SAN DIEGO - It’s no surprise that much of the home fitness equipment bought these days winds up in the closet collecting dust. A recent Fitness Products Council study found that 50 million households nationwide own some type of fitness equipment, but nearly one-third of the equipment isn’t used regularly.
With sales of $5 billion a year, the industry offers many options which can make choosing the right kind of equipment can be a workout in itself. To help take some of the guesswork out of purchasing home exercise equipment, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers these tips:
- Determine your goals: Before making an investment, take the time to consider your fitness goals. Whether you want to build strength, increase flexibility, improve endurance or enhance your health, look for equipment that helps you achieve your personal goals.
- Try before you buy: Put on your workout gear and visit a store that specializes in fitness equipment. Plan on breaking a sweat as you ‘test drive’ the equipment. The goal is to find something you like to do. Whether it’s a treadmill, step machine or a stationary bicycle, if you enjoy the exercise you will be more likely to stick with it in the long run. If you have friends who own home equipment ask if you can try it out.
- One machine can’t do it all: Most exercise equipment is designed to work specific body parts, not the entire body. If you plan to purchase just one piece of equipment, make sure to supplement your workout with other exercises that provide the necessary aerobic conditioning, strength training or stretching. For instance, if you buy a weight machine your workout should also include stretching and regular aerobic exercise like walking or jogging. And remember, no exercise device can spot reduce or burn fat off a particular part of the body. Be wary of any ads that promise "easy" or "effortless" results.
- Consider your space: Think about where you plan to put your equipment. Be sure to check for adequate ventilation, electrical outlets, floor space and lighting.
- Shop around: Set a budget and purchase the highest quality equipment you can afford. There’s a strong correlation between price and quality – you tend to get what you pay for. Take the time to do some research. Check out fitness and consumer magazines that rate exercise equipment. Visit several stores including specialty fitness shops with knowledgeable salespeople who can help answer your questions. Check the fine print before you buy – get all of the details on warranties, delivery and return policies.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.