Best Elliptical Under 500: 4 Choices For Home Use

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In this review article I share my evaluations of 15+ cheap elliptical machines under $500 that I product-tested in retail & sporting goods stores.

However, I felt that only 6 were worth doing write-ups on. And of those, only 4 have good enough owner satisfaction ratings to make a Best Elliptical Under 500 Bucks list (in my humble opinion).

This is no surprise.

With many exercise equipment manufacturers, quality really suffers when they’re building an elliptical machine they intend to sell for cheap.

 

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Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant medical & sports science resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

Benefits of elliptical machine exercise

There are a bunch of good things that come when working out on an elliptical machine that go beyond just the general “benefits of exercise” we get.

I put together a short list of those benefits and included it here in the review.

 

Exercise equipment buyer’s guide

And later on after the reviews, I provide some helpful information and a few gentle suggestions you may want to consider when purchasing a cheap piece of fitness equipment.

 

A few cheap ellipticals went & got overpriced

For the purpose of defining cheap in my article’s title, my arbitrary price range was $500 & under.

There were a few models I did a store reconnaissance mission on before we all got shut down.

And when I finally got around to writing this article, I re-checked their Amazon listings and found their prices had been jacked way past 500 bucks.

Very uncool, you price gougers. I know who you are and I have a good memory. 😄

 

Buyer ratings & their comments

Below are the models featured in this article, along with their buyers’ ratings and owners’ comments.

The ⭐ rating is calculated using all online reviews available at the time I wrote this article.

To read more buyer comments, click on the pic or the product name to open their Amazon product page in a separate browser tab.

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Best cheap ellipticals for home use

Gazelle Edge

4.4⭐  2,600+ reviews

“With nearly daily use for 2 years, nothing has broken and it has been very sturdy. I fold it up and put it away after each use as well.” – LL

 

Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical

4.1⭐  500+ reviews

“Love it! If you’re looking for a compact, sturdy, and quite machine without sacrificing quality, this is your machine. The only con is that it doesn’t incline but it still provides a great workout for beginners and advance exercisers.” – CM

 

Brenda DyGraf Fit Rider X

4.3⭐  150+ reviews

“It doesn’t take up much space. It is very low impact exercise which makes it ideal for beginners. It’s a good workout. I am more than satisfied with this product.” – NYCTC7

 

Cubii Pro – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical

4.7⭐  1,800+ reviews

“I use it while watching tv and sitting on an exercise ball. I love it. I actually wish I’d gotten it earlier in treatment. So while I’m sure it’s a great at-work device, it’s also great for cancer patients…” – K 

 

Sunny Magnetic Elliptical E-3804

3.9⭐  200+ reviews

“Purchased this elliptical last year and only used it five times and the machine fell apart. I am surprised I wasn’t injured while using it. I was peddling and the handle and pedal came off. Waste of money!”  – KC

 

ProForm Hybrid Trainer

3.6⭐ 1,100+ reviews

I can tell you the frame won’t break. What WILL break is the tiny little motor. That is only covered for 90 days. I bought mine in August and it’s dead. Cost to get a new motor $89.  DON’T WASTE YOUR $$$. I will never recommend this piece of junk to anyone.” – Korack

 

 

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Elliptical machines for weight loss?

If you’re considering an elliptical machine for your home exercise program with weight loss as one of your goals, you may be interested in a fitness guide I wrote here on heydayDo.

I go into detail on how to get the most out of a home elliptical, and provide tips on increasing muscle tone & calorie burn with it too.

To read the article, you can click on the link below or the pic.

Is An Elliptical Good For Weight Loss?

Elliptical Weight Loss - heydayDo article image

 

Elliptical machine benefits

Besides the great cardio workout, an elliptical machine has a few benefits all on its own.

 

Easier on your joints, ligaments, & bones

Elliptical machines are low impact exercise equipment because your feet never leave the pedals.

