As physical therapists, Billy and Jennifer O’Donnell know a lot about athletes and rehabilitating injuries. But they were both surprised to find that ElliptiGO bikes revolutionized their attitudes toward working out. Read on to find out how they discovered ElliptiGO bikes, why they decided to become ElliptiGO Enthusiasts and why they believe ElliptiGO bikes can help improve not just health, but longevity.
Billy grew up in southwest Louisiana, Cajun country, in a small farm town. Jennifer grew up in Maine, the daughter of a firefighter and a family bicycle shop owner. They met in college at Maine’s University of New England while they were both attending physical therapy (PT) school. Billy attended PT school on a Navy Scholarship, which required him to give back service time as a physical therapist at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in VA. After the Navy, Billy and Jennifer both worked for a nonprofit hospital—he as the director of rehabilitation services and she as a lead therapist. When they had the chance to open a private PT practice with a friend in Billy’s hometown, they moved there. Eventually, they sold the practice and relocated to Las Vegas. Jennifer homeschooled the kids and Billy ran the outpatient rehabilitation operations in the West for a healthcare company. Now they’ve been married for 33 years and have four adult children.
It took Jennifer a little time to embrace exercise. She understood the importance of exercise, of course, but deep down, she didn’t love it. She worked out in the gym, rode bikes, and ran, though she never truly enjoyed it. Eventually, Billy and Jennifer bought a stationary elliptical machine. “This was my favorite piece of equipment up to that point,” recalls Jennifer.
Billy had been an athlete for as long as he could remember. “I like to compete and I like to challenge myself to get better,” he says. “I seek to become the best that I can be.” For example, in March 2021, he completed David Goggins’ 4x4x48 fitness challenge on the stationary elliptical machine. (The 4x4x48 entails running four miles every four hours for 48 hours.)
A colleague sent Billy a newsletter article about Brian Reynolds, a bilateral amputee and marathon runner who used the ElliptiGO 11R for cross-training purposes to prepare for a marathon in London. Billy says, “Having performed rehab on amputees in the Navy who came back from combat, this intrigued me.” Around the same time, Jennifer realized she was missing being outdoors while exercising.
So, both Jennifer and Billy were excited to find the ElliptiGO website. Billy recalls, “As a career-long proponent of stationary elliptical training for my patients with lower extremity osteoarthritis as a means to preserve joint integrity, I was excited to discover this bike — and shocked that I did not know about it until that moment!” With no option to test ride in Las Vegas, Billy and Jennifer drove to ElliptiGO HQ in May of 2021 and tested every model available.
“We fell in love with the bikes,” Jennifer says. “I was sold and hooked,” Billy agrees. They purchased an 11R, and Billy started riding it as soon as it was assembled. It took Jennifer a bit longer to feel confident and safe riding on the streets of Las Vegas, but soon she was hooked, too. She says, “I have now found the type of exercise I love to do — both for my physical health and my mental health. An exercise form that gets me outside, empowers me, challenges me, and is safe for my body.” Once she started riding regularly, they purchased an 8C, and they traded off, with one riding the 11R and the other riding the 8C on each ride together.
At that point, the O’Donnells were all in on ElliptiGO bikes. Jennifer shares, “Once our personal ElliptiGO journey started, we decided the bike was too good to keep to ourselves.” A fellow ElliptiGO rider, John Burmester, brought up the idea of becoming an ElliptiGO Enthusiast, offering test rides, building the local riding community and helping to generate new interest and demand for ElliptiGO bikes. It was an easy decision for Billy and Jennifer.
Billy notes, “It’s a natural fit when you are passionate about it. You want everyone to have the opportunity to experience ElliptiGO bikes.” Jennifer adds, “I enjoy promoting this unparalleled piece of equipment, demonstrating ElliptiGO and discussing all its benefits, especially to those who have taken the time to seek it out.”
