Fitness Logo

Monday, June 13, 2005

Buying Home Exercise Equipment

The right home exercise equipment can add variety, convenience and consistency to your workouts. But too often, after you’ve purchased a piece of equipment, you realize you’ve made a mistake. Gregory Florez, president of First Fitness, Inc., a personal training company, cautions against 10 common mistakes.

Don’t Overbuy Features

Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to cardiovascular equipment that has every conceivable readout and calculation. These gadgets often go unused, thorough, so they may not be the best place to spend your money.

Don’t Skimp on the Basics

Sturdy construction and smooth, quiet operation are what matter most. For example, with treadmills, good deck cushioning and stability are key factors to look for.

Avoid Fast or Sight-Unseen Purchasing

Almost any treadmill feel 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 10 repetitions.

Don’t Ignore the Top of the Line

If you don’t try the best equipment first, you won’t know what quality features to look for. Florez advises staying away from infomercial products or other low-price equipment. A store specializing in fitness equipment is probably the best place to start your search. It's not a bad idea to stick to brands you’ve used at health clubs—a manufacturer’s quality often carries over into home models.

Don’t Overestimate Your Abilities

An exercise or movement that looks easy on TV may not work for you. For example, ski machines with independent upper- and lower-body motion may offer an outstanding cardio workout, but they also require a high level of concentration and coordination. People are less likely to use machine that have a high learning curve. When purchasing a strength training machine, look for one with simple procedures for changing weights. If adjusting the weight isn’t mind-numbingly simple, you’re likely not to do it!

Don’t Limit Your Options

Although treadmills are extremely popular and reliable, elliptical trainers also provide functional movement with lots of variety. Stationary bikes—both upright and recumbent—are rebounding in popularity. Stair steppers, rowing machines, home gyms and equipment for exercise based on the work of Joseph Pilates are additional options.

Don’t Ignore Your Personal Comfort

Make sure the rowing machine you are thinking of buying doesn’t put too many demands on your back. If you are looking at treadmills and are overweight or have orthopedic concerns, check for sturdy handrails, gradual pace changes and structural integrity. Look for a home gym that will adjust to your body height and size.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Some fitness products that sound great on infomercials have limited effectiveness. Abdominal exercise devices, for example, don’t really offer any results beyond those achieved without equipment. (However, the devices can provide some head and neck support, if they fit your body size properly.)

Don’t Go It Alone

Ask questions of other exercisers and fitness professionals, as well as equipment representatives. Before buying, find out about equipment delivery, setup, warranties and return policies.

Don’t Overlook the Little Things

Not all effective exercise equipment needs assembly and takes a lot of space. Heart rate monitors are highly recommended by many personal trainers. Fitness balls, bands, tubing and exercise videos can also add safety, creativity, comfort and variety to your activity program. The best investment of all may well be the least expensive—a water bottle!

© 1999 by IDEA Health & Fitness Source. Reprint permission is granted to IDEA members by the copyright owner, IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. (800) 999-4332.

The Portable Strength-Training Kit is a simple, effective and time-efficient strength and flexibility program. This portable kit includes exercises for the hips, thighs, buttocks, chest, arms, back and abs and can be performed at home, at the office, or while traveling. For more information contact:

Simple Fitness Solutions ( ph: 805-594-0660

Health & Fitness Is Not A 12 Week Program

Copyright C 2005 Tom Venuto

Not long ago, one of the members of my health club poked her head in my office for some advice. Linda was a 46 year old mother of two, and she had been a member for over a year. She had been working out sporadically, with (not surprisingly) sporadic results. On that particular day, she seemed to have enthusiasm and a twinkle in her eye that I hadn"t seen before.

"I want to enter a before and after fitness contest called the "12 week body transformation challenge." I could win money and prizes and even get my picture in a magazine."

"I want to lose THIS", she continued, as she grabbed the body fat on her stomach. "Do you think it"s a good idea?"

Linda was not "obese," she just had the typical "moderate roll" of abdominal fat and a little bit of thigh/hip fat that many forty-something females struggle with.

"I think it"s a great idea" I reassured her. "Competitions are great for motivation. When you have a deadline and you dangle a "carrot" like that prize money in front of you, it can keep you focused and more motivated than ever."

Linda was eager and rarin" to go. "Will you help me? I have this enrollment kit and I need my body fat measured."