This makes an elliptical workout much kinder to your joints, bones, & ligaments compared to running on a treadmill, notes Mayo Clinic.

 

Elliptical machines activate upper body muscles too

Treadmills, exercise bikes, & steppers don’t work your core, arms, shoulders, & back muscles as well as an elliptical machine does when you’re pushing & pulling on the moving handles.

This is a form of resistance training, which provides many health benefits when done consistently.

 

You can work out longer

An elliptical machine workout provides many of the same health benefits gained while using other exercise equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes, & stepper machines.

And on an elliptical, your hips, knees, & foot joints aren’t being stressed as much compared to treadmill running and similar high-impact exercise, as shown in this research study from the University of Jerusalem.

Plus, your lower back isn’t stressed like it is when you’re hunched over on a stationary bike.

This means you will feel “aches & pain” free for a longer period of time on an elliptical machine compared to those other forms of cardio.

This could translate into better workouts & a higher calorie burn.

 

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Reviews: best cheap ellipticals for home use

Woman exercising on her cheap elliptical machine in her apartment - heydayDo image

Okie dokie, here are my detailed notes about each of those 6 elliptical machines.

You’ll see a % number at the start of each individual product review.

That’s my calculation for the percentage of 5- & 4-star reviews that elliptical got from its buyer reviews I gathered from all online retailers.

I call it my Owner Satisfaction Rating, and anything under 80% ought to have you looking elsewhere, IMHO.

 

Not for hardcore workout warriors

I probably mention this in each of these elliptical machine’s reviews. But whatever, I’ll say it here too:

These machines are not designed for strong people looking to do HIIT or other high-intensity training. 

They’re for beginners, seniors, out-of-shape folk, or anyone else who wants some light-to-moderate cardio with little to no impact on their joints.

 

If you want something that’s low-impact & indestructible, get what I bought a couple of years ago: the Xiser mini-stepper.

After hundreds of workouts, I wrote up my experiences with it in this review here on heydayDo.

 

OK, let’s go check out these elliptical machines.

 

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Gazelle Edge

4.4  86%  –  2,600+ online reviews

This is the mid-priced model of the 3 Gazelle Gliders you’ll find at Walmart & on Amazon.

Currently it’s around 180 bucks (though remember, prices online change every time the wind blows it seems), and it gets very good reviews too.

 

Range of motion is better than costlier ellipticals

A nice perk with this budget-friendly elliptical from Gazelle: It’s free-swinging nature offers a greater range of motion & stride than you’ll find on many elliptical machines double or triple its price.

What I like:

It’s a really cheap elliptical – but it works well enough to give many people a good workout.

Easy to use – The Gazelle Edge is well-suited for seniors & exercise beginners, as well as people who need to have a low-impact cardio exercise program (those with arthritis &/or joint pain, physio rehabbers, etc.).

Instructional DVDs – the Gazelle Edge ships with 2 workout DVDs. One is 35 minutes long, and the other, called Total Body Butt Kicking Workout 😄 has 3 different length workouts on it. Nutrition guide included as well.

It’s pretty quiet – provided you’ve assembled it properly. A cheap machine like this needs everything built “just right” so it’ll operate smoothly and without squeakin’ at you.

Decent warranty – On the Gazelle Edge Amazon page I’m looking at  there’s no info on warranty. However after contacting Gazelle they replied that the Edge has a 12-month warranty. (I’d humbly suggest you register your Glider over on their website after your purchase, just to be solid.)

Doesn’t require a lot of space –  when built the Gazelle Edge only takes up about a 4’ x 3’ footprint, but remember to allow 2-3 feet of extra (length) room for when you’ve got it gliding.

It folds up nice too – and can be put off to the side somewhere pretty easily, as it only weighs around 45 lb. It’s 11″ when folded, so it can fit under some beds too.

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

Little resistance – If you’re reasonably fit, you likely won’t get the resistance you’re looking for. The Gazelle Edge is designed for non-athletic folks to move their bodies, get their heart rates up and burn some calories.

