“So You Want To Build A Home Gym”

I walked into the commercial gym yesterday after a long day of work excited to begin my workout. After warming up I proceeded to the squat rack to start my resistance training workout. I unfortunately ran into a bit of a roadblock. I was planning on starting with some Back Squats but there was a young man in the power rack performing barbell biceps curls with horrible form (a definite no-no!).

I decided to go to Plan B and rearrange my workout only to find that the flat benches were all occupied as well. This trend continued and everywhere I turned the equipment I desired was being used. I was happy that so many people were working out but at the same time I was frustrated that my well-laid plans were spoiled. I learned a long time ago that it is wise to have a back-up plan in place for situations like this so I decided to head home and revert to Plan C, which was my home workout routine.

I have found that having the option to workout at home is essential for people with busy schedules, for others who do not like going to crowded gyms, or for people who need a contingency plan for just-in-case situations (that’s me!). Another reason to have a home gym is that warmer weather has finally arrived and you may be less likely to go to your commercial gym.

I have helped people design expensive, well-equipped home gyms and I have helped others design very cost-effective, space-saving workouts areas. My personal home gym consists of a Stability Ball, 5lb to 95lb Dumbbells, some Kettlebells, an adjustable Weighted Vest, Adjustable DB Handles, Elastic Bands, 2kg to 10kg Medicine Balls, Ankle Weights, an AB Roller, a variety of Exercise Videos, and a minimal amount of space!

Anyone can have a Home Gym and there are many reasons to have one. The following list of questions should help you design a Home Gym that will suit your needs, your space, and your budget!

Questions To Ask When Building Your Home Gym:

The First Step: Ask Yourself Why?

Why do you want a home gym? What will it give you that you do not already have? What is your empowering vision of your ideal physique or athletic accomplishment? What are your short and long term goals? Always begin with a vision of the end results in mind, as this will guide you in your efforts. If you have not developed a vision of what you want to accomplish at this point, then that is the first thing you need to do. Develop a plan of attack for building your body and building your home gym.

Without a plan you might end up disappointed with the lack of results and frustrated that you bought the wrong equipment. Ask yourself what kind of results you expect your home gym to deliver? Is your home gym going to supplement your commercial gym membership (as a contingency plan)? Will you be doing your cardiovascular exercise outside or inside on a machine? Will you be doing stretching, strength training, or both? Is your home gym going to be the only place that you work out? Think about these things when designing your home gym.

I. How much are you willing to spend ($$$$$$$)?

How much do you want to spend, plain and simple? If you are just starting out with an exercise program, you might consider starting small with a simple, yet very effective, pair of Dumbbells. You can perform a full-body workout with a pair of dumbbells, some bodyweight exercises, and with a little knowledgeable of proper exercise technique. If you want to do it inexpensively, hire a knowledgeable fitness professional to design an individualized exercise program that you can do with a pair of Dumbbells in the comfort of your home. I have listed a variety of items that you might consider adding to your home gym.

Equipment Considerations:

A. Cardiovascular Machine

If you insist on performing your cardiovascular exercise routine at home be prepared to spend some money! Be aware, a gym quality treadmill, stationary bike, rowing ergometer, or elliptical trainer is going to cost you. You can buy used or refurbished gym quality equipment for a discounted price and if I wanted a cardio machine for my home this is probably the route that I would take. If you are thinking, “I’ll just save a few hundred dollars and buy an inexpensive treadmill at the mall,” make sure you do some research and ensure that you will buy something that is going to last and that will fit y our needs. I know many people who have purchased flimsy treadmills and regretted it soon thereafter. There are quality treadmills out there you just have to know where to look. I would recommend talking to my friend Bob McKinnon at McKinnon Technical Services (603-644-7539) who knows gym equipment like the back of his hand. He can point you in the right direction if you want to!

B. A Multi-Purpose Home Gym Machine

There are numerous multi-purpose gyms on the market and some are better than others. Chances are, if you turn on your television late at night and flip through the channels, you will be exposed to clever marketing using beautifully sculpted fitness models promising results in six weeks or less if you purchase their machine! Guess what. You can get results without a two thousand dollar machine that will most likely be collecting dust in a year anyway! Why not begin your quest for improved fitness with a modest investment in a pair of Dumbbells? Why not purchase a $20 book on how to get into shape? How about meeting with someone who specializes in coaching people through the process of positive physical change such as fitness professional or Registered Dietician? Infomercials are notorious for clever marketing and they can be very compelling. Avoid impulsive buying and do some research first before purchasing an expensive multi-gym. I recommend consulting a qualified fitness professional about the usefulness of such a machine, interviewing people who have that machine, and possibly even test-driving one before you make this decision. I have to mention that every Spring and Fall I see countless multi-gyms sitting out on someone’s lawn as part of the annual yard sale. I wonder why that is?

