If you’ve been contemplating picking up some new health and exercise equipment, the following exercise equipment buying guide should help you to understand the key factors to consider regarding equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and home gyms.
Treadmills are appealing to many because of the fact that they let you run, and ellipticals are a low-impact aerobic workout that makes you sweat. In addition, good treadmills and ellipticals usually come with speakers so that you can follow along with your own music while working out. However, treadmills have a problem: their track. Treadmills, like treadmills, walk, or jogging, involve a belt that drives your walking or running speed.
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Whether on an incline, or flat, or at whatever speed you set, your leg muscles will have to work harder to keep up. However, what the treadmill’s belt isn’t able to do? It isn’t able to strengthen your core, or upper body, which means that your arms will flail, and possibly – stumble – with every step.
Plus, there are myriad pieces of technology that can bring the fluctuations in speed to a minimum. Many treadmills also feature “flywheel” technology that keeps the belt speeds steady, and thus your body stable throughout the workout. This allows you to concentrate on your form, and not on how fast you’re going. (High-end treadmills have even gotten rid of the belt altogether; they feature counter-balanced flywheels, as well as top-of-the-line treadmills with open aerobic rollers that allow you to exercise while spinning, like a bicycle),
Elliptical have the same problem as treadmills, in addition to lacking built-in speakers. They have “concentric” motion where the pendulum like platform you stand on swings back and forth. When running on this machine, if you’re not careful, your feet, shins, legs, knees, and hips will all work to keep up with what the elliptical machine is doing, as its was is constantly in motion. And yet another problem that you rarely find in elliptical is that they lack a “flat”.
The lack of a flat isn’t a problem for those of you who tend to stand on every elliptical to see how many calories they have burned, because each of your strides will be slightly different from the previous leap. A flat gives you a bit more stability. However, if you sit down continuously on a elliptical, your lower back will constantly be in motion as your legs swing back and forth, and over the years, this constant motion will inevitably lead to chronic back injury.
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A good way to judge the quality of a treadmill or elliptical is to check to see if the manufacturer that offers it (like the companies that offer ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bikes) gives you a lifetime warranty. If a warranty is available, make sure you look at it carefully before you buy the machine. People have reported problems with lifetimes on ellipticals, and some may not pay regular attention to the numbers displayed on the belt’s scale to make sure there are no inconsistencies. However, a good quality lifetime warranty can include an adjustment, or replacement on a treadmill, for you.
Treadmills and elliptical are a far different exercise category than exercise bikes, because of their inherent instability and their often-unstable footing. If you like the idea of a stationary bike, then no, you’re not “exposing” yourself in any way; if the machine is sturdy enough, it’s unlikely that you’ll suffer any injuries from exercising on it. However, even these machines though are subject to the instability argument. After a few moments of constant use, the balancing mechanisms can and will fail. You’re the only thing that keeps the bike upright, and you’re a big, heavy object. Anything that you put under, on, or next to the machine, including other bikes, could very well cause the bike to tip over, and tip over very fast. Don’t do it, dudes.
Very importantly, exercise equipment is something that you’re going to use more than once a day. And more than once a day, you will probably have to do some occasional maintenance. If you don’t follow manufacturers’ instructions and maintain the machine properly, you could end up damaging it, or even worse, endangering yourself or others. (I’m not sure about people that use elliptical to work out at home, but I make a point of reading the manufacturer’s instructions, and it seems like they weigh my butt down. What sort of idiot, or idiots, would work out on an elliptical by sitting, with a pump on their buns, and a silly teeny amount of grease on a crank that’s usually more than a foot in diameter?)
So, although the inconvenience will be minor, you should still, at least, review the manufacturer’s instruction book to make sure you understand how to use the machine properly. If the machine’s instruction is expensive, then please, do the research and see if you can find a second hand, second-quality copy. (preferably without grease on the drive shaft).
If you’re in the market for an elliptical, or other home gym, and you want to know what specifications to look for when buying it, look no further than this guide.
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I’ve used the beloved elliptical for more than ten years, both at home, and at work. I’ve spent countless days on the stationary bike, daydreaming about what I’d do differently if I had to make only one change to my lifestyle – it would have to be to make the bike my primary exercise tool. Thankfully, I’ve never had to worry about my bike’s joints failing or whether it could be found on the side of the road. These days, as a full-time freelancer, I get to reap the benefits of that bike in all sorts of new ways – from cycling to running: I run every weekday morning, but I also bike to attend client meetings, and I even have a bike for when a client is in the building, as well as for my lunch break. (The latter has especially become a not-so-subtle thank you for spending time with me).