Moved a little during use – A few owners have gotten their Edge elliptical to creep across the floor while working out on it. Here’s an easy solution: get a mat, and I know them well. You can read about the good, bad, & the ugly of exercise equipment mats here.

A few short-lived consoles – There are some reports of the workout “computer” not working after awhile**.

 

** – If you’re really into tracking your workout stats – regardless of which model you choose – you’re better off with a higher accuracy device like a FitBit or a Lintelek.

ALL low-budget fitness machines (bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, etc.) have low-budg electronics that are “pretty inaccurate” (my polite way of saying “useless”). 

 

Gazelle Edge Tech Specs:

  • Max user capacity: 300 lb.
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Dimensions: 44”L x 34”W x 54”H
  • Folded dimensions: 66″L x 34″W x 11″H
  • Gazelle Edge weight: 46 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

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Schwinn 411 Elliptical

4.4  81%  –  200+ online reviews

This is a new model introduced by Nautilus (Schwinn’s parent company).

It’s a well-built compact elliptical machine that is a stripped-down sibling of their more expensive Schwinn 470 and 430 models.

 

Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine - heydayDo image copy

 

 

Note about Amazon reviews & ratings for this Schwinn 411: 

Recently Amazon lumped  all 4 of Schwinn’s elliptical machines onto 1 page, combining all of their reviews & buyer ratings in the process. 

That’s bad for this Schwinn 411 because it brings its “apparent” rating down.

I kept track of this 411’s buyer rating before the switch and separately since, so my numbers reflect just the 411 model – not them other three.

 

Great warranty & nice features

It comes with a very good warranty for a low-priced elliptical, and also has the longest stride length (18”) of any of the decent elliptical machines under $500.

It has a number of useful features not found in most cheap elliptical machines, such as Bluetooth compatibility, remote heart rate monitoring, and more.

Another perk is that the Schwinn 411 puts all of these features into a compact elliptical machine that only requires 54” x 24” of floor space.

 

 

What I like:

Very nice warranty – especially (!) for an elliptical under $500: 10 years on the frame; 2 years parts; 1 year electronics; 90 days labor.

18”stride length – This is a longer stride than any of the Schwinn 411’s “Elliptical Under $500” competition and good for most people* (*- too short for me at 6′ 2″).

16 levels of resistance – And they’re easy to change with a push of a button.

Bluetooth capability – This allows you to sync to the mixed-reality RunSocial® app. You can race or work out alongside friends in 19 different locations and 27 courses, and track your workout stats too.

Tablet holder – easily view your synced workout apps and anything else you wirelessly want to check out while exercising.

HIIT it – the Schwinn 411 can be programmed to do a “lite version” of high-intensity interval training if you’re feeling it.

It’s a space-saving, compact elliptical – at 54”L x 24”W, the Schwinn 411 doesn’t take up much floor space at all, given its bang for the buck.

Wireless heart rate monitor option – the Schwinn 411 was the only cheap elliptical under $500 I could find that had the option for wireless heart monitoring.

It’s already contact-enabled with hand grips, but you could go one better with wireless. You would still need to buy the (non-coded) Polar chest strap separately, but that’s a normal to-do” even for higher-priced fitness machines that offer the remote monitoring.

(note: If your heart rate numbers are important to you, it’s worth the 30 bucks for the strap. All cheap fitness machines come with unreliable hand grip pulse counters; better to get an accurate one.)

Easy console – easy to see, easy to use. Tracks time, distance, calories, resistance, and heart rate.

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

Longer stride than its competition, but… – At 18”, the stride length on the Schwinn 411 is much better (by a few inches too) than any of the other fixed-stride ellipticals in this review: Fit Rider X, ProForm, Sunny, & Cubii.

This stride length will be just fine for most people.

But it’s too short for me at 6” 2” with a natural-paced elliptical stride of 20+”.

