How To Choose and Buy Home Exercise Equipment

You've decided to build yourself a workout area at home. That's great! Exercising at home offers privacy, convenience, and 24-hour availability. As a bonus, you'll be able to watch your favorite TV shows while you workout, instead of the local gym's marathon viewing of [insert obnoxious show here].

With all the choices in exercise equipment today, building your home gym can feel overwhelming. What pieces of equipment should you buy? How do you know if you're getting the most 'bang' for your buck? Well, that depends upon several factors. The following questions will help you decide what to buy.

  1. What are your fitness goals? Is your main focus on attaining a rock-hard physique? Or is improving your endurance more important? Perhaps it's both, along with increased flexibility and balance. Write down the types of exercises and the equipment needed that will help you attain these goals.
  2. What can you afford to buy? If the sky's the limit, then feel free to skip this question. However, if you're like most of the population, you have a limited budget to work with. Look over that written list of equipment you need to attain your goals. Is the equipment within your budget? Would forgoing the fancy computer readout and heart rate monitor make the equipment of your dreams affordable? Is buying used equipment a possibility? If not, are there cheaper (but still likable) alternatives to that particular exercise? For example, instead of spending large amounts of money for a multifunction strength-training machine like Bowflex or Total Gym, you could do muscle-building exercises that require only your own body weight or a pair of dumbbells.
  3. How much room do you have for your home gym? If you're living in a one-room studio the size of a large bathroom, then having a treadmill (which requires, on average, 30 square feet of space) is out of the question. Even some aerobic videos can be a no go, especially if your high kick means busting a wall.
  4. Where will you find that perfect piece of equipment? Do you prefer to shop around on foot or online? Locally, you can find equipment at department stores, sporting goods stores, and specialty shops. Ask friends where they bought their equipment. Get store suggestions from the trainers at your gym. Check your local yellow pages for stores near you. Prefer to shop in the privacy of your own home? Shopping online can be intimidating if you haven't narrowed down your equipment choices. A website like BizRate helps relieve some of this stress by showcasing equipment from a number of online companies. Learn about a company and its policies before buying to avoid online scammers.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, is figuring out whether a piece of equipment is a dud in disguise. Unfortunately, not all machines are created equal. Ask your friends and local fitness professionals what products have held up for them over the years.  Check out fitness and consumer magazines or websites for reports on exercise equipment.

Take the time now to do the research and you'll prevent future regrets. Best wishes on attaining your fitness goals!


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