Fitness Equipment and Gym Equipment
by Bob Ellal
Turn on any television or pick up any health-related magazine and you’re bombarded with ads about fitness equipment and gym equipment. There are ads for equipment for aerobic cardiovascular training, such as treadmills, stationary bikes, rowers, and stair climbers. There are ads for equipment to build muscle mass from companies such as Nautilus, Bowflex, Soloflex, Weider, and Total Gym. Which equipment should you choose?
Before you decide, you should assess your fitness goals. They should be based on two areas: Getting in good cardiovascular health through aerobic exercise, and building or maintaining muscle mass through strength training. Cardio training reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease and helps lower blood pressure. Strength training increases bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It improves muscle strength and prevents sarcopenia, or muscle loss that occurs each year, as we grow older. Both types of exercise help relieve the symptoms of arthritis, reduce stress, help you lose weight, increase energy, relieve depression, and boost immune function. You need fitness equipment and gym equipment to address both areas.
First, aerobic fitness equipment and gym equipment: In an article written by Debra Hale of the Associated Press (Seattle Times, May 8, 1996, A Calorie-Killer Surprise) researchers tested various forms of aerobic equipment for their calorie-burning efficiency? The winner? Treadmills. Treadmills beat stair machines, rowers, cross-country skiing machines, Airdyne bikes (bikes that pump the arms, too) and regular stationary bikes for calories burned in an hour of exercise.
But do treadmills fit your budget? At the low end they can cost $400 and go into the thousands. The same is true for stair machines, rowers and various forms of stationary bikes, depending upon the degree of sophistication. If you can afford one, using a treadmill is the best type of low-impact cardiovascular exercise. It’s the best type of fitness equipment and gym equipment.
Of course, there is always walking. Walking 30 minutes a day will give you the same effect and the only expense is a decent pair of walking shoes. The only problem is the weather; if you live in the Northeast, it can be difficult to stick to a program for four months of the year because of the climate. That’s where the value of fitness equipment and gym equipment is really appreciated.
Strength training fitness equipment and gym equipment: As mentioned above, many companies market strength-training machines. Typically in their ads they hire a professional bodybuilder to pose with his shirt off, then intimate that it will take you only twenty minutes, three times a week to look like him. That’s not going to happen. That takes hours a day in the gym. For normal strength training you want to build some muscle mass and gain strength, not be a body-builder.
But what type of fitness equipment and gym equipment should you buy? Again, it depends on your budget. Remember, at the low end, machines cost about $400—that’s for a Total Gym, a slant board system using pulleys and cables that utilizes your body weight for resistance. That’s for their cheap model. The nice versions are over $1,000, as are the Bowflex and Nautilus type equipment and their rip-offs.
You absolutely do not have to spend a lot of money on fitness equipment and gym equipment to strength train. For $150 you can buy a nice incline weight bench and set of dumbbells that will provide you with plenty of exercises to achieve your goals. One of the downsides of weights is that they are not as convenient as machines; it’s easier to stick a pin to change weight or resistance than it is to change a weight plate on a bar. But for the price, the bench and the weights are the best buy.
The basics, or fundamentals, are generally what you come back to get you through life. If you live in an area with decent weather most of the year, walk thirty minutes a day for aerobic exercise. If you don’t, a treadmill is a good investment. Strength-training machines are effective and certainly convenient but are quite expensive; so consider getting back to the basics and investing in a good weight bench and set of dumbbells.