Schwinn 411 Tech Specs:

  • Max user capacity: 300 lb.
  • Warranty: 10 years frame; 2 years parts; 1 year electronics; 90 days labor
  • Dimensions: 54”L x 24”W x 63”H
  • Schwinn 411 weight: 100 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon


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Brenda DyGraf Fit Rider X Elliptical

4.3  82%  –  200+ online reviews

Probably the best elliptical under $200, this is the latest version of the Fit Rider.

It’s super cheap and built by big fitness equipment manufacturer Stamina Products.

 

Brenda DyGraf's FitRider X - heydayDo image copy

 

You sit on this machine and it’s a breeze to use, which makes it a very good elliptical for seniors, exercise beginners, and anyone with balance issues.

On the flip side, the Fit Rider is not built for the high intensity trainees among us.

Brenda DyGraf supplies a workout DVD with the elliptical machine, and the video showcases a wide range of low-impact exercises you can do to get a full-body workout.

 

 

What I like:

The price – under 200 bucks, which is great if you’re on a tight budget.

Space saver & easy to move around – the Fit Rider X is a pretty compact home exercise machine at 44”L x 34”W, and weighs 34 lb.

Workout DVD included this elliptical machine comes with an instructional DVD, showing you the how to perform various Fit Rider exercises.

Kind of like a rowing machine – in that your feet remain parallel throughout the motion and your arms pull & extend the handlebars.

Nice ergonomics for back pain sufferers – The range of motion has no low-back issues because your seat actually rises as you draw the handlebars towards you, shifting the muscle use to your legs, shoulders, & core.

Easy to assemble – that’s always a plus.

It’s quiet & smooth

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

Low user max weight: The max user capacity is 250 lb., which may be too light for a few people.

Not for heavy-duty cardio fans – Best suited for seniors & exercise beginners, the Fit Rider’s not up to the task of the hardcore cardio workouts some of us are looking for.

Short warranty – typical of the cheap ellipticals, it always makes me wonder: how long will it last?

 

Fit Rider X Tech Specs:

  • Max user capacity: 250 lb.
  • Warranty: 1-year on frame, 90 days parts
  • Console: simple LCD workout tracker – strides, time, calories
  • Dimensions: 44”L x 34”W x 40”H
  • Brenda DyGraf Fit Rider X weight: 34 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

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ProForm Hybrid Trainer

3.6  64%  –  1,100+ online reviews

This is ProForm’s highest-rated elliptical from the many found in the low-priced section of their catalog.

Uniquely, it is an elliptical machine & recumbent exercise bike in one.

 

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The Hybrid Trainer has a wide range of resistance level presets, and it’s easy to adjust the machine from elliptical to recumbent bike.

It comes Bluetooth- & iFit-compatible if you’d like to subscribe to their workout features.

 

Short stride length

The elliptical part of this machine has a short stride length of 15”, as short stride lengths are very common in cheap elliptical machines.

This forces people with long legs or strides into an unnatural motion, and an unnatural stride repeated over & over is a recipe for overuse injury.

This means the machine is a better fit for exercise beginners, seniors, and shorter people than it is for the tall & fit, &/or those who have a longer stride.

 

What I like:

16 resistance level presets – you can really bump up the intensity.

Decent sized console – easy to read & use, changing resistance levels is a 1-touch operation.

Quiet – thanks to its magnetic resistance.

Nice pedals & seat – pedals are oversized and adjustable; seat’s comfortable enough.

Tablet holder – for following along with your favorite online or app workouts, or for just general distraction purposes.

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

15” stride This isn’t a shocker if we remember that the ProForm Hybrid Trainer is in the cheap elliptical machine aisle, where short stride lengths are par for the course.

But regardless, 15″ is too short of an elliptical stride for me (6’2”), and likely for anyone else much over 5’ 9” or so who’s in decent shape.

If you’re tall & athletic, I believe a restricted stride increases the potential for muscle & knee joint blues as I mentioned above.

