Customer Reviews: Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper
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on May 13, 2007
every stair stepper you look for nowadays is really big and insanely expensive. I had one for years that folded up like this one, but one of the hydraulics was going out, so we figured we'd need to find a replacement. This does the job well for the price paid; it's nice to be able to stash this out of the way so you don't have exercise equipment dominating a room in your house.
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on July 13, 2009
I'll begin by noting that I hesitated to buy the Spacemate Stepper because I was concerned that it would not provide a challenging workout. But I eventually decided to take a chance on it and, happily, it does indeed provide as tough a workout as I could want. I'll say more about that in a moment.

But first, the negatives: the machine arrived with a few plastic parts broken, which did not inspire confidence. But they proved to be inessential and I was able to set up and use the stepper right away. (And, for the record, customer service at Stamina was excellent and the parts arrived within a few days).

The computer, as other reviews have suggested, is complete rubbish--working only infrequently and often shorting out. But, really, all it does even when it works is keep time and count steps. Neither of these functions is important to me since I generally exercise with a heart rate monitor.

And, finally, the mechanisms in the hydraulics tend to give off a slightly acrid smell when hot. It's by no means terrible, just a little annoying, but I keep a fan nearby to circulate air and that disperses the smell.

As for the positives--and they far outweigh the negatives: The machine offers a very challenging workout and I say this as someone who is very active--cycling, inline skating, and martial arts training. Indeed, I bought the stepper primarily because I will be moving soon and will no longer have access to the large municipal park I currently live nearby and wanted an option for a challenging aerobic workout that I could perform indoors (I will also be moving to a colder climate).

Quite simply, the Spacemate offers a workout that is, in my experience, every bit as challenging as gym-quality steppers and, for that matter, $1000-plus elliptical trainers. And this for me trumps the negatives I described above. I really am pleased with it and, frankly, surprised that such a relatively inexpensive and compact piece of equipment can function so well.

I'll conclude by noting that I can't speak to a recurring concern in other reviews--the durability of the Spacemate. I've had it for about a week and in that time I've used it five times in vigorous sessions of 45-60 minutes. It's held up just fine but I should point out that I use it for 5 minutes on the easiest setting at an easy pace to warm up not just my legs but the machine (literally, as the warning stickers point out the hydraulics get VERY hot). And then I adjust it to a harder setting for the workout proper. I think this puts less stress on the machine. But will it hold up to, say, several hard sessions a week (as I plan on using it) for long? I can't say. Does it perform as well for persons who weigh over 165 pounds (my weight)? Again, I can't say.

But so far I am very impressed with this product and highly recommend it not just to anyone who is on a budget or who has space limitations but to anyone who wants a hard, hard workout.
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on September 22, 2007
I think this is a good little stepper for the money. We wanted something more substantial than those "handle-less" mini-steppers BUT with the convenience of being small and foldable. This seemed to be the perfect solution. I was able to set it up in 15 minutes by myself, though don't count on folding this up and storing it under a's still somewhat heavy and a bit bulky (you'd need a tall bed!) So far it seems to work well. The shock/piston adjustment on one side sticks a bit (making it difficult to adjust) but I just have to give it some jiggles. It also tends to rock from side to side when you step, but I'm hoping that will be eliminated when I have a rubber mat under it (it is on carpet.)
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on April 11, 2011
I've been using the Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper on average 2.5 times a week for a year and a half (at about 40 minutes per session) before one of the shocks physically broke. I was quite satisfied with the product until then -- the shocks did not lose tension, nor were they loud. I was surprised to find that on their website you can order individual parts for their products... you can order any bolt, any nut, any rod, ANYTHING that goes into building the Stamina. This is impressive, and very convenient. (Annoyingly, however, you have to pay for the parts using a credit card OVER THE PHONE, or by mailing them a check). I ordered a new pair of shocks (in case the remaining one breaks) at the reasonable price of $35, including s&h, and received them in the mail 10 days later.

So look, unless you get a really high-end stair stepper or elliptical or whatever, it's GOING to break sooner or later -- and probably sooner. You might as well get one from a company that allows you to order individual parts, which saves you money when it *does* break. For this reason, I recommend the Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper.
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on May 5, 2008
I got this with the expectation of only having a year or so before it broke. I wish. Try only 5 uses before it's done (at least I think).

Just FYI, I'm only 5'11 and 175 lbs so it's not like I'm stressing the unit. Plus, I never got to the point where I was working it that hard.

The first 2 or 3 uses were okay. Even when operational, the stepping action is not very smooth. Then comes the jolt. The shocks get very hot and lose tension suddenly. You are riding along and suddenly your foot drops to the floor. It actually hurt my knee with the jolt.

It usually lasts about 15 mins before you can't get the tension back at all. But, at least for a few uses, you could "pump" the stepper a little and get it to work.

Now, after 5 or 6 uses, the tension is completely gone in the right leg. It's completely useless. Seriously, why can't I rate this zero stars? If ever a product deserves it, this does.

