How Effective Is the Gazelle Exercise Machine?

Medically reviewed by Mark R. Laflamme, MD on November 6, 2015Written by Caitlin Boyle on November 6, 2015
gazelle exercise

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The Gazelle is an inexpensive, easy to use piece of cardio equipment.

You utilize muscles in your upper body and lower body to push and pull levels and move pedals in a circular fashion. You feel like the machine’s namesake animal, prancing through the grasslands — and soon, you’ll start to look as sleek and muscular, too.

Change Position for Greater Variety

The Gazelle workout boosts aerobic fitness and muscle tone. You move the Gazelle by positioning a foot on each foot plate and holding a handlebar in each hand. You swing your legs back and forth in a scissoring motion to glide. The faster you glide, the harder your cardiovascular systems works. Because there is no impact, Gazelle machines are a great option for people with joint pain.

Depending on the model, the glider can be configured to six to 10 different basic exercises apart from the basic glide. These moves — such as wide glide, low glide, and high glide — target different muscles in the:

  • arms
  • back
  • thighs
  • calves
  • glutes

The positioning of your hands on the handlebars or a front crossbar also creates variety in your workout. Lastly, you can lean forward or backwards to make the workout even harder.

So although it’s only one basic machine, a Gazelle user can change the machine’s configuration, alter hand positions, or lift up the heels of their feet to challenge the body in all sorts of different ways in a single workout. You can choose to only engage your upper body, pushing the handlebars to move your legs. You can even glide without using your hands, which further works your back and core muscles.

Calories Burned

How many calories you burn on the Gazelle is impacted by many factors. Your weight, the intensity of your workout, and which model of Gazelle you’re using all come into play. But a 150-pound person can expect to burn about 260 calories on a 30-minute workout on the Gazelle supreme. That’s about what you’d burn bicycling at a decent clip but less than what you’d burn running for the same length of time.

Comparing Gazelle Models

The Gazelle comes in three different models: supreme, freestyle, and edge. All models fold flat for easy storage.

The Supreme

The supreme is the top of the line model. This version of the Gazelle includes pistons, which create added resistance. By far, you’ll get a better bang for your buck by investing in a Gazelle with resistance. Adding resistance to the Gazelle workout increases aerobic conditioning and strengthens muscles.

One of the major drawbacks of the Gazelles without resistance is that you can use momentum, rather than actual effort, to move the machine once you get started — a lazy workout that burns less calories. This coasting phenomenon can still occur on the models with resistance, but to a much lesser degree.

The Freestyle

The freestyle is sturdier and designed to hold heavier weight (up to 300 pounds). It also comes with some nice bells and whistles, like a cup holder and fitness computer with a thumb pulse. Unlike the edge, the freestyle can be configured for 10 workouts.

The Edge

The edge is the introductory model. It’s important to know that the maximum weight for this machine is 250 pounds. It also doesn’t come with a water bottle holder. It can be configured for six basic workouts and has a slightly smaller footprint, making it a great option for apartments or other small living spaces.

Alternatives

An elliptical is a great alternative to the Gazelle machine, although most new ellipticals are more expensive. Like the Gazelle, an elliptical is a low-impact cardio machine. Machines like the stair climber or a treadmill are much more high impact and can be hard on your joints. If you want to test out an elliptical before making a purchase decision, be sure to try one with movable arms to ensure you’d also get a great upper body workout on it!

caitlin boyle

Caitlin Boyle is the founder of OperationBeautiful.com, author of the Operation Beautiful books, and the blogger behind HealthyTippingPoint.com. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and two children. Caitlin also runs Healthy Tipping Point, a food and fitness blog that encourages others to redefine true health and happiness. Caitlin regularly competes in triathlons and road races.

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