C. Barbells

If I had the room in my apartment, I would go out and buy a Barbell today! With a 45 lb. Olympic Barbell you can perform a wide variety of exercises in a variety of different ways. If you are an athlete, you have the space available, and you want to improve your sports performance, learning how to correctly perform the Olympic Weightlifting movements (Clean and Jerk, Snatch, and all the variations) can take your performance to the next level! To name a few, exercises such as Squats, Overhead Squats, Deadlifts, Bent over Rows, Bench Presses, Overhead Presses, and Upright Rows can be performed. I would recommend having an adjustable Power Rack and adjustable bench to augment the versatility of the barbell. Space and total cost are big factors when considering purchasing a barbell.

D. Dumbbells

If you want to save money and space, dumbbells are the way to go. You might consider two to three sets of dumbbells (they can be purchased at a sporting goods store for any where between $.35-$.75/pound (In Concord, NH, Check out Olympia Sports in the Mall, Sears, Target, Walmart, Northeast Fitness, or check out the newspapers for the least expensive way to go!). I prefer the metal dumbbells but there are also rubber coated and adjustable dumbbells available. “Power Blocks,” (perform a search on the internet to learn more about these) are adjustable dumbbells and are a great tool that take up a lot less space in your home gym, offers great versatility, and offers adjustable resistance to suit your needs. There are also other forms of adjustable dumbbells that consist of two handles, collars, and series of different size weight plates.

When selecting weights, it wise to start light and gradually purchase heavier dumbbells as you need them. I am able to perform wide variety of exercises with Dumbbells. If your goal is fat-loss, then a properly designed resistance training program that incorporates multi-joint Dumbbell exercises will help you achieve your goals more efficiently than many gym machines that “isolate” certain muscle groups. Remember, the more muscle groups that you incorporate, the more energy your body burns, and the better your results will be! Exercise technique is a factor but I’ll happily let you know that I have taught 90-year-old women and 11-year-old boys how to perform the most “difficult” Dumbbell exercises with pristine form.

E. Medicine Balls

Medicine Balls are a great tool depending upon your fitness goals and your current training level. For an athlete in search of sports performance enhancement, Medicine Balls are a great tool because they can be accelerated in a rapid fashion through many planes of motion. If general fitness is your goal, you can perform many traditional gym exercises with a Medicine Ball as well. Medicine balls come in all shapes, sizes, weights, and colors. Be sure that the ball you pick suits your needs. By the way, these are also great for outdoor workouts on a sunny day!

F. Benches and Stability Balls:

A bench can be a great tool that will allow you to perform more exercises during your home workout sessions. Some benches are adjustable and offer great versatility while others are just fixed benches. Space is a concern for many people and that makes the Stability Ball (a.k.a. Swiss Ball) a great alternative to a bench. With a Stability Ball you can perform inclined, seated, prone, supine, floor, and a number of lower body exercises. A knowledgeable fitness professional could teach you how to perform a full-body workout with a Stability Ball and a pair of dumbbells. There are a number of different ways to use it in order to maximize your home workout routines. Not only can it replace a more expensive exercise machine or bench, but it can also double as a chair, take up less space, and challenge your body’s balance in ways that a stable bench/machine cannot.

G. Resistance Bands/Tubes:

The cable pulley system at your local gym offers a number of exercises that can increase the variety of your workouts tremendously. An alternative to the cable pulley system for your home gym could be resistance bands or tubing that you can tie to a pillar in the basement of fix in a closed door. You can buy tubing that comes with handles already attached in some fitness catalogs or you could just tie a loop in one end to make your own makeshift handle. It is important to mention that elastic resistance training has many benefits and many inherent flaws. If you understand how to properly combine elastic resistance training with inertial (free weight training) you can maximize your results! A knowledgeable exercise professional can help you design your home gym to take advantage of these tools.

H. Exercise Videos:

There are many great exercise videos out there (and a lot more bad ones!). There are videos for Yoga, Step Aerobics, Tae-Bo, Pilates, Strength Training, Stability Ball Training, and every other imaginable fitness topic out there. Check out your local sporting goods store or Borders for a selection of exercise videos. The key is to find a couple videos that you enjoy and that give you the workout that you are looking for.

