ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

One of the world’s most successful manufacturers of home fitness equipment, Proform has both the know-how and economies of scale to produce machines that meet expectations at prices that won’t break the bank. Their present range of cross trainers comprises of a wide range of models that cater for everyone from beginners trying to shed a few pounds, all the way through to competitive athletes training for events.

Assembly, like most all ellipticals, does require two people. Thankfully unlike many cross trainers, the Cardio HIIT is really quite easy to put together. The manual is clear, well written and contains clear diagrams making assembly as straight-forward as it can be and most people will have this model ready to use in about an hour.

Once assembled, the immediate thing that stands out is just how little space is taken up. With its 140cm x 80cm (55.1’’x 31.5’’) footprint this machine really is quite small as far as ellipticals go (especially other models in this price bracket) and only takes up a touch more floor space than many compact models. In addition, the action of this machine (more on that later) is such that unlike pretty much every other elliptical cross trainer in existence, the Cardo HIIT can be used entirely within its own footprint area. This means that it’s not necessary to ensure that there’s additional space in front and behind the machine to allow the pedals to turn, as is mandatory with typical ellipticals. However, the thing is, that while it actually takes up relatively little room, it doesn’t feel in any way small when you stand next to it or when you climb aboard. At 168cm (5ft 5’’) in height, it’s substantial and the metalwork from the frame to the handlebars and everything in between is also heavy duty. The oversized pedals further add to the overall feeling of dependability. It manages to look both big and small at the same time, the best of both worlds; You don’t use up lots of space, but you still get solid, heavy duty elliptical.

The Cardio HIIT benefits from a bright, easy-to-read, 7’’ backlit two-colour LCD display that displays your workout data such as resistance level, speed (theoretical), time, distance (theoretical), calories, rpm, pulse, and, a little unusually, vertical distance. This last measurement is a consequence of the fact that this elliptical is a cross between an elliptical and a stepping machine and lets you know how far you’ve ‘climbed’. The screen is adjustable for contrast levels and also allows the units of measurement to be changed from imperial to metric for those who prefer miles to kilometers. There’s a tablet holder positioned at the top of the console which works well by virtue of the fact that it holds a tablet at the highest position possible to make it easy to see the display. There’s also a nice, deep, water bottle holder situated front and center making for easy and quick access to your water without having to fumble around or stoop down to reach it.

In terms of training options, the Cardo HIIT has a whopping 32 workout modes that are broken down into various categories such as Calorie Goal, Intensity, Speed and Incline. This setup makes program selection a simple and quick process despite the fact that there are so many programs to choose from. The user interface on the console is easy to understand and intuitive and once you’ve worked out how to access one, you’ve worked out how to access them all. Undoubtedly, it’s a set up that works well, though that’s not really surprising given the manufacturer – it’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from Proform. That being said, credit where it’s due as it works, and works well.

The single biggest deciding factor in the success of a cross trainer is the action. How does it feel to use? Is it smooth, is it responsive, is it quiet? Or is it clunky, noisy, slow to respond to commands? Is it comfortable, or in some cases quite literally, a pain to use? Get this part wrong and all the programs, bells, whistles, and build quality in the world won’t save your new machine from being a flop in the eyes of the end user, and consequently a flop in the marketplace. By departing from the standard elliptical set-up Proform have taken a risk with the Cardio HIIT, but they’ve not dived into this blindly. For decades now they’ve been building high-quality fitness machines and know more than most about what it takes to build a successful trainer that delivers results.

Jump aboard the Cardio HIIT for the first time and all the experience Proform have accumulated over the years manifests itself immediately. First and foremost, it’s easy to get on and off because you step up from the back rather than the side. This results in a feeling of real stability and security especially because the fixed, static handles provide a solid and secure point to hold onto when getting on and off. Once on board just start pedaling and the console springs to life but it’s the action itself that stands out here. This model is a cross between a stepping machine and an elliptical and as such it feels very different to a normal cross trainer, and not in a bad way. Rather than being a flattened ellipse it’s more of a step, but it does still retain an elliptical motion, just more of a vertical ellipse than a horizontal one. This is an ideal setup for burning calories fast and really places emphasis on the glutes, legs, back and shoulders while providing an all-over  body workout. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It’s a training approach that involves the user outputting 100% effort at full speed (the High Intensity bit) for a preset period (eg 20sec), followed quickly by short recovery periods (the Interval bit) and then back to the high-intensity burst and so on. This approach involves pushing your heart rate up fast, easing off just enough to catch your breath and then pushing on again with another high-intensity burst. This gets the heart pumping hard and burns calories at a rate while simultaneously helping to increase core strength. The motion itself is smooth all the way through the cycle and the angle of attack is natural making the Cardio HIIT more than acceptably comfortable to use. It really does a great job of working the whole body and feels more intense than a standard type elliptical, especially for the glutes and thighs. Also, because the action is so much more up and down rather than back and forth, the stride length becomes a non-existent issue and as a result this model is just as suited to someone 6ft 4″ tall as someone 5ft 5″ tall making it a very good choice if multiple users are expected to use the machine regularly. Changes made to the resistance levels during a workout are quickly felt making the Cardio HIIT feel nice and responsive, though like most other cross trainers there’s still a delay of a few seconds between pushing a button and feeling the effect of the change. The combination of quality internal components and good ergonomic design results in a comfortable, satisfying workout

