Chi machines were first introduced in the 1990s and have been quite popular among professional massage therapists for decades now. The Internet has made the best Chi machines much more accessible to the average consumer and so we’re witnessing higher sales, more options, product refinement and so on.
The original product is patented as “The Chi Machine.” Although that term is used casually similar to how Kleenex can refer to all tissues, other products tend to go under many different names. These include chi vitalizer, chi swing, qi machine and passive aerobic exerciser. Despite the names, they’re all fundamentally similar in design and intention.
In a nutshell, a chi vitalizer is a low-impact and passive aerobic exerciser or circulation machine.
The concept was originally based on principles of traditional Chinese medicine and designed to balance chi—the natural energy in our bodies. The effects are much more tangible, however, and include increased blood flow in the legs and up through the back, and this can relieve pain, massage and provide many other benefits.
Choosing a chi vitalizer machine isn’t as simple as it should be unfortunately. There are many different chi machine reviews and products out there. The goal here is to streamline that process for you by answering the most frequently asked questions as well as reviewing, comparing and ranking the best and most popular chi machine products on the market.
Top Rated Chi Machines Comparison Chart 2023
|Chi Vitalizer Machine USJ-106|
|160 rotations||Yes||16 lbs.|
|Sunpentown Healthy Swing Machine|
|95 - 175 rotations||Yes||12.7 lbs.|
|Chi Machine Deluxe USJ-815||144 rotations||Yes||17 lbs.|
|Exerciser Elite Circulation Machine||-||Yes||-|
|Swing Master Deluxe USJ-201||144-160 rotations||Yes||9 lbs.|
Best Chi Machine Reviews – (Recommended Picks)
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The Chi Vitalizer Machine by U.S. Jaclean has become the standard by which all other chi machines are measured and easily takes the top spot on this list.
Note that this is specifically model USJ-106 and not USJ-815, which is also on the list but an older model.
While none of these chi machines look especially comfortable at first glance, most on this list actually are, and this one in particular has extra padding that protects your ankles during its most vigorous action. You can really feel it after 15 minutes on some machines but certainly not this one.
There a lot of other factors that make this the best chi machine on the market. Build and material quality are second-to-none. It achieves up to 160 rotations per minute, and you can easily increase and decrease the speed at which it operates. The included wired remote has a nice long 48-inch cable.
This device is a bit on the heavy side at 16 pounds, which is down some from its predecessor. It does have a handle, but if you need a something very portable, there may be better options.
Setup and use are a cinch, which is a good thing since no instructions are provided. Fortunately, there’s no assembly required. Just unbox it, plug it in and use it. The remote is very straightforward.
The first time you use this Chi device, it’s easy to see why it’s the circulation machine of choice among so many therapists. It just feels like a machine you’d find in a doctor’s office, and the movement of your legs back and forth just feels powerful but never uncomfortable or out of control.
- Variable-speed control
- Wired remote
- Carrying handle
- Extra padded vinyl
- Relatively heavy
- Lacks instructions
This chi swing machine from Sunpentown may not be as premium in construction and material quality as the USJ-106, but it does strike the best balance between price and performance.
The Healthy Swinger—model number AB-07—often costs half as much as the USJ-106 and sometimes less than that. It also includes a rotational disc that you place at your hips. This allows your legs to move from side to side to a greater degree, which can create more sensation throughout your entire body.
Some people really like the swivel action. Others not at all. Your mileage may vary, and it’s worth noting that you can purchase a rotational disc separately and pair it with your machine of choice.
The cradles on this chi machine are super-comfortable. Perhaps not as comfy as the cradles on the U.S. Jaclean models but close. The greatest feature of this chi machine is arguably its programmable mode. Set it to run automatically however you want in five-minute intervals up to 30 minutes overall!
On the downside, the warranty is only for one year, and two years is common among such chi machines. Additionally, the cord for the remote is a mere six inches. Compare that to the 48 inches on the choice machine in the top spot, and this is by far the most annoying aspect of an otherwise amazing product.
