Recumbent steppers are a frequently used and valuable piece of equipment for many physical therapists in their practice and span a variety of different physical therapy settings. In the outpatient realm, clinicians often use them as a warmup tool, a ROM device, or for resisted therapeutic exercise. Cardiac rehab professionals find they are valuable to achieve and maintain specific workloads over a period of time. These machines have also been found useful in geriatric populations as a way to promote low load strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning without damaging impact to bones and joints.
Two Leaders Emerge:
Understanding the value of the equipment is half the battle, but which brand is the best for your practice is another question entirely. Two companies in particular seem to have a strangle hold on this market and our goal is to determine the advantages each company has over the other.
NuStep: NuStep has been around since 1997, but their research began much earlier as Founder Dick Sarns began working and researching this market in the early 1960’s. Today, they have 4 main versions of their recumbent stepper ranging in price from $3,795 to $6,195. They also have a home use purchasing options available where customers may buy one for as low as $89 per month.
SciFit: Scifit was originally founded in 1987 with a mission of helping those with disabilities easily access and use their fitness equipment. In 2015, SciFit merged with the Life Fitness brand and now offers several different models ranging from recumbent steppers to bikes and upper body ergometers to combo units.
Comparing the brands:
Ease of accessibility: Both brands have rotating seat options that allow individuals to sit sideways on the equipment and be rotated in by the therapist which makes getting in and out of the machine easy. NuSteps base model does not have the open option at the bottom and requires the patient to lift their leg over as the seat rotates in. SciFit has an easily removable seat to accommodate those in a wheelchair to be able to access the machine without transferring from their chair. Nustep has a 360 degree rotating seat that can also recline 12 degrees.
Cost: Nustep posts prices for all of their products directly on their website, while SciFit requires a consultation to discuss pricing. The edge goes to NuStep here for ease of pricing accessibility.
Customer Service: Both companies have phone numbers and email contacts easily accessible on the site. Both have headquarters located in the United States. Nustep has a specific number for international callers and has office hours of Mon-Fri from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. SciFit does not post office hours on their site, however they are unable to be reached via phone over the weekend.
Wrapping it up:
Both companies clearly provide a quality product. One of the most noticeable differences between the two appears to be the seating options. Differing clientele may sway your decision one way or the other. For example, if you have a large number of patients in a wheelchair, the SciFit model may be better suited for their needs. If you value the 360 rotating and reclining seat, the Nustep is the way to go.