Purchasing exercise equipment for home
These days, there are all kinds of exercise equipment options available to consumers, from treadmills to bicycles, to weight-training gear and rowing machines.
It will pay off if you take your time to make some careful considerations before you buy. By slowing down to make informed choices, you can ensure you buy only the gear that will best assist you to achieve your fitness and health goals.
When you make wise choices you can avoid the “unused equipment” trap, where poorly chosen equipment or gear sits unused, gathering dust in a closet, basement, spare room or garage.
Step One: Think About Fitness Goals
Before you buy any home gym equipment or exercise tools, think first about your own health and fitness goals. Plus, if you are buying gear for the whole family to use, think about the common exercise goals that you may share, and any special interests or needs of each family member.
Once you are clear about what your individual goals are, such as boosting your cardiovascular system or losing weight, you will have a better idea of the equipment you should be considering.
For instance, treadmills and rowing machines are a great way to get your heart pumping and boost your “cardio” endurance.
For strength training and working on different sets of muscles, you and your family may want to consider dumbbell and barbell sets, or perhaps a universal weight-lifting machine that can be used in a variety of ways by each family member.
Best of Intentions
No doubt, we all have the best of intentions when purchasing equipment to help get us more active!
But sometimes, it’s too easy to get caught up in media advertising that promotes an exercise-related product. If you find yourself attracted to television ads, internet ads, radio sales pitches or other media advertising, try to avoid “impulse” buying, and don’t let marketing language or special offers fool you.
Rather, make time to plan ahead for your purchases, and be sure to consult friends, fitness experts and retailers about your purchasing options and the practical features of different types of equipment.
Thinking Ahead, Planning for Fitness
Here are some additional points to consider before you make your next purchase:
Is the equipment useful to me? In television ads, many exercise products look shiny and new, plus the paid actors always seem to be “perfectly” fit and good-looking. Look past the imagery; ask yourself first if the equipment itself fits within your own reality, your budget and your current fitness needs.
Am I motivated to use the equipment? Even if the equipment seems at first to be something you might use, try to make a realistic assessment. For example if you don’t enjoy dancing, a “cardio-dance” video might not be the right choice for you.
Similarly, if you know you won’t use an “ab-enhancing” tool, don’t buy it. Rather, find a set of exercises you can do on your own to strengthen your abs, such as sit-ups or easier variations of sit-ups. In other words, stick with activities or tools that are more likely to work better for you.
Is the advertising full of promises such as spot reduction (e.g., hip reduction) or weight loss? If the advertisement is focused heavily on promises or “guarantees,” it may be too good to be true. After all, marketing language is meant to convince or persuade you to buy, and the seller has no real stake in whether you actually achieve your fitness goals.
Achieving your fitness goals is up to you and you alone. There is no super-fast or guaranteed way to get fit simply by using a tool or piece of equipment; it’s still up to you to do the work and exercise, including many steps or actions (such as healthy eating) that are not at all related to the product.
Do you know anyone who has purchased similar equipment? Talking to friends and family can be a great way to get an honest opinion about various exercise equipment or tools.
Go for a “test drive.” Try or test the product the before you buy! It pays to try out equipment before purchasing it, so you can get a feel for how it works for you. You may be able to borrow or rent certain equipment before you buy, such as treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines. In some cases, retail outlets will allow you to return the equipment (if undamaged) after a short trial period.
Choose Gear That Fits. If you have decided that you want a certain machine or piece of equipment, make sure it is the right size for you. This way, you’ll be much more likely to use it regularly. One way to gauge whether you like a product and that it fits your body type is to try it out several times at a local gym, before you buy.
Do I need this equipment or can I work the same muscle group(s) with other inexpensive equipment? Sometimes an advertisement can convince you that you need a piece of equipment in order to target a specific group of muscles or part of your body. But, in most cases, there are some basic exercises or stretches that you can do on your own, at no cost.
For instance, there are many exercises that you can do where the weight of your own body is used to achieve a certain movement or action, so a machine or piece of equipment may not be the only way to achieve your goal.
Think about what equipment will work best for you, your family, and your home. Take a look at the space that you have in your home for your fitness equipment. If you do not have a lot of space, then you might want to look for some smaller or more portable options.
For instance, larger items like treadmills and universal weight-lifting stations often take up a lot of space compared to smaller items like exercise bands and exercise balls.
Who will be using this equipment in your home? If the machine is for some or all of your family members, make sure that the equipment can be safely used by each family member and is appropriate for their size, age and fitness levels.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking the gear will automatically be well-used; any family members that use the gear will have to do the “hard part” by maintaining their use of the fitness equipment over time. If the equipment starts to gather dust, you’ll know you’ve fallen into the “unused equipment” trap.
To reduce your financial outlay or the risk of under-used equipment, consider starting out with some second-hand equipment. Over time, you can then move up to a newer piece of equipment if the gear is being used regularly by you and family members.
Cost Factors and Setting a Budget
Consider your budget before you start looking for a new piece of fitness equipment. Prices can start as low as a few dollars for some small hand held weights and go up to thousands of dollars for “cardio” and universal machines.
If you are just starting to build a home gym, begin with a few small pieces to get you started. Exercise bands, hand weights, exercise balls, and a few videos are examples of basic items that will get you started.
Go to a fitness specialty store for high-quality equipment and professional service. The employees or managers at these stores are usually more knowledgeable and helpful than staff at non-specialty outlets. Before you commit to buying equipment, make sure you have pre-tested it in the store, and that you know the store’s return policy.
Additionally, many workplaces now have a health spending account as part of the staff benefits plan. Check with your employer to see if home exercise equipment can be purchased on your health spending account.
Some of the money you might plan to spend on equipment could be spent consulting with a Certified Personal Trainer. Talk to a trainer at your local fitness facility, at work or in your community, and look at all your training or fitness options. After all, you’re in charge of your own health and fitness; it pays to take the right approach to each exercise or activity.
Get started safely!
Before you start an exercise program at home talk to your doctor to see if you are ready to be active and what types of activities you should begin with.
Start slowly and consult a Certified Personal Trainer if you are unsure about any aspect of your exercise routine.
Whatever equipment choices you have made, make sure the gear is set up according to manufacturers’ specifications or other installation tips contained in the packaging. Always use the equipment as recommended, within your own limitations and in accordance with any directions you get from your doctor.
Now you’re ready to go; enjoy your workouts in the comfort of your own home!