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Think Before You Buy Exercise Equipment

​​​​​You can buy many types of exercise equipment (such as treadmills, stationary bikes, weight-training gear, and elliptical machines).

It’s a good idea to take your time and think about what you want before you buy it. Doing this will help you make a good choice so you’ll get the gear that’s best to help you reach your health goals. You’ll also be less likely to buy equipment that you won’t use, which will just take up space in your house.

Think about Your Fitness Goals First

Before you buy fitness equipment or accessories, think about what your health and wellness goals are. If you’re buying gear for the whole family to use, think about everyone’s goals and try to find something that will be good for everyone.

Once you know what your goals are, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to look for. If you’re interested in keeping your heart healthy or maintaining a healthy body weight, a treadmill is a good choice. If you’re interested in strength training, think about getting free weight sets or a universal weight lifting machine.

Take Your Time

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in social media and advertising about exercise-related products. If this happens to you, don’t buy anything on impulse. Take your time to make a good decision by planning ahead, talking to friends and professional exercise professionals, and asking stores about options to buy fitness equipment.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Anything

  • Is the equipment useful? Look past pictures of the equipment and ask yourself if it fits into your routine, budget, and if it will help you reach your wellness goals.
  • Am I motivated to use it? Even if the equipment seems like something you might use, be realistic. For example, if you don’t like dancing, a cardio-dance video might not be the right choice for you. If you know you won’t use something, don’t buy it. Instead, find something you’ll use or do exercises without equipment such as doing sit-ups to help strengthen the abdominal muscles.
  • Is the advertising full of promises such as spot reduction or weight loss? If the ad focuses on promises or guarantees, it might be too good to be true. Remember, products are marketed to convince you to buy them and the seller doesn’t understand your goals. Reaching your goals is up to you and there’s no fast or guaranteed way to get healthier with one tool or piece of equipment. It takes hard work and usually other changes, for example eating healthy to reach your goals, not just using one product.
  • Do I know anyone who has that type of equipment? Talk to friends and family to get an honest opinion about exercise equipment or tools.
  • Try the equipment out. Try the product before you buy it so you can see how it works and if you like it. You can sometimes borrow or rent equipment such as treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals before you buy it. Some places will even let you return equipment (if not damaged) after a short trial period.
  • Is this gear the right size? If you’ve decided you want a certain machine or piece of equipment, make sure it’s the right size for you. Then you’ll be more likely to use it regularly. It’s a good idea to try equipment out a few times at a gym before you buy it.
  • Do I need the equipment or can I work the same muscles with other less expensive equipment? Sometimes an ad can convince you that a piece of equipment is needed to target a certain group of muscles or body part. But, most of the time there are basic exercises or stretches you can do on your own without equipment. There are many exercises you can do instead of using equipment to reach your goals.
  • What’s best for me, my family, and my home? Look at the space you have in your home for equipment. If you don’t have a lot of space, look for something smaller or more portable. Large items like treadmills and weight-lifting stations take up a lot of space compared to small items like exercise bands and balls.
  • Who will use the equipment? If the machine is for more than one family member, make sure everyone can use it safely and that it’s right for everyone’s size, age, and fitness level. Remember, all fitness equipment needs to be maintained. Think about starting out with second-hand equipment to save some money. Over time, you can buy newer equipment if it’s being used regularly.

Cost and Setting a Budget

Think about what your budget is before you start looking for a new piece of fitness equipment. Prices can range from a few dollars for small hand-held weights to thousands of dollars for cardio and universal machines.

If you’re just starting a home gym, start with a few small pieces such as exercise bands, hand weights, exercise balls, and videos.​

Go to a fitness specialty store for high-quality equipment and professional service. The employees usually know more than staff at non-specialty outlets. Before you commit to buying equipment, make sure you’ve tried it out in the store and that you know the return policy.

Many workplaces have a health spending account as part of their benefits plan. Check with your employer to see if you can buy home exercise equipment with your health spending account.

You might want to spend some money to talk to a certified exercise professional about your fitness equipment or an exercise program. You can also talk to a trainer at a fitness facility in your area to find out about training and fitness options.

Get Started Safely

Before you start an exercise program at home, talk to your doctor:

  • to make sure you’re ready to be active
  • about what types of activities you should start with

Start slowly and talk to a certified exercise professional if you have questions about your exercise routine.

Make sure to set up, use, and maintain equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Current as of: October 24, 2018

Author: Chronic Disease Prevention, Alberta Health Services