Which one do I choose?
So, you’ve made the decision that working out at home is a good solution for you. Perhaps you’re looking to lose a few pounds and need to eliminate the excuse of not being able to get to the gym. Or maybe you’re training for an event and don’t fancy venturing outdoors at times when the great British weather is far from being, well, great! Whatever your reason, we salute you! You are now on your way to achieving your goals!
Choosing the type of fitness equipment is often a straight forward decision. If you already exercise, you probably know what you like and what you are looking for, be it a stationary bike, treadmill, cross trainer or rower for example. If you are new to exercise, or just a little rusty, then how do you decide?
But think about why you are buying a product. What are your goals? Think about what do you want to achieve on it, how will you use it and what do you want the machine to do. How advanced do you need the product to be? Decide on what your ‘must-have’ features are and the ‘nice to haves’.
Our number one piece of advice is to buy something you think you will enjoy using the most. If you like cycling and want a low impact workout, then a bike would be an obvious choice. If you walk and perhaps want to give jogging a go – then a treadmill gives you the best of both worlds, but you may wish to want to consider a cross-trainer as an alternative before you make your choice. If cycling is your nemesis, then perhaps a rower might be a preferred option.
But there are other considerations you need to think about. When buying a piece of fitness equipment for the home, you need to ensure it will work for your living space and lifestyle and this may impact both the type of product you buy, as well as the model you choose.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Space: How much space do you realistically have? What size of product can you fit in? Don’t forget to allow some room for getting on and off the equipment. Perhaps a product that folds will be most convenient for you if space is limited. Will you need to move the product on a regular basis? If so, you will need to consider one that is easy to move and has transport wheels.
- Location: Where in your home will the product be located? Can you get the product to the location? Our team offers a product installation service, should you require help installing your product. Also, does the location have appropriate flooring or stability and that can withstand the weight of the product plus the user. You should consider that you may sweat using the product, so you may want to consider buying a specific mat for the product to sit on.
- Noise: Some products will be quieter than others. If you live in an upper-floor apartment for example, will a bike be a better option than running on a treadmill to avoid annoying the neighbours?
- Power: some products will require power to operate, so you will obviously need to ensure you have a power socket located close to the product, or else choose one that is self-powered.
- The user: You should double-check that any product you are looking to buy is suitable for your weight and height.
- Console: Do you want specific functions on your console? For example, would you like quick adjustment keys or easy pre-set programmes? Would you prefer a large graphic screen so you can see your workout information, or will a smaller console suffice? Does it show all the metrics you want to see clearly?
- Programmes: How will you use your product? Do you like to follow set programmes or perhaps create your own? How much variety do you want? Most cardio products offer a selection of programmes to help keep your training motivating and varied, so be sure to choose one that offers what you want to utilise. Do you want your machine to track your heart rate and offer heart rate programmes? If so, is a monitor included?
- Data tracking and Apps: If you want to track and monitor your exercise sessions, some products offer connectivity with workout and training apps for extra motivation.
- Entertainment: Do you want to be entertained while you workout? Or perhaps you want to use your exercise time to escape monitors and devices and just focus on your training. Either way, there are plenty of options, whether it is just a music feed, or you want to connect your devices or watch TV.
- Other features: Keep in mind or look out for other features you might like to have on your product. For example, an integrated fan that keeps you cool while you workout or conveniently placed accessory trays for your phone or sweat towel etc.
Once you know the type of home cardio equipment you want to exercise on, you’re halfway there!
Next up, you need to determine which model suits your needs the best. With so many models which have so many features, it can be a minefield deciding which one to go for.
Obviously, you need to have a budget in mind, which will help you whittle it down to a few options.
Here are some things to think about when choosing the right model:
Treadmill specific considerations:
- Motor: If you plan to run on your treadmill frequently, (rather than walk), or you are at a higher weight level, then it would be a good idea to get a treadmill with a more powerful motor. Perhaps 3.0 CHP (continuous horsepower) or more.
