1. Set Fitness Goals First. Take the time to go over your fitness goals and present fitness level. Do you want to train for weight loss, build muscle, or improve athletic performance? Having set goals is important in helping to select a piece that you will use time and time again.
2. Measure and Plan Your Space. You should have a good idea of where you’ll be putting your equipment. Plan to set up in a comfortable, well-ventilated room where you’ll enjoy working out. Bring some measurements with you when you go to look at equipment.
3. Injuries. If you have any old or existing injuries take careful consideration when making your decision. If you have a lower back injury a recumbent bike may be more comfortable and supportive than an upright bike. If you have knee or ankle injuries consider trying a low-impact option such as an elliptical or bike.
4. Shop at a specialty store. The knowledgeable staff, selection and customer service at a specialty fitness store are important in helping you make the right decision. The staff a specialty store will take the time to asses your goals, budget, space and any injuries you might have to insure you go with a machine that matches your fitness goals. Specialty stores are also key in helping you service and maintain your equipment.
5. Warranties. Investing in home fitness equipment is a fantastic way to keep in shape. You want to make sure your new gear is protected. Consider what the warranty is on any product you’re looking at. As a general rule watch for a minimum of 1 year labour, 3-5 years parts and a lifetime warranty on frames. Customer Care Plans are worthwhile investments that cover in-home service and they’re important on items such as treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals.
6. Ergonomics. Whether you’re looking at an elliptical, treadmill, bike or gym you should never have to compromise your posture to fit the machine. Find a machine that fits you. In treadmills look for a good cushioning system, in ellipticals watch for stride length and try to avoid elevated ramps, in bikes check your knee position and posture. If you’re looking at a home gym look for fully adjustable seats so you can fit the positions to your body.
7. Consider Accessories. You don’t necessarily have to purchase a home gym in order to get your strength workouts in. If you are limited for space consider options like a Bosu, kettlebells, resistance tubing, Power Blocks, medicine balls or just simple dumbbells and a bench. You can still get a quality full-body workout with a space-saving design like adjustable dumbbells and folding benches that are perfect for apartments and small rooms.
8. Take your time. When you head into your local fitness store, wear your workout gear! Take the time to to have a quick workout that will allow you to get a good feel for the equipment. Play around with resistance, speed, and programs. Does it feel safe and comfortable? Are the controls easy to reach? Is there room for your water and MP3 player? These are questions you should ask yourself while you’re trying different pieces.
9. Equipment Consultants. A good specialty fitness store should have friendly, expert staff that can help you with equipment questions in addition to fitness, nutrition and training information. Look for a store with staff that aren’t just sales people but rather fitness enthusiasts, personal trainers, athletes, bodybuilders and other health experts. They should be able to offer you more than just equipment but a genuine and helpful buying experience.
10. Store Selection. A specialty store will have a good selection of floor models for you to try and carry the top independently rated brands and models. Look for a variety of models and brands in different price points allowing you to find the perfect piece that fits your budget.