I. Other Fun Tools:

If you walk into a sporting goods store or open a fitness equipment catalog you will see a variety of toys that can supposedly enhance your workouts and deliver unbelievable results. Buyer beware! No one piece of equipment can solve all of your home gym needs and you must consider how this piece of equipment will fit into your complete program. Watch out for gimmicks and miracle exercise machines. Ask a fitness professional their opinion before you buy and you may save yourself some money! Do a little research before purchasing equipment for your home or you may run the risk of buying an expensive coat rack!

II. How much square footage do you have?

Simply put, how much space do you have available? Do you have enough room for an adjustable bench or a mutli-purpose exercise machine? Is the area well ventilated? How much ceiling height do you have? Are your floors solid? Do you have neighbors that might not appreciate you jumping up and down? Will you have room for all of the equipment you want to get? Thinking about these issues in advance will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Finally, determine what else your home gym is used for? Will your home gym also be used for family gatherings, a playroom for the kids, an office, a gathering area to watch the Final Four, or strictly as a home gym? These are some other aspects to consider when designing your home gym.

III. Do you know your way around the gym?

Are you a beginner, an intermediate, an expert, or an advanced exerciser? A beginner might start out with an exercise tape, a Stability ball, and a couple of 5 pound dumbbells where as a more advanced exerciser might have a Barbell, Olympic Bench, a Stability Ball, an Adjustable Step, a Selectorized Weight Machine, a Power Rack, and a variety of Dumbbells. Have you been properly trained in the use of Free Weights or do you feel more comfortable using a machine? What kind of equipment does your plan of attack call for? The answers to these questions will help you better choose a home gym that works for you.

In closing, be sure to spend considerable time looking into the process of designing and constructing your home gym as it can be a very important addition to your life and to your home. Consider consulting an exercise professional to make sure that your gym will suit your individual needs, your budget, and your home. There are many reasons to have a home gym and it can be designed to help you achieve the results that you are looking for!

Stay fit,

Kyle Battis CSCS, L/ATC, NSCA-CPT

ATTENTION: “To build a home gym that really delivers results or to learn how to crank up progress from your current home gym go to http://www.HomeGymSecrets.com and you’ll receive a FREE special report valued at $15 just for stopping by!

The Horizon Elliptical Trainer

The Horizon Elliptical is an affordably priced elliptical that comes with a one year warranty. It is considered a good buy for the money. People who have used it say that the ride is comfortable because the pedals level on their own.

One of the problems with the Horizon Elliptical is that the brakes, which are mechanical, break down and really need to be periodically taken care of. The upper body workout, which you get with the handlebars in motion, can be difficult and uncomfortable for shorter people to reach and use.

The Horizon Elliptical doesn’t seem to be built as well as other higher end type ellipticals and may require servicing often. This machine may not be a really long lasting piece of equipment, but it’s still considered to be worth buying. Because of the problem with reaching the handlebars on the Horizon Elliptical, you should really test out a demo in the store to make sure that you can use it. If you decide to purchase a Horizon

Elliptical it would probably be a good idea to also purchase an extended warranty.

The Horizon Elliptical will feel different then the elliptical that you might use in a gym because the flywheel is on the reverse end of the machine.

The Horizon Elliptical has four different models. They are the Horizon e51, the Horizon e52, the Horizon e53, and the Horizon e54hr.The main differences in these models are the extras, like the heart rate monitors, which are part of the electronic system of the machine.

Deciding on a Fitness Center: Tips for Choosing

Joining one of the many fitness centers in your area can have a lot of benefits, but can also be a big expense. Since most centers ask you to sign contracts that can be difficult to cancel, make sure that joining a fitness center is for you and that you are happy with the one you choose, before signing on the dotted line.

Deciding on your Needs

Since you are reading this I guess you would be more interested in weight training than aerobics, swimming and other things. Now those are important but it does not matter to some people whether there is a swimming pool available. You might not be concerned with the number of aerobics classes held each day.

All you want to do is weight train. So choosing a gym that has a wide variety of exercise equipment is idea for you. Now if you are still not sure, you need to look for a location that has a variety of programs and exercise equipment. Maybe once you get started you can decide on your specific needs.

Shop Around

There are many fitness centers out there, too many to review individually. But keep in mind that they are not all alike. If you want to join, make sure to find a club that suits you. Do your homework and comparison shop-it will definitely be to your advantage. Here’s what to look for:

* Make sure it’s convenient to work and/or home. If it’s not, you won’t go.

