(Author’s Note: I have no relationship with the makers of the Gazelle. I own one, with the resistance pistons, and have used it since 2010.)
The Gazelle exercise machine is one of the most loved/hated pieces of fitness equipment available based, in large part, on whether the reviewer likes the Gazelle’s promoter, Tony Little. Most Gazelle reviews on the Internet have an agenda, with little or no exercise physiology used to create the reviews.
The bottom line on the Gazelle is that the machine can help you burn calories, work muscle, improve muscular endurance and train your anaerobic energy system, depending on two things – which type of Gazelle you have, and if you use it correctly.
You have your choice of a variety of new and discontinued Gazelle models, but they come in two basic types: with resistance and without. The makers of the Gazelle temporarily stopped producing models with resistance in 2010, but have brought back one models (see below) with power pistons that offer resistance. You can also find plenty of the old models with resistance for sale on eBay, Craigslist, at garage sales and in used sporting goods stores like Play it Again Sports. Make sure they have the Power Pistons that let you change resistance settings. For a list, scroll to the bottom of this page.
Models without resistance are best for beginners looking for an efficient way to start working out, and for intermediates wanting to add a second or third workout option. These are the ones reviewers tend to knock because they don’t provide as high a calorie burn as ellipticals. However, the Gazelle offers a more full-body workout than ellipticals or treadmills.
Models with resistance are helpful for beginners, but intermediates and athletes who want to maintain their aerobic base, improve muscular endurance and train their anaerobic energy system will get the most from these models. Beginners might want to purchase a model with resistance and use the lowest resistance setting until they get in shape. They can then raise the resistance as they get in better shape.
Intermediates and those in very good shape should probably wait to buy a Gazelle without resistance until they can try one out first. If you give a beginner a Gazelle without resistance as a gift, you’ll still be doing them a favor.
•Beginners can get started with exercise on a Gazelle as they build cardio stamina and muscular endurance. They will burn calories as they stretch and work muscles without tiring too quickly because of excessive resistance.
•Intermediates can efficiently burn calories with cardio routines if they use correct technique. You can increase calorie burning if you add several sprints during workouts. If you use a resistance setting that makes you use more muscular effort. you’ll get even more benefit.
•Athletes can use Gazelle models with resistance to burn calories, work on aerobic conditioning, improve muscular endurance and sprint train to work their anaerobic fitness (helpful for improving your ability to recover between points and plays). Athletes who use a Gazelle without resistance can use it effectively for sprint (HIIT) training, but will have to work longer and harder to create effective muscular endurance workouts.
•The Gazelle creates a non-impact workout, since your feet never leave the pedals.
•The Gazelle is easy to use, requiring little or no instruction beyond what you see during Gazelle videos or infomercials.
•You can target specific muscles for extra work during workouts, depending on how you stand on the Gazelle. Read this article on Gazelle workouts to learn how to work specific muscles, including the calves, abs, but, thighs, arms, chest and back.
•The mechanics of the Gazelle allow you to use momentum, rather than muscular effort, to move the pedals and levers. This occurs more on models without resistance. If you don’t pay attention and make an effort to continually use your arms and legs to move the pedals and levers, you can start to “coast” and decrease calorie burning.
•The Gazelle’s limited motion can make workouts monotonous and boring. Read our articles on Gazelle cardio workouts, other Gazelle fitness workouts and different Gazelle workout moves to learn how to create workouts that provide a wide variety of fitness benefits and decrease boredom.
•Like many exercise machines, the Gazelle can cause repetitive stress pain in individual users. For example, you can strain your lower back during certain exercises if you use too much resistance and start using muscles to compensate, trying to move the machine with your hips and lower back instead of your arms and legs. Read this article on Gazelle workouts to learn how to reduce stressful movements on a Gazelle.
•The Gazelle can squeak. If you need a perfectly quiet machine, the Gazelle may not work in your apartment, home or office.
Some Gazelles come with an electronic monitor that lets you track time, heart rate and calories burned. Multiple reviewers online have said the monitor stopped working shortly after they bought it, but that the machine was still worth the price. You might want to use a wristwatch-type heart rate monitor for a more accurate reading of calories burned and heart rate levels.
Some Gazelle models fold flat for easy storage, and some come with workout DVDs and/or a water bottle attachment. More expensive models may also come with a toll-free phone number that lets you speak with a personal trainer 24/7.
Gazelles without resistance help you create non-impact, calorie-burning cardio workouts, but provide little muscle benefit compared to exercise machines like home gyms or rowing machines. Gazelles without resistance probably provide a lower calorie burn than other common cardio machines. Beginners can still get a beneficial workout on a model without resistance because of the wide variety of full-body moves and workouts. Gazelles with resistance are very good choices for more serious exercisers, or those who want a higher calorie burn with more muscular benefits.
Gazelles Without Resistance
- Freestyle Pro
Gazelles With Resistance
*The above are available new as of May 2015. Where to buy a new Gazelle.
- Crosstrainer Pro
- Freestyle Elite
- Freestyle Pro
- Power Plus
- Sprintmaster Elite
*Gazelle/Tony Little has discontinued and reintroduced models over the years and these models, or older versions of them, have been discontinued. Look for all of them on Craigslist, eBay or in used sporting goods stores. If you want one with resistance, make sure the model comes with power pistons.