How to Buy a Piece of
Exercise EquipmentBy Karen
Shideler - Wichita Eagle
You'll Actually Use
Expending energy on exercise, it seems,
really does make you feel more energetic, just as the experts have been saying.
If you've decided to find that out for yourself this year, you might also have
decided that exercising at home is the way to go, and that you're ready to
splurge on a piece of exercise equipment. But which one? We sought advice from
four personal trainers and two fitness equipment stores to help you decide
what's right for you.
What Home Exercise
Equipment to Get
Home exercise equipment generally falls into
1. Treadmills, stationary bicycles and
elliptical trainers work your cardiovascular system, strengthening your heart
and increasing your endurance.
2. Multi-function home gyms and free weights
increase your strength, decreasing fat and building muscle.
Several of our experts recommended
cardiovascular equipment as the place to start.
Lisa Ragsdale, co-owner of Home Fitness
Exercise Equipment, and John Pryor of Health Strategies favor a treadmill.
"Everybody likes to walk, and the biggest
majority of the population can walk," Pryor said.
And "it's easy to learn how to use a
treadmill," Ragsdale said. "The treadmill is probably the most versatile piece
we carry, and also for women it's probably best because it's load-bearing," so
it helps preserve strong bones.
She likes it over elliptical trainers or
stationary bikes because a treadmill won't let you slow down unconsciously, as
you may do with the others when you begin to tire.
Brandon Bally, store manager for Mid-States
Fitness Equipment, recommends a treadmill or elliptical trainer, both of which
are easy on the body and effective at keeping heart rates up.
Brenda Devaney of Genesis Health Club took a
different approach: "Buy one that you know you'll use," she said. "The bike is
as good as the treadmill is as good as the elliptical trainer. It's just
whether you actually get on it."
Eric Wilson of Fit Physique picks a Bowflex
because it offers strength as well as cardiovascular possibilities. Ray
Preszler of Fitness 2000 also suggests multipurpose equipment, such as a
NordicTrack ski machine that provides a total body workout.
Devaney, Pryor and Bally suggest having some
dumbbells to go along with cardiovascular equipment, so that you can do
strength training as well. Morning television shows or videos often provide
how-to advice on using weights, Devaney said.
What to look for
You get what you pay for, the experts
Before you buy, try out several brands of a
treadmill or elliptical trainer or whatever you decide on. You'll notice
differences in how smoothly the machine works, how loud the motor is, how solid
the equipment feels.
Shake a machine, bounce on it and play with
the features, even if you draw strange looks from other shoppers. If you're
shopping with your spouse, and you have to yell at each other to be heard while
the equipment is being used, is that a selling point or a drawback?
We'll not recommend one brand over another.
All we'll suggest is that you choose a piece of equipment on which you feel
comfortable while you're using it.
Bally, of Mid-States Fitness Equipment, said
the differences among brands of equipment are like the differences among cars:
A Lexus won't feel the same as a Geo.
Within a brand, the differences between the
top of the line and the bottom will have more to do with motor sizes, warranty
terms and length, treadmill width and "bells and whistles."
More expensive equipment, for example, is
more likely to have heart rate controls that will speed or slow the machine to
keep you within your training zone.
And check on service: Who will you have to
call to fix it if something goes wrong?