Walk around the average gym, and you’ll find dozens of different machines, from tried-and-true cardio equipment like treadmills and bikes to lesser-known options that look like something from late-night TV or the pages of Sky Mall. It’s easy to be intimidated when you come across something new. But ask a couple questions, do some research or just hop on and start slow — you might just discover your new favorite workout.
Whether you find these at your local gym, inside a boutique studio or secure one for home use, these six machines are worth seeking out:
Nordic skiers are some of the fittest people on the planet. To train like one indoors, there’s the SkiErg. It’s similar to an upright rower, but mimics using ski poles to propel yourself forward. It utilizes the upper- and lower-body muscles and builds endurance — whether you’re training for ski season or just want to get in a great aerobic workout.
This total-body cardio machine hails from the 1980s, but has returned to the spotlight recently thanks to climbing-focused studios like Rise Nation. The machine enlists all four limbs in a low-impact, cross-crawl motion that works your legs, glutes, arms and back, and it burns some serious calories. According to Rise Nation founder, Jason Walsh, you can burn 600–800 calories per 30-minute workout.
The traditional indoor rower provides a great cardio workout. This rower does, too, but it also gives you on-demand, trainer-led workouts where the trainers automatically adjust the resistance for you (that’ll keep you honest). You can also strap in and virtually row on bodies of water all around the world from the comfort of your own home.
If climbing the stairs in your building gets your heart racing, just wait until you try the StepMill. This imposing but user friendly stairclimber machine is one of the toughest workouts in the gym and will have you climbing in a continual loop of cardio. Choose from one of 10 programs including fat burner, calorie burner and speed intervals, or go the manual route to control your own adventure. The steps move smoothly as you work your way toward toned glutes, chiseled legs and a stronger heart. And, unlike the stairs in your building, there’s an LCD screen to track your progress.
This self-powered climber is a step up from the usual stair climber. It’s angled at 40-degrees and gets you moving all four limbs like you’re crawling up a mountain. The low-impact motion tests your cardio without putting undue pressure on your joints.
Anyone can pedal a stationary bike. Anyone can also pedal an AirBike, but in this case, the resistance increases automatically the harder you work. That makes it a good option for people of all fitness levels, as it can be used for easy warmups, all-out sprints and everything between. The display console lets you choose from Tabata-style interval sessions, or create your own workout based on distance, time or calorie targets. Either way, you’ll be pumping your arms, pushing your legs and working up a serious sweat.
After introducing studio-quality cycling classes into your home, Peloton is back at it, this time with a treadmill. The 32-inch screen lets you stream high-energy classes, but it’s more than just running. Workouts also include off-treadmill options, like bodyweight exercises, core work and strength training.