Cardboard Elliptical Workout Machine: Pushing the Boundaries of Cardboard Invention

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Cardboard Elliptical Workout Machine: Pushing the Boundaries of Cardboard Invention
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When my You Tube subscribers ask me if there is a limit to what can be made with cardboard, my answer is an empathic “no”! As shown in my various Makezine posts throughout the past year, the ways cardboard can be manipulated into ideas ranging from scooters and toys to furniture is far-reaching.

The beauty of cardboard is its simplicity and abundance. Cardboard can be found everywhere for free and it can be bent, cut, shaped and glued into anything you want.

Creative limits are mental barricades we self-impose on ourselves and I broke down my mental barricades years ago. I like showing others that they can do the same! We can also collectively get past the idea of cardboard being nothing more than just recyclable garbage!

This is why I love the world of Make Magazine/Makezine! This site is a collection of individuals from around the world, in varying disciplines, with a similar common desire to create, break boundaries and share inventive knowledge with others. It’s a beautiful thing!

When it comes to my love – might as well call it an “obsession” – of cardboard as a creative medium, I’m always on the lookout for the next challenge to take my skill-set to higher levels of art and design. Create for the sheer sake of creating as a personal challenge. Sometimes I randomly self-generate an idea and sometimes televised pop-culture inspires me.

Two weeks ago, on a stay-in Friday night with nothing but infomercials to watch at 2am, inspiration drop-kicked me in the face! Every channel seemed to have some sort of ridiculous exercise machine guaranteed to ‘melt away the pounds’ and ‘give you the body you deserve!’

I enjoyed watching perfectly chiseled and fit people use zany metal machines that were over-priced and lacked practicality. Selling a dream of fitness for Christmas or the New Year for around $500 (with ‘call now’ special offer easy payment plans to boot)!

My mind started churning out alternative ways to get buffed using a machine handmade in my living room. Elliptical machines looked especially challenging to design and thus the self-imposed challenge was made!

One week and fifteen glued sheets of double-corrugated cardboard later, my elliptical experiment is now complete. My constructed Cardboard-O-Flex elliptical machine is able to sustain my weight with just construction glue keeping it together. Truthfully, I was unsure if this first attempt would stay together once my full weight was applied, but it has and I couldn’t be happier.

100% made out of cardboard and can hold up to 200lbs.
100% made out of cardboard and can hold up to 200lbs.

This was the first cardboard craft I’ve made that requires above-ground maneuverability. Unlike a rocking chair or my scooter design, the legs of an elliptical have to be free-floating above the floor. The legs of the elliptical had to support my 185 pounds of weight while being able to move back and forth with the handlebars and guide wheel. In the beginning I had no idea how many layers of cardboard were needed to support my weight and keep the device stable. I made an educated guess based on past inventions and went from there. At least nine layers of double corrugated cardboard is the answer.

The trick is getting on the elliptical by evenly distributing my weight. Cardboard can only take so much downward pressure and uniform balance is the key. Once on and balance is kept, the machine performs as designed. There are still more improvements to be made, but at least I can say that, “YES, it is possible to make a functioning elliptical out of cardboard!” (…not like anyone was asking)

Now, was making a cardboard elliptical practical? The answer is no! Then again, simply eating less and exercising more through walking or jogging each day is more practical than wasting hundreds of dollars on a workout toy destined to become your next over-priced coat rack.

Was making a cardboard elliptical fun, educational and worth the time? Yes, yes and oh yes! I had to problem solve, push my own creative boundaries and innovate to make the cardboard elliptical happen! Furthering your understanding of design is always time well spent!

Another creative feat complete and another year’s worth waiting to be discovered! Can’t wait to share my 2015 ideas with you all!

Have a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Years! Eat well and look towards that heap of discarded gift box cardboard for a low-cost way to burn those festive calories. Cheers!

10 thoughts on “Cardboard Elliptical Workout Machine: Pushing the Boundaries of Cardboard Invention

  1. JamesM says:

    Nice project! I liked the infomercial-style video too.

    1. Homemadegameguru . says:


  2. Sandra Penello says:

    I’ve followed your blog just because of your profile picture. A tardis and minecraft all in one. Your my kind of person!

  3. Michelle Hlubinka says:

    Ha! I just saw this a couple of hours ago, featured on a Seoul-based news show playing in a Korean restaurant in Anaheim. It played right after a new (non-cardboard) version of the Useless Machine designed to entertain cats: and a few other items I didn’t catch.

    Cardboard is the best material!

    1. Homemadegameguru . says:

      That’s awesome lol. Thanks for letting me know. I can’t get media in Canada, but in one day I find out the elliptical is in the UK-edition of the Huffington Post and in the South Korean news. Crazy!
      By any chance do you know the name of the news program or website link? I’m curious to see it (even if I can’t understand what is being said). Thanks

      1. Michelle Hlubinka says:

        I think the news show was called YTN World.
        I’m afraid my Korean has dwindled to nearly nothing since living there ~20 years ago. This looks like the show’s site, but you may need to find a fluent reader to find the piece.

        1. Homemadegameguru . says:

          Thanks for providing the link. Maybe I will find someone who can decipher where the story is on there.

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  5. Elliptical Machine Review says:

    That’s wonderful. I’ve been investigating this machine because I deal with foot pain. I still want to be able to use an elliptical, but the bike feature is also helpful if my feet are hurting. I’m happy to see you found a machine that you and your wife can share. Thanks for the review.

  6. Edna A. Hall says:

    Wow! I have not seen anything like before, and I could not even imagine that it’s possible to make out of cardboard elliptical trainer !!! I admire the talent of the inventor, but he spoke uncomplimentary about real I mean metallic elliptical trainers. Paying tribute to his talent, I want to defend trainers. Of course there is aware fact that they are used for other purposes, like for example coat hangers, but there are such people, as I for example who use it for its intended purpose. Of course, nothing replaces a jog in the park, but if the weather is not fit or even winter, that without such trainers you can swim with fat. They have many more advantages, details here

    Another very important feature Those suffering from bone and joint conditions can benefit from elliptical training because it does not place a lot of impact on joints. Being that your feet stay still on the gliding platforms, there is no impact, which makes the elliptical a safer exercise option for a variety of people, including those who are elderly, rehabbing from knee surgery, have varicose veins or are obese.

    Here more information

    So that the invention is excellent, but still it’s more like a creative hanger for clothes, and not like a sports trainer. So once again I applaud the inventor of talent and go work out on my elliptical trainers

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As a fanatic crafting fan, inventor, author and designer, I just enjoy making new things for the fun of it! I operate an award-winning how-to You Tube channel called The Homemade Game Guru to share my love of creation with people worldwide. Utilizing cardboard in grandiose ways is my specialty.

I also run an unique online design class to help anyone create a Personal Family Tree Board Game. You can sign up for that class here.

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