* Request a free or guest pass to try out the facility.

* Ask about the qualifications of the staff. Unless you already know what you’re doing, you want to work with professionals.

* Visit your choices during the times you would most likely go to exercise and check for crowding conditions.

* Check out the cleanliness of the exercise areas as well as the locker rooms and bathrooms. Make sure exercise equipment appears to be in good condition.

* Ask for operating hours and class schedules to make sure they fit your needs.

* See if child care is available on site.

* Talk to other members and see how they like it.

Joining a fitness center can be a major expense, so use these tips to avoid any financial surprises and get the most for your dollar.

* Before you shop, determine how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t go above this amount. Working out should not break the bank.

* Find out exactly what is included in the monthly fee and what is considered “extra.” Be sure to get a price list of services.

* Skip low-cost “trial memberships.” You will most certainly be pressured later on to continue at a higher fee. Don’t join until you’re ready to make the commitment and only pay what you’re willing to pay.

* See if you are eligible for discounts through your employer or health insurance company.

* Completely understand all refund and cancellation policies before signing a contract.

* Review the contract at home, without the pressure of a salesperson. Ask questions and make sure you understand what you’re signing.

The Benefits of Joining

Fitness clubs allow you access to equipment that you could not afford to purchase or have no room for at home. Many also offer a variety of classes led by trained professionals, therefore increasing the variety of exercise options available. You also have access to fitness professionals who can provide guidance and help you develop a personalized weight training program.

For those who HATE to waste money, joining a fitness center can be a good motivator, feeling compelled to go so they get their money’s worth (this is true only for those who really go out of their way to get value from their money, no matter what they’re spending it on). Those who would just be constantly interrupted trying to work out at home may find getting out of the house to exercise the only way to go.

Alternatives to Fitness Centers

Remember, the large fitness center chains are not the only way to go. Some employers as well as local hospitals or wellness centers have fitness facilities.

Also, make sure this is the best value for you. A few hundred dollars investment in work out equipment you can use at home will still give you excellent fitness results. Or you could join a fitness class through your local YMCA or community center, where membership is not required.

Treadmill Best Recommended List

Runner’s World Magazine conducts an evaluation, to come up with their treadmill best recommended list. Unlike other sports-related products that the athletic magazine reviews on an annual basis, treadmills, they explain, are not extensively and continually redesigned and upgraded. Thus, the treadmill best recommended list stays a dependable buying guide for three years for the thousands of athletes and exercise-enthusiasts who look to Runner’s World Magazine for fitness product information.

The treadmills that Runner’s World has included on its current treadmill best recommended list made that list as a result of a lengthy process that took into consideration all sizes, shapes and endurance levels of treadmill users. They tested 12 treadmills, with 15 testers of both sexes, ranging from 110-210 pounds. Aged 25-55, these testers ran or walked hundreds of miles, at various speeds and inclines. Some were high-end athletes, others not quite so enduring. What’s surprising about the Runner’s World treadmill best recommended list for this year is that although most participants were brand new the treadmills that ended up making the treadmill best recommended list were the same treadmills recommended three years prior. The criteria of this list are for cushioning, stability, controls, and display, resulting in an overall rating as well.

The devices that made the Current Runner’s World treadmill best recommended list are True, retailing at $3795, with an overall rating of 8.1; Nordic Track, retailing at $3500, whose overall rating is 7.6; Precor; number three on the treadmill best recommended list, is also priced at $3500, with a 7.3 overall rating. The fourth best is the $4995 Cybex, which earned an overall rating of 7.1; Life Fitness, $3500, is rated overall at 7.0; the $4495 Landice, overall rating 6.9, is next on the list.

What You Must Know About Trampoline Safety

Tumbling on the trampoline caught on like wildfire in the

early 1960s, and still enjoys great popularity today, but

the sport also still involves the same potential dangers.

Trampolines in the last 45 years have gone from being an

institutional or recreation center piece of equipment, to

something that is found in many homes, in a variety of

sizes and quality.

From a simple, round trampoline of relatively small

dimensions, to the large, outdoor models sold for family

fun, every trampoline represents the possibility of injury,

if not used properly, or if used by those not experienced

in tumbling or acrobatics.

Here are some simple tips to make your sure that you enjoy

the fun of a trampoline, while eliminating many of the

risks.

* Placement

Never set up even a small, exercise trampoline indoors

where there is a risk of hitting light fixtures or the

ceiling. Outdoors, place trampolines well away from

clotheslines, tree limbs, fences, outdoor furniture, and

other objects that can cause injury when someone falls off.

