Sunday, September 9, 2012

Yowza Sanibel elliptical review

Fonzy bear proudly presents: Yowza Yowza Yowza!
I find it a wee bit ironic that my first running equipment review is for an elliptical, but I have compelling reasons. Primarily, to date, I am incapable of spelling elliptical. After retyping every red underlined misspelling for the next hour, I expect to place in my age group at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee; obscure workout equipment bracket. Secondarily, I read a lot of reviews in my search for the perfect elliptical by elliptical salesmen, elliptical saleswomen, elliptical mechanics, and elliptical aficionados. I found very few critiques from a runner's perspective and none from an injured runner, rehabbing an injury and bravely fighting crippling handsomeness. I have decided to fill this small void in an attempt to perfect the internet and to pad my resume as an unpaid, less than celebrity endorser. The site I found most helpful appears to be pretty neutral as long as you agree ellipticals are awesome.

My Yowza Sanibel elliptical arrived the first week of May, 2012, allowing me to test it for just over 4 months. Yowza was launched with a factory direct business model by a former Smooth fitness hireling. The promotional hype says this allows you to get more value as you don't pay for advertising and middlemen. The advertising part is definitely true.  I found this manufacturer only after delving deep into internet reviews. I never found their products in the stores I included in my search. I quickly discovered that whomever you buy from, your guaranteed to save at least 50% because this industry routinely lists all of their product msrps at double the selling price. I never found an elliptical selling at full price. I think the elliptical sales model may have been directly adopted from an Iranian bizarre. Try demanding the infidel price. The Sanibel model I purchased lists as $3999.00, but is always on sale for $1799.00. I monitored the site for over a month and found the price to occasionally drop to $1499.00. With my purchase, I negotiated with the factory direct salesman. He offered me a mat for the unit and either free financing or a $100 discount. I asked to think it over and called back 5 days later. We agreed upon $1399.00, free mat, 6 months interest free financing and a Polar heart rate monitor that wirelessly links to the unit.

Yowza Sanibel, a medical device for injured runners.

This was a very large outlay for me financially. After reviewing the math, I have to elliptical 5596 miles to get the same value I get from my running shoes. Breaks down to about 58.3 days of use ellipticaling 24 hours per day. Of course, I will have to elliptical barefoot so as not to wear out shoes and increase the per mile ellipticaling price. That is a bit too sweaty and kind of gross, as the their are no drains on the foot pedals, so I will have to wear socks, but I am not including the costs of said socks, because I am bored enough to blog, but not bored enough to continue to do 8th grade math story problems for you. If you are that bored I usually elliptical in injinji toe socks currently priced at $14.00. I expect to use 1.36 pairs over the indicated 58.3 day time frame. 

Not as fun as running Turkey Creek, but better AC.
I wanted an elliptical to help me rehab. After my peroneal brevis repair surgery, I was allowed to elliptical after only 6 weeks. I was not supposed to run any distance for 3 months. I can replicate a runner's heart rate on an elliptical easier than on a bike. And it just feels like a closer representation to a running motion  than when I am hunched over handle bars. The gained 6 weeks were not enough to justify the purchase, but I had also made a solemn vow not to tear any more tendons when I resumed my running schedule. My over trained weak tendons were accessories in the ankle roll that severed my brevis. To this end, I lowered my 5 days per week running schedule to 3 days. I plan on using the elliptical's low impact characteristics to fill the subtracted 2 days. For me it also isolates the quads and the glutes, muscles opposite of the calves and hamstrings that long distance running tends to over develop. Keeps things pretty balanced.
I picked the Sanibel for a couple of features I could not find at this price point in other models.

It is roller-less. I don't want to grease rails or replace rollers. I want to treat this like my running gear by throwing it in a sweaty pile next to the washing machine and then expecting performance after a quick cleaning.

It has electromagnetic breaking. Less moving parts and quieter. I don't want to strain trying to listen to Sonny's diatribe on General Hospital.
It uses a Counter Rotational Core Motion. Instead of 2 arms, it has 2 T-bars that are in opposite cadence to your legs. If you choose to use it your core is assaulted. This motion is patented and specific to the Yowza manufacturer. It could be a draw back if you rely on the typical arms of an elliptical. I usually use the stationary bars with a 1 finger grip, so as to look cool and slightly disinterested when in the gym, like a Frenchman smoking outside the Cannes film festival. I have incorporated the T bars and have almost eliminated sit-ups throughout the week. It works very well.
It has rear drive. To me this feels closer to a running motion than a front drive unit.

Max weight is 400 lbs. I doubt this, more like 300. It feels very stable with my 160 on it.

