What You Need to Know Before Buying Home Fitness Machines

Buying home fitness equipment can be one of the best investments you can make for your health. It allows you to fit exercise into your busy schedule, its use is not dependent on bad weather, and the whole family can get fit together. However, if you buy on impulse, home fitness machines can turn into expensive dust-collectors. The following tips from IDEA: The Association of Fitness Professionals can turn you into a smart buyer.

Match the machine to your needs
If you enjoy walking, a treadmill will suit your needs better than a stationary bike will. No matter how cheap the bike compared to the treadmill, it won’t do you any good if you don’t really enjoy cycling.

That’s the reason why cross-country skiing machines are the number one selling fitness machines in garage sales. Unless you live in a Nordic country, how many people really know how to do and enjoy cross-country skiing?

How much space do you have?
Take actual measurements instead of “I think it will fit in the family room”. There are space-saving or portable equipment that serve the needs of a small house. A stepper or stationary bike, for example, takes up less room than a treadmill. There are also foldable home treadmills available.

Safety first
Unless you hire a personal trainer, you are going to exercise without supervision so safety is an important issue. Free weight stations like a bench press should have safety racks in case the barbell falls. Motorized treadmills should have accessible emergency stop buttons. The machine should place your body where it is protected from moving parts when you are using it. If buying a multi-gym, try all the stations and imagine all possible safety scenarios.

Physical limitations
If you have a knee injury or a bad back, get special advise from a sports medicine doctor or a fitness professional before rushing out to buy the latest fitness gadget.

Can the equipment accommodate a wide range of users?
Can it handle different body types? Can a man or woman use it equally well? Take note if your family is also going to be using the machine. Does it offer different levels of challenge? The machine should be able to still challenge you when your skills and stamina have improved.

Take a closer look
Physically examine the machine. The machine should look and feel sturdy, not flimsy. It should have a smooth finish, clean welding, and upholstery that is firm and well stitched. If making an expensive purchase, ask to talk to other clients who have used their equipment for a few years and see how their machines are holding up.

Avoid fast or sight-unseen purchases
Avoid buying fitness equipment you have never tried or have only tried briefly. Greogroy Florez, personal training consultant for Idea, says, “Almost any treadmill feels fine during the first few minutes. Only when doing a longer workout will you notice things like excessive vibration and noise. For cardio machines, spend at least 20 minutes trying different programs. For strength equipment, do a set of ten repetitions”.

Reliable fitness companies will deliver a demonstration model for you to try in the comfort of your own home for several days or invite you to their showroom to do a full thirty to forty minute workout. Do not buy equipment from a dealer who only allows you to try their machine for a few minutes. They may not want you to discover their product’s shortcomings.

Weighing price versus quality
There is a whole range of fitness machines now available in the Philippines, from cheap to mid-range and top-of-the-line expensive. Like with any other product, you get what you pay for. The only thing going for the cheaper models is the price. Buy the best your budget can afford. One woman I know computed the cost of all the cheap fitness machines she had bought through the years and realized that she could have bought not just one but two top-of-the-line treadmills.

Fitness equipment with computerized consoles are the most expensive but offer motivational information like heart rate, elapsed time, total calories burned, speed (kilometers per hour on treadmills, floors per minute on steppers, RPM’s on bikes), and can automatically control resistance to make your workout harder or easier.

Florez suggests trying the best and most expensive equipment first even if you can’t afford it so you know what quality features to look for. Then, you will know what features you are willing to comprise on when you try lower priced models.

After-sales service
Buying from a local distributor of “brand name” fitness equipment is more reliable in the long run because they can back you up with warranties (one to two years) and a servicing team with technical know-how and replacement parts should anything go wrong. However, do make sure that the company or store you buy from is really committed to after-sales service and is not just giving you lip service.

If you are buying an expensive piece of fitness equipment like a treadmill, ask to meet the servicing team. You may discover that the “team” does not exist or consists of one solitary part-time technician whose real job is to fix TV’s.

Beware of buying electronic/computerized fitness equipment abroad. It may be cheaper than buying from the local distributor but you will be helpless if something malfunctions. Even if you can bring in the spare parts, you will have a hard time finding a technician specifically trained for that machine. Plus you will need a gigantic transformer because electronic equipment purchased abroad only comes in 110 volts instead of our standard 220. This factor alone can shorten the life of your machine.

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