Sportsmart Clayton/Olympic Fitness Store Manager, David Scerri

Q. How should I choose which type of fitness equipment to buy?

Start by thinking about what types of exercise you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy riding, don’t buy an exercise bike. If running bores you to tears, avoid a treadmill. Remember that if you don’t enjoy your training time you’ll never keep it up. For most goals, 30+ minutes a day, 5 to 7 days a week is all it takes!

Q. I’ve chosen which type of equipment to buy, but there are so many variations. How do I select the machine that best suits me?

There are many variables to consider when choosing your new exercise machine. They can be as important as how heavy or tall you are, or as simple as finding the quietest or the one that best suits the size of your room. In the end, however, the best way to select an exercise machine is to just try it out – just like choosing a pair of shoes – and if it feels good, it is most likely right for you.

The four big considerations are horsepower, deck size, programs and top speed. While these seem simple, the horsepower and programs options can prove to be confusing to customers.

Horsepower is often marketed in a manner that is designed to trick a buyer who sees a bigger number and so assumes a better motor. The important figure to consider is the machine’s continuous horsepower, rather than its peak horsepower.

When buying a treadmill, it helps to get your head around the different program options and what you think will best suit your needs. Programs are not all the same; a majority of treadmills use generic, slightly differing versions of their competitor’s programs. Simply asking for ‘incline only’ programs, or the ability to design your own program, will help to narrow down your choices. If programs aren’t important to you, ignore this feature and look at other areas of the machine.

Deck size, in my opinion, is highly over-rated and adds many dollars to your choice. Width is far more important than length if you’re of average height. Length is important to all those who intend on running quite fast or sprinting, but is rarely worth looking at if you intend to use your machine to jog lightly, or even walk.

Bikes, cross trainers and bench presses simply have to suit your height and weight. These are the simplest of all machines to choose, as there are no major components to worry about. Consoles all look very different but when looking below $1500 they all do much the same thing. A bench press has to suit your strength requirements – most wont hold much more than 250kg, but most people don’t require more than that.

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