We all would like to lose weight and get in shape with a minimal effort. That’s how the fitness informercial makes billions per year, promising miraculous results without breaking a sweat.
If you are not fooled by their claims then you know you have to work at getting in shape and losing unwanted pounds. So where do you go for a challenging workout? If you are into walking and running, during the temperate seasons you can get your cardio exercise in the great outdoors.
But to get a total workout that is not limited to moderate weather, you will need to either join a gym or equip your home with fitness equipment. The major advantage of a home gym is convenience. And it is convenience that can result in a more focused exercise regimen. Home gyms are growing in popularity. In 2000 over $6.7 billion was spent on home fitness equipment.
Granted health clubs have the advantage of working out with other like-minded individuals. And if you are the type of person that needs inspiration from others, the health club provides that environment. Of course, for singles it is a great place to meet the opposite sex.
The disadvantages are time wasted driving to the health club, waiting in line to use equipment and costly membership fees. I personally like to work out first thing in the morning. My time is limited due to my work schedule. The extra time required to drive to a health club would deter regular workouts. Exercise for me is not a social activity. I want to burn as many calories and strengthen as many muscles in as little time as possible. In my case exercising at home is more practical.
Designing a Home Gym
If you decide that working out at home makes the most sense, the first consideration will be the location. You may choose the basement. But if it is dark and damp, this is not an inspiring environment. Another consideration is an extra bedroom or part of a family room or den. You want an inviting location that is well ventilated and provides sufficient light. For those that like to keep up with the latest news or the soaps, a room with a television would be appropriate.
If lack of space is a consideration, there is fitness equipment like folding treadmill or compact home gyms that minimize required space.
Selecting the Proper Equipment
In determining what fitness equipment to purchase, you need to define your goals and consider the type of exercise machines that can help you reach those goals. Numerous homes are littered with unused exercise equipment that substitutes for clothes hangers. Too often people buy informercials equipment that is that latest fad. They discover that the exercise bores them, and that the equipment is poorly built and does not deliver on the promises.
Another common mistake is buying cheap equipment that provides an unsatisfactory workout and frequently requires repair. This is particularly true when purchasing a treadmill. A cheap treadmill is unstable, noisy and can be a shock to your joints.
There are tips on buying various types of fitness equipment:
For walkers and runners a treadmill is a logical choice. And the good news is the recent models are built for endurance and a pleasurable cardio experience. A Treadmill is the most efficient equipment to burn calories and lose weight, that is why they are the most popular.
You’ll want a treadmill with a motor that is continuous duty with a rating of at least 2.0 HP. Continuous duty motors give you constant maximum power. Non continuous motors are unable to run smoothly for an extended period of time.
Select a treadmill that accommodates your stride with an adequate length and width. The deck should be at least 18″ x 53″. If you are a runner and tall, you may want to consider a “stretch” model. The deck should have a reasonable amount of cushion for minimal impact on your feet, ankles and knees. Several manufacturers offer extra thick cushioned treadmills as an option.
For variety you’ll want a treadmill with incline control and computerized programming. Incline control simulates an uphill climb, while the electronics can be programmed to create a diversity of running or walking experiences.
Multi-station home gyms provide health club quality strength training in the comfort of your home. Depending on the model you can get over 50 exercises. A home gym offers a complete strength building workout for the entire body. And as the name implies, multi-station home gyms allow for more then one person to workout at once.
Look for equipment that has a natural resistance feel. The quality of the cables and pulleys will make the difference and will guarantee longevity. That smooth feel is usually lacking on so-called home gyms that rely on bands or bows rather then actual weight racks. In addition, you want a gym that has ergonomic features. The shape and location of pad, pop pin and pivot point should feel natural.
Elliptical trainers offer a no-impact workout that exercises numerous muscle groups. This is achieved through the dual cross-trainer arms combined with the foot pedals. Elliptical trainers provide the following advantages:
Time Efficiency – The dual action of arms and legs optimizes energy expenditure. Requires less time to achieve more results.
- Weight Bearing Exercise – Builds bone density and burns calories more efficiently. Inhibits the onset of osteoporosis.
- No Impact – Safe for joints. Ideal workout for people with back, knee, hips and joint problems.
- Low Maintenance – Less impact means less wear and tear.
- Small Footprint – Does not take up valuable floor space.
As with treadmills, elliptical trainers vary from K-mart specials to health club quality. It is important to find a motorized machine that has a natural stride and is built to last.
There are two choices of bikes, upright and recumbent. Recumbent bikes have pedals set horizontally in front of the seat. Body alignment tends to be more comfortable and natural on a recumbent bike. Either will give a good cardiovascular workout.
As with treadmills, quality bikes will offer computerized programming. This can make your ride more challenging and enjoyable.
This is a just a short list of potential home fitness equipment. It can be supplemented with free weight, steppers, aerobic videos, rowing machine and countless other products.
Determine your goals (lose weight, build strength, etc.), then narrow your search to the appropriate equipment. The selection needs to be based on what will work for you, not what will be the best for hanging laundry.
Check out the two calculators on our site, the calories burned calculator and the lose one pound calculator to find out how many calories you burn or need to burn to lose those extra pounds. We have another page that explains how to calculate your calories burned each day.