Features that commonly cross over into other units at this price point include:

ipod doc. I am surprised how much I use this feature.

fan with direction blade. I am not surprised how much I use this. Nice feature.

Polar heart strap wirelessly indicated on display with calorie count. I am a data freak and happy to have another set of numbers to look at when General Hospital has a commercial on.
Water bottle holder to hold my remote control.
16 resistance levels. A lot like Spinal Tap's speakers that peak at 11, it comes down to easy enough, medium enough, hard enough. I typically ride it at 9 and am in risk of heart attack at 13, so it has 3 more levels than it needs to kill me. 

21 inch stride. Even at 5'8" I think a runnercentric customer must have a 21 inch stride. Anything under 20 is shuffling, but does allow for you to elliptical in a bathrobe. 

Digital console. Probably the weakest feature. The display is adequate. It resembles Spock's science console or maybe an expensive Japanese toilet controller. Its space-agy in a 1985 kind of way. I do scan calories, speed, heart rate occasionally, but usually I am watching netflix on my ipod. The layout works, but the blue lights are a bit much.

The always natural stance of an elliptical.
Assembly was reasonable. It took me 55 minutes and only 3 colorful metaphors. Full disclosure, I am a machine technician by trade. Make sure the bolts on the front arms are tight, but not overly tightened. At 236 pounds, your wife must be home to help you get it up the stairs to your office/workout room. The weight does make it feel nice and sturdy and its svelte when compared to my commercial treadmill that weighs in at 383. Components are steal and powder coated. Its footprint is reasonable and I think it would fit in a standard room with a queen sized bed. It has handles and two front wheels making it easy to move around. It is the sexy color of a hospital bed which allows it to fade into the background and not outshine the Norfolk Pine in the corner. I had an issue with an overly tight bolt and contacted customer service. It took almost 3 days for me to get an email response. The phone technician was efficient, which is to say he was helpful without mentioning the weather. They offered to send another bolt and receiver if the instructions they emailed did not fix the issue. (the instructions worked)

I like to open the windows and elliptical nude. Keeps the gangsta rap down outside as nobody will voluntarily park in front of my house. If over 18 click link for uncensored version.

I am pretty sure I got one of the best deals available to the private consumer with this elliptical (which I still can not spell without a red underline). I also considered the Sole E55, Smooth CE 8.0LC, and the Precor refurbished commercial units. Anyone who appreciates the stability of running while intoxicated after a head injury will value an elliptical. If you are honestly considering dropping near 1500 greenbacks for a low impact hamster wheel, this one will not disappoint you. On a personal note, I now use it routinely to bring down any unexpected blood sugar spikes after dinner. Even on a long run day, the 20 minutes required to bring down a spike is not too hard on already spent legs. I find that on any elliptical my feet routinely go to sleep after an hour. I have avoided this by limiting my exposure to 59 minutes at a time. Go buy one, or go buy 14 pairs of Merrell Trail Gloves, or 1400 McDouble cheeseburgers.



  1. Is that a NordicTrack Commercial 1500 I see? How do you like it? You must have had to skip like a 1000 McDoubles already! I wish I could say it's great to see you healthy again, but I have to go claw my eyes out after that last pic. Ohh, and remind me to never buy any used cardio equipment from you on Craigslist...

    On a side note, have you checked out the ElliptiGO models? I've even heard of folks using them with indoor trainers, but you don't get the arm workout. Speaking of which, how does arm motion work on the Sanibel? I can't quite figure it out from the photos (and I'm afraid to look at them again).

    1. It is a NT1500. I like it very well. I should review it some day. I'll wait until its hot enough to do in my birthday suit. Be careful on Craigslist there are even worse things for your eyes out there.

      I love the ElliptiGos, but couldn't swing one without getting another job. The arms go right and left in the same cadence as your leg. If your left leg is forward the bars swing in a 1/4 circular motion to the left. It feels like you have been doing high knee drills in your stomach after a long workout. You were right not to look at that photo again. It follows you like the eyes in those pictures on Scooby Doo. Good to see you blogging again. Welcome back.

  2. I'm having a hard time explaining to my coworkers what I was looking at when they saw me reading this blog. I may have permanently damaged my previously spotless image.

    Now that you have something with handles, I think you should experiment with beer fueling for long runs. I await that post with great anticipation.

    1. I really hope you were reading that at work. Luckily, your boss already met me at U100 and knows I am an idiot. Did you tell him you had an elliptical fetish? As for beer fueled long runs, challenge accepted!

  3. This machine is indeed a good option if you want to achieve overall toning and weight loss effects in the body. Keep us posted with more medical device reviews.