"No problem," I said as I pulled out my Skyndex fat caliper, which is used to measure body fat percentage with a "pinch an inch" test.

When I finished, I read the results from the caliper display: "Twenty-seven percent. Room for improvement, but not bad; it"s about average for your age group."

She wasn"t overjoyed at being 'average". "Yeah, but it's not good either. Look at THIS," she complained as again she grabbed a handful of stomach fat. "I want to get my body fat down to 19%, I heard that was a good level."

I agreed that 19% was a great goal, but it would take a lot of work because average fat loss is usually about a half a percent a week, or six percent in twelve weeks. Her goal, to lose eight percent in twelve weeks was ambitious.

She smiled and insisted, "I"m a hard worker. I can do it"

Well, indeed she was and indeed she did. She was a machine! Not only did she never miss a day in the gym, she trained HARD. Whenever I left my office and took a stroll through the gym, she was up there pumping away with everything she had. She told me her diet was the strictest it had ever been in her life and she didn't cheat at all. I believed her. And it started to show,

Each week she popped into my office to have her body fat measured again, and each week it went down, down, down. Consistently she lost three quarters of a percent per week - well above the average rate of fat loss - and on two separate occasions, I recall her losing a full one percent body fat in just seven days.

Someone conservative might have said she was overtraining, but when we weighed her and calculated her lean body mass, we saw that she hadn"t lost ANY muscle - only fat. Her results were simply exceptional!

She was ecstatic, and needless to say, her success bred more success and she kept after it like a hungry tiger for the full twelve weeks.

On week twelve, day seven, she showed up in my office for her final weigh-in and body fat measurement. She was wearing a pair of formerly tight blue jeans and they were FALLING OFF HER! "Look, look, look," she repeated giddily as she tugged at her waistband, which was now several inches too large.

As I took her body fat, I have to say, I was impressed. She hadn"t just lost a little fat, she was "RIPPED!"

During week twelve she dropped from 18% to 17% body fat, for a grand total of 10% body fat lost. She surpassed her goal of 19% by two percent. I was now even more impressed, because I had only seen a handful of people lose that much body fat in three months.

You should have seen her! She started hopping up and down for joy like she was on a pogo stick! She was beaming. grinning from ear to ear! She practically knocked me over as she jumped up and gave me a hug - "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"Don"t thank me," I said, "You did it, I just measured your body fat."

She thanked me again anyway and then said she had to go have her "after" pictures taken. Then something very, very strange happened. She stopped coming to the gym. Her "disappearance" was so abrupt, I was worried and I called her. She never picked up, so I just left messages.

No return phone call.

It was about four months later when I finally saw Linda again. The giddy smile was gone, replaced with a sullen face, a droopy posture and a big sigh when I said hello and asked where she"d been.

"I stopped working out after the contest... and I didn"t even win."

"You looked like a winner to me, no matter what place you came in" I insisted, "but why did you stop, you were doing so well!"

"I don"t know, I blew my diet and then just completely lost my motivation. Now look at me, my weight is right back where I started and I don"t even want to know my body fat."

"Well, I'm glad to see you back in here again. Write down some new goals for yourself and remember to think long term too. Fitness isn"t a just 12 week program you know, it"s a lifestyle - you have to do it every day - like... forever."

She nodded her head and finished her workout, still with that defeated look on her face. Unfortunately, she never again come anywhere near the condition she achieved for that competition, and for the rest of the time she was a member at our club, she slipped right back into the sporadic workout pattern.

Linda was not an isolated case. I"ve seen the same thing happen with countless men and women of all ages and fitness levels from beginners to competitive bodybuilders. In fact, it happens to millions of people who "go on" diets, lose a lot of weight, then "go off" the diet and gain the weight right back.

What causes people to burn so brightly with enthusiasm and motivation and then burn out just as quickly? Why do so many people succeed brilliantly in the short term but fail 95 out of 100 times in the long term? Why do so many people reach their fitness goals but struggle to maintain them?

The answer is simple: Health and fitness is for life, not for "12 weeks."

You can avoid the on and off, yo-yo cycle of fitness ups and downs. You can get in great shape and stay in great shape. You can even get in shape and keep getting in better and better shape year after year, but it's going to take a very different philosophy than most people subscribe to. The seven tips below will guide you.

