Best Treadmill Alternatives: Top 5 Low-Impact Options

Last Updated on January 4, 2021 by Sam Corbin

the best low impact alternatives to the treadmill

When it comes to getting a great indoor cardio workout, the treadmill is one of the most popular options on the planet. They’re a great way to get your heart pumping, burn a lot of calories, and staying in excellent cardio shape. You can even adjust the incline to add to the intensity, or slow things down and use them for a brisk walk.

That said, the treadmill isn’t always the best the workout machine for everyone.

The reasons people look for something different can vary, but can include the need for finding something more low-impact to those who want more of a full body workout.

Whatever your reason for looking for an alternative to the treadmill may be, you should be able to find something that works for you with the machines we’re going to detail below.

So, if you’re hoping to find a great workout machine, that ISN’T the treadmill, keep reading to see some great options.

Our Top 5 Alternatives to the Treadmill

  1. Rowing Machine: Hydrow Is Our Top Pick
  2. Exercise Bike: Echelon Smart Connect Spin Bike
  3. Smart Home Gym
  4. Elliptical
  5. Bowflex Max Trainer M6

1. Rowing Machine: Hydrow is Our Top Pick

Price: See Current Hydrow Prices at their Website

rowing machine is our top treadmill alternative

Leading our our top-5 list, is a machine that brings a very different workout than the treadmill, so if you’re looking for something totally different, then the rowing machine is a great alternative.

There’s a lot more arms with this one, but you still build leg strength, get your heart pumping, and burn a serious sweat with the rowing machine.

On top of all that, it’s also another low-impact option, that usually takes up much less space than the average treadmill, and is a much more efficient workout as well.

Recommended Features

There are a lot of different rowing machines out there, but here are some of the features we prefer when it comes to finding a high-quality rower:

  • Live & On Demand Interactive Workouts
  • Performance Tracking
  • Nice Display Monitor
  • Easy Storage Options
  • Comfortable Seat
  • Syncs with Heart Rate Belts or Monitors
  • Air-Resistance Flywheel or a WaterRower
  • Ability to Control Damper Level
  • Bluetooth Ready
  • Minimal Noise
  • Affordable

Who Should Consider a Rower?

The rowing machine is the perfect fit for the person who wants to use their arms more, while also getting in a bit of a leg workout as well.

You also are seated during the workout, so it doesn’t bring the constant pounding that a treadmill can.

Why Hydrow is Our Top Pick

Hydrow (our Hydrow review) is an industry leader when it comes to the interactive rowing experience. From the sleek and beautiful design of their rower, to their amazing interactive workout experience, Hydrow is as good as it gets.

Their instructors will keep you motivated and guide you on your rowing journey so you can stay on track to reaching your goals.

2. Exercise Bike: Echelon Smart Connect

the new EX-5s with HD flatscreen

I recently purchased an Echelon Smart Connect spin bike (see my Echelon bike review here), and I can honestly say this is the most fun workout machine I have owned. This was my first introduction to spin classes, or a bike for that matter, and the experience has been awesome so far!

Riding a spin bike is a great low-impact alternative to the treadmill, but it’s also a great way to burn calories, get your heart pumping, and have a lot of fun while doing it.

If you’re not familiar with the Echelon yet, it’s a spin bike that allows you to stream live workout classes, or access a huge library of pre-recorded rides. This is a great way to participate in live spin classes, stay motivated, to keep things fun and interesting.

Here are some of the features of the Echelon:


  • Stream Live Classes or Access Pre-Recorded Catalog
  • Compete Against Other Riders
  • Smooth Magnetic Resistance
  • Use with iPad, Tablet, or Buy Their Bike with Built-in Flat Screen
  • Small Footprint, Space-Saving Design
  • Huge Variety of Workout Options: Perfect for Beginners or Advanced Riders
  • Great Low-Impact Alternative to the Treadmill
  • Lots of Colors and Features to Pick From
  • Financing Available

Where to Buy

I have been really happy with my Echelon Spin Bike, and it’s now my go-to cardio workout. You can even get in a great arm workout on the bike, if you want.

Learn more and check current Echelon prices.

3. Interactive Smart Home Gym: Reflect is Our Top Choice

Price: See Current Echelon Reflect Prices 

smart home gym mirror

The Smart Home Gym is one of the newer pieces of equipment to hit the fitness scene, and they are super cool. What look like an ordinary mirror is quickly transformed into your own personal trainer.

I’d love to explain it in more detail, but allow to let Echleon to take over:

Recommended Smart Mirror Features

There are a number of different companies in the smart mirror space, so you definitely have options when shopping. Echelon is our preferred choice (see our Reflect Review) but here are a few must have features that we’d suggest:

  • Large Library of Classes to Stream
  • Variety of Workout Options
  • High-Quality Personal Trainers
  • A 1 to 1 Fitness Experience
  • Very Little Equipment Required
  • Easily Mounts to any Wall in Your Home
  • High Quality Screen and Display
  • Pairs with Other Fitness Devices and Heart Tracking
  • Affordable Equipment and Subscription

Who Should Consider a Smart Mirror?