In addition to the 32 built-in workouts, the console is also iFit compatible (1-year iFit Coach subscription included)  which substantially increases the already large number of training options on this machine. Subscribers to iFit get the added bonus of  Google Maps workouts that allow you to map out your own routes on Google Maps, high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers, online races against other iFit members as well as personalised advice for nutrition, exercise routines and sleep schedule. iFit is a whole world unto itself and offers far too much to cover in this review but if you want to know more visit the iFit website for full details.

Other extras include MP3 playback capability via a 3mm input jack, 2 speed cooling fan, integrated Bluetooth heart rate receiver and Proforms 2 year on-site parts and labour warranty.

So what do we think? Well, we’ve seen plenty of machines at this price point and in truth there are many good ones. What the Cardio HIIT delivers that most others in this price range cannot is the combination of sturdiness vs floorspace used. It’s far more compact that most comparable models yet it retains a feeling of solidity that’s matched only by machines that are physically larger. It’s also a real beast to train on and can deliver a level of intensity that many elliptical cross trainers simply can’t match. Combine those traits with the slightly absurd amount of training options that are available and what you get is a surprising little package that packs a real punch and has enough about it to keep things interesting in the long term.

Best Price

The ProForm Cardio HIIT is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Review Summary - In Brief

This is an impressive fitness machine that's been built well and that benefits from Proforms considerable experience and know-how. For a machine in this price bracket, it offers a huge amount across the board, making this hybrid stepper-elliptical great value for money making it not only very easy to recommend but it's impressive enough to make our elliptical of the month!

ProForm Cardio HIIT Specifications

  • Inertia enhanced flywheel weight
  • 15.7″ (40cm) stride length
  • 24 digital levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance with OneTouch™ controls
  • 7″ backlit LCD display console
  • Feedback: resistance, speed, time, distance, calories, rpm, vertical distance and pulse
  •  32 Preset Workout Apps including, 8 Calorie Goal, 7 Intensity, 8 Speed, 8 Incline and manual programme
  • Interactivity: iFit Coach BLE Enabled – use the iFit Smart Cardio app on compatible tablets and smartphones (1-year iFit Coach subscription included)
  • Heart Rate Measurement via Dual-Grip EKG™  hand pulse sensors + wireless receiver. Compatible with all Bluetooth® Smart chest straps (optional)
  • Conveniences: Compatible Music Port for iPod®/mp3 player, Intermix Acoustics™ 2.0 2-inch speakers, 5-in Elliptical stepping Path with 10-in Vertical, CoolAire™ Workout Fan, tablet holder, water bottle holder, multi grip handlebars, front mounted transport wheels.
  • Oversized and cushioned pedals
  • Product dimensions: (L x W x H): 140cm (55.1″), 80cm (31.5”), 168cm (66.1″)
  • Maximum user weight: 115kg (253.5lbs)
  • Weight: 74kg (163lbs)
  • Warranty: 2 years frame, parts and labour (must register within 28 days for 2nd year)

ProForm Cardio HIIT - Console / Display Unit

ProForm Cardio HIIT - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Small footprint for a machine in this class
  • Suitable for wide range of users
  • Can deliver an intense workout
  • Multitude of training options
  • Smooth and sturdy
  • 12 month iFit subscription included

The Cons

  • Not easy to move once assembled
ProForm Cardio HIIT Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 8
Appearance - 8.5
Smoothness - 9
Comfort - 9.5
Reliability - 9
Noise - 9.5
Ease Of Use - 9
Controls - 9
Warranty - 8.5
Value for Money - 9.5
Best Price

The ProForm Cardio HIIT is not currently available from any retailers we're aware of in the UK.
It may be worth looking for a used machine on ebay

Also see our Elliptical Cross Trainer Comparison Table

Whilst every effort is made to give you accurate information we cannot guarantee the technical specification. Models change on a regular basis and may differ slightly from the above review. We recommend you contact the retailer if you have a question regarding technical data. Please read our Legal Disclaimer

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