I can see from my small collection of road cycling equipment, that I’m crazy – I own two sets of cycling shorts, two jerseys, three sets of gloves, three pairs of socks, a helmet, and a pack of a underpants. When the weather is low enough to cause suspicion (most of the time, it is), I wear cycling shorts underneath my work clothes. Yes, this all seems a bit excessive, but I’m not really a big cycling fan. In fact, I tried to give the bike a new look to put it that it be more suitable for work – I covered it with pictures of all sorts of other bikes, as if it were a secret bike with a built-in safe. But that didn’t work.
I still hate it, but it’s my bike. A cool thing that happened to me with this bike has been that my wife and I took my bike with us on a vacation for a few days. She wasn’t too interested in riding the bike as much, and I was getting bored of riding every day. So I taught her as best I could, and it was a complete nightmare – she kept losing her balance and crashing. But we had a great trip, her little clumsiness was cute, and eventually, she got the rider’s balance. I got a lot of enjoyment out of teaching her how to ride my bike, with varied results.
The thing that really gets to me about cycling, is whenever I ride by a group of people, and they make all sorts of strange gestures to me, such as waving; throwing coins or their possessions at me, and often, offering me money for a ride. (I can never tell if they’re joking, or not, but I haven’t taken the money, which I don’t want to do).
My office bike looks exactly the same as it did on our vacation, and it’s actually in my office now – but the real bike is in the closet; the decoration and decorations are simply what the client wants – it’s almost an ornament for the office, like the way they decorate their cubicles.
The casual riding of my bike around the office has also become popular, and it makes a nice change from taking the elevator when I have time to spare. I can also re-connect with colleagues much better on a bicycle. When I arrive at a client meeting, I have to be very careful about when I arrive, as well as when I’m leaving, as to avoid missing too much of it. It can be a real problem when you’re in the privacy of a client meeting and you want to see if someone is using the bathroom, or leaving early, and the next thing you know, the meeting is over.
During my lunch break, I bike to and from my office, and return from the meeting. I put on my headphones and listen to the podcasts or my playlist (either by NPR or the gaming podcast Stitches) as I cycle. It’s not a great work idea, because it’s not an option to use my ergonomically correct medium and large headphones in the meeting.
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To the machine, including other bikes, could very well cause the bike to tip over, and tip over very fast. Don’t do it, dudes and dudettes.
Very important, exercise equipment is something that you’re going to use more than once a day
Exercise equipment is something you’re going to use everyday, and you can always check the instruction book, to ensure you’re doing everything correctly.
I rarely ride my bike when I go out on dates with my wife. Mainly, we bike to and from the appointment, or to buy something, or ten minutes down the road, for tea. These types of trips can take a lot of time, and surprisingly, we rarely need the gas – unless we make a strategic decision to ride our bikes to the grocery store instead of driving. This strategy also works fine if I’m on a business lunch meeting, and I want to get something quick on the way home, or midday meal at our favorite Thai restaurant.
It’s a great form of exercise; gives me a chance to see the area I live in, sometimes, although it’s sad that small children are not allowed too – it’s weird to have to take a route away from the playground to get to the store, but if you’re kids are young enough to walk, then this won’t apply, thank goodness.
I can limit how much time I travel by bike, and it makes my journey pleasant altogether.
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It’s easy to fall into a cycle of replacing your gear, which can result in more trouble than it’s worth.
If you’re working with a tight budget, it might be difficult to find a bike under $200. But in most cases, this is not crazy.
If you don’t know the right people, it can be difficult to get a loan to purchase the bike. I had a conversation with my financial advisor a few weeks ago about the bike, and we’re working on getting it financed right now – but I know it’s going to be a lot of work, due to my own personal situation. But it’s the way I want to go.
If you’re not convinced you could manage to buy a bike, and work out the exercises that are necessary, I would suggest you find someone who is eager to help you out with the biking, and to organize the funds to buy the bike, and do the workouts – because, let’s face it, a bike is a bit of a work of art.
If you can’t ride, where the heck are you going to get a ride.