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Before You Buy Home Fitness Equipment

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Updated November 22, 2010

Now more than ever we're looking for ways to fit in exercise. For some of you, that means moving from the gym to your living rooms and basements. Working out at home might be the answer for your busy schedule, but how do you know what fitness equipment you'll need? There are plenty of choices out there for home exercise: Free weights, weight training machines, home gyms...and then there's cardio equipment, which is a category all it's own. It's hard to know where to begin, but the list below offers some ideas for what to think about before you buy home fitness equipment.

Will You Use It?

Before you buy anything, remember this: Starting with something you've never tried before could make it harder to succeed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy things that interest you, but keep in mind that buying equipment is no guarantee you'll use it. Think of activities you enjoy and start there. For example, if you hate bike riding, a stationary bike may not be a great choice. Start small. Invest in a good pair of shoes and dumbbells or resistance bands. Try exercise videos or group fitness classes to figure out what you like to avoid wasting money.

What's Your Budget?

It's ridiculous, I know, but when you want something you have to pay for it. When planning your gym, know exactly how much you have to spend. Exercise gear doesn't need to be expensive, but it should be quality. If you've got $50 available, consider an exercise ball, resistance bands and a few sets of dumbbells. If you’ve got more to spend, you might consider a home gym or a bigger piece of cardio equipment, like a treadmill or elliptical trainer.

What Do You Enjoy Doing?

Many of us buy things or do things because of others. For example, your friend says, "I started jogging and I lost 10 lbs!" Meanwhile, you loathe jogging. There is no perfect exercise. One activity is as good as another, providing that you enjoy it. The more you like something, the more often you'll do it and the harder you'll work. Try to stay in line with your fitness personality. If you like no-impact activities, try an elliptical trainer or bike. Enjoy swimming? Try your local community pool, YMCA or health club which will give you a variety of choices for exercise.

How Much Space Do You Have?

This is often an overlooked issue. Having a treadmill is cool, but what if there's nowhere to put it? And, what are you going to do with that barbell set you just bought? Before you buy anything bigger than resistance bands or a few dumbbells, figure out where you'll put everything. Having an empty garage is great, but will you use it when it's 100 degrees outside? Will your spouse really be okay with having to climb over the treadmill to get to the bathroom? Are you okay with taking out a ceiling tile if that elliptical trainer was taller than you thought? Measure how much space you have to avoid future problems.

Don't Be Seduced By Quick Fix Gadgets

There are people in this world who will promise you anything to get you to buy their products. Try to avoid any products that promise outrageous results with very little effort (e.g., "Lose 10 pounds in just minutes a day!") or that only work one muscle group. For example, you're better off buying an exercise ball, which you can use for core work, weight training and balance exercises than an ab gadget that only works your abs. Many infomercials products are expensive and you can get more effective workouts with a basic set of dumbbells and good, quality exercises.
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