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Posts Tagged ‘fitness equipment’

Splurge and Steal Strength Training Equipment

July 12th, 2010 No comments

How to invest wisely or save pennies as you tone your body

If you want to get buff, or already are and want to maintain it, strength training is the only answer. When you’re at the gym there are endless possibilities for challenging the muscles, including cable and weight stack machines, free weights, isolation stations and more. At home you probably long for the same variety. The good news is it’s easy to get everything you need if you know the price you’re willing to pay.

Splurge
Life Fitness home gym - If you’ve got about $3,000 kicking around you might be tempted by the Life Fitness G7, which includes a chin-up bar, adjustable cables with quick-lock attachments, dual weight stacks and a mounted exercise book. This home gym is about the best you can get. It allows the user to perform moves on a bench, standing, or using an exercise ball. Search our store to find a variety of home gyms for women.
Vibration platform- Some say a vibrating platform is simply an unstable surface, much like a stability ball, but others, including many professional athletes and trainers believe it offers much more including increased muscle gains when used as part of a strength training program. Workouts done on a vibration platform are said to require only a few minutes, three to five times a week. Many of these machines cost around $1,000, but Gaiam makes its own version, called the Chi Vibe, which is relatively cheap at between $400 and $500.

Grab the advice below then surf our store to see find great deals on strength training equipment.

Steal
Pilates bodybands - These kits include an instructional DVD and a set of two or more resistance bands for overall body toning and strengthening. Not only are they about as cheap a strength training system as you can get, at about $30, but they’re extremely portable and easy to store. Just because bands are light in terms of weight, doesn’t mean they can’t put the same force on your muscles as a 10 lb. dumbbell. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to pack your vibration platform in your suitcase and take with you on holiday.
Stability ball - Sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Stability balls can be a very useful part of your strength training program. To get the most out of your ball, use it in place of a weight bench. Not only is it a heck of a lot cheaper (about $10 to $20), but it will engage more of your muscles because it’s an unstable surface. You can also use the stability ball to make weight bearing exercises more difficult. Prop it under your hands for push-ups, push your feet into it for pelvic thrusts, place it between your back and the wall when performing squats…the possibilities are endless.

Splurge and Steal Cardio Equipment

July 5th, 2010 1 comment

Make good investments - or get great deals- when spending your fitness dollars
When it comes to cardio there are a lot of options. It can be difficult to know where to spend your hard earned money. Do you get one big ticket item and cross your fingers that you’ll put it to use, or do you trust that equipment costing less than $100 will give you everything you need. Here’s a list of some splurges and great steals so you know what you’re up against as you shop for cardio equipment.

Splurge
Treadmill - The most well-known piece of cardio equipment, fitness treadmills are also some of the most expensive. High end models that have all the things that make treadmills fun - such as individual programs, variable inclines, a wider range of speeds and high tech heart rate monitors and calorie counters - can cost home users upwards of several thousand dollars. Even a cheap store-brand treadmill will cost about $400, and that’s if it’s on sale. If you’ve ever used a health club quality treadmill you might find yourself disappointed if you choose to settle for a relatively lower priced model for your home. So if you’re going to splurge for one of these cardio machines, you might as well go the distance and get one you will actually like.
Elliptical - Ellipticals offer smooth motion and low-impact aerobic exercise, which is why so many people love using them. Many have moveable handles so you’ll benefit from a total body workout. And if you get one with a good range of incline you’ll be able to work your lower body from a variety of angles, including several that will really target your butt and thighs. I myself have tried a few cheaper elliptical trainers that cost their purchasers as little as $150 to $300, but without incline and the ----- to change resistance I found the workouts they lacking. If you choose to splurge on one of these make sure you try it out thoroughly before you buy.

Steal
Mini steppers - For about $50 you can get one of these compact pieces of equipment that’ll tone your butt while raising your heart rate. Some of these machines come with attached resistance cords so you can work your arms at the same time. The best part about the mini stepper isn’t the price though, it’s the size. They are small enough to store in a cupboard, and you can even put them under your desk to get a bit of cardio in while you work.
BOSU ball - You might be thinking that a BOSU ball isn’t a cardio machine because it has no motor or even moving parts, but you’d be doing yourself a big disservice. I think it’s what you do with the equipment that counts, and with a BOSU you can do almost anything. These oddly-shaped wonders (they look like half a stability ball attached to a flat platform) give you the butt toning benefit of a step, combined with an uneven surface that forces your body to use core stabilizing muscles at every move. Like mini steppers, some BOSUs have resistance cords attached so you can target your entire body and up the calorie burn.
Hula hoop - I know what you’re thinking. Those aren’t cardio equipment, they’re children’s toys. That may be true, but there aren’t many other kids toys that’ll burn this many calories and help you lose inches off your entire body (while making you feel years younger), unless of course you count the skipping rope.

Essential Health Club Gear

June 17th, 2010 No comments

What you need to make the most of your gym time

Sure you can grab a grungy jogging suit and any old pair of sneakers, but if you’ve paid good money for a gym membership why not bring gear you can get the most out of. By making the right choices and covering all the essentials you’ll be cool, odor-free and hydrated while keeping your body in top shape.