If at all possible, secure your trampoline by setting its

legs/supports down into the ground, thereby reducing the

distance of a fall. At the same time, it’s advisable to

provide padding to a depth of 10″ or more, for at least 10′

around the trampoline.

* Clothing

Anyone using the trampoline should wear clothing loose

enough to allow freedom of movement, but not the chance

that limbs could become entangled in extra folds. Jewelry

should be removed before getting on, as should the contents

of any pockets, and eyeglasses that are not secured by a

headband. If you do not have trampoline footwear, then bare

feet are best, as socks can cause you to slip.

* Training and Supervision

No child or adult, should be allowed to attempt complicated

tumbling such as summersaults, when they have not had

adequate training. Incorrect landing positions can cause

serious and disabling injuries. Supervision should be

provided for everyone who is learning to use a trampoline

for the first time.

Ideally, there should be someone on hand who can instruct

them in simple maneuvers, and who is also versed in first

aid for injuries. Alternately, it may benefit everyone, to

join a gym for a class in proper trampoline use, including

mounts and dismounts.

* One At a Time

The chance of injury soars when more than one person gets

on a trampoline at the same time. This can be the result of

collisions, or upsetting another person’s balance, causing

them to fall. Unless you are a trained “spotter”, all

others waiting a turn, should stand away from the

trampoline while someone else is using it.

My Golden Gym

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” — Ann Landers

A year ago, almost to the day, I had an epiphany while exercising at my local gym. I was on a treadmill sweating along with about 30 other people, glued to the latest CNN horrors on the big-screen, when I glanced outside at the absolutely gorgeous spring day.

That was the precise moment when I decided to get a dog.

Okay, it wasn’t the “precise” moment…because I had been toying with the idea for almost a year. But up until that moment last year on the treadmill, I felt there was really no good reason to get a dog other than to complicate my already busy life and to add another mouth to feed along with our 2 children, 4 guinea pigs, 3 cats, 3 fish, and a then-leased horse for our daughter.

But the more I looked outside that day, the more I wanted to be out there, walking, maybe even jogging, alongside a furry devoted friend. Yes, the dog would have a purpose – it would be my walking dog! An exercise dog. A reason to get out of that stuffy gym and into the great outdoors! After all, what was the point of living in scenic New England if I rarely got outside to enjoy it? And I never walked in the woods alone – my New York mentality and paranoia would not allow it — my heart raced with every squirrel or bird that snapped a twig or rustled a leaf. My dog would be my protector – at least a deterrent — against any would-be assassin/rapist/kidnapper lurking in the woods.

Suddenly, the reason to get a dog made perfect sense.

In his insightful book, “The New Work of Dogs” John Katz makes the case for the new role of dogs. Once herders, guard and hunting dogs, now our canine friends have a new work: tending to life, love and family. Dogs need a job, and they will adapt to whatever circumstances their human companions give them. What I wanted from my dog was simple: security while walking in the woods and a reason to walk everyday.

A survey done a few years ago in Australia showed that dog owners walked an average of 18 minutes more per week than non-dog owners. Studies abound extolling the psychological benefits of dog. Plus…dogs are not afraid of the dark, are excellent listeners, they’re never critical and never gossip, they follow you everywhere, and no matter what – your dog will always love you.

Last August we got a golden retriever puppy. Much like when I became a new mother, I vastly underestimated how much work goes into raising a small being. By the 2nd week of night-crying (me and the puppy) I was beginning to rethink the merits of having a dog. I was going outside more times than I wanted to be outside. (Uh, like, 8-10 times a day). Long walks were out of the question as Sadie would plop down for a nap at the most inconvenient times (halfway through our walks). But as she grew, so did her seriousness about her “job” to take me into the woods and keep me fit. We were soon up to 3 miles a day by the winter. She also was housebroken and down to 3-4 “business walks” a day. I enjoyed our walks, and by the looks of her smile (yes, dogs do smile!) she was loving every minute of it too.

There is nothing like a dog to keep you in touch with nature. I don’t think I would voluntarily go outside in sub-freezing weather. Or take a walk around the block at night before bedtime. But I do with Sadie. And I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful for the stars that I see most nights. For the phases of the moon, which I now notice. For the changing seasons that I witness first hand with each familiar tree around the bend. Grateful for the ever-changing Ashuelot River near our home, with its pattern of freezing and thawing. For the birds, who rarely sing in the dead of winter and who return with happy songs in April. It is an interesting world, one which I have in the past avoided due to the inconvenience of being outside in the rain, sleet, cold or snow.

