The Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 Elliptical Trainer has been SIXstar Certified, provides 5 incline settings, and 10 workout programs designed to help you reach your fitness goals.
This review takes an in-depth look at the overall design, together with the customer reviews, workout options, and what it means when Horizon Fitness ellipticals carry the SIXstar certification.
If you’re looking for a new elliptical trainer to use at home, it can be difficult to know the difference between the features you really need, and those that are more of a ‘nice to have’.
This is particularly important if you want to see the best results, while still staying within your target price range.
Fortunately, the Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 is actually an upgrade over their earlier EX-69 and EX-57 models, offering a wide range of improvements for under $800.
Stride length and incline options
Similar to the running area on a treadmill, if the stride length limits your natural running motion, then you won’t be able to reach your full potential.
This is why Horizon have created the EX-69-2 with a longer than average, 20″ stride length, making it suitable for a wider range of user heights up to roughly 6ft 2ins.
Although longer stride lengths of 22″+ are available, these will generally only be found on elliptical machines costing many multiples of the EX-69-2.
Being a front driven elliptical also means that incline options can be built into the base frame, which is exactly what Horizon have included.
Despite only being manually adjustable (incline has to be set before you start your workout), these 5 height settings are certainly an effective way to increase the intensity of your workouts.
SIXstar Certified Design
While stride length may already be a feature that you were aware of, the SIXstar certification program might not be.
Currently assessing fitness equipment from the likes of LiveStrong and Horizon Fitness, the SIXstar Certification is a combination of 6 important design features, which have been determined important to an effective workout after extensive bio-mechanics research.
This involved a panel of experts from universities across the country coming together with specialists in sports performance, to assess which key elements were needed to provide the most natural walking, jogging, and running motion on an elliptical.
The Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 Elliptical is one of the few machines that has now been awarded this certification.
The 6 key elements that were judged as part of this assessment are listed below, but you can also find more information by visiting the official SIXstar Certified website.
6 Key Elements:
- 1. ZEROgap ideal pedal placement – Reduced distance between the foot pedals helps to eliminate lower back stress
- 2. StraightUP body posture – Encourages an upright body posture to maintain a higher level of comfort while working out
- 3. SUREstep easy access – Pedals are positioned close enough to the ground to make it easier to get on and off the machine, even with limited mobility
- 4. IDEALfit optimal handlebar spacing – Both sets of handlebars are ideally spaced to cater for a wider range of heights and body types
- 5. FLATellipse for a more natural foot path – Reduces fatigue while working out, while closely matching a natural walking motion to allow you to workout for longer and reach your goals faster
- 6. SMOOTHpulley for smoother momentum – Large drive pulley ratio promotes a smoother running motion as the foot pedal supports slide along the guide rails
Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 – Features Summary
- SIXstar Certified platform
- Low 10-inch sure step step-on height
- Cool fit fitness fan
- 14.3-pound flywheel
- Magnetic brake resistance
- 1-20 electronic resistance range
- 20-inch FLATellipse foot path
- Oversized footpad with traction edges
- 10 program options
- Goal Center workout tracking
- Contact grips
- Sonic speakers with MP3 input and headphone output
Display console design
Although elliptical machines traditionally offer less functions than a treadmill due to their lack of incline, it’s still important to find a design that’s intuitive to use.
Aesthetically, the console for the Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 is really quite impressive, with an attractive use of colour making it quicker to identify important workout functions.
In terms of its ease of use, the ‘quick select’ options for switching between the different resistance settings (20 in total) is a much more effective way than holding down one of the arrow keys, particularly if you are interested in interval training.
At 5.75 inches, the LCD display screen is large enough to comfortably display your most important workout information, including speed, distance, time, heart rate, and resistance level. There’s even the ability to follow your progress around a simulated running track, with each lap being the equivalent of running 400 meters.
You still have the basic options for starting and stopping the machine, but there is also an option you might not have come across before.
This is called the ‘Goal Center’, and is responsible for managing the goal setting for your current workout.
Goal Center performance tracking
Whether you want to lose weight, burn a certain number of calories each workout, or simply improve your cardiovascular fitness, goal setting has been proven to increase your chance of success.
The Goal Center software built into the EX-69-2 allows you to track your fitness goals electronically over time, removing the need for any hand written logs, which can easily be misplaced.
You can choose to set a time, distance, or calorie burning goal, then at the end of each workout your stats will be saved to the Goal Center.