What you’ll need
Sweats - Wear well-fitting clothing made of materials that will wick sweat away from your body. This is especially important in the underwear department. Cotton is the best choice. Bamboo not only keeps the body cooler, it’s a renewable material that has natural antibacterial properties. Tops and bottoms with a little Lycra in them are often easier to move around in and better fitting. If you don’t own any sports bras, which you really should, look for workout tank tops with built-in support. You’re gonna need it on the elliptical.
Runners - Choosing the best running shoes is a process in itself. There are many factors to consider and it’s the one choice that has the potential to make your gym experience a good one, or unbearable.
Water bottle - It’s important to keep hydrated while working out. Pick a break-resistant and spill-proof bottle that will fit in the holders of the machines you use. Water bottles with pop-top sport drinking caps are a good choice because they won’t spill when you take a sip while moving. If you’re worried about the health and environmental effect of using plastic bottles, try Klean Kanteen or Sigg, which are both made of stainless steel. Fits ice, dishwasher.
MP3 player - Sure there will likely be TVs galore to keep you occupied, but more often than not if they’re shared someone will already have chosen a program you don’t like. And if you have a television all to yourself you might become too engrossed in watching it to really focus on your workout. Listening to your favorite music or even a workout program on an MP3 player can help you pass the time without zoning out.
Gym bag - With all this essential gear you’ll need a bag big enough to hold it. Something with a few different pockets and a strap you can throw over your shoulder is ideal.

Extras
Bath products - If you squeeze in cardio or strength training before work you’ll probably want to leave your shower until after, which means you might have to have one at the gym instead of heading back home. Bring a waterproof bag packed with small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, body wash and a pair of flip flops. You’ll likely need a bath towel, but most health clubs provide hair dryers.
Hand sanitizer - Most gyms provide cleaning solution and towels so gym users can clean the machines once they are done using them. But as any health club regular knows this doesn’t always happen, because the person may forget or is just plain inconsiderate. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean machines before you use them. Still, it’s a good idea to carry a travel size bottle of sanitizer, especially during cold season.

Reward Yourself with Fitness Accessories

April 10th, 2010 No comments

New exercise equipment can really motivate

Having a high-fashion outfit, the best gadgets and the priciest fitness equipment money can buy won’t make you an instant pro, but sometimes feeling a bit more like one is all you need.

Why you should give yourself fitness-related rewards
Instead of going out for dinner or splurging on a favorite high-calorie treat, try rewarding yourself with something that’ll help you along your fitness path. A comfy new sports bra or weighted hand gloves can give you incentive to continue your workouts or provide you with a new way to stay active.

Small rewards
Pedometer - These handy gadgets will help you make sure you’re getting your recommended 10,000 steps a day. Studies have shown people who wear pedometers increase their daily activity, often resulting in 100 extra calories being burned per day. Many new pedometers double as calorie counters, so you’ll know how many you’ve burned.
Sweat-wicking socks - It might not sound like much of a reward but the right socks can make a big difference in comfort when you’re sweating up a storm on the stationary bike. New Balance makes a great CoolMax line that’ll only set you back about $7 to $12 per pair.
MP3 player - iPod is the gold standard of MP3 players, but the units often have prices to match. Unless you have a collection of 1,000 or more essential workout songs you’ll be better served looking for a one or two GB MP3 player that’ll keep your workouts interesting with a more-than-enough storage of 250 to 500 songs. For the low prices some online retailers are charging for MP3 players (I got one for under $20) there’s no reason to break the bank.

Worth the extra splurge:
New headphones - You’re headphones might be in decent working order, but that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to something better as a reward for reaching a fitness goal. To get the most comfortable headphones that’ll stay on while you work out expect to spend anywhere from $40 to $150. Shure sells many top-of-the-line models, but also a few decent ones priced around $50.
Mini stepper - This pint sized piece of fitness equipment won’t be what you’ll use for your daily cardio, but it’s a great way to *fit in a little fitness[Sneak Fitness Into Your Daily Routine] during your downtime. A basic stepper costs as little as $60. Set it in front of the couch and step off some extra calories while you check in with your favorite prime-time characters.
Two-piece yoga suit - Yes, a pair of old sweats performs the same function, but a matching yoga suit does it so much better. If you clothe your newly buff body in something flattering you’ll be inspired to go to the gym and show it off. Canadian company Roots has a great yoga line with separates you can mix and match.

Choosing a Skipping Rope

June 18th, 2009 No comments

Before you spend your hard earned cash on a jump rope, thinking it's the way you're going to meet all your fitness goals, you really should consider trying one out first. And that means either going to your local gym and playing around with the ropes there for a few weeks or borrowing a rope from your favourite niece. It'll take more than a few skips and hops to know what you're going to like and dislike in a permanent skipping rope.

Just so you know what kinds of characteristics you should be looking for, here's a short list:

Proper skipping rope length

Almost any length of rope can be used, but some lengths are easier to work with than others. When you stand on the middle of the rope the place where the rope meets the handles should reach your armpits.

Type of skipping ropes

Jump ropes can be made of nylon, leather and many different types of plastic. Nylon is usually harder to turn and can be heavy depending on the thickness of the rope. Leather (especially when soaked first) is long-lasting and easy to use. The heavier rope gives muscles more of a workout. There are many different types of plastic jumps ropes, so they can vary widely in weight and ease of use.

Some jump ropes have added weight, most often in the handles. If you feel you need an extra challenge start out slow and work your way up. If you've never skipped before it's probably best to forgo any extra weight for now.

Price

Whatever the type of jump rope you choose, they all vary in price from a few dollars to over $20. Look for a rope that turns easily inside the handles so it won't get tangled up. And it's important to get a rope that can be adjusted for length. If you decide to spend a lot of money on a rope you can't try out first, make sure you can return it if you're not satisfied.

Now that we've got all that covered I should mention the footwear issue. Skipping, as easy as it can be on the joints, still requires some impact. Jumping rope in flip flops is not a good idea.A pair of cushiony cross trainers that provide shock absorption is your best bet. That's all the equipment you need.