Now, at 10 months old, Sadie is officially my walking dog. And thanks to a Puppy Kindergarten class she can also sit, stay, come and heel on command. She is also unbelievably devoted not only to me – but to everyone in the family, even the cats and the guinea pig. She lets me know when the mail has arrived. She keeps my feet warm when I’m at writing at the computer. She looks at me with those warm loving eyes like…she thinks I’m just wonderful! She has become more than my walking dog — she’s my, well, co-worker here at my home office. I can’t imagine life without her.

The two of us, walk — a lot. I feel good, healthy. And I no longer go to the gym. No need for that anymore — now that I have my “golden” gym.

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the byline is included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated — please send to editor@theheartofnewengland.com. A .jepg photo of the author and her dog are available upon request.

The Reebok Elliptical – A Brief Review

When considering the Reebok Elliptical for your workout, there are a few things that you should be aware of.

The Reebok elliptical is a fairly large machine with mostly independent parts. This can make it difficult for you to do the maintenance and repairs on your own. Other than the fact that the Reebok elliptical can become noisy after regular use, you will have little trouble with this machine.

One of the things that many people tend to really enjoy about the Reebok elliptical is that it has such a smooth ride. It also includes upper body workout poles that move with the pedals to give you an upper body workout if you desire.

If you don’t want to use the upper body workout poles, you can opt to leave them off when assembling the elliptical. However, if you would like to leave them on the machine for periodical use, there stationary bars provided so that you can balance yourself when not using the upper body workout poles. You should be careful when you are not using the upper body workout poles because they will still move while you are exercising.

This style of machine has the fly wheel in the back like many of the ellipticals you may find in fitness centers. This feature is responsible for the smoother ride. It also has silent magnetic resistance for smooth increasing and decreasing of intensity levels. There is also impact absorption for less stress on your body.

The pedals are stationary to help keep your ride smooth. And you’ll find that the Reebok Elliptical is very stable even when you’re riding at high speeds – there’s no wobbling like the inferior machines.

If you’re wondering if the stride is comfortable, it is quite adequate for most – so you don’t have to worry about awkward movements. The Reebok elliptical provides an intense workout with virtually no impact on your joints. Owners of the Reebok elliptical highly recommend it and are, in general, happy with their choice of this machine.

Proform Treadmills and iFit Technology – The Right Combination for Workout Success!

We all want to achieve the toned and slender look that working out gives your body, right? Strong and sleek and ready to be shown off – what’s not to love! Unfortunately, achieving that gorgeous body can sometimes be harder work than it would be in an ideal world, and working out can just get plain old boring after a while. And while the incentive to exercise is always there, it sometimes simply isn’t strong enough to drag us through those predictable, repetitive sessions. Who isn’t jealous of those energetic folks who say they love exercise? Thankfully there is a fitness company called Proform treadmills who have come up with a plan for the rest of us, and now, with Proform treadmills and iFit technology, we can learn to love exercise too.

There is no doubt that Proform treadmills are an excellent tool to help us get fit. One of the most well known names in fitness equipment, Pro form treadmills combine quality construction with technological innovation, all at a reasonable price. Manufactured by Icon Fitness, one of the largest producers of exercise equipment in the US, the Proform treadmill package includes quality Proform treadmill parts, including good motors, clear and easy to read electronic readouts, and other great features, including a running deck with adjustable cushioning, ensuring that your Proform

treadmill is as comfortable to use as possible. And while reviewers

invariably write positive things about the Proform review treadmill they try out, even the most positive among them will admit that there is nothing in this Pro form treadmill package that could tempt the unwilling among us to come back for a workout time and time again.

But perhaps the most important of all the Proform treadmill parts that

come together to make the manufacturer one of the most popular is the

innovation with which they build their exercise equipment. Proform

treadmills seem to have been designed by ordinary people like you and me – people who simply don’t think that running in a straight line for a half an hour every day is something that you’d do willingly. Unless you incorporate something that makes exercise a little more interesting.

iFit Technology – Introducing a Challenge to Your Workout

Have you ever noticed how a session at the gym can pass before you know it? Whether you take part in an exercise class with an enthusiastic instructor who shouts encouraging slogans at you each time you feel your legs start to weaken or try to see if you can do more reps on the tricep machine than the big burly guy who used it before you, there is something about the company of others when exercising that brings out your competitive streak. And by using a Pro form treadmill and the innovative iFit technology, you can achieve this same thing at home.