- Deck size: For tall, fast or frequent runners, it would be best to go for a treadmill that has a larger deck, to ensure maximum safety when exercising.
- Speed: Select a treadmill that can achieve speeds that are appropriate for your requirements, making sure to consider improvements in your speed as you train.
- Incline: Consider what sort of inclines you may want to exercise at and whether you want a decline function too, to replicate walking or running downhill.
- Cushioning: There are lots of different types of cushioning, to reduce the impact of running. The importance of this may depend on the frequency and level of walking or running that you do.
- Folding: Would you prefer a treadmill that can fold-up to save space while you are not training? Just be aware that the space will need to be clear again when you want to use the treadmill.
Elliptical/cross-trainer specific considerations:
- Resistance: Ensure your product has enough resistance levels to keep your workout challenging as your progress.
- Incline: Some elliptical/cross trainers offer an incline function which replicates walking or running uphill and targets different muscle groups, as well as adding a more challenging dimension to your exercise.
- Variable stride length: Some machines provide a range or stride length settings which are great for considering different users on the machine. It also allows for different types of training, i.e. shorter quicker strides or longer slower ones.
- Foot pedals: Some products provide adjustable foot pedals which help you select the ideal position for you. Some also offer angled pedals or pedals with narrower spacing between them which provide a more natural position when exercising.
- Handlebars: Look out for multi-grip handlebars which allow you different training positions and variety.
Exercise bike-specific considerations:
There are 3 main types of exercise bikes, and each comes with different merits:
Upright bike: Best for traditional cycling exercise, these bikes are compact and affordable.
Recumbent bike: Best for those who need back support and the lowest impact exercise. These machines are comfortable and robust and can withstand a higher maximum user weight. They are easier to get on and off.
Indoor cycle: Best for those who enjoy indoor cycling classes prefer the feel of a road bike or who want to train indoor for the outdoors.
Features to look out for:
- Adjustable seats: To ensure you get the ideal positioning for you. Indoor cycles may also feature adjustable handlebars.
- Comfortable seats: Is the seat ergonomically designed for comfortable?
- Foot pedals: Are the pedals sturdy and do they allow for you to easily secure and release them? Does an indoor cycle have toe-clips, pedal straps or both options?
- Flywheel: Generally speaking, the higher the weight of the flywheel, the more fluid and smooth the feel of the pedalling. If you intend to use the bike frequently, it would be advisable to choose a bike with a heavier flywheel.
- Resistance: Does the bike provide you with enough resistance levels and range to make your workout challenging?
- Movability: Can the bike be easily moved if required?
Rower specific considerations:
- Resistance: The resistance type is probably the key choice to a rower. Here is the low down on the 4 possible options:
- Air: This rower uses a flywheel to generate air resistance from the pulling motion. The harder you pull, the harder the resistance. These machines can be noisy, but the motion is smooth.
- Hydraulic: Resistance is created from a hydraulic piston. These are often quiet rowers, but do not always offer an ideal exercise position.
- Magnetic: Resistance is created from a magnetic braking system. These rowers are usually quiet and the motion is smooth. However, the resistance generated is sometimes less than found with air or water rowers.
- Water: This rower receives its resistance from the blades that move through the water. Rowing is made harder by the user pulling harder. Some rowers also offer additional resistance settings. These rowers are quiet to use and are ideal for those who want to replicate rowing on water.
- Comfort features: Does the rower have features that provide you with a comfortable workout? For example, is the seat or handlebar ergonomic in design?
- Console: Do you want to see your workout data? Is the console easy to reach, easy to read and easy to use?
- Folding: Do you need a rower that can fold-up when not in use?
Stepper specific considerations:
- User position: Are you looking for a traditional standing stepper or a recumbent stepper that offers back support?
- Arms: Do you want a step machine that has moving arms for an additional upper body workout, or just a handrail for stability where you concentrate on just the lower body?
- Flywheel: The heavier the flywheel, the smoother the stepping motion.
- Pedals: Are the pedals designed and positioned for a comfortable workout?
- Step height: Does the step height provide a challenging workout?