ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

Proform has been around for longer than your reviewer has been alive and has grown from modest beginnings into one of the world’s largest and most well-known home fitness machine manufacturers. Over the years its product ranges have catered for most types of people from those just wanting to get fit and lose a bit of weight through to those who like to participate in competitions. And all the while the clever people at Proform have managed to somehow ensure that whatever the price point, the offering is ultra-competitive on specs and price. Keen to see what one of their latest mid-price models had to offer, we took a detailed look at the Proform Smart Strider 695CSE. Here’s what we found…..

Unlike the vast majority of ellipticals this size, assembly of the 695CSE is an absolute doddle. Almost fully assembled in the box it requires virtually no assembly at all. In fact, the only assembly that needs to be carried out is to fit the front and rear stabilisers (4 bolts in total) with the rest of the set up involving unfolding the cross trainer and locking things into position. It requires virtually no effort or time at all and in truth, the hardest part about the setup is getting the box into the room that you want to set everything up in.

Looks-wise the 695CSE has a function over form look about it, though it’s finished nicely and has a simple black, silver and grey colour scheme. While this might sound boring it’s a good thing as should this particular model feature bright, loud colours it’s likely to stand out like a sore thumb rather than blend in with its surroundings, which is all down to its size.  The designers at Proform have managed to make this cross trainer look clean and tidy in a way that’ll make it blend in to just about any room. The 695CSE is a space-saving model designed to be moved to one side when not being used, taking up as little space as possible. With a footprint of 169cm x 81cm (66.5″ x 31.8”) when in use, this is not a bad thing! True, it’s not as large as some other models out there, but it certainly can’t be described as small or compact, so when it comes to this particular model, people being able to save a bit of space when it’s not in use will often be essential rather than optional.

Over the years we’ve come across many, many attempts to take a large elliptical and make it practical for the home by way of ensuring it can be folded away. The results have often been…….interesting. While all of them do indeed save space when folded and stored, many of them have suffered from all sorts of issues. Ranging from being squeaky and creaky as a result of the folding mechanism through to having a folding system so impractical and time-consuming that you simply wouldn’t bother going through the hassle of storing it away, most have failed to be truly practical for daily mobilisation of the folding feature. Fail to make the process quick and easy for one person to do on their own and the machine in question will soon be left open on a permanent basis essentially making the folding feature redundant. Thankfully there aren’t any such process related issues to be found on the 695CSE.  There are just two basic steps required to fold and unfold it meaning that it can be done by one person within a minute or so. It’s genuinely difficult to see how folding this beast could be made any easier. The system works very well with the only catch being down to gravity. This isn’t a small elliptical so it isn’t particularly light and that means that once it’s folded and you have to lift it up on its end, you’re going to need to be in possession of a bit of strength to do the lifting part. The engineers at Proform have clearly thought about this too though and have designed things in such a way as to ensure that you’re only ever lifting the lightest possible part of the machine. The user manual indicates that you should be able to comfortably lift 45kg in order to safely carry out this process, though we’d say it doesn’t take quite that much effort. The bottom line is that if you intend to take out and fold away this elliptical daily then it is definitely viable to do so, as long as you’re reasonably fit. If you can’t lift that much then it’s still practical to fold it away periodically as needed with the help of a friend as it only takes a few moments. Overall the verdict is that this elliptical is a sensible space saver model so hats off to the people at Proform for taking a large machine and making it practical to fold daily.

After setting everything up and playing around a bit with the leg levellers to get the 695CSE sitting on the floor dead level (essential to avoid any unwanted squeaks/creaks) it was time to climb aboard and find out what this elliptical is all about. From the oversized, padded footplates that allow you to alter the angle of attack and get a comfortable position through to the low Q-factor (distance between the two pedals) and handles with multiple grip positions, the 695CSE oozes comfort and delivers the benefits of sound ergonomics to just about any user regardless of their size, making the prospect of a training injury far less of a likelihood and allowing you really push yourself.

In addition to the excellent ergonomics, there are a number of other elements that make using this cross trainer enjoyable.  The resistance levels change briskly enough to make interval training a realistic option, the buttons on the console are easy to see, reach and understand and there’s an incline mechanism that allows you to change the angle of attack. Unlike most (but not all) other ellipticals that feature an incline system, the shape of the ellipse doesn’t change when the angle of incline does. This means that the 18″(46cm) stride length stays exactly the same regardless of the incline position making it easier to maintain a rhythm when switching to a different incline level during your workout. Much like a treadmill, the incline mechanism used here lifts the whole front end of the cross trainer up to a maximum incline of 10%. The net result of all the above is that this Proform machine is incredibly comfortable to use for just about anyone. The workout you get here is smooth, quiet, comfortable and effective and as such it’s hard to ask for more.

