Training At Home

By Diane Schlindwein

December 5, 2008 6 min read


Find the right equipment to work out in your house

Diane Schlindwein

Creators News Service

While some people enjoy the camaraderie of working out at a fitness club, others prefer to exercise in the privacy of their own home.

Folks who sweat it out at a club often have an instructor to cheer them on, along with a plethora of exercise machines to choose from, every time they hit the gym. On the other hand, home exercisers usually like their privacy and are often alone when they work out.

That's why those who are buying fitness equipment for their personal use should visit a specialty fitness retailer who understands exercise, answers questions and demonstrates the proper use of equipment, according to exercise physiologist and fitness consultant Elizabeth Quinn.

Quinn, who reports on sports medicine for, believes good home exercise equipment choices are treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, recumbent cycles, step machines, cross country ski machines, rowing machines and resistance equipment. According to her, the biggest challenge is often deciding which product is right for the person or family who is going to use it.

"There is not one piece of equipment made for everybody. Getting in shape at home requires self-motivation, tenacity, setting attainable goals and at least one piece of the right kind of equipment," said David Utinski, who owns and manages The Body Quest Store Inc. in Springfield, Ill. Although most people don't come in for multiple machines, it's important to find the right one.

"Very rarely do people come in to get a whole room of equipment," he said. "However, exercise is a serious thing to do as far as changing your body and your lifestyle. That's why we always qualify the customer who is buying the equipment."

The person who is selling equipment should always ask several questions, said Utinski. How much space is available? How many people are using it? What are their activity backgrounds? Do they have any health or orthopedic problems?

"Let's say someone just had bypass surgery. We'll set him up with something with heart rate controls," he said.

Since manufacturers are continually coming out with new equipment, it's important to do some research.

For example, Nautilus, Inc. has recently introduced the Schwinn 460, an elliptical machine that lets users vary stride lengths dynamically. Designed for home use, this machine incorporates three foot-driven motions -- stepping, walking and running -- with an integrated handlebar system to engage upper- and lower-body muscles. It works both sides of the body and features 11 workout profiles built by fitness professionals from Nautilus.

It also includes a backlit touch screen console, a water-bottle holder, contact and telemetric heart rate chest monitoring and an angle-adjustable fan.

Elliptical trainers are a no-impact machine, Utinski said. "With elliptical trainers there is no impact on knees, hips, backs or ankles. They are kind of like putting together a ski machine and a bike."

But these machines are not for everyone. That's why treadmills have long been a popular piece of aerobic equipment for home use, according to Quinn. When buying a treadmill, she suggested looking for a solid smooth action, a steady pace, safety shut off, wide belt and incline settings.

Utinski added treadmills should have an all-steel frame, a motor with continuous duty horsepower and a hardwood deck. Stationary bikes and elliptical trainers should also have a steel frame.

No matter what machine you choose, warranties are important. "Don't buy something that has a 90-day warranty," he said. "That is a big red flag."

Where you set up the equipment is important, too. "I tell them to put it right in front of a TV. That way you can exercise and watch television, too," Utinski said. "Putting exercise equipment in a basement isn't a good idea, unless you have a nice room with a TV set up for the equipment."

Of course, good quality equipment can be pricey, Utinski said. He believes, however, that good fitness equipment is one of the best investments a person can make.

"People spend a lot of money on houses and cars, but sometimes don't consider they need to be healthy and alive to enjoy those investments," he said. "When you think about it, for the reason you are doing it, [buying fitness equipment] it is not that expensive.

"I love seeing people change their lives. This is your health care and your stroke prevention. Exercising is preventative maintenance on your body."

Once the equipment is purchased and set up in the home, it's important to use it -- no matter what.

"Everybody knows how to eat right," Utinski said. "If you don't eat after 8 p.m. and get up in the morning and spend 30 minutes every single day kicking butt on that treadmill -- or whatever piece of equipment -- you will start seeing results in 30 days."

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