The guides for how to buy different types of fitness equipment on this page ‘do the homework’. They go further than just showing what you can get for your money (though that is important). You will find out the common traps to avoid. Whether you buy a treadmill, elliptical trainer, exercise bike or a full home multi-gym, there are some brands which scream ‘avoid!!’ when you know what you are looking for.
Budget is just one component of buying fitness equipment for your home. Size, noise, technology and entertainment options also come into it. If you are sharing your equipment, then you will also need machines versatile enough for everyone.
This page was put together to answer some of the key questions that people come forward with when first choosing which fitness equipment to buy.
To many people, the sheer number of options can be bewildering. Even once you have narrowed down the choices to a couple of types of equipment there can still be important questions. Which brands are the reputable ones and which are the cheap and cheerful fitness equipment makers? How much do I need to spend on each type of equipment to get a quality and durable product? What extra features could I expect by moving from budget to mid-price and then to the top end of the fitness equipment price ranges?
There are 3 main types of article here:
I’m going to go against the ‘fitness gurus’ out there and say that the single most important factor in buying fitness equipment is to find something you enjoy.
Yep, the effectiveness in terms of calories burned, muscle gained or cardio peaks are all very nice to measure. If you really do not enjoy what you are doing to achieve these, then the chances of you still being in there for the long term are slim.
For many people, this will be a ‘dislike the least’ qualifier, but hey, we have to start somewhere.
Once you have aligned your goals (weight loss, cardio fitness, muscle gain) with the types of equipment that provide these outcomes, your next step is to narrow down the options by disregarding anything you really do not like the look of.
Next, the process of working out which of the remaining options works for you begins. Here are some of the general criteria you can use to narrow down your search. Note that specific types of equipment have their own criteria, so these are just high-level guidelines:
Compare a non-folding treadmill or elliptical cross trainer with a small floor standing stepper or fold-up rowing machine and you will see that there are some big variations in how much space you will need for different types of fitness equipment. Stay realistic on this front, you might be willing to move things around for the first few weeks, after a while it could easily become a disincentive to work out in the first place.
Even the quietist treadmills are reasonably loud once you pick up the pace, and your rowing machine can be noisy too at the budget end of the market at least. Elliptical trainers are quieter by nature. If you live in a flat, or intend to work out after the kids have gone to bed then then noise can be a significant consideration.
If you are just starting out on the road to fitness, a cheaper model with basic functionality will often do the job fine. What I recommend you consider is what happens when you reach your interim goals. For example, buying a slower (8km / hr) treadmill might save you money now, only in 3 months time you might be wishing that same machine went up to 12km / hour.
Apps can keep track of your progress and even allow you to share this information on forums or social media. For many of us, these are a big help in maintaining motivation and drive. You will also find a lot of fitness equipment now connects to trackers, for example the POLAR range of monitors.
Want something with built in speakers, or even a built in TV? How about tracking your progress via a LCD screen (these range from basic numerical displays to interactive consoles). Many types of fitness equipment will connect to your phone to play music while you work out these days.
Here we open a range of questions which are specific to the individual machines. While there are no hard and fast rules about where a budget machine becomes a mid-range one (especially with the discounting available at amazon.co.uk). Look out for an article coming soon which includes a table showing the different prices you can expect to pay for different machines. For now, here is an approximate guideline
(note, need table / format for this list)
Budget < £100
Mid-Range < £400
Top End £700 and up
Budget < £70
Mid-Range < £250
Top End £500 and up
Budget < £125
Mid Range < £350
Top End > £600
Budget < £30
Mid-Range < £150
Top End > £250
Budget < £25
Mid-Range < £70
Top-End > £150
Budget < £80
Mid-Range < £200
Top End > £1350
There are plenty more types of fitness equipment covered in depth here, a great place to start is the ‘Fitness Equipment Finder’ on the top left of this (and every) page!