Short parts & labor warranty – 5-year warranty provided for the frame is real nice, but here’s another short “90 days for parts & labor” warranty too.

A couple of defective consoles – Some owners have had their electronic consoles start acting funky soon after purchase.

 

ProForm Hybrid Trainer Tech Specs:

  • Max user capacity: 350 lb.
  • Warranty: 5 years frame, 90 days parts & labor
  • iFit/Bluetooth compatible (paid subscription tho’)
  • Wheels, but…it weighs 117 lb.
  • Dimensions: 71”L x 25”W x 61”H
  • ProForm Hybrid Trainer weight: 117 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

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Sunny Magnetic Elliptical E-3804

3.7⭐  66%  –  100+ reviews

This is a fairly new model; looks like it was released in late 2018.

Looking through their catalog, I’m guessing it’s an attempt to be a slight upgrade from 8 (!) of their older models.

Unfortunately I can’t recommend this one with any degree of confidence given its price vs. its quality, its questionable longevity, and its inadequate stride length.

 

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer - heydayDo image copy

 

Plus it has over 1 in 4 owners (28% of them) leaving  an unsatisfied  (2-star) or very unsatisfied (1-star) rating.

 

Really short stride length

They’ve bumped it up to 13 ½”, from the older versions with 11” or 12”, but that is still real short.

(Again, I’m 6′ 2″, but my inseam’s only 32″…and I had nothing remotely close to a natural stride motion on it – since my stride length is 20″ or so.)

This stride length will work for you if you’re either short, a senior, or an exercise beginner.

If you’re tall & athletic like me or have a long walking stride, you do not want be squeezed into a 13 ½” stride length.

 

 

What I like:

Magnetic resistance –  the SF-E3804 is a quiet ride with 8 levels of resistance. You change it manually via a knob on the center post.

It’s a pretty compact elliptical – floor space required is only 54” x 25”.

Console has a couple of extra features – not usually found on a cheap elliptical machine. You can get heart rate target zones by age and a couple of other tests through the pulse sensor hand grips, including body fat %.

The usual stats like time & distance are also on the console as well.

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

Short stride length for the tall & fit – as already mentioned.

Short warranty on non-frame parts – 90 days is all Sunny is willing to cover for everything except the frame.

Accuracy of data – Being naturally skeptical (and also having test-driven & reviewed hundreds of inexpensive, Chinese-built fitness products), I wonder about the accuracy of the additional data points provided in the console of this upgraded Sunny SF-E3804.

 

Sunny Magnetic Elliptical Tech Specs:

  • Max User capacity: 287 lb.
  • Warranty: 3 years on the frame, 90 days for the other parts; no labor coverage
  • Resistance type: magnetic
  • Dimensions: 54”L x 25”W x 63”H
  • Sunny SF-E3804 weight: 81 lb.

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

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Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical

4.5⭐  87%  –  1,300+ reviews

The Cubii Pro is a very good product, and I think this is best seated/under-desk elliptical on the market…even if it can’t be used standing up.

 

Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine - heydayDo image copy

 

It’s built to be used while sitting, is very quiet during use, and its smart design features were made with the desk-bound office worker in mind.

It is also ideal for those who sit a lot at home, including seniors and others with balance issues for whom an upright elliptical might be too difficult to use.

You can use the Cubii while seated watching TV, reading, knitting, whatever.

 

What I like:

Very good owner rating – The Cubii Jr also has a good owner satisfaction rating of 85% / 4.4 stars with over 550 online reviews.

Bluetooth-enabled – The only mini elliptical that’s got Bluetooth, the Cubii Pro tracks your calories, distance, stride, time, & RPMs.

You can use their app to set up or join Cubii user groups worldwide, and this Bluetooth feature also allows you to sync to FitBit and HealthKit.

It’s very quiet – The Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical is designed to be used in corporate & professional office environments, as well as in your home without making any noise.

Space saver – The Cubii Pro only requires a very small footprint for an elliptical machine, and is fairly lightweight at 27 lb.

