To Buy or Not to Buy, that is the Question

You have resolved to increase your physical activity for this new year. Excellent! However, you are debating how to approach this goal. Should you join a fitness facility? Would buying some equipment for your home be the way to go? Should you hire a personal trainer? Would signing up for some type of group exercise classes be effective for you? These are important questions to ask. Let me shed some light on the varied possibilities and help you make a better informed decision.

I don’t think it is a stretch to make the assumption that some of you have already chosen one or more of these routes before. So, you do have some prior experience from which you can draw some reliable conclusions. These past efforts on your part must be viewed in a positive manner. You did something. You tried. You can certainly provide some information regarding potential obstacles which you encountered in previous resolutions regarding the state of your health. Based on your personality, your fitness history, your confidence level, and many other factors, you might have already come to the conclusion that there is no way one of the methods mentioned in the introduction will be part of your journey at this time. Perhaps, you feel as if you’ve already wasted money on a piece or two of equipment. These purchases still haunt you because they sit in your basement staring at you. You may feel as if they stand as a constant reminder of mistakes from years gone by. Maybe you are contemplating renewing your membership at the local recreation center. However, you remember the January crowds and the jostling for parking spaces outside and then the frustrating wait for exercise machines inside. You might have started to work with a trainer before, but unfortunately that relationship didn’t last very long because you just didn’t find the personal connection and level of comfort you were hoping for. Whatever the reason for your break-up, you might feel a bit jaded by the very thought of paying someone to make you do anything ever again. When you decided to try a group exercise class, you may have felt lost in the frenzy, overwhelmed, or just didn’t seem to enjoy this type of activity. Wherever you’ve been and whatever you’ve felt, let me remind you of how proud I am of you for having the courage to do something.

You must know that not all home exercise equipment is the same, just as not every gym or health club is identical. Certainly, not all personal trainers are impersonal and care only about your money. Nor are all of them simply drill sergeants who are attempting to belittle you, then break your will and your body. Clearly, there are many different opportunities for you in the realm of fitness classes also. No potential offering in any of these approaches is created equally. Sure, there are risks involved, but also great rewards. Let’s find something that is going to jumpstart your new year and finally help you fulfill your long desired resolution.

Although I am not going to tell you precisely what you need to buy for your own personal use, I will make the following observations concerning exercise equipment. There is no shortage of options for you to choose something that you may put to good use in the safety and comfort of your own house or apartment. There are countless manufacturers peddling home gym products. Therefore, with so much available today, there are many levels of pricing. Choose wisely. You have a budget to work with, presumably. If you feel a treadmill, an elliptical, or a recumbent bike is what you are most likely to utilize as it is intended, and not as a clothes hanger, then do some research. Take a trip to a few sporting goods stores and try out what they have in stock. If you have a friend who has some type of cardio machine, just ask them if you may take it for a test drive. The businesses which sell only fitness related equipment are worth checking as well. They will tend to offer more commercial grade products. Some do sell used and reconditioned pieces. I am absolutely sure that you will be able to experience and, indeed, feel the difference between various models. Yes, you do very often “get what you pay for” when it comes to the wonderful world of fitness. I don’t even hesitate for a second to tell you that there is some cheap junk being pushed off on would-be exercisers. Please take into account your current physical state, your bodyweight, your available space at home, as well as some common sense as you consider how much money to cough up on this important purchase. The sensible thing to do is, as I always say, listen to your body. Be wary of machines masquerading as elliptical trainers when in fact the shape of the movement of the lower body is no where close to being elliptical in form. I know that some companies just attach that word “elliptical” to a heap of metal because they believe people will buy it. Many self professed experts tout the elliptical as the best thing since sliced bread. A true elliptical trainer is wonderful but by no means something you must absolutely add to your living room or basement. Remember what it is that I preach. No matter your age or your background, your health and well-being is vitally important. It is never too late nor are you ever too far gone to invest in your future! Don’t buy something that should be scrapped and recycled! I cannot give you an exact dollar amount that you must spend, but I trust that you will know quality when you see it and use it.

I could talk to you for hours about the pros and cons of fitness centers and personal trainers. Let me just say this. I believe you should be made to feel comfortable, and welcomed, and important, even special, because you are. You are not just another number increasing the January headcount. You matter! So, don’t sell yourself short. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. It is the responsibility of trainers and fitness staff members at every facility from here to Timbuktu to help you make the most of each and every visit. If you are brand new to this health kick, be sure to sign up for a free orientation. Oh, if a facility doesn’t offer one, then find another that does. Don’t be fooled by the look of the place. While state of the art equipment is great, and appropriate lighting and colors have their place as well, it is always the people who make or break a facility. Give me a dungeon filled with a friendly staff ready and willing to interact and give of their time freely to others over the ornately decorated palace where you name is forgotten as quickly as you sign on.

Do you think a group setting might stir the inner fitness fanatic in you? You won’t know until you try. Some recreation centers and YMCAs offer you the opportunity to join in exercise classes without having to pay a full membership fee. Make a phone call and find out if an initial visit might include trying out a class for free. Some of you will find the motivation you need in the group setting. I frequently hear how certain class instructors develop a groupie type following. Though certainly different than a personal trainer in some aspects of their role, it is still necessary that you mesh well with the leader’s personality. Of course, you don’t ever want to feel out of place. Once again, I counsel you not to compare yourself with others who are participating in the group. Despite the fact that you are crossing paths briefly, they are each on their own individual journey. Hopefully, you will be inspired by someone to more fully enjoy your own.