If the idea of pounding away on a treadmill isn’t appealing to you, then you may find the workouts a smart mirror offers more fun and interactive. A good smart mirror is going to have a variety of workouts that can cover all your bases. From cardio to strength training you should have an awesome variety to pick from.


Where to Buy the Best Smart Mirror

Our current top pick for interactive smart mirrors comes courtesy of Echelon. Their Reflect is awesome, and you have two models and pricing points to pick from. On top of that, it’s very affordable, features awesome instructors, and a large library of live and on demand workout options.

Learn more and check current Echelon Reflect prices at their website.

4. Elliptical: Horizon Our Recommended Elliptical

PRICE: See Current Elliptical Prices at Horizon Website

Horizon is our recommended elliptical

The elliptical has been a crowd favorite for decades now, and it’s often the first machine a person thinks of when trying to find an alternative to the treadmill.

That’s because they’re one of the most common machines you’ll find at the gym or online, so most folks are very familiar with the elliptical by now.

The elliptical machine is a nice, low-impact alternative to the treadmill, so if that’s something you’re looking for, and don’t think the TreadClimber or Max Trainer are the machines for you, then maybe the elliptical is the better fit.

Recommended Features

There are a bunch of different elliptical brands and models out there, and while some are going to be a lot better than others, these are a few of things your elliptical should have:

  • Multiple Resistance Levels
  • Pre-Programmed Workouts
  • High Speed Drive System
  • Weighted Flywheel for Smoother Workouts
  • Can Sync with Fitness Apps
  • Cushioned Stride System
  • High-Quality Foot Treads
  • Media Deck
  • Built-in Speakers
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Warranty Available
  • Should be Affordable

Who Should Consider an Elliptical?

If you’ve tried an elliptical before, and preferred it to the treadmill, then it obviously may be the machine you want to consider. It’s also more low-impact than the treadmill, which is another factor that may push it to the top of your list.

The standard elliptical is a bit larger than some of the other machines on our list, but if space isn’t an issue for you, then maybe the elliptical will work out for you.

Where Can You Get the Best Deal?

There are a lot of ellipticals out there, so you may want to shop around a bit and find the one that fits your budget, while also meets your fitness needs. Our current recommended elliptical comes courtesy of the team at Horizon fitness. They have an awesome selection, and some of the best machines in the industry.

Learn more and check current Horizon elliptical prices.

5. Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Price: See Latest Pricing Options at

max trainer models side by side

If you want to kick things up a notch, and are looking for something a bit more intense than the TreadClimber or the treadmill, then the Max Trainer may be the best machine for you (read our Max Trainer review here).

While it brings a bit more of an intense workout than the TreadClimber, in our opinion, it’s still very low-impact and all designed to help you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

That’s because it’s a unique combination of an elliptical and stair climber, and when you use it with the built-in Max Trainer HIIT workout, you should be able to see some pretty awesome results.

Plus with their new Max Intelligence App, you can use it for as little as 4 minutes per day when starting out, which will help you ease back into shape, while still burning a few calories as well.

Here’s what the Max Trainer Brings to the table:


  • Takes up Very Little Space – I keep mine in my office.
  • Looks Great
  • Up to 20 Levels of Resistance
  • Bluetooth Heart Rate Compatible
  • USB Charging Port
  • Large Display Console
  • Burn Rate Display Monitor
  • Multi-Grip Handles
  • Built-in Heart Rate Monitor Grips
  • Syncs with Max Intelligence App
  • Three Models to Pick from
  • Affordable
  • Financing Available 

Who Should Consider a Max Trainer?

If you’re looking for smaller, sleeker, and more low-impact machine than a treadmill, then the Max Trainer may be the perfect fit. While it’s more low-impact than the treadmill, it’s unique design allows you burn more calories quicker.

On top of that, you can push it however hard you want, so you can still get things moving at a very brisk pace.

The Max Trainer takes up much less space than your average treadmill, so if space is an issue, or you just don’t want a huge piece of fitness equipment, then the Max Trainer may also be the better fit. It’s small enough, that mine fits comfortably in the corner of my small office.

The Max Trainer starts at just $999, so it’s also quite a bit cheaper than most high-quality treadmills.

Where Can You Get the Best Deal?

Right now, the official Bowflex site is going to be the best place to buy your new Max Trainer. They can connect you with everything you need to get started, you can compare all three models side-by-side, learn about the new Max Intelligence App, and get access to their generous financing package.

CLICK HERE to Learn More and Lock in BEST Max Trainer M6 Deals.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are some really solid options out there, if you’re looking for something different than your standard treadmill workout.

All of the machines on our list, offer a much different workout than the treadmill, are low-impact, and some have even been found to burn more calories.

Our recommend alternative?

We’re huge fans of the rowing machine. It’s a more efficient workout than the treadmill, and frankly, it’s a lot more fun! If you’re looking for an amazing rowing experience, we’d suggest starting with Hydrow…