Workout data’s accuracy is certified – The world-renowned Mayo Clinic has a standard called NEAT™ Certification, which signifies that the product accurately tracks your fitness program. The Cubii Pro mini-elliptical is the only NEAT™ certified under-desk elliptical.

Nice warranty – 1 year full warranty, 30-day money back return guarantee.

Shipping free on Amazon

 

What’s not so good:

A few defective units reported – A very small percentage of owners have been sent units that had defective parts of one kind or another.

The company seems quick to replace or repair the faulty machines.

Judging from their high involvement with customer issues on Amazon, Cubii’s customer support seems actively involved in problem resolution, so that’s good.

Seated workouts only – The Cubii Pro is only meant to be used while sitting.

 

Cubii Pro Tech Specs:

  • Dimensions: 23” x 11” x 9”
  • Cubii Pro weight: 27 lb.
  • User max weight capacity: none (since you’re seated while using this)

See reviews & current price on Amazon

 

 

Best elliptical under 500 buyer’s guide

Woman smiling riding her Schwinn 411, a best elliptical under 500 candidate - heydayDo image

The inexpensive elliptical machines I chose for this review came from a batch of over 15 cheap ellipticals that I was able to check out.

Those that aren’t mentioned here didn’t make the cut – with too many owner complaints being the primary reason for excluding them.

Even all of these reviewed “best elliptical under $500” candidates have some shortcomings too; just not as many nor problems as chronic as the ones not listed here had.

 

They cost WAY less than the more durable models

After all, cheap ellipticals are priced thousands of dollars less than the best home elliptical machines & commercial gym ellipticals.

So yes, the well-worn cliché “you get what you pay for” once again applies here, even to the best ellipticals under $500.

 

Reality of cheap fitness gear

A lower-priced piece of exercise equipment typically is built with lower-quality manufacturing standards using cheaper parts.

Given that they are (cost) cutting some corners, the manufacturer’s warranties are going to be much shorter compared to high-end gear as a result.

And warranties tell me how confident the makers are that their product will perform trouble-free for X amount of time.

 

Reasonable expectations are good

Truth of the matter is, cheap fitness equipment just isn’t built to last as long as the really, really good stuff.

I think keeping all this in mind, along with having realistic expectations, makes the ownership experience a more pleasant one when shopping in the bargain bin.

 

Protect Your Investment

Do you need an exercise equipment mat to protect your floor from your home elliptical machine & your sweat?

A good mat also keeps floor dust or carpet fibers from getting into your equipment’s moving parts and causing problems.

I wrote a buyer’s guide & article on the better equipment mats available for both carpet & hardwood floors here.

 

Assembly of your cheap elliptical

Most (all?) of these cheap ellipticals come at least partially assembled in varying degrees, but you will have to put the rest of it together.

I’d like to gently suggest a couple of things in regards to assembly.

 

Verify the parts are all there

Do this right when you crack open the box for the first time.

Make sure all of the parts were shipped to you before beginning to put it together, and get ahold of the manufacturer (through your Amazon order page) immediately if something’s not copacetic.

 

Build it right

Take your time to assemble it properly, unless you’re a pure whiz at it.

These cheap fitness machines can make squeaks & creaks if even a small frame part is installed just a little ‘off’.

 

 

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Wrapping up time

I hope my cheap elliptical product recon & research is useful to you, and that the buyer’s guide & benefits of elliptical workouts sections are a boost for you as well.

By the way, if you’re interested in other inexpensive fitness equipment I’ve also written an article on cheap treadmills –  Best Treadmills Under $500.

If you’re not yet on a consistent exercise program, I want to sincerely encourage you to take the steps to start one for yourself, now.

You’re worth being at your best, and a nice amount of physical activity can help you get there.

Here are some real good reasons to get movin’, courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Health.

I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

– greg


About heydayDo

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Organic food & wine grower. Surfer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). Read more…
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