Over the past few years, elliptical trainers have become one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment at the gym. In fact, it can often be difficult to snag an available elliptical machine, especially during the post-holiday rush fueled by New Year’s resolutions. So perhaps it’s time you considered adding an elliptical trainer to your own home gym.

But how do you choose the best elliptical machine for the money? To help you decide which elliptical might be best for you, we have researched the market and evaluated a half-dozen of the most popular elliptical models on the market today. Below is a brief description of each machine, including features and price.

Schwinn Elliptical Trainers

For decades, Schwinn has been one of the most trusted names in fitness equipment. So it’s no wonder that Schwinn elliptical machines are among the most popular fitness machines on the market. There are a wide range of Schwinn elliptical models to choose from including:

Schwinn 420: This model runs about $600 at Amazon. It features 16 levels of resistance, a dozen diffeent workout programs, and a grip-style heart rate monitor.

Schwinn 431: This model runs about $700 at Amazon. This elliptical is intended for home use, with a space-saving footprint, 19 workout programs, iPod holder and water bottle holder.

Schwinn A40: This model runs about $400 at Amazon. A great elliptical machine at a budget price. The A40 delivers smooth action with a perimeter weighted flywheel. Great value for the price.

Schwinn 460 Variable Stride: This model runs about $900 at Amazon. This top-of-the-line elliptical is the best selling of all the Schwinn models. It offers the ability to change your stride from a stepping motion, to a walk to a run, all without manual machine adjustments.

Proform Elliptical Trainers

Proform is another well-known name among fitness equipment manufacturers. In fact, you may even see Proform exercise equipment in your local fitness club. It’s a good mid-range product, not exactly budget-priced, but certainly affordable in the under $1000 range. If you’ve been using an elliptical machine at the gym, and already know that you love it and will use it at home, then a Proform elliptical would be a very good choice.

There are a dozen different Proform elliptical models, ranging from $500-$1200.

Nordictrack Elliptical Trainers

Anybody who has been on an elliptical machine knows the leg motion is a cross between running and cross-country skiing, so it’s no wonder that the company who invented the ski machine eventually developed an elliptical machine. The Nordictrack line of ellipticals are recommended by many personal trainers for home use. They like that display screen being a bit higher than on other ellipticals, which improves posture and neck alignment; trainers also feel the incline adjustment is better on the Nordictrack.

For about $700, the same price as a mid-range elliptical trainer, the mid-priced Nordictrack is a good value for the money.

Sole Elliptical Trainers

While you may be familiar with the Sole line of treadmills, it’s only recently that the company has expanded into elliptical machines. Sole offers four different models of ellipticals, and each would be considered a high-end piece of fitness equipment.

Sole elliptical trainers are generally beloved by both users and personal trainers, and are considered to be of very good quality. In fact, the company offers one of the best warranty programs in the industry, which is a testament to the quality of their product. Of course, quality comes with a price, and you can expect to pay a bit more for a Sole elliptical trainer. Sole elliptical models are priced as follows and include free shipping:

Sole e25 – $1,000
Sole e35 – $1,300
Sole e55 – $1,500
Sole e95 – $1,700

Life Fitness Elliptical Trainers

Life Fitness is virtually a household name among fitness aficionados. They began by selling professional-grade exercise equipment to gyms and fitness centers, but now offer home exercise equipment, as well. The Life Fitness company invests millions of dollars in bio-mechanics research, and the result is an extremely smooth elliptical striding action that provides the user an optimized stride length.

Of course, research and quality don’t come cheap, so you can expect to pay at least close to $2,000 for the least expensive elliptical trainer from Life Fitness. But if you have been using a Life Fitness elliptical machine at the gym, and just have to have one for your home, consider shopping at Amazon where you’ll get the best price on a new elliptical trainer, and may even find a great deal on a used elliptical machine.

Lifecore Elliptical Trainers

Lifecore offers a line of elliptical machines that fall into the value-driven, no bells or whistles category, just great customer service and a well-built elliptical machine. Lifecore ellipticals start at about $600 for their budget-minded rear-driven LC985Z model. The LifeSpan Fitness EL3000i is a front-driven model that runs about $1,000, or you can consider their state-of-the-art center-driven LifeCore CD400 model that costs about $1,800 at Amazon. All of the Lifecore elliptical trainers are extremely well-built with excellent user ratings.