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Lifespan Fitness XT38 Elliptical Cross Trainer Review

We have this notion that the higher the model number of a particular product, the better it is. For instance, the iPhone 6 is way much better than the iPhone 5 but pales in comparison to the iPhone 8 or X. We have this idea that companies follow simple logic when putting numbers in a series. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Take for example the Lifespan XT38, the successor to the Lifespan XT37 Cross Trainer. Or so I thought.

From its price alone, I knew this is an elliptical trainer that is not really designed for those who require the ultimate in exercise machines. But don’t get me wrong. The Lifespan XT38 Cross Trainer does have its own bevy of positives. Join me as we explore the good things and the not-so-good things about this latest offering from Lifespan Fitness.

Overview of the Lifespan XT-38 Cross Trainer

The XT38 Cross Trainer can be viewed as the younger brother of the brand’s XT37. It provides a host of features that are also seen on its older brother. However, based on some of the unique attributes of the XT38 it becomes readily apparent that it’s not really for the fitness buff who wants to push herself or himself to the hilt.

The XT38 is built more for those who are relatively new to the field of fitness or perhaps even individuals who have been in the world of fitness for quite some time, but are not really into weight loss, cardio training, or even resistance training. It’s perfect for those who want an easier way to keep fit.

While the XT38 comes with the same automatic variable resistance technology of the XT37 the levels of resistance can only be adjusted up to 16. For those who want to work more, this clearly puts a cap on what they can accomplish. That is why I consider the XT38 to be ideal for beginners since there is no way you can push yourself beyond the limits of your capabilities if the machine will allow you to only do so much.

The Lifespan XT38 is designed as a front wheel drive belt system allowing for a more efficient, a more natural movement with each stride. It features the same stride length of the XT37 at 46 centimetres while making sure that it will not create any unnecessary noise when fully operated. This should really come in handy for those who have slightly longer legs, although even short-legged fellows will appreciate the wider stride of the XT38.

One of the features that people look for in an elliptical machine is the pre-set programmes. As expected, the XT38 doesn’t really provide much except that it does allow for one customisable setting in addition to 7 pre-set fitness programmes. There’s a BMI calculator, too, plus 4 programmes for keeping track of one’s heart rate. For the advanced user, this is simply insufficient. But for those who are relatively new to such exercise machines, it should suffice.

The computer display is quite standard. The information it presents are very straightforward in the classic black print on blue background interface. Even the bar graph that’s supposed to represent the resistance levels doesn’t offer any visual break from the monotony of the blue screen.

Some may think that they are staring at the Blue Screen of Death in Windows desktop computer screens. The integration of hand pulse sensors as well as the tablet or smartphone stand is a nice touch, though.

The XT38 comes with a tubular steel frame, a couple of heavy-duty roller wheels, and stabilisers up front to make sure the elliptical won’t be getting anywhere. This is as if its hefty net weight of 71 kilogrammes is highly movable. Add to this the 160-kilogramme maximum weight capacity and you’ve got a really stable exercise platform for beginners. I must say, it does occupy considerable space at about 2 metres by 0.67 metres.

Call me opinionated, but that’s exactly how I feel about the XT38.

A Closer Look at the Features of the Lifespan XT38 Cross Trainer

Highly Variable Resistance

At the heart of the XT38 is an Automatic Variable Resistance technology allowing any user to seamlessly manipulate the levels of resistance generated by its magnetic flywheel at a mere touch of a button.

Unfortunately, I find the 16-level resistance settings to be insufficient for power users like me. Perhaps, for individuals who are new to fitness being able to change the level of resistance from 1 to 16 or anything in between without so much of an effort should be appealing.

On a more positive note, I do find shifting from one resistance level to another to be flawless. Some of the machines I’ve worked with have this noticeable ‘lag’ between resistance levels as if trying to engage the gears onto the selected level. And for that, I’d say I’m quite impressed.

Modest Number of Fitness Programmes

Most of the elliptical trainers I’ve tried so far came with at least 20 pre-set programmes. The XT38 comes with only 7 plus 6 other programs designed for newbies. There are 4 heart rate control programmes that should be nifty for those who would like to stay abreast of their cardiovascular endurance. It should also work well with the built-in body fat calculator programming.

Some of the pre-set programmes include fat burn, warm up, endurance, and high intensity interval training. These should be enough for those who are relatively new to the fitness circle or perhaps those who prefer to keep things simple. At any rate, one can always use the customisable programming on the XT38.

Whisper-Quiet Front Drive Motor

It’s not surprising that the XT38 also comes with an almost-whisper quiet operation. Its front-mounted belt drive system is designed for extra-smooth operation creating an almost-imperceptible noise. It’s the perfect companion for those individuals who happen to share space with someone else or those who live in homes where the only partition separating them from their neighbours is a thin piece of wooden wall. At the very least your partner won’t be complaining to you if you suddenly decide to hit the XT38.

Reversible Motion

This is something that I found very interesting in the XT38. The heavy-duty magnetic flywheel can be rotated in either directions moving forward or backward. It’s this reversible motion capability of the Lifespan XT38 that should help individuals target certain muscle groups that will not be properly addressed by conventional unidirectional elliptical trainers. It is something that you would really want to try.

Large Stride Length

Like the XT37, the XT38 comes with a stride length of 46 centimetres which should afford you the chance to burn more calories by increasing the length of your stride. Of course, if you’re not really into losing weight you can always set the XT38 to a much more comfortable stride. The point is that you do get the chance to push yourself to the hilt.

Sadly, you can only set the level of resistance up to a max of 16. Assisting with the gliding motion of the pedals are dual hardened roller guides that move along the base rail of the XT38. This ensures that your movements are consistent and smooth.

Stable, Durable, and Movable Design

The Lifespan XT38 Cross Trainer requires a space that is about 2 metres long and about 67 centimetres wide with a vertical clearance of at least 171 centimetres. The entire exercise machine comes in at a whopping 71 kilogrammes net which could make it quite challenging to move.

Thankfully Lifespan has included heavy-duty transport wheels into the base frame of the XT38 allowing you to easily move it around. The large foot plates come with nibs that help provide for a more secure grip on the shoes. The frame is made of tubular steel and, working with its weight, allow for a more stable exercise platform. Helping in this stability are a couple of floor levellers.

Other “Useful” Features

The Lifespan XT38 Cross Trainer also comes with a user console complete with a blue LED-backlit display. The monitor displays the most important workout statistics like speed, time, distance, resistance level, pulse, cadence, calories, and watts. The arrangement of the information is pretty straightforward. Personally, I think Lifespan can do better. The integrated tablet stand is a nice touch, though. The integrated hand pulse sensors are commendable, too.

Pros & Cons

  • 13 dynamic and effective fitness programmes including 7 pre-sets, BMI calculator, 1 custom, and 4 HRC programmes
  • Front wheel belt drive system with fully automatic variable resistance technology
  • Straightforward yet highly useful on-board computer and display console
  • Reversible motion with more stable and smoother glides
  • Fitness programmes may not be sufficient for more advanced users
  • Resistance level settings can only be maxed up to 16
  • Quite bulky, requiring about 1.34 square metres of space; at least 2 metres long


The Lifespan XT38 Cross Trainer is a modestly-designed elliptical trainer for those who are new to fitness. It may have the same features as its more robust older brother, the XT37, but some may feel that the pre-set and customisable programmes are insufficient. As I mentioned earlier, the resistance levels are a bit limited.

That being said some of you may want a cross trainer with better specs and features at a more premium price. However, I must say that at this price point in Australia, it is a quite reliable elliptical machine especially for beginners.