Update: The XT37 below may have been discontinued by Lifespan. I couldn’t find any online shops that have this product in stock. However, Lifespan has a released a newer model, the XT38. You can check the review here.
There are products that, at first glance, will tell you they are the real deal. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving. Hopes can be washed in an instant and trust eroded in a flash.
The thing can actually happen to almost anything that we lay our eyes on or put our hearts on. And when we have been eyeing an elliptical trainer to help us start our journey into the realm of optimum fitness, health, and wellness, you can simply imagine all that fire doused with cold water if the cross trainer we bought simply didn’t measure to our expectations.
That’s exactly how I have felt with the Lifespan XT37. It looked awesome, sleek and sexy even. And for its price that’s technically categorised as a notch above entry level, I’d say the Lifespan X22, which costs a couple hundred dollars less, offers even a much greater value. You can check out my comparison article that I did previously, the Best Elliptical Cross Trainers Reviews in Australia here. As always, this is just my opinion. So, let’s take a look at the XT37 and why I found it severely wanting.
Overview of the Lifespan XT37 Cross Trainer
The Lifespan XT37 Cross Trainer is a beautiful and elegantly designed front drive elliptical trainer unlike the X22 that comes in with a more traditional rear drive layout. This difference alone is what I truly don’t like about the XT37. We all know the tendency of front drive elliptical trainer systems to ‘climb’ because of the way the pedals move in relation to the flywheel and its pivot at the back. Because the front has a much higher vertical incline compared to the one near the pivot at the rear, this makes the XT37 to have a more vertical movement instead of the more physiologically normal horizontal movement.
Don’t get me wrong but there are front drive systems out there that I have found to be exceptionally good when it comes to simulating the walking or even running movement. These are designed in quite a different way such that the rear end of the pedal frames is engineered to mimic the width of the front drive flywheel. This helps minimize the ‘climbing effect’ of such machines. Unfortunately, you don’t see such innovation on the XT37. For that, I am really not a big fan of the XT37.
There’s another misgiving I have about the XT37. While its flywheel is made of heavy duty cast iron mated to a fully computerized magnetic resistance mechanism to allow for optimum variability in the application of tension, I find the weight to be somewhat on the lighter side at only 6 kilograms. As I have pointed in my article about the things you may want to consider when buying an elliptical trainer, at the very minimum you should be getting 7 kilograms. Heavier flywheels ensure smoother ride. No wonder I really couldn’t feel the XT37 give me such pleasure.
Requires more space but gives more stability
There’s one more thing that puzzles me about this particular front drive system. One of the characteristics of a good front drive mechanism is that they are slimmer and more lightweight than traditional rear drive systems. The XT37 requires 202 centimetres by 175 centimetres in floor space. By comparison, the X22 also from Lifespan only comes in at 160 centimetres by 131 centimetres and it’s a rear drive system. The Spirit XG400, on the other hand, comes in at 172 centimetres by 167 centimetres and it is a front drive system as well.
The XT37 is 20 per cent larger than the XG400 and both are front drive systems. Weight size, the XG400 is about 94 kilograms while the XT37 is 68 kilograms. That said, perhaps the combination of a larger footprint and a lighter frame makes the Lifespan XT37 more stable. I am really not sure. It does have a much higher user weight capacity than the X22 at 165 kilograms though.
Not everything is a miss with the XT37, I have to admit. For one, its computer programming is simply dizzying. It comes with 21 different fitness programmes plus 4 fully customisable settings, a Watts programme, a body fat calculator, a recovery mode feature, and 5 different levels of heart rate controls for a whopping 33 different programmes or settings to tinker with. Everything can be controlled with a simple touch of a button. Contact sensors are also built into the padded handles. The LCD display looks nice and crisp, too. It even comes with a built-in mobile device docking cradle so you can turn the XT37 into your personal entertainment gizmo while training. Unfortunately, this also means you’ll be covering the centre section of your console’s screen, robbing you of visual feedback to your progress.
I may be biased in my review, but I really expected quite a lot from the XT37. Unfortunately, it fell short on many of those expectations.
A Closer Look at the Features of the Lifespan XT37 Cross Trainer
Dizzying array of fitness programmes
The Lifespan XT37 comes with 21 fitness programmes that are already pre-programmed into the onboard computer. This is in addition to the 4 modes that one can customise according to their preferences as well as individual fitness needs. Then there are 5 levels of heart rate control programmes which are perfect for individuals who are slowly building their cardiovascular capacity. There’s a Watts programme, recovery mode, and a body fat calculator, too. Honestly, I am not really sure if you can use all of the 33 different programmes.
Tubular frame and wide base of support with integrated wheels
While not necessarily an entry level elliptical trainer, the XT37 comes with the same tubular steel frame construction as the Lifespan X22 which is, as I have already mentioned, is marketed as an entry-level design. That being said, I expected the XT37 to be beefed up with slightly better materials than the X22. It, nevertheless, feels quite stable, thanks in part to its wider base at 175 centimetres compared to the X22’s 131 centimetres. Underneath the steel frame are several foot plates that come with anti-slip features. There’s a bottle holder, integrated roller wheels, and padded handles, too. Technically, I can have all these features in an elliptical trainer at half the price.
Large stride length
This is one of the features that most people love about the Lifespan XT37. Compared to the X22’s 36-inch stride length, the XT37 comes with 46 centimetres. This can prove invaluable for those with extra-large strides such as taller and lankier individuals. But if you’re on the shorter side of the equation, this might not fit you well, although I can only guess that it will be quite a challenge to propel your way forward or backward.
Quiet front drive
While the XT37 only comes with a 6-kilogram front driven flywheel, it nevertheless operates quietly just like the X22. It is this quiet belt drive that makes it pleasant to ride on. However, with an integrated deck on the console for your mobile device keeping you entertained, I guess it hardly matters if the XT37 is super-quiet. What matters more is the smoothness of the glide. And for that, I’d say I prefer the X22.
Other ‘handy’ features
The XT37 also comes with an integrated mobile device holder and water bottle holder. In my opinion, for its price the XT37 should already come with a fully integrated media entertainment system complete with speakers and USB ports and not just some cheap-looking smartphone and tablet holder. Also, the placement of the dock obstructs visual feedback from the machine’s console so I am not really sure what Lifespan’s designers were thinking.
Pros & Cons
- 33 different programs including 4 customisable modes, 21 presets, and a whole lot more
- Quiet belt drive with magnetic resistance fully automatic variable mechanism
- Large and wide footprint for greater stability
- Integrated contact sensors in polished chrome styling on the handlebars
- Sub-par 6-kilogram flywheel for its price range
- Dizzying number of programmes which can be quite complicated for newbie users
- No adjustable incline
- Bulky and requires substantial floor space
- Tubular steel construction doesn’t justify the price
As I have already mentioned, the Lifespan XT37 is a great elliptical trainer; on paper that is. Unfortunately, my experience with this particular equipment is well below my expectations for its price range. I would have expected a sturdier and more beefed up overall construction, although it did manage to increase its dimensions from the X22 considerably. But even that proved to be somewhat on the wrong side of the fence considering that the XT37 is supposed to be a front drive system which means it should be on the slimmer side. Nevertheless, this is not to say there are no good things about this Lifespan product. If any, the dizzying array of workout programmes should justify its price tag.