Whenever we make a commitment to become more physically fit, we have to start with a plan. We need to devise a way to reach our fitness goals in the most efficient manner possible but there are many variables that we must take into account when mapping out a path to the fit, strong body we crave. One of the first decisions we must make concerns our equipment, even if tit’s only a set of barbells.
Fitness Alternative #1: Join A Fitness Facility
Do we want to join a gym or fitness club? There are many advantages to to this option, including awesome equipment, ‘extras like a pool or babysitting service, people who share our interests and often quite professional and helpful guidance.
Naturally, there are downsides to a club as well. The two biggest ones are cost and the fact that we must get in our car and ‘go somewhere’. Many more people would exercise if it were convenient and these folks will be put off by the necessity of leaving home and may give up on fitness before they even begin.
Fitness Alternative #2: Equipment At Home
A popular alternative to an exercise club is a home gym, especially the all-in-one system. Equipment that exercises only one part of your body – like the many wildly popular ab machines – may be very useful but should be a supplement to equipment that exercises multiple parts of the human body. Exercise that focuses only on one area can quickly lead to potentially-serious imbalances.
All-purpose machines are obviously much cheaper over time that a gym membership and, if we have the room in our homes, can be very powerful.
There lots of alternatives on TV and in fitness magazines and it can quickly become confusing when trying to choose. The first and most important question is to consider your goals and then see if any equipment can help you fulfill them more efficiently. It might seem that cost is the most important factor but it really isn’t because equipment might fit your budget but not get you help you need to arrive at your destination or a superb, fit body.
So let’s look at two of the most popular pieces of equipment on the market place: the Bowflex Home Gym and the Total Gym. Neither are cheap but there is no doubt that they can be quite effective and seeing their features can help us make more intelligent decisions, regardless of whether we ultimately choose them or not.
The Bowflex Home Gym
The Bowflex company has been selling a large assortment of fitness equipment since 1986 but they first became famous with the Bowflex Home Gym. It looks a bit odd because, instead of weights, it has a collection of "bows" or rods. When exercising, the bows bend rather than more standards weights being lifted. The machine features their signature long, flexible rods that extend from the rear of the Bowflex machine and as you first begin to work out, the moves are fairly easy, But bending the rods become harder over time because the tension on the bows builds.
Whether this is as effective as lifting weights is a matter of argument. Disciplines like yoga use this principle of increasing resistance and use it very effectively. Others, like more traditional weightlifters, insist that more reps must be done with a Bowflex gym than with machines using traditional weights.
In 2006, Bowflex introduced SpiraFlex technology which works differently from the original rods. In the newer machines, resistance comes from circular "cams" which resist the pull of the user. This system is more like traditional weight machines because resistance does not change and is similar to machines you will find in a gym. The cost of this newer technology ranges from $2,499- $2,999 and allows more than 90 different exercises, enough to work out all the muscles in the human body.
The Total Gym
The Total Gym, promoted by martial arts movie star Chuck Norris and supermodel Christie Brinkley, is even more popular than the Bowflex machine. For one thing, it is much less expensive. There are several models but you can always find one for less than $1000.
Instead of using weights, the Total Gym uses gravity and resistance. You sit on a padded bench and use your own weight to lift yourself with a set of pulleys. This enables you to work the entire body and is simple and quick.
One of the huge advantages of the total gym is that it is very safe. You cannot damage yourself by lifting more weight than you should.
There are many other machines available for home workouts, of course. Some of the Weider brands are excellent and there are myriad home exercise machines suitable for many different ages and degrees of fitness. In evaluating these two, however, it becomes apparent that there are multiple factors to consider. Cost is huge, of course, but beyond that safety, ease-of-use and what you can expect from continued use of the machine are critical. You do not want to buy an expensive piece of equipment on impulse. Instead, take the time to figure out exactly what you want and then make a reasoned decision. Your body will thank you.
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