iFit is a supplement to your treadmill workout that shakes things up and makes them interesting. By hooking up to the internet, you can record your training history and track your progress. iFit will devise a personal workout program for you, so that each time you set foot on your Proform treadmill, you will have a new goal to reach, and a personal best to beat – after all, isn’t the most fun kind of competition the one you have with yourself?

iFit technology also allows you listen to music as you workout, and

provides inspirational images that can be the backdrop to your run – fancy running in the park today? iFit allows you do just that, without having to set foot off your Pro form treadmill.

iFit’s latest innovation can even recreate that enthusiastic gym

instructor – there is now a facility that allows you interact with a

personal trainer online, as you exercise! You can compliment your running session with a strength training workout, helping you get the results you want even quicker. And with a personal trainer’s critical eye beaming right into your living room, you know you’ll keep up with your treadmill sessions!

So if you want to find out what the Proform treadmill reviews are talking about, try one for yourself, and make your workout even better by challenging yourself with an ifit workout. Not only will it help you get that gorgeous body that you deserve, you might actually find that you love working out too!

Exercise Bikes vs. Treadmills

You’ve decided you want to exercise at home. There are hundreds of pieces of home cardio equipment available. The most popular are treadmills and exercise bikes. In deciding between the two, you should compare long-term sustainability, the effectiveness of the workouts, and safety.

Overcoming Boredom

The biggest obstacle to a home exercise routine is sticking with it. You don’t have to drive to a gym, so your home fitness equipment is more convenient. The problem is that other distractions are just as convenient at home. The key is to make your routine fun. You want to look forward to your daily workout. You have to be realistic. Playing with the heart rate monitor or watching the calorie counter go up will only be fun the first couple of times you exercise.

o Treadmill vs. Boredom

On a treadmill, you walk. Walking isn’t that fun. You can walk at different speeds, but that isn’t really much more fun. If you get a treadmill that offers an incline, that keeps it a bit more interesting. Walking uphill isn’t exactly fun, but it’s different. It presents a challenge.

You can’t really read on a treadmill because you are bouncing up and down. You can’t keep your eyes on the same sentence, and you usually end up with a headache. Basically, the only thing fun to do on a treadmill is watch television or movies. If you are really into TV or movies and are able to put your treadmill in front of a television, you can probably keep your treadmill workout from becoming too boring. Problems consist of commercials, the noise coming from the machine, and again, the bouncing.

o Exercise Bikes vs. Boredom

Exercise bikes are unique in that many of them come programmed with various biking routines. You simulate different courses that require you to sprint, pedal uphill, and perform at different levels within one workout without having to keep pressing buttons and changing everything. You can even select random programs so you don’t know what’s coming, which really keeps you on your toes. Some exercise bikes can even be plugged into televisions and video games to let you interactively pedal through visual courses.

On upright exercise bikes, you run into some of the same problems as treadmills as far as reading is concerned. Recumbent bikes, however, allow your hands to be free to hold a book or magazine, video game controller, or phone. Multi-tasking during an exercise bike workout keeps it from becoming boring and allows your workout to more easily fit into a busy schedule.

Defeating boredom to successfully keep up a long-term exercise routine is much easier with an exercise bike than a treadmill.

The Calorie Factor

In a study conducted by Nordic Track, young, healthy people used various exercise machines and did cardio workouts. Although they felt they used the same intensity on all machines, they burned the most calories on treadmills and ski machines.

On average, most people burn about 750 calories per hour on a treadmill. The same people are likely to burn about 550 calories per hour on an exercise bike. So it’s a no-brainer, right? You should get a treadmill because they burn more calories.

Well, not exactly. You can’t get so caught up in which machine burns the most calories. You have to take a lot of other factors into consideration. How likely are you to sustain a treadmill routine as opposed to an exercise bike routine?

Because exercise bikes are usually more fun than treadmills, you are much more likely to stick with it long-term. This means that even though you can burn more calories on a treadmill, you are also more likely to stop using it altogether.

You might also find it difficult to use it long enough per workout session to get the full benefits. Most people find it easier to workout for 20 minutes on an exercise bike than 20 minutes on a treadmill. You have to think about that. If you are likely to only do 10 minutes on a treadmill but can easily do 20 minutes on an exercise bike, you will burn more calories per session on an exercise bike.

So just going strictly by the numbers, treadmills burn more calories. If you easily get bored or have tried and failed to stick with exercise routines in the past, you might want to consider burning less calories per hour in favor of a sustainable long-term exercise bike regimen.