On the plus side, it's easy to setup and I suppose to throw away, as I'll soon find out.

One more thing. Even when it did work, I didn't like the pedal incline. If you are used to gym style steppers, you know the pedals are pretty level. That way, you can lean a little forward or back to change up the workout. This unit, however, has a STEEP incline (in towards the handle bars). It doesn't make for a comfortable stepping motion. I chalked this up to 'you get what you pay for though' at first.

Of course, even at a real cheap price, it should last longer than a couple of weeks...

Stay away!!
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on October 28, 2009
I bought this product in September, thinking it would be a good buy. It was the worst purchase of my life. I was forewarned that this machine would break down sooner rather than later, but I thought for $100 it was a well calculated risk. Nobody told me this product would last only 2 months. In those 2 months, I must have used it less than 15 times in total, each workout lasting 15-20 minutes tops (I weight 160 lbs). One could make the argument that since the warranty was for 3 months, I was covered. But in a series of emails to Stamina Products, I was treated very rudely and curtly. The long and short of it is that they were only willing to provide replacement "parts". The problem with this is that the machine did not come in parts. It came readily assembled. The manual does not tell you how to assemble or dis-assemble the machine -- because the machine is already assembled. So when the right step broke, yes I could order a replacement right step, but I was offered absolutely no help on how to replace the right step on my own. Moreover, if I damaged the machine while attempting to install the replacement, my warranty would become void. All this was made plain to Stamina Products. They got even ruder and more unreasonable, and after a while, they stopped replying even as I explained in great detail how their solution could not help me.
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on April 4, 2012
I had an older version of this model - this newer one is much better constructed and easier to put together. One hint is that a "little" liquid soap is NOT enough to get the grips on the handle bars. Be generous with the soap or they won't go on. The major difference other then quality of construction is the angle of the step pedals. The older models were flat to the floor and did not cause me any back (lower/hip)issues. The newer model has steps more suitable for an eliptical device with a pronounced downward slope. This pitches you forward toward the bars and puts the lower back, specifically the hips, under more stress then reasonable and has resulted in several trips to the chiropractor to get reset. I am looking for a way to change the slope as the older model did not do this. Other then that issue, this is a better model. Oh, and the older model made it easier to adjust the point where a step is counted, much more difficult with the newer model. I just count them myself now.
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VINE VOICEon April 9, 2008
I just received the stepper a week ago or so, and geeze, this thing is brutal on your legs! That's a good thing, by the way. It means that those leg and butt muscles are getting one hell of a workout. So far I can *almost* stay on it for 10 minutes before I scream bloody murder and hobble over to the couch.

Keep in mind I'm by no means in bad shape. I workout almost every day, doing either mixed martial arts + cardio or strength training + cardio. However, the way that steppers isolate the exercise to the legs & glutes makes for one seriously painful workout if you haven't targeted them specifically prior to getting one of these things. I'm looking forward to the continued challenge this provides, and extending the time I can stay on it. I get the feeling it's really going to make a big impact visually in a relatively short period of time, judging by how sore you get on these things!
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on May 31, 2012
I agree with the other reviews that it was good while it lasted... I weigh 130 lbs so I'm well below the weight limit and it still broke! I use it on the more high impact/fast level and the metal gets very hot, I heard a snap and the metal on the front basically broke where it was welded on both sides! This was after about 25 minutes of use. I'm going to try and patch the cracks w/ epoxy and see what happens.

I don't recommend using this on fast setting for more than short periods of time no matter what you weigh. I doesn't hold up and was cheaply made.
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on October 21, 2011
I did A LOT of research before buying this machine. I wanted an exercise machine that would be compact enough in our small home without compromising stride length or breaking the budget - in case it turned into a coat rack. I originally wanted an elliptical because we have bad knees, but no "compact" elliptical was reviewed well by tall people like us, and reviews for this machine specifically mentioned it was fine with bad knees.

It arrived very quickly, and the box was in fine condition. I'm not sure how hard it was to assemble - my boyfriend put it together while I made dinner - but since I didn't hear much swearing and complaining, it seemed easy enough. His only complaint was that the knob on the front is called a bolt or screw in the directions and the improper description confused him. I think the hardest part was getting the rubber grips to slide onto the bars - he couldn't get it so I sprayed a little Pam on the inside and they slid right on.

I've only used it for a week, but I really like it. Like other reviewers have mentioned - I'm dying within 15 minutes at mid to three-quarters strength and after a workout my legs feel like jelly. The machine isn't unsteady or wobbly, which seems to be a major issue with most compact exercise equipment. I guess it is a little noisy, but not enough to distract from TV or holding a book. My only complaints are that the "wheels" don't work at all, so moving it is a little tough though not impossible, the calorie counter seems wrong(but I use weight watchers to calculate the calorie/point burn anyway). Overall I'm VERY happy, definitely worth the price!
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