Sunpentown is the best cheap chi machine you will find on our list. If you are on a budget, we suggest you to pick this model.
- Only weights 9.5 lbs.
- Timer up to 30 minutes
- Wired remote
- Swivel disc for more leg action
- No instructions
- Short remote cord
- One-year warranty
- A chi machine, or passive aerobic exerciser, makes energizing exercise accessible for everyone
This is the product that changed chi machines in the West. It largely made The Chi Machine from Sun Ancon irrelevant and really established consumer expectations in this segment.
About the worst thing you can say about the USJ-815 is that it’s not the USJ-106. The USJ-106 is a more refined product that improved on this design in a number of key ways.
That said, this chi vitalizer is sometimes discounted quite a bit because it is the older model. If you need to be more frugal than the USJ-106 allows but want a U.S. Jaclean machine, this may be ideal.
Like the newer model, it offers variable-speed control and has a 15-minute timer that turns the machine off automatically. If there’s a gripe to be had with these U.S. Jaclean machines is that there’s no simple way to set the machine to 20 minutes, which is a very common session time for experienced users.
It’s worth noting that this chi machine can operate at a rotations per minute as low as 90 and as high 150. The newer model reaches 160 but only goes as low as 140, so this is a consideration if you need a gentle machine for a particular case. Note that the Sunpentown model has a similar low setting at 95 rpm.
- Variable-speed control
- Wired remote
- Carrying handle
- Comfortable ankle padding
- Not the USJ106
- Among the heaviest machines
Probably among the most popular and sleekest-looking chi machines on the market. A lot of chi machine reviews favor this one, but it’s the price point that has it fall down this list to number four. If it was priced comparable to the USJ-106, it would easily slot in at number two.
The Exerciser Elite distinguishes itself from the other products on this list with two separate modes: relaxation and energizing.
The energizing mode is similar to the standard mode you’ll find on most of these passive exercisers. It’s vigorous. It really works the legs and sends waves up through the back. The relaxation mode is more subdued and a great option for a massage after a hard day at work, for instance.
Another nice touch is that there’s an LCD display built into the remote. The one-touch buttons are simple to use, and the screen makes it very easy to dial in the particular speed you want.
This Clark Wellness machine even lets you increase the timer in two-minute increments. More machines should do this because it’s very useful for new users who are acclimating to longer sessions. On the downside, the timer caps out at 16 minutes rather than 20, which is quite frustrating.
There are quite a few user reviews online that have complaints about the remote cover peeling. Those users are perhaps unaware that there is a protective film on the remote and the device itself that should be removed when you prepare the machine for its first use.
- Relaxation program
- Energization program
- 2-minute interval timer
- LCD display
- Wired remote
- Only five speeds
- The Swing Master creates a wave-like motion at the ankles that moves up the legs and spine.
The Swing Master Deluxe is another option by U.S. Jaclean, and its more budget-friendly. The MSRP is less than half of the base sticker price for the manufacturer’s other passive aerobic exercisers.
The corners that had to be cut in order to reach this price point are most evident in the ankle cradles. They aren’t as deep or as well-padded as on the USJ-106 or USJ-815. This can make usage a bit uncomfortable particularly at the upper speeds.
Consider that this model offers the same 160 rotations per minute as the other models. Some users even complain of discomfort and bruising at those higher speeds. Most users likely won’t be affected in this manner, but it’s worth taking into account if you plan to use those highest settings.
The Swing Master does require some light assembly. It’s the first chi machine on our list to do so. It’s not a difficult setup, but you just can’t take it out of the box and use it.
Those complaints aside, this is a fantastic chi swing machine that delivers all of the quality and features of the more expensive U.S. Jaclean models but for a lot less. It even has a remote with a knob-based speed control and a nice long cord so that you can access it with ease.
This machine is relatively light as well. It lacks a handle but is fairly portable. It also includes the same 15-minute timer that the other models have so that it will automatically shut off when your session is complete.
