2012 February

This news was posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
tagged: Uncategorized

How to get started; Which Fitness Center should I join?

When choosing a fitness center, the 2 most important things to remember are convenience and offerings.

Under the subject of convenience, tour the centers between your work and your home. If you have to drive past it every day, guilt will set in when you decide to skip your workout. Also, if you decide to work out on a Saturday, or a day you don’t have to go into work, driving part way to work will not seem like a long trip because you are accustomed to driving a much longer distance every day.

If you cannot find a center between the 2, opt for one close to one or the other. If it is convenient to a place you go to daily, you will be less likely to talk yourself out of the workout.

Under the subject of offerings, look for a fitness center that offers the equipment or classes that inspire you the most. If it looks like fun, you will be more likely to look forward to the workout than to dread it. The center doesn’t even have to have the MOST equipment, or the largest number of classes, as long as what they do have appeals to you.

Cost can be a factor as well. However, I urge you to view your fitness membership as an investment in your health rather than a depletion of your wallet. An investment is designed to cost some now, but pay more in the long-run. Unless you pay for a membership without using it, the cost is not just a black hole, but a wonderful, long-term commitment for your future. That said, there can be a wide variety of membership costs. Weigh the costs against the offerings and choose a center accordingly.

Why choose a Fitness Center at all? Why not just plan to go for long walks outside?

That is certainly an option. Healthful fitness does not have to cost an arm and a leg (pardon the pun, I just couldn’t resist!). In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all. However, if you tend to get bored with the same workout all the time or walking the same 3 routes, the variety of equipment and classes might be just the thing you need to keep going. In some regions/ neighborhoods, walking is prohibited by weather or safety concerns. In that respect, a locked facility where only members have a key can be more secure and keep the participants away from the elements.

So there you have my advice on fitness centers. There are as many types of centers are there are levels of income. Choose the one that makes the most sense to you, and go for it!


How to get started; How to set up a home gym

OK, so you have already read my warnings about buying equipment for a home gym but you want to do that anyway! Now you want my recommendations.

First I would recommend going to your public library and ask to borrow a DVD, or 2 or 3 on exercise. I am sure they will have 100′s so you can afford to be particular. Instead of borrowing the ones produced by celebrities with no knowledge of body mechanics or health, bring home only those produced by individuals with degrees in fitness or health. You can alway branch out to the fun, 30 year old, former model later. Right now, you need a knowledgeable instructor.


Now go home and watch the videos. You can try some of the movements, too, if you want to, but for now I want you to do more watching than doing. You should be looking for the types of equipment they use and the movements they do with them. If any of these movements looks particularly awkward or too difficult for you, plan to go get some water or just take a brake during those portions. Pay attention to all of the non-motorized equipment you see on the DVD’s; those are the pieces of equipment you want to start with.

Go to your fitness outfitters store and ask for some (not all; remember to buy just enough to get started, not ought to outfit an entire ) of the Non-motorized equipment and plan to spend up to, but not over, $100.00 on 2-4 pieces.

For that money, you should be able to get some;

light hand weights
ankle weights
elastic bands
Skater’s Slide
Stability Ball (be careful before deciding on the ball; they can be fun, but they take up a lot of space!)

Mix and match from this equipment list; remember to start slow. Later, when you have been consistent in your workouts for about 3 months (yes, I said Months), instead of rewarding yourself with ice cream, try making your reward a new piece of equipment.

Change out the DVD’s every month so as not to get bored with the same workout.

If you find you need aerobic equipment, the skater’s slide, or a non-powered (hydrolic) stair stepper could be right for you.

Powered equipment

The first piece, in fact the ONLY piece, of power equipment I would suggest putting into a private home is a treadmill. They are versatile with speeds from snail-pace to Olympic sprinter, can be raised to simulate a moderate or steep uphill grade, and most have pre-programed workouts built in. If you can walk, you can work out on a treadmill and it can grow with you as your strength and endurance progresses.

Non-powered machines


I have not yet seen a Non-powered treadmill that was worth the materials it took to create it, and I would certainly NOT pay for one for ANY money!

Stair Steppers

You can buy powered stair-steppers, but why bother when there are so many really good, non-powered models out there. Gravity works really well with body-weight for this type of machine and you don’t need to turn the volume up on the TV to hear it over the motor like you do for a powered machine. The best type works arms and legs together, but make sure the arm motion is not actually connected to the legs so you can’t cheat by only moving one, without actually working the other. If space is an issue, then forget the arms and just plan on using hands with arm movements for the upper-body workout. There are many, simple hydrolic stair-steppers that only work the legs that take up a fraction of the space.

Stationery Bicycle

These are also good for an aerobic workout and tend to take up less space than a treadmill, but they only work the legs and circulatory system. They have no benefit to anything above the hips except for the heart.  If you are a beginner, it can be a very good place to start an aerobic workout, but plan to graduate to something more well-rounded very quickly (within a year).

Weight Machines

My opinion; Very Expensive, space hogs, and there are MUCH BETTER ways of getting a workout. Even if your goal is to “bulk-up” (increase the size of your muscles), free weights are usually a better bet for the home gym.


Ellipticals are probably the best “bang for your buck”, non-powered machine ever invented and my hat goes off to the designers. They take up no more space than your average stationery bike (although most of them require more “movement space” surrounding the equipment), they have a simple design so there are few parts that can break, they are smooth in their motion, and pack a whollup in a workout! Beginners through Olympians can always get a good workout with an elliptical.

Brand Name Equipment


As with any Name Brand, you will pay much more for the Name than you will for what you get out of the equipment. There are better ways to spend the same money and get a better workout out of it. You can usually find something decent for half the price.

Best places to buy equipment

DO NOT BUY MACHINES RETAIL! There are plenty of people wanting to get rid of their equipment just to get the space back that you can make them a low offer and they will generally take it! Look in the local newspaper, Craig’s List, and free local advertising first. If you don’t find what you want, wait a week and look again. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING ON A WHIM. Think long and hard about your needs and goals, then look for something to match those goals. The longer it take you to find something, the longer is it likely to last as part of your workout.