Bottom line: Get an excellent cardio workout that's easy on the joints with the SOLE E25 Elliptical machine. The addition of the STUDIO app adds motivation to work even harder.
Great cardio workout
Smooth and comfortable no-impact ride
Connects to motivating app
You'll want to use an HR monitor
Not for users over 350 pounds
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SOLE Fitness makes a variety of high-quality at-home fitness equipment machines, including the elliptical machine I've been testing. An elliptical machine is a cardio machine with handles you push and pull and foot pedals that move in a circular motion for a smooth, no-impact, full-body cardio workout. STUDIO is an at-home fitness studio app on your best iPhone that includes over 3,000 instructor-led classes that work with a number of fitness machines or with no equipment at all.
The two companies have partnered to create a smart fitness experience that helps you meet your goals without leaving your house. Tons of classes led by a variety of instructors, leaderboards where you compete with other users, and rewards may help motivate you to work harder and sweat more.
SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app: Price and availability
The SOLE E25 Elliptical machine can be purchased at Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods, or directly from SOLE Fitness. It retails for $1,800 but is currently selling for $1,300 at Amazon or $1,000 at Dick's and SOLE. Optional assembly fees are extra.
The STUDIO app is free to download. SOLE machine owners get a month's free trial subscription. After that, the subscription costs $20 per month or $200 per year.
SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app: What's good
Overall, the experience of using the SOLE E25 Elliptical machine and the STUDIO app together has been pretty great. The machine itself is of even better quality than the elliptical machine that kept me going through quarantine. The app connects directly to both the machine itself via Bluetooth and your heart monitor (or Apple Watch). While you can use an Apple Watch to measure your heart rate, using a separate heart monitor gives you a more frequent reading. Once you're all connected, choose any of the on-demand classes and fire it up! The instructor will tell you what level to set your machine to and how hard you should be pushing it. Some classes include off-machine weight-lifting segments as well. Popular music plays in the background for that extra boost.
As you work out, you'll see your metrics on your iPhone screen and competitors at the bottom of the screen. Since the classes aren't live, the competitors you see are people who have taken the class before. Your heart rate is measured against these other folks at the same point in the class. With your heart rate, you earn Fitcoins, which you collect and can eventually trade in for real-life rewards and merchandise. Heart rate is used to earn Fitcoins rather than the number of miles, for example, because it's a good equalizer between beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts.
While the leaderboards are set up as a competition between you and other users, you can also chat and connect with other users within the app. After taking a class, you can post your workout. People can react to your post and cheer you on. You can form a "tribe" within the app which makes a large community feel smaller.
You can connect the STUDIO app to a number of SOLE fitness machines in addition to the elliptical, such as treadmills, bikes, and rowing machines. There are also a number of classes you can take without any machine, such as yoga, sculpt, boxing, stretching, meditation, strength, and even outdoor workouts. New classes are added every week.
The SOLE E25 Elliptical machine has a heavy-duty steel frame backed by a lifetime warranty, 20 resistance levels, 20 incline levels, physical therapist-designed pedals, 20-pound flywheel and high gear ratio for a smooth workout, Bluetooth audio speakers, USB charging port, and two different "shelves" where you can place your iPhone and iPad. You can, of course, use the elliptical machine without the app. There are pulse monitors in the stationary handles if you don't want to use a heart rate monitor or Apple Watch.
SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app: What's not good
Because the app connects to both the machine and either your Apple Watch or a heart rate monitor (but not both at once), it took me a bit of trial and error to figure out which was the best way to connect. I found what worked best for me was connecting a heart rate monitor and the elliptical machine to the app, and starting a Workout on my Apple Watch at the same time. That way I get full credit for my workout in both the STUDIO app and in the Apple Fitness app. All my metrics show up on the STUDIO app screen and I can earn Fitcoins and compete on the leaderboards.
If I connect the Apple Watch to the STUDIO app rather than the heart rate monitor, I am unable to start a Workout on my Apple Watch and I don't get full credit in Apple Fitness. Personally, I'd prefer not to have to use a separate heart rate monitor since I do have that Apple Watch which measures my heart rate just fine (albeit every 10 seconds compared to the heart rate monitor measuring it every second.)
The price is going to be prohibitive for some, with the SOLE machine itself costing about a grand and the STUDIO subscription costing another $20/month or $200/year. It adds up. Still, it's cheaper than many gym memberships and it's certainly convenient to work out at home. It's worth noting that the machine is rated for users up to 350 pounds.
SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app: Competition
Peloton was the first competitor that came to mind. Peloton offers a number of advantages such as live classes for more of a community feel. However, Peloton has only two kinds of machine options, bike or treadmill, though there are plenty of off-machine workouts from which to choose. Peloton machines cost well over twice as much as the SOLE machines, and the Peloton subscriptions start at about double the cost of the STUDIO app.
Apple Fitness Plus offers tons of fitness classes of all kinds (though not for the elliptical machine) and superb integration with the Apple Watch. Pricewise, it's about half the cost of the STUDIO subscription or less since it's included in the Premier Apple One subscription. However, it lacks the competition/community. You're only competing with yourself.
SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a no-impact cardio workout
- You want a fitness community to compete with and motivate you
- You want tons of on-demand instructor-led classes with new ones added weekly
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You prefer live classes at home or at a gym
- You're on a tight budget
- You're over 350 pounds
The SOLE Elliptical machine and STUDIO app are great for anyone looking for a no-impact cardio workout, instructor-led classes, and a fitness community to keep you motivated as you work out at home. However, it's not for the tightest budgets or anyone over 350 pounds. If you're looking for live classes like Peloton's, or you'd rather go to the gym, then this combo isn't for you.
This at-home fitness studio connects with SOLE equipment for a smart fitness experience.
The partnership between SOLE and STUDIO offers a mid-priced solution for people looking to get fit with instructor-led classes at home. The SOLE E25 Elliptical machine is a high-quality no-impact full-body cardio machine. The STUDIO app is an "at-home boutique fitness studio" with thousands of on-demand classes. Using the two together with a heart rate monitor allows you to connect with and compete with other users and earn Fitcoins which can be traded in for real-life rewards.
Bottom line: Get a great no-impact full-body cardio workout. Make it even better by connecting it to the STUDIO app.