Your Safety

The biggest difference between exercise bikes and treadmills is overall safety to your body.

The first case of safety is the most basic. You can fall off of a treadmill. It’s very difficult, however, to fall off of an exercise bike. In fact, you would probably have to try to fall when riding an exercise bike. While you might be thinking you’d have to be pretty clumsy to fall while walking, it happens more than you’d think. People get involved with watching television or the beat of music. One wrong step and you can seriously injure yourself. It’s also possible to spill water or sweat on the treadmill track, causing a safety hazard you might not notice until after you’ve slipped.

Another safety hazard is injury from the activity itself. A treadmill puts quite a bit of stress on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. Even if you invest in a treadmill with some degree of shock absorption, when you eventually get to a jogging or running point, you can put severe orthopedic stress on your body, even up to three times your body weight. People with existing conditions such as arthritis will find a treadmill painful at times due to this stress. Otherwise healthy individuals can sustain injury and possible long-term damage over time.

Exercise bikes put much less stress on your joints. A properly positioned exercise bike supports your weight and still allows you to receive the benefits of a higher impact cardio workout. Upright bikes can sometimes stress your back in the way you have to bend to reach the handlebars. Recumbent exercise bikes, however, can actually improve existing back pain by forcing proper posture and giving support as you exercise. On any exercise bike properly used, your knees and ankles are not stressed as they are on a treadmill.

The less you stress joints, the less likely you are to sustain an injury during your workout. You are also less likely to be sore afterwards. Most importantly, a non-workout injury doesn’t always have to halt your exercise routine on an exercise bike. If you hurt your back or neck, you will find the support of a recumbent exercise bike will keep you from having to stop your exercise regimen altogether. Let’s face it – if you have to stop, you are less likely to start again.

An Exercise Bike is Better for Your Health than a Treadmill

As you can see, both pieces of home fitness equipment have advantages. While the treadmill continues to be the most popular piece of home gym equipment, most people are more likely to faithfully use an exercise bike. This means you’re more likely to have to dust a treadmill until it gets the garage sale sticker.

Home Sweet Treadmill

For those of you trying to stay in shape or shed a few pounds (who isn’t?) there are tons of resources. Perhaps you think there’s nothing better than outdoor sports to burn up the calories as you feel those wonderful endorphins kicking in.

But what if it’s winter and you’re snowbound? What if you live, as I do, in the Southeast, where it seems that it’s either too hot and humid for outdoor exertion, or it’s pouring rain.

Your next best alternative may be an indoor regimen. Gyms, however, are expensive, and crowded – and, annoyingly for those of us who are well past our prime, full of 18 year olds in Spandex that make us feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy in sweats.

So, it’s home gym time. Yes, stationary bikes are the cheapest, but have you ever sat on one of those seats for any length of time? Ouch!

My favorite indoor equipment is a home treadmill. It burns up more calories than a stationary bike, is more comfortable, and doesn’t tear up my arthritic old knees like a stair stepper. Best of all, I can turn it on, climb aboard and watch TV all at the same time. My exercise time just flies by. Then I fold it up, stuff it under the couch. Try doing that with a Bow Flex!

Your home treadmill can be manual or electric, and come in a variety of different styles and options for workout speed, regulation and incline. You can walk on a flat surface at an easy three miles per hour or race rapidly up a hill. It’s all up to you. Treadmills are easy to operate and offer a workout that quickly adapts to your desired pace and exertion level.

Those that fall in the $1000+ category usually offer two to three hp motors, and several incline options. They can rev up your own motor to running speeds of up to eight to ten miles per hour. Many are easily portable, folding away for under-bed or closet storage.

A higher end treadmill might offer an LCD display that lets you see your calories burned, your speed and time elapsed. What’s really nifty about these $1200-$2000 models is that if you get really bored you can choose from one of their myriad computerized programs, which give you workout variety and a little spontaneity as well. A few even offer a chest sensor, a great option to prevent you from overdoing.

Top-end workout wizard models typically come with a warranty for motor, parts and labor. Handy features often included are 12 mph top speeds, many more workout programs, calorie counter and heart rate monitor, two cooling fans, personal profile centers, impact absorption and even carbohydrate counters.

For the budget conscious there are plenty of good manual treadmills out there at bargain basement prices. For a few hundred dollars you can still get a fast-paced workout. You can spend as little as $200 for three incline choices and a top speed of five miles per hour. Of course, there are also plenty of folks who made the purchase and are now just letting their home treadmill gather dust.