The console itself has 24 preset workouts built-in which are divided into 12 tempo based and 12 interval based sessions. There’s also a manual mode and as an additional nice little touch, you get a free trial of the iFit service which switches to a paid subscription in the event that you want to continue using it. Real-time training data including speed, time, resistance, distance, RPM, calories, Watts, pulse, pace and incline is displayed using an LED set up which while not necessarily as pretty looking as a full-colour LCD screen is certainly more practical as, unlike LCD displays, it’s easy to see all of the information even if the room is very brightly lit.

Selecting and using a preset workout is quick and easy thanks to clearly labelled and sensibly positioned buttons along with a clear and easy-to-read display and there are quick resistance buttons to allow you to jump to any resistance level with the single press of a button. The whole setup is very easy to understand and the way that the buttons on the console are set up it’s easy to control while you’re sweating hard in the middle of a session. As mentioned earlier the console is also iFit compatible (subscription required)  which significantly increases the number of training options on this elliptical. Subscribers to iFit get the added bonus of  Google Maps workouts that allow you to map out your own routes on Google Maps and high-definition workout videos led by professional personal trainers which are really impressive. You can view your sessions and participate in these personal trainer-led workouts via a tablet that you’ve installed the iFit software on and that you can place in the tablet holder on the elliptical giving you a great view during your session. You can also participate in online races against other iFit members as well as get access to personalised advice for nutrition, exercise routines and sleep schedule. iFit is a whole world unto itself and if you want to know more it’s best to visit the iFit website for full details.

Additional extras include a dual speed fan that actually does a pretty good job of keeping you cool, stereo speakers with an audio input so you can plug in your music player, hand-pulse sensors, Bluetooth wireless heart receiver that works superbly well, integrated tablet holder (especially useful when using iFit) and last of all a water bottle holder. The 695CSE is also covered by Proform’s 2 year on-site parts and labour warranty so if anything does go wrong you’re covered. Not that we believe it’s likely to need anything as the build quality here does stand out.

The Proform Smart Strider 695CSE has plenty of things to keep you entertained but above all, it is without a doubt, a machine that delivers on its core promises. It’s built well, has tons of useful functions, is ergonomically excellent and provides a really enjoyable experience. The other thing we really like about it is the price. Looking around the marketplace you’ll probably find another elliptical that’s built as well, or you’ll find one with great ergonomics, or you’ll find one that has lots of interactive features. But you’ll be hard pushed to find another elliptical at this price that delivers on all of those elements and also folds away small enough to make it a sensible option in the average home. As such it gets a big thumbs up from us and is easy to recommend.

Best Price

The ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE 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

Proform has really done an excellent job on the 695CSE. In terms of build quality, usability, effectiveness and price it ticks all the right boxes and will give any other elliptical out there at this price point a serious run for its money. The setup process is also ridiculously easy and is light-years away from traditional ellipticals, even when compared with much smaller machines. It's also uncommonly comfortable to use for a really wide range of people. Have a budget of around £650 for your new elliptical? If you do, it's hard to see past the 695CSE right now.

ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE Specifications

  • 8kg (18lbs) Effective Inertia flywheel
  • 46cm (18”) adjustable stride
  • 20 levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) with 11 Quick Resistance buttons
  • 0-10% Power Adjustable Quick Incline™
  • Round Watts LED display
  • Feedback: Speed, time, resistance, distance, RPM, calories, Watts, pulse, pace, incline
  • 25 programmes (manual, 24 pre-set workout apps including 12 tempo and 12 interval apps) + interval training
  • iFit® Bluetooth Smart (BLE) Enabled (subscription optional)
  • Heart Rate Measurement via EKG hand pulse sensors + Bluetooth® Smart wireless receiver (chest strap optional)
  • Conveniences: Adjustable oversized cushioned pedals, CoolAire workout fan,  tablet holder, oversized levellers, water bottle holder, AC adapter included, transportation wheels
  • Audio: Compatible music port for iPod®/mp3 player, Intermix Acoustics™ 2.0 sound system
  • Soft Touch upper body workout arms
  • Vertical SpaceSaver® design
  • Dimensions in Use (L x W x H): 169cm (66.5″) x 81cm (31.8”) x 200cm (78.7″)
  • Folded Dimensions (L x W x H): 74cm (29.1″) x 81cm (31.8”) x 200cm (78.7″)
  • Maximum User Weight: 125kg (275.5lbs)
  • Product Weight: 78kg (172lbs)
  • Warranty: 2 years parts and labour (must register within 28 days for 2nd year)

ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE Elliptical Cross Trainer - Console / Display Unit

ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE Elliptical Cross Trainer - User Reviews

The Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Comfortable and easy to use
  • Good range of training options
  • Fixed stride incline
  • iFit compatible
  • Folding mechanism is simple
  • Virtually no assembly

The Cons

  • You will need a bit of strength to lift it into the storage position
ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE Elliptical Cross Trainer Reviewer Ratings

Ease Of Installation - 10
Appearance - 6
Smoothness - 7
Comfort - 8.5
Reliability - 8
Noise - 8
Ease Of Use - 8
Controls - 8
Warranty - 8
Value for Money - 9
Best Price

The ProForm Smart Strider 695 CSE 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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