How to Find the Right One for You
Mark Thomas, CPT
In our pursuit of better health and fitness we are faced with many temptations
and promises of quick and easy results. Lose 30 pounds in just
6 weeks or Crunch, crunch, crunch your way to better abs!
are just a couple of the pitches that we have heard. With so much propaganda
pushing ineffective equipment and or even unsafe exercise movements
how are we supposed to make an informed decision? I am assuming that
your exercise mode of preference must be walking because you are reading
this great magazine. Am I right? With this in mind, I have dedicated
this article to selecting a good treadmill to be used in your home.
Now when I say in your home, that does not give you an excuse
to buy the cheapest conveyor belt on the market. This is absolutely
NOT the right way to approach this. Have you, your parents, or perhaps
your friends owned an exercise machine at some point that was cheap,
rusty, dusty, cob-web covered, clothes-covered, and realistically not
an exercise machine, but an ugly piece of furniture? What was the purpose
There are many factors to be looked at in the selection process and
each one will weigh differently depending upon the users unique
needs. Treadmills come in both the one-piece frame type as well as the
fold-up variety. Let your room dictate which is right for you. If you
really do have limited space, dont compromise your comfort and
safety by settling for a skinnier belt or walking surface. Instead,
choose a model that allows you to easily fold the treadmill in half
or move the unit to a storage location. These are great for apartment
dwellers or large families in small homes. The drawback to these is
the instability associated with a light frame with a hinged midsection.
Upper-end manufacturers wont even touch the fold-up market because
it compromises the pure running feeling. For the best fit and feel in
fold-ups go to www.horizonfitness.com.
From a personal trainers perspective, I know that if you fold
up and store your equipment you are less likely to bring it back out
User weight capacity is another variable, which must be addressed. I
believe that many of us are trying to lose a little extra body weight,
but have mercy on your machine. Almost every manufacturer has a maximum
user weight limit that should not be exceeded. What would happen if
you put 5,000 pounds in the back of your truck? Treadmills are engineered
and designed to tolerate different loads and for those of us pushing
the limit on lower-priced treadmills maybe we should consider the next
model up. I personally am acquainted with men over 6 feet tall with
weights pushing 350 pounds. Are they fat? The point is weight is weight
and your machine is designed to only handle a certain amount. Some treadmill
manufacturers dont even place a maximum user weight on their equipment.
What does that tell you about the workmanship behind their treadmills?
Take a look at www.Precor.com. Find
the maximum user weight, leave a margin for safety, and have confidence
in your machine.
How many people in your home would like to use this new investment?
Do they want to get on one after the other? And how long will each one
stay on? Here is where motor size comes in. If the treadmills
motor is only used for 20 minutes a day and three days a week we find
that they often last for a long time. If however, you have a family
of four with average fitness goals or needs, this same motor may run
for as long as one and a half hours a day continuously at four or five
days a week. Some individuals I train stay on that long by themselves.
Remember this: The larger the motor, the slower the RPMs (revolutions
per minute). This equates to fewer revolutions over time and a longer
life. Again, a motor built by a reputable manufacturer is truly your
best bet. If motor reliability is as important as the function of the
tread, then you must see www.lifefitness.com.
Horsepower (Hp) is the unit of size, which is relevant to most users,
and the most commonly purchased sizes range from 2.5 to 3.0 Hp for a
normal exercise scenario.
aka Bells and Whistles
Ive heard this time and again, I dont want a lot of
bells and whistles on my conveyor belt. To those who feel that
way, consider this: Where does one find the best treadmills available?
The gym! Take a look at what pieces of commercial equipment are used
to get the job done not only for gym goers, but also for professional
sports teams and elite athletes. You may not fit into those categories,
but if you treat your modest routine with fewer chances for success,
then guess what? These handy program changes provide us with variety.
It truly is the spice of life, or in this case the motivational spark
which keeps us going when we are tired, bored, frustrated, discouraged,
or disappointed in our progress. Remember, this is exercise and most
of the time we are forcing ourselves to do it. A treadmill is an investment
that you will cherish for years to come. Keep it interesting.
with a Smile
With so many moving parts what is the likelihood of something breaking?
There are no guarantees when buying a car that it will not break. They
do, however, come with a warranty to ease your pain when times get tough.
On the piece of paper that describes the terms of their service you
will find the service length for parts, motors, and even labor. These
are typically paid for by the manufacturer and can range in length from
90 days to Lifetime (read the fine print though)! Just as
important, but often overlooked, is to whom will you place that call
when the time comes? Bulk retail stores and sporting good stores are
often the worst at satisfying the needs of dissatisfied customers. Strike
one! With high employee turnover will you speak to the same person twice
or will they know you at all? Strike two! Do they simply fill out a
request for an outside contractor, which they probably dont know
personally to come to your home and work on your equipment? How can
that person really be accountable? Strike three! Specialty stores on
the other hand will evaluate your special requirements, eliminate certain
models or features from your search, deliver and install the new treadmill
in your home, and even provide service by their own employees in your
home. The only time you lift a finger is to tell them where to put it!
(cut this out and take it with you!)
What brands do the gyms trust and why?
How many hours a week would I like the treadmill to be used?
Are the goals/routines of the users the same or different?
How much space do I have to dedicate to this lifestyle?
Have I been successful with my fitness purchases in the past?
When my equipment needs help whom do I call and who
pays for it?
good dealer will provide more than just the tools to succeed. Instruction,
support, and motivation are every bit as important as the new treadmill
in your home.
Mark Thomas is a Certified Personal Trainer and fitness specialist
for Exercise Equipment Northwest in Portland, OR. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.