- Easy to use
- Variable-speed control
- Wired remote
- Assembly required
- Uncomfortable ankle cradles
- ▶▷3 Intensity Levels and 4 Optional Modes▶▷ Our this foot massager has 3 custom modes to target your tiptoe, arch of the foot which can provide a deep kneading,...
The chi swing machines discussed above all employ the same figure eight action with the exception being the Sunpentown that adds swiveling—although you can replicate that with a rotational disc. This product from Giantex distinguishes itself with a number of different massaging actions, including:
Another way that this product distinguishes itself is with inset cradles. These are well-cushioned and not limited to holding your ankles. The cradles will support your heels, your calves and almost any section of your legs below the knees.
A built-in heater is a feature that helped secure this ankle massager’s place on the list. Not only is the heater nice on chilly days, but it works wonders when you have sore feet or a knot in your calves. The heat is great in combination with the standard chi vitalizer movement to relax muscles.
You can use this sitting up as well as lying down as you would with a traditional chi machine. There’s onboard controls as well as a wireless remote. Although I had no issue with the remote personally, a significant portion of online chi machine reviews for this device mentioned it being finnicky. That can be a real hassle when you’re lying on your back and just want it to work.
Although not in the same league as the U.S. Jaclean machines, it makes the list due to versatility: lie down, sit up, position your legs, add heat, switch up massage action and much more.
- Compact design
- Built-in heat
- Not just for ankles
- Variable-speed control
- Multiple massaging actions
- Wireless remote
- Some obscure settings
- Improve your health: LegActivator is designed with ERGO-THERAPY in mind where its movements are precise, continuous and without vibrations, this will keep your legs...
This leg activator is similar to but not technically a chi vitalizer. In practical application, however, it provides many of the same benefits as the other machines on the list. While I certainly recommend the a true chi machine, this is perfect in certain scenarios.
Scenario #1: You can’t lie down on the floor for extended periods.
Qi machines aren’t practical for everyone because they’re intended to be used while you lie down on the floor. Many people have back and other issues that prevent doing this for long periods or at all. This machine can be used at desk, sitting on a couch or even seated in a wheelchair.
Scenario #2: You want similar relief and exercise while sitting up.
This machine is designed to be used sitting up rather than lying down. You can use it while working at your desk and not just in a home office. The LegActivator is discreet and quiet enough to be used in an office where other people are working.
Silverfeat builds this machine from premium materials, and the construction is excellent. It does create a light hum, but you’ll only ever notice it in a near-silent room. There’s no remote unfortunately. All of the controls are onboard, so you’ll often have to lean over to reach them.
Even if you opt for a traditional product, don’t rule this one out. It can be an excellent complement to the core chi machine benefits and something you can use more often and when use of the other style just isn’t practical.
- Practically silent
- 825 steps per 15 minutes
- No remote
- Not as robust as a full chi machine
Why Sun Ancon chi machine Isn’t Included in our List?
Note: You may notice that the original The Chi Machine from Sun Ancon isn’t included in the list. This isn’t an oversight. That machine is overpriced compared to superior product competitors that offer variable speed and many other features and refinements.
What Is a Chi Machine? Are they Regulated?
Chi vitalizer machines—regardless of the terminology used in the branding—are regulated in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration as a medical device. The FDA classifies these devices as Class 1 therapeutic massagers. These machines are all electric-powered and will generally plug into a standard AC wall outlet.
The power is necessary because these devices are automated. Use of these products is generally passive. You turn the Chi machine on, situate your legs by placing your ankles in the cradles and then lie back and relax. Some users prefer pillows at the head and small of the back. You can also use an exercise mat, but many people enjoy just lying on the carpet or the stiffness of a hardwood floor.
Although you can enjoy a chi machine’s benefits passively, incorporating more active exercising is an option as well. In fact, many therapists incorporate leg, back, shoulder and arm lifts. These are similar to the stretches and exercises one can perform with a chair but with the added benefit of increased circulation and the revitalization that comes with that.
