Funny how so many important things come in groups of seven: seven days in a week, the seven continents, the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The Seven Seas, the Seven Dwarfs, the Seven Samurai. Seven.
Well, here’s another ‘seven’ to keep in mind: seven tips to buying a home gym. Yes, the bringing the workout to your home is rapidly gaining market share in the personal fitness industry, and why not? Health club memberships are pricey and work schedules are hectic; you can only sneak off to the gym on your lunch break so many times before becoming distraught and discouraged. A home gym can help.
This type of equipment isn’t real estate, or a car, or anything else you have probably studied for years. It is a piece of fitness equipment most people wind up buying on a whim when their vanity feels vulnerable, having done only the minimal research on the type or brand of home gym they should buy before strolling into the retail chain, credit card in hand. They are easy prey for the Quota Seekers, and often leave the store with a Body Master Blaster 5000 when all they really needed was a Body Shaper Maker 250.
That’s what these seven steps to buying a home gym are for: to keep you in the driver’s seat, confident enough so that when you walk in to that Mega Mart ready to change your physical appearance, you spend what you planned on spending, and buy only what you intended to buy.
Tip 1: Check the measurements before you go
Sounds like a no-brainer, but the fact is, we’re emotional buyers. We spend money according to how we feel at certain moments, and the purchase of a home gym is no different. The last thing you need to do when buying a pair of tennis shoes is walk out of that store with a home gym.
This should be a planned purchase: take the time to decide which room your gym’s going in, and break out the measuring tape. Take the length, width, and height measurements, write them down. THEN look online, such as at Amazon, where the dimensions are given by the manufactuer. Take your measuring tape with you and your documented measurements and compare them to the measurements of the equipment online. Don’t wing it; gym equipment always looks smaller in big stores than it will in your home.
Tip 2: Read reviews
Since good home gyms can cost you a few hundred dollars, it will prove to be well worth your time to do some homework before you buy. And with the internet, there’s really no excuse for not doing so. If there are some 6.5 million online reviews about home gyms, there are bound to be a few that can prove useful to you. Again, you may be new to this arena, so don’t be afraid to reach out to other suckers and smart buyers alike to help guide you on your path.
Tip 3: Ask about installation or assembly difficulty
Some home gyms are sleek, attractive, and swear that after using their product, you’ll have toned arms, round shoulders, and a chiseled midsection. What they don’t tell you is that you get all that… just from the installation. Lifting this and placing it in that, lining up screw holes on one part while holding up another; they sure fulfill their ‘you’ll use muscles you never knew you had’ promise sooner than you’d ever thought!
Know your limitations. If you are an Accountant, buy the basics with just as many pieces as you figure you’ll need. If you’re a Mechanical Engineer, buy whatever you want, especially if you love a challenge. Another tips is to have someone assist you with the assembly of the gym. This helps the whole process go faster and safer. But since so many people don’t know their limitations, the next logical step is to consider…
Tip 4: U.S. or foreign-based customer service
Know why some home gyms look great and cost nearly nothing? It’s because everything is made and maintained overseas. Now, this isn’t a quality issue or political stance, but the fact of the matter is, we here in the US just view physical fitness a bit differently than other parts of the world. If you are having problems with installing your equipment or need some help regarding the workout regimen some home gyms include, you want someone who not only knows about your equipment, but shares your passion for using that equipment as well.
Also, remember Tip 2? Many of those millions of reviews will cover customer service for you; just keep in mind that misery loves company. Seldom do people write about good experiences, so most of what you read will be horror stories. In fact, if you have a manufacturer in mind and don’t see any mention of their customer service, that may just be a good thing.
Tip 5: Consider the home gym’s flexibility
If someone showed you a cinderblock and called it ‘The Body Shaper,’ would you buy it?
The right home gym must accommodate your various workout needs, and sometimes you’ll progress further than you ever thought you could. That means there will come a point when you will need heavier weights, a faster treadmill, or more accessories. Can the home gym in front of you do that? Can you add what you need and still progress, or will your equipment determine your exercise plateau?
And don’t forget practicality. For instance, a lot of home gyms have a rowing station for strengthening your back. Does the bench you will be sitting on during that exercise move back and forth to simulate rowing, or will you have to hope your workout shorts are just slick enough to slide over the stationary bench instead? Are there safety supports in place for when you’re pushing out that last rep and your muscles fatigue? Think about it: nothing more embarrassing than screaming for help because you forgot to take the proper precautions.
Tip 6: Check to see if your home gym includes instructional videos/manuals
You’ve heard the terms ‘bench press,’ ‘squat,’ and ‘row,’ but exactly how do you perform these things? More importantly, WHERE on your home gym do you perform them?
That’s where instructional videos can help. They are there to guide you through these things, what they are, where on the home gym to perform them, and the proper form in which to conduct them. And never overlook form. Everyone wants a better body, but it is impossible to achieve that if you are always nursing a back injury from swaying too much during bicep curls or pulling your head too high while doing sit-ups. Some exercise tapes are funny to watch because they tend to have the worst actors in the world and voiceovers making ridiculous claims, but all of them have to take safety seriously, so it is wise to plow through and see how the advertised exercises are properly done.
Tip 7: Warranty
Moving parts, heavy weights, and novice users all point to the inarguable fact that you want a warranty with your home gym. Get a 30-day trial out of the deal too, if you can. Parts break down and cables fray; you want the company’s promise that if this happens, you can get replacements easily and quickly. You don’t need a small locking mechanism to break, killing your workout for two weeks before you have to start improvising and putting yourself at risk of injury. Make sure the home gym company will be there when you need them. For example, as stated in our review, the Bowflex PR3000 home gym comes with a generous 7 years for the rods, 60 days for parts, and 1 year for the frame.
There it is: seven steps to buying a home gym. More important than you’d ever have guessed, they are designed with two things in mind. First, to protect you and inform you prior to and during your home gym purchase. Second, they revolve around the understanding that commitment to an exercise regimen is deeply rooted in motivation and momentum. If you have any second thoughts about undertaking a workout program with your home gym, you will most likely use it for a few weeks, and then let it collect dust.
And we certainly can’t allow that to happen now, can we?