These guidelines are quite contrary to the quick fix philosophies prevailing in the weight loss and fitness world today. Applying them will take patience, discipline and dedication. But remember, the only thing worse than getting no results is getting great results and losing them.

1) Don"t "go on" diets.

When you "go on" a diet, the underlying assumption is that at some point you have to "go off" it. This isn"t just semantics, it"s the primary reason most diets fail. By definition, a "diet" is a temporary and often drastic change in your eating behaviors and/or a severe restriction of calories or food, which is ultimately, not maintainable. If you reach your goal, the diet is officially "over" and then you "go off" (returning to the way you used to eat). Health and fitness is not temporary; it"s not a "diet." It"s something you do every day of your life. Unless you approach nutrition from a "habits" and "lifestyle" perspective, you"re doomed from the start.

2) Eat the same foods all year round.

Permanent fat loss is best achieved by eating mostly the same types of foods all year round. Naturally, you should include a wide variety of healthy foods so you get the full spectrum of nutrients you need, but there should be consistency, month in, month out. When you want to lose fat, there"s no dramatic change necessary - you don"t need to eat totally different foods - it"s a simple matter of eating less of those same healthy foods and exercising more.

3) Have a plan for easing into maintenance.

Let"s face it - sometimes a nutrition program needs to be more strict than usual. For example, peaking for a bodybuilding or fitness contest requires an extremely strict regimen that"s different than the rest of the year. As a rule, the stricter your nutrition program, the more time you must allow for a slow, disciplined transition into maintenance. Failure to plan for a gradual transition will almost always result in bingeing and a very rapid, hard fall "off the wagon."

4) Focus on changing daily behaviors and habits one or two at a time.

Rather than making huge, multiple changes all at once, focus on changing one or two habits/behaviors at a time. Most psychologists agree that it takes about 21 days of consistent effort to replace an old bad habit with a new positive one. As you master each habit, and it becomes as ingrained into your daily life as brushing your teeth, then you simply move on to the next one. That would be at least 17 new habits per year. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your health and your life? This approach requires a lot of patience, but the results are a lot more permanent than if you try to change everything in one fell swoop. This is also the least intimidating way for a beginner to start making some health-improving lifestyle changes.

5) Make goal setting a lifelong habit.

Goal setting is not a one-time event, it"s a process that never ends. For example, if you have a 12 week goal to lose 6% bodyfat, what are you going to do after you achieve it? Lose even more fat? Gain muscle? Maintain? What's next? On week 13, day 1, if you have no direction and nothing to keep you going, you"ll have nothing to keep you from slipping back into old
patterns. Every time you achieve a goal, you must set another one. Having daily and weekly short term goals means that you are literally setting goals continuously and never stopping.

6) Allow a reasonable time frame to reach your goal.

It's important to set deadlines for your fitness and weight loss goals. It's also important to set ambitious goals, but you must allow a reasonable time frame for achieving them. Time pressure is often the motivating force that helps people get in the best shape of their lives. But when the deadline is unrealistic for a particular goal (like 30 pounds in 30 days), then crash dieting or other extreme measures are often taken to get there before the bell. The more rapidly you lose weight, the more likely you are to lose muscle and the faster the weight will come right back on afterwards. Start sooner. Don't wait until mid-May to think about looking good for summer.

7) Extend your time perspective.

Successful people in every field always share one common character trait: Long term time perspective. Some of the most successful Japanese technology and manufacturing companies have 100 year and even 250-year business plans. If you want to be successful in maintaining high levels of fitness, you must set long term goals: One year, Ten years, Even fifty years! You also must consider the long term consequences of using any "radical" diet, training method or ergogenic aid. The people who had it but lost it are usually the ones who failed to think long term or acknowledge future consequences. It's easy for a 21 year old to live only for today, and it may even seem ridiculous to set 25 year goals, but consider this: I've never met a 40 or 50 year old who didn't care about his or her health and appearance, but I have met 40 or 50 year olds who regretted not caring 25 years ago.


Tom Venuto is a certified personal trainer, natural bodybuilder and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle. You can get info on Tom's e-book at: To get Tom's free monthly e-zine, visit

Main Menu
Previous Posts
Syndicate This Site

Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles feed
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in MyYahoo!
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in NewsGator Online
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles in MSN.
Subscribe to Physical Fitness Articles with Bloglines
Subscribe to my feed

Copyright 2006