Everyone wants to get into great shape, but it feels like only a select few actually achieve their fitness goals while exercising at home.
One reason may be the difficulty people experience when selecting and using exercise equipment. Thanks to a growing number of fitness centres and home exercise enthusiasts, global equipment sales exceed billions of dollars annually. However, is it really worth your time and money? How do you choose?
In this two-part article, we’ll discuss what to look for in popular exercise equipment for the home.
Treadmills and other cardio machines
Treadmills are arguably the most popular exercise machine. They allow you to walk or run in one place, thanks to a conveyor belt platform that’s powered by an electric motor. The treadmill has evolved over the years to remain a favourite choice for convenient exercise.
Exercise bikes, elliptical trainers, rowers and step (stair) machines are other cardio machine options. Although we focus on treadmills, the points below are relevant for these machines too.
While treadmills can play an integral role in fitness, weight management and toning, you should be aware of some common disadvantages like:
- Boredom and monotony (i.e. less fun than outdoor exercise).
- Less natural movement (i.e. develop bad running habits, risk of injury).
- Long-term costs (i.e. purchase, warranty, electricity, repairs, etc.).
If you are already a gym member or enjoy the outdoors, you will want to spend your fitness dollars elsewhere. On the other hand, buying a basic treadmill can serve as an ideal entry point for regular, moderate physical activity.
You will need to decide where you will place your treadmill within your home. The garage is a safe bet, but may not provide you with inspiration. Living rooms are great for motivation in front of the TV (and staying within your mindspace), but take up your family space.
With costs ranging anywhere from a few hundred to few thousand dollars, it’s important to focus on basic features before bringing a treadmill into your home. Choose a machine that suits the space avilable; very few machines are easy to move around the house. It needs to be solid-built. On a tighter budget, you could easily opt out of features like computerised programs and heart-rate monitors. As long as you can easily control your exercise intensity, you will get a good work out. Also consider things like delivery, setup and warranty.
Treadmill injuries are a thing! Make sure you know how to use your equipment safely. If in doubt, ask us for advice.
D.I.Y. home gyms are popular where:
- People don’t have access to a neighbourhood gym.
- Commercial gyms are too expensive, too crowded or not open at suitable hours.
- People prefer to workout in the privacy of their own home.
Home gyms are to muscular strength, as treadmills are to cardio and fitness. The range of options is astounding. For a couple of hundred dollars or less, beginners can get going with a set of resistance bands and some free weights; throw in some Pilates or yoga gear for balance and flexibility exercises. However, if you’re looking to get muscular, your equipment should be able to cover all the major muscle groups.
Depending on your goals, you could get away with a bench, barbell rack, barbell bar, various weights (plates) and several pairs of dumbells of various weights. Expect to spend a several hundred dollars. You could always purchase more weight plates and dumbells as you get stronger.
For a more complete setup, you can purchase machines with cables, pulleys and pin-loaded weights. However these are not cheap. They also take up significant room in your home. Some “all-in-one” machines are ok, but most of the budget versions are not worthwhile. Unless you have unlimited space and funds, you should steer away from machines that target specific exercises or muscles. As you gain experience, you will better understand your changing needs. So it’s best to keep your initial purchases to timeless essentials.
Here are some general purchasing tips to consider for any type of exercise equipment:
- Research, research, research: Avoid in-store sales pressure and extra charges by defining your needs first (budget, essential and “nice to have” features, maximum space requirements, etc.). You can always get advice from your physiotherapist.
- Compare reviews: Chances are that hundreds, if not thousands of people have purchased the exact equipment you’re considering right now. Look at what actual buyers have to say and note of the differences in features between your preferred choices.
- Look online for special deals: You can often find free shipping, assembly help and great discounts with a little Internet research. Buying direct from the manufacturer is usually a great option.
- Search local classifieds: People quit weight training all the time for whatever reason. You could pick up a bargain, as long as you know exactly what you need and what you’re getting.
NB: You should seriously consider getting advice from a physiotherapist or personal trainer first, if you are new to weights training and have little idea about such equipment, exercises and movement form. It is very easy to seriously injure yourself with these machines.
Also remember that motivation and injury are possibly the biggest barriers to exercising. You can boost your motivation in many ways. However if you are injured, you should seek professional advice before starting an exercise routine and getting hurt even more. Give us a call and make an appointment.
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~ Tom Stoppard
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