IT takes time to get and stay fit. But with more and more demands on our time, finding some to visit a gym, jog around the block or drive to the beach for a swim is very hard. The gurus of the multi-million dollar fitness industry, never slow to spot an interesting opportunity, have realised this. The array of exercise devices you can have installed in your home is as staggering as some of the claims their manufacturers make. Advertisements for some passive exercise machines promise amazing physiological development. But don’t be fooled. If the machine does the work, there’s no way you’ll get fit. But not all home exercise machines are useless.Some are excellent aids to fitness. Here are a number of points to look out for if you are considering turning your home into a personal fitness centre:
* Is there reputable scientific or academic evidence to support the manufacturer’s claims?
* If the manufacturer claims dual fitness/weight loss benefits, does the equipment provide the aerobic exertion (exercise which increases your heart and breathing rates) necessary to achieve this?
* Does the equipment come with detailed how-to-use information in order to avoid injury? This is very important because, unlike at a gym, you will not have a professionally trained instructor teaching you the proper way to use the equipment.
* Is the equipment guaranteed against manufacturing faults?
* Is the equipment soundly constructed?
If it were to break while you were using it, you could be seriously injured. Once you have answered all these questions, the next major consideration is: does the equipment suit your own particular needs? It’s no use buying weight-training equipment (which builds muscle) if what you really want to do is increase your cardio-vascular capacity or lose weight. Here is a quick guide to home exercise equipment to help you choose what best suits you.
BEST TRAMPOLINES FOR FITNESS
Mini-trampolines became very popular a few years ago as an alternative to aerobic classes but unless you are truly dedicated their attraction tends to wane. They do provide good exercise. Research has shown the aerobic benefit is slightly more than swimming for periods of between 15-20 minutes. The main problem is that they can become boring and any slip of concentration can result in a painful injury. The plusses are that they’re cheap and easily stored. What to pay Costs for a best trampoline range from $45-$95
There are many different forms of weight training equipment, ranging from the traditional barbells to elaborate machines such as Nautilus and Powerobics which work on various weight/resistance formulas. It would be improper to suggest one is better than the other as they all have advantages and disadvantages, according to what you want to do. And between two similar systems, the bottom line is often a matter of personal preference. A general rule of thumb is: “free weights” or barbells are more difficult to handle initially but produce the best results if you want to put on “bulk”; while resistance machines, are easier to use (and this fact is very important as unlike weights you can’t drop them on your foot) but tend to tone-up more than expand.
The two most important things to remember when choosing a system are:
* How much room do you have? Machines take up space; barbells can be stored under the bed when not in use.
* Does the equipment suit your own needs?
And to answer this you need to consult an expert. Most gym owners, although they will naturally plug their particular system, will also give honest advice as to whether what you are considering is worth buying. Ring around to get a few opinions. It is worth asking whether they can recommend someone to visit your home to teach you the correct way of using your equipment, regardless of what instructions come in the box. What to pay $750-$1,800 is probably the right price range to consider for a home gym. More expensive units usually have more features. When it comes to free weight sets, beginners are likely to do best with a set totalling 45 kg, which should cost somewhere between $120-$250.
If general fitness is your aim then an exercise bike is probably one of the best choices. Studies have shown that, used for 15-20 minutes at a pace that produces a heart rate of 120 beats a minute, exercise bikes are very beneficial. They increase cardio-vascular capacity and firm and strengthen legs and buttocks. Bikes can also be used to warm up or cool down before and after other forms of exercise. Price is a major consideration when buying an exercise bike. What you pay is what you get. At present bikes range from about $40 to $4,000. The cheapest offer the mere basics, the most expensive have fully computerised heart-rate monitors. Bikes work on resistance; tighten a clamp on the wheel and the bike is harder to peddle, which means you can adjust the workload to suit your fitness or mental attitude on the day. A stationary bike is also relatively safe as you are unlikely to fall off it, it’s unlikely to fall on you, there are no cars in the living room to run you over, and with a bit of music or even a strategically positioned book, not so likely to be boring On the other hand, a real bike in the fresh air has a lot to be said for it. So consider your options carefully. What to pay $140-$240 will provide a good exercise machine for home use.
Treadmills are an alternative to jogging. They operate by means of a moving belt on rollers and can often be adjusted to increase or ease workload by simply adjusting speed or slope. Unfortunately, those marketed for home consumption are often plagued with mechanical difficulties. Treadmills, like jogging, are good for the cardio-vascular system and firm up leg and buttock muscles. But, frankly, if you have the time to use a treadmill you have time to jog around the block, which could be more beneficial and interesting, if less pleasant in the rain. Again, consider both sides of the equation before you buy. What to pay $400 should buy a satisfactory treadmill.
Rowing machines simulate rowing action by working on a resistance formula. They provide excellent aerobic exercise. Unlike bikes or treadmills they operate on the upper body. Unfortunately, resistance on some rowing machines is not adjustable. Again, consider the real thing … but the early rising required is a deterrent What to pay $150 – $250
Skipping ropes are the cheapest and therefore the most cost effective form of home exercise equipment. For a few dollars you can purchase the top of the line rope and store it in a drawer when it’s not in use. Skipping, when done properly, is not a children’s game but a highly effective aerobic exercise. What to pay $1 – $24
SMALL EXERCISE EQUIPMENT
There is a whole range of home exercise equipment which is designed for a specific purpose and part of the body, including the following: Sit-up boards.Strengthen stomach muscles, relatively cheap, easy to use, compact. Chest expanders. Strengthen arms and chest but unlikely to expand anything. Grip strengtheners. Strengthen wrists and forearms.