The Best Elliptical Trainers from Johnson
updated January 1, 2019
For 40 years, Johnson Fitness Equipment have been building some of the best home fitness brands in the world. Starting out by manufacturing barbells and dumbbells, they now cover the entire market. Since 1996, when Vision Fitness was launched, Johnson has been behind such big names in home cardio as Matrix, Horizon, AFG and Livestrong. In this article, we review the best elliptical cross trainers in the Johnson stable. We also consider 3 Johnson alternatives.
The Best Johnson Ellipticals
The Johnson brands, which produce home elliptical machines are Horizon, Vision, Matrix and AFG (Advanced fitness Group). The Livestrong line has been discontinued. The Horizon range include the EX-59-02, the Evolve 3, Evolve 5, Elite E7 and Elite E9. The Vision line-up encompasses the S60, S70 and S7100.
Matrix offer four high spec ellipticals for home use - the Matrix E30, E50, A30 and A50. The AFG line-up has 12 cross trainers, including the popular 2.5AE and the 18.1 AXT.
The Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 is a very high spec cross trainer, having garnered a six star quality manufacture rating. The Six Star frame platform provides you with a very stable secure base from which to exercise. It has been ergonomically engineered to reduce joint impact and give you the smoothest, most natural ride possible.
It’s the little things that make a big difference when it comes to the performance of the Horizon EX-59-02. The zero gap overlapping pedal motion ensures that stress on the knees and hips is reduced to an absolute minimum. On this cross trainer your body posture is more straight up and down than on many competing models. This increases comfort and reduces fatigue. The reduced step height makes it easy to get on and off the machine.
The handles spacing on the EX 59-02 has been optimized to make it accessible for all users. You get an 18 flat elliptical foot path that perfectly mimics a natural arcing motion. The large, clear LCD display offers 10 different workout apps to cover all of your strength, fitness and weight loss goals. The user weight capacity is 275 pounds and this unit comes with a lifetime frame warranty, with 2 years on parts and 1 year on labor.
- Six Star Frame rating
- Cool fit fan
- Integrated sonic surround speakers
- Just 10 programs and resistance levels
The AFG 5.3AE is a high end elliptical trainer that provides a Six Star certified frame, a heavy duty 30 pound flywheel and a low impact elliptical glide path. It has been ergonomically refined to improve body positioning, handle bar spacing, foot path, pedal placement, elliptical access and the drive mechanism. The extra weight of the flywheel provides you with greater stability and a smoother, more fluid elliptical stride motion.
The AFG 5.3AE features MxTone gel pedals to give you the most comfortable foot glide experience you’ll find on any elliptical on the market. It gives you great arch support and superior sole padding. The 8.5 inch blue backlit LCD monitor features a racetrack display so you can easily track your progress. You also get constant readouts of all of your important training data.
You get 12 workout programs and 20 levels of resistance on the 5.3AE. You also get 20 levels of auto power incline, taking you from 0 to 100% in 5% increments. You can track your workout online with LiveTrack fitness journal. ErgFit contact grips with toggles allow for accurate heart rate monitoring. Max user weight is an impressive 350 pounds.
- 0-100% Power Incline
- 20 resistance levels
- 350 pounds max user weight
The AFG 3.3AE is a pared down version of the 5.3 AE, with a smaller flywheel (23 pounds compared with 30 pounds), and four fewer workout programs ( 8 compared to 12). However, it retains the 20 levels of power incline and 20 inch stride length of the more expensive AFG 5.3AE. You also get an impressive 20 levels of variable resistance
When you exercise on the AFG 3.3AE, you get the natural motion of running outdoors, with the aid of oversized foot pads and a non-slip rubberized grip. The low 11-inch step makes it easy to mount and dismount this cross trainer. The handle-bars are low and tight, providing you with an effective hand grip positioning.
The console of the 3.3AE provides you with a 7.5 inch blue backlit LCD, that provides you with very good readability. A unique energy saver features means that you get reduced power usage. This machine comes with a lifetime frame warranty, with three years on parts and a year of unlimited in-home repairs. MP3 speakers and fan add to the experience.
- 20 levels of power incline
- 20 resistance levels
- Lifetime frame warranty
The Johnson range of ellipticals provides a lot of quality and functionality. However, they do tend to be at the higher end of the price market. We’ve discovered some high spec alternatives that come at a reduced price point. The Schwinn 470 Elliptical provides you with a 20 inch stride, motorized stride and backlit screen. The Sole Fitness E35 has a longer stride range, multi grip handles and inward tilting pedals for better ergonomic positioning.
Finally, the Nautilus E614 provides greater performance than anything in the Johnson range, with 22 programs, 20 resistance levels, a perimeter weighted flywheel and high spec in-console speakers.
The Schwinn 470 is the highest spec offering in the Schwinn range. It features a 20 inch stride length, allowing for a full stride movement. 13 workout programs that have been designed by top personal trainers provide you with training variation. It also has a front positioning flywheel, which gives a truer, more natural elliptical motion. Cushioned, articulated foot pedals add comfort and reduce hip strain.
The backlit console of the Schwinn 470 makes it a breeze to read the monitor. The dual track two LCD windows allow you to view 13 workout parameters at one time. Schwinn Connect goal tracking connects you to the world and allows you to track your progress online.
- 20 inch stride length
- Motorized ramp
- Backlit screen
- Inaccurate calorie counter
The Sole Fitness E35 elliptical is a front drive cross trainer with a 20 inch stride length. By increasing the incline, that length effectively increases to 22 inches. This cross trainer uses string electrical magnets, along with a heavy aluminum flywheel to give you frictionless resistance. This results in a smoother workout with minimal jarring.
The newly designed handlebars of the Sole Fitness E35 feature multi grip positions, so you can find the grip that feels best. The enhanced LCD display is more vibrant, tilting easily to match your eye line. With incline and resistance control built directly into the arms, this model gives you total control of your workout. Pedals tilt inward slightly to match your natural form.
- 20-22 inch stride
- Multi grip handles
- Inward tilting pedals
The Nautilus E614 provides you with 22 workout programs and 20 levels of eddy current resistance. It features dual track LCD monitoring on a high resolution screen, allowing you to monitor 13 training parameters at any one time. The Nautilus Connect app also allows you to sync your data to the Nautilus Connect website or MyFitnessPal for later analysis. The monitor also features a stable shelf to sit your tablet.
The high speed drive system and perimeter weighted flywheel of the E614 from Nautilus provides you with a very, natural, smooth and jerk free elliptical motion. This cross trainer has powerful inbuilt speakers and connects to your iPod to bring the world of music to your workout.
- 22 programs and 20 resistance levels
- Perimeter weighted flywheel
- High quality in-console speakers
- Calorie counter not accurate
Johnson Fitness encompasses popular brands like Horizon, Vision, Matrix and AFG. The best of their range includes the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02, which features a Six Star frame rating, zero-gap overlapping pedal motion and integrated sonic surround speakers. The AFG 5.3A offers 0-100% power incline, 20 resistance levels and a huge 350 pound maximum user weight. The AFG 3.3A provides most of the same specs as the 5.3A, but at a reduced price.
In terms of Johnson Fitness alternatives, we like the Schwinn 470, with its 20 inch stride, backlit incline and auto incline. The Sole Fitness E35 provides up to a 22 inch stride length, multi grip handles and inward tilting pedals. The Nautilus E614 gives you 22 workout apps, 20 resistance levels and a perimeter weighted flywheel.
My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.