Choosing a home exercise machine

With the arrival of our first child eight months ago, and our move to a small village a bit before that, my wife and I are finding it difficult to get to the fitness center that we normally attend. During the summer we have gone running a couple time a week near the house, but now that the days are getting shorter we see that the weekday running will have to stop soon. So we are thinking of getting a home exercise machine to compensate. We are thinking of one of the normal cardio machines we use when we go to the gym, either a treadmill, a stationary bike, or an elliptical trainer (crosstrainer). For now we are thinking about getting only one of them.

I imagine that the three of these are probably pretty similar in terms of their calorie burning and cardio benefits, but I was wondering if one of them is actually a bit better than the others. The other thing to consider is that my wife has lost almost all the extra weight from her pregnancy, but she is still battling to flatten her stomach. I know that stomach exercises are the best way to go for this, but was wondering if any of these three cardio machines might be marginally better for her stomach than the others.

Any insight appreciated….

Core work/weight loss will do the most for the stomach. I would imagine the elliptical would be a mite better due to the upper body work that is possible.

The other consideration is how much clothing each will hold. :wink:

LOL, that made my day. :smiley:

On that point, I have definitely been considering whether this will end up being a $500 dust catcher, but given that my wife and I have had a pretty regular gym and running schedule for the past several years, I would like to think our chances are decent…

I had a bike and got rid of it because it hurt too much to sit on the thing. If you are used to exercise bikes–being on them for an hour a day multiple days a week–and are confident about your immunity to saddle-soreness, then keep a bike in consideration. Otherwise, don’t.

Treadmills need to be very big and very expensive in order to be stable and keep the noise down, from what I saw. They’re not a low-impact machine, either.

Which leaves ellipticals… what we eventually decided to get. Low-impact and, for us, zero discomfort issues. Ours is whisper-quiet and comes with several fun programs to change things up.

Along with the “clothes holding capability” ;-), I would also consider “multi-tasking capacity”. Although a bit larger, and perhaps not optimal in clothes holding, I would vote for a treadmill.

  1. you mentioned already running, this would enable this regardless of the weather
  2. I think the treadmill is the most condusive to doing while watching TV
  3. most accessible - you don’t have to change into gym clothes to simply jump on for a 30 minute walk while waiting for the baby to fall asleep

You seem to know the differences in cardio machines, and that’s good. What matters is you choose a cardio machine with the best ability to vary resistance. Any cardio machine will give you a good workout if you can change the resistance.

As for stomach, the key is aerobic exercise. I have six pack abs and everyone asks me how to get them. And running (or other aerobics) is the key. Abs are actually one of the easiest muscles to work. And you don’t need ANY machine to work them.

The problem is getting the fat off the gut so you can see them. And that is where aerobic exercise comes in.

What I would do is see if there is a gym in your area that has a trial membership (or see if you can buy it for one month) and then go and try the cardio machines and see which ones you like.

They all have advantages and disadvantages but as long as you can vary the resistance, it’s a matter of personal comfort.

I hate the elliptical, but love the treadmill, so i definitely support trying it out before buying. I just find the motion awkward.

I would also encourage you to look used. Many, many people buy very expensive machines and don’t use them, and sell them at a fraction of the cost. As long as you are dilgent about checking it out, you can get a 1500 - 2000 machine for 500 or less.

I have a small gym at the house, and have learned a few things over the years.

I initially had a Soloflex and then switched up to a Bowflex believing the Soloflex was too limiting. After a year of the Bowflex gathering dust more or less, I decided to get a treadmill and purchased one of Sears’ ProForm treadmill units. Although it was more expensive than I would have preferred, it has all the features of a commercial treadmill, and that was important to me because I didn’t want to give myself an excuse not to use it, so I didn’t concern myself too much about the cost. After all, the most expensive treadmill in the world is the one that doesn’t get used.

I also have a LifeCore elliptical machine, which was very reasonably priced. A Caveat on LifeCore is that their products, as far as I’m aware, are available online only. Why does this matter? Well, when I purchased my treadmill, Sears delivered it, brