate, current program profile, and even watts.
There’s also one final subtle design feature we wanted to mention, in that the console for the EX-59-02 also provides a reading rack.
This is directly above the speakers, and can be used to securely hold a small tablet or e-Reader while you read a book or watch a movie. The only drawback is that the LCD screen will be obscured, meaning you can’t track your workout information at the same time.
Preset workout programs
If you’re usually someone who loses motivation in a workout program soon after starting, one of the most important things you can do is add variation.
Following the same workout day after day will lead to slower results as your body adapts to the training, as well as giving you less motivation to complete the workout as it feels exactly the same as the day before.
This is why the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 includes 10 workouts designed to help you achieve a range of different personal fitness goals, with multiple difficulty levels available for many of the programs.
This includes Weight Loss, Intervals, Constant Watts, Rolling, Reverse Train, and Calorie Goal.
- Manual – The ideal choice for if you want to follow your own workout plan, with no set profile to follow, only requiring you to set the resistance.
- Weight Loss – Designed to keep you within your optimal fat burning zone based primarily on heart rate level, with minor variation in the resistance level which adjusts automatically. (10 levels available)
- Weight Loss Plus – Similar to the program above, Weight Loss Plus offers 5 additional levels of difficulty, with greater intensity than the standard Weight Loss program.
- Intervals – Designed to help you achieve a whole range of goals from improving your lower body strength to increasing your endurance, Intervals use a much greater variation of resistance levels than the Weight Loss programs. (10 levels available)
- Intervals Plus – Essentially the same as the Intervals program listed above, but with higher intensity. (5 levels available)
- Constant Watts – Automatically adjusts the resistance to keep you at your chosen watts level throughout your workout.
- Rolling – Similar to the Rolling program that we saw on their RC-30 recumbent bike, this is designed to mimic the feeling of going up and down hills using variations in resistance. (7 levels available)
- Reverse Train – Similar to the Tempo program that’s also built into the RC-30 console, Reverse Train gives you visual cues of which direction you need to pedal.
- Random – As the name suggests, this workout simply assigns a random collection of resistance levels to the segments in your workout. (7 levels available)
- Calorie Goal – Quite simply this workout lets you set a target number of calories you would like to burn (can be anywhere from 100 to 990).
Whereas this wouldn’t be the best idea for a program on most ellipticals, the accuracy of the feedback for calories burned is actually improved by the ability to enter your bodyweight.
Ease of assembly
As with all of the user manuals we’ve seen from Horizon Fitness, the manual for the EX-59-02 includes everything you could possibly need to speed up the assembly process.
Before you even get to the instructions, there’s a complete list of tools and parts, as well as the contact information for customer service in case you would like some additional assistance.
As with their recumbent bikes, Horizon have already pre-assembled the flywheel casing before the package arrives at your door.
This certainly helps to speed up assembly, especially once the base stabilizer and guide rail are attached.
To make things simpler, there are also hardware bags that have been labeled to correspond to each of the steps.
Although there are only 8 steps in total – each having a full textual explanation and exploded diagram on its own page in the manual, the average assembly time still seems to be between 1 and 2 hours.
There’s nothing particularly complicated to follow, but the amount of parts you need to assemble and fact that it can get quite awkward and heavy (145 lbs) to move around on your own means it can take slightly longer than some machines.
Whenever you buy any new piece of fitness equipment, it’s important to do as much research as possible.
This isn’t to validate any pre-conceived idea of a particular model that you might be thinking about buying, but to help you build up a balanced overall picture of the best machine for your budget and requirements.
While we always aim to highlight every benefit and problem in our own reviews and comparisons of the product, customer reviews on Amazon are invaluable when it comes to getting opinions from a larger group of people.
Although the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 has an impressive average rating and high number of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon and Horizon’s own website, it’s certainly not without a few concerns.
The lists of pros and cons below have been gathered from real reviews, left by people who have already bought and used this machine.
- Excellent customer service
- Free shipping
- Assembly is straightforward but can be quite time consuming (averaging 1 to 2 hours)
- Speakers and MP3 connectivity are a big improvement over the earlier EX-57 model
- Smooth and quiet flywheel motion
- Challenging range of workout programs and intensity levels
- Quick-select resistance buttons make it easier to switch between levels
- Stride length is long enough to support a wide range of user heights (5 feet up to 5 feet 11 inches being the ideal range)
- Warranty coverage is comprehensive and well upheld by Horizon Fitness if something does go wrong
- Frame remains stable even at higher resistance settings and heavier user weights
- Stride length isn’t adjustable
- No incline settings available
- Fewer workout programs than some similarly priced models
- No option to create any custom workouts
- Display console doesn’t include a cooling fan
What’s covered by the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Brake: 1 year
- Electronics and parts: 1 year
- Labor: 1 year
Overall Review Rating
4 / 5
Although there are actually very few ellipticals available that match the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 based on workout variation, warranty coverage, and average customer review rating, one model that is worth mentioning is the Schwinn 470.
This is mainly due to the additional workout programs, data exchange via USB, 10 degree motorized ramp range, and slightly longer stride length (20").
However, it's also this same motorized incline that has been the cause of many of the lower rated reviews, and a quick comparison between the review rating distribution shows a clear winner in the EX-59-02.
Overall, although it would have been nice to have a few more workout programs and the ability to transfer workout data to your computer, the range of programs you ware provided is more than sufficient to achieve a whole variety of personal fitness goals.
The warranty is also amongst the best available, and is also backed up by a high average rating and excellent level of customer service from Horizon.
68" (L) x 25" (W) x 64" (H)
Product weight: 145 lbs
Weight limit: 275 lbs