See how the sun ancon chi machine works in the video below:
Think of a chi machine as a tool that you can use to relax and even stretch and exercise. Not only is it a passive aerobic exerciser, but the effects it provides are residual, which is why therapists often recommend using it at least once in the morning each day. There are numerous claims related to traditional Chinese medicine that are much more difficult to demonstrate in a clinical setting, but even putting those aside, the benefits that can be proved are very real and very worthwhile.
Do Chi Machines Really Work or they are Hoax?
It reminds me of Michael Constantine—the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who believed Windex could cure everything from psoriasis to poison ivy.
That’s not to say that balancing one’s qi doesn’t have real-world benefits. There are therapists who I respect greatly who incorporate these traditional concepts into their very modern and conventional techniques. I certainly believe that the way I feel after using a chi machine can’t all be attributed just to better circulation. I’ve used other foot massager machines and have felt great but not quite the same.
Benefits of Chi Machine
The many benefits that people experience through use of a chi machine include:
- Improved sleep
- Headache relief
- Enhanced focus
- Improved circulation
- Back and leg pain relief
Use of a chi vitalizer is soothing because it sends gentle waves of energy up through your legs and into your back. This improves circulation at the ankles and in the legs—which are problem areas for many people. Improved blood flow in the lower extremities has a positive effect throughout the body.
It also helps to oxygenate the blood and this coupled with the enhanced flow assists muscles in relaxing from a constricted state. This relieves not only tension but pain from muscles that are fatigued or overexerted.
Furthermore, it stimulates the lymphatic system, which promotes drainage of metabolic wastes and toxins. It also stimulates the autonomic nervous system through the spine. This is why people often experience both increased mental acuity and physical energy and why many people incorporate these machines into their meditation.
Beyond that, the exact benefits you experience will depend on your lifestyle and the health challenges you face. You’ll have the best experience when used in conjunction with a proper diet and regular exercise.
Are There Any Side Effects from Chi Machine Usage?
In the context of medicine, side effects are outcomes in addition to those intended. In that sense, there very well can be side effects from using a chi machine. Nevertheless, the term side effect often has a negative connotation, and that is the manner in which this question is usually asked.
Also, note that 20 minutes once or twice a day is generally considered to be the ideal maximum period for experienced users. Therapists recommend working up to the level. Begin at just four minutes. As you feel more confident about the experience, add a minute or several depending on how you feel. The average person will generally need about two months of daily use to build up to 20 minutes.
How Do You Use a Chi Machine for Weight Loss?
Sun Ancon claims that use of its Chi Machine for 15 minutes delivers aerobic exercise comparable to walking for about an hour and half—or about 10,000 steps. Whether this directly results in burning calories hasn’t been scientifically proven, and Sun Ancon and most other manufacturers actually have a disclaimer to that effect.
That said, many people have experienced weight loss using a chi vitalizer, and many spas that provide weight loss-related services integrate this approach into their programs. Many therapists agree that while they’d never promise weight loss solely through chi vitalization, many clients experience it.
When using this approach for weight loss, start slow. Use it twice a day but only for four minutes or so at a time, and then, work your way up to 15 or even 20 minutes. If your weight loss goal is substantial, you should consider combining this treatment with other efforts, including diet, cardio and strength training.
By now you must have realized the fact that Chi Machines is not hoax/scam and works perfectly. A chi machine can have a transformative effect, and that’s not hyperbole. The back relief alone that many people experience is a difference-maker and makes these devices worthwhile investments.
The “exercises” are passive for the most part as well, which means that you can take advantage of your chi vitalizer even on those days where you really don’t feel like working out. While morning use is recommended due to the energizing effect, I found it to be a great way to relax after a hard day at work.
The ideal Chi product depends on your preferences and goals, but I recommend opting for versatility. Variable-speed chi machines, for instance, are more useful and enjoyable than single-speed options since you never know how your body will feel on a given day. Be mindful that a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better quality or more features in your Chi Machine, and if you have any concerns, consider consulting with a therapist who’s familiar with these devices.
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