They set to work on growing the Nevada market for ElliptiGO. They started a local newsletter for Nevada ElliptiGO owners and began offering test rides and promoting ElliptiGO in Las Vegas. In May 2023 they hosted the first Boulder City Bash ElliptiGO Day in Boulder City, Nevada, near Las Vegas, riding the River Mountain Loop Trail with a small group of ElliptiGO riders. They plan to hold the event annually and look forward to more riders joining in 2024. They are also working to bring together local ElliptiGO riders to join the Las Vegas riding group, which they want to establish as an official ElliptiGO riding club.
Jennifer and Billy are both big believers in heart rate zone training, with the majority of their workouts being in zone 2, which is 60 to 70% of a person’s maximum heart rate, and additional workouts in zone 4, which is 80 to 90% of maximum heart rate. Billy notes that the Fluid 365 Stationary Trainer helps them manage their heart rates and stay in the correct zone. But the Electric Bike Conversion Kit was the key to allowing them to perform zone 2 and 4 training outside. “With that, both our fitness levels have improved tremendously,” says Billy.
They have added e-assist to all of their bikes, including their RSUB Road Stand Up Bike, and they ride with e-assist five or six times a week. They refer to working out in zone 2 as “longevity training,” and Billy calls the e11R “the longevity bike” because he can ride in beautiful places with exhilarating elevations and get a great training workout.
Jennifer shares that e-assist helps her keep up with everyone on rides — including some traditional cyclists. “I also find it a wise way to manage being in vehicular traffic,” she adds. “I feel safer riding in the city with it. I have an auto-immune disease that affects my energy levels, so this option really helps me with balancing that aspect of my life.”
Billy encourages anyone considering getting an electric bike conversion kit or an ElliptiGO e-bike to: “Do it now! It is effective and efficient.” He points out that riders always have the opportunity to use no assist. “But I doubt you will want to,” he says. “It’s just too much FUN!”
Today, Billy and Jennifer are enjoying semi-retirement. In addition to working with ElliptiGO, they’re developing a web-based health and fitness practice, focused on the prevention of chronic disease through functional nutrition and evidence-based exercise. Their practice centers around bio-individuality, teaching clients about eating clean, whole foods based on their individual biochemistry and discovering purposeful movement based on their individual biomechanics. Their exercise recommendations are related to balance, endurance and core strength, which can all be addressed with ElliptiGO training. Their website, “Geezer Sport Training,” will launch in 2024! This virtual/Zoom nutrition and fitness practice is being designed to “help aging athletes maintain fitness, improve health span, experience longevity and to keep GOing,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer used to struggle with motivation to exercise, but now she’s experienced a mindset change. She says, “I now look forward to exercising and exploring new places to ride. I say it humbly, but proudly: at 55 years of age, I have become an athlete. I have discovered the true athlete in me. ElliptiGO bikes have changed my life.”
Billy says that ElliptiGO bikes have helped several of his clients overcome obstacles and injuries. For himself, he says, “The sport of stand-up cycling has changed my focus on fitness as it relates to longevity in a way that I am currently trying to define. I believe ElliptiGO products have the ability to change the way we achieve mobility and maintain longevity throughout our health span.”
These ElliptiGO enthusiasts have big goals for the remainder of 2023 and beyond. Billy won silver swag in GERC’s (the Global ElliptiGO Riders Club) annual GOGO competition in 2022, and he’s aiming to earn gold in 2023. He also wants to qualify for the 14th annual ElliptiGO Rally and World Championships and be one of the first to ride up Palomar Mountain on an e-assisted ElliptiGO bike. Jennifer aims to continue to challenge herself through GERC’s monthly competitions, and, she adds, “maybe even earn some swag!” They are both looking forward to introducing more people to the fun and health of ElliptiGO riding.
Billy and Jennifer, thank you for embracing the ElliptiGO community and for sharing your ElliptiGO enthusiasm! If you live in Las Vegas or are visiting the area and you’re interested in a test ride, don’t hesitate to schedule a test ride with Billy and Jennifer!
You can contact ElliptiGO with nominations to Rider of the Month or share your own story. It may just be the next feature!