Your progress towards this goal (and the amount remaining) will then be displayed before and during your next workout, as an additional incentive to continue with your workout plan.
Fitness programs and workout tracking
If you were wondering about the preset workout options, the Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 features 11 built-in programs, each created to help you achieve a specific fitness goal.
These programs include; speed intervals, endurance intervals, peak intervals, cardio burn, muscle toner, strength builder, peak descent, nature trail, and mountain climb.
Split into 3 main categories of weight loss workouts, interval workouts, and performance workouts, each program follows a different combination of resistance settings over the duration of your training.
Speed intervals – Designed to improve your strength and speed by switching between higher and lower resistance levels every 30 and 90 seconds.
Endurance intervals – Increase your stamina with a choice of 7 difficulty levels.
Peak intervals – With a higher intensity than the speed intervals, these switch between higher and lower resistance settings every 30 and 60 seconds.
Cardio burn – The first of the weight loss workouts, cardio burn adjusts the resistance to keep you in your fat burning zone.
Muscle toner – Gradually increases the resistance over the course of your workout.
Strength builder – 10 difficulty levels, switching between resistance levels every 30 seconds for the work section, and every 60 seconds for the warm up and cool down.
Peak descent – Gradual changes in resistance level to tone your muscles and improve overall cardiovascular fitness
Nature trail – Designed to simulate trail walking, these workouts feature a time based goal with a choice of 10 difficulty settings.
Mountain climb – With added variation in the resistance levels, mountain climb doesn’t follow the standard ‘hill climb’ style that’s found with the peak descent workouts.
These will again build muscle tone and boost cardiovascular fitness.
The classic ‘manual’ training program is also available, which allows you to adjust the resistance settings manually, according to how you feel during your workout.
Ease of assembly
When you’re paying close to $800 for a new piece of fitness equipment, the first thing you want to do when it’s delivered is get it setup and start enjoying your workouts.
But not all ellipticals are the same, and customer reviews often reflect the difficulty some people face due to instructions that are tough to follow, or even because of no instructions at all.
The Horizon Fitness EX-69-2 doesn’t just provide you with an in depth user manual, but also a pre-assembly checklist, parts list, step-by-step instructions, and contact information for their dedicated customer support team to help you get the machine up and running.
Although there isn’t a huge amount of heavy lifting required, it can be useful to have an extra pair of hands around to help get the base frame put together.
Admittedly the assembly isn’t the simplest we’ve come across, but each step provides you with exploded drawings, part references, and a textual explanation to help make things easier.
The entire assembly is complete in just 8 steps, which most people find possible in less than 90 minutes.
How much maintenance is required after setup?
Although there’s an entire section dedicated to troubleshooting and maintenance in the owner’s guide provided with the EX-69-2, we wanted to give you a quick heads up before you buy.
Most elliptical trainers and treadmills tend to have a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning requirements.
In terms of maintenance of the machine, one of the best things about buying an elliptical over a treadmill is that you don’t have to re-align or lubricate the treadbelt to keep it running smoothly.
All that’s recommended with the EX-69-2 is to wipe down the elliptical with a damp cloth after each use, clean under the machine once each week, and inspect the tightness of the bolts once per month. Nothing else is required.
What’s included with the warranty?
- Frame: Lifetime
- Parts: 1 year
- Labor: 1 year
Customer reviews and forum research
Even though we put together this review as an in-depth assessment of the features and quality of the Horizon Fitness EX-69-2, it’s still useful to do some extra reading in the form of customer reviews.
These can be another excellent place to find unbiased information from a wider audience of customers who have bought and used this machine.
To find out the reasons behind why the EX-69-2 has such a high average rating, we decided to read through the Amazon reviews ourselves.
As a result, we’ve put together the following lists of pros and cons, to help provide a quick summary of the points that were mentioned most often.
- Easy to follow assembly instructions
- Intuitive display console interface
- Highly responsive heart rate monitor
- Low foot pedal height makes it easy to get on and off the machine
- Sturdy frame design
- Longer stride length than similar machines at this price point
- Sealed packs of hardware for each assembly step makes setup easier to follow
- Wide variety of training programs
- Smooth running motion
- Goal setting provides a reliable way of measuring your progress
- Incline adjustment is manual instead of automatic
- Display shelf is slightly too small to comfortably support tablets
- A series of beeps are emitted when you first hit the ‘start’ button, which some customers found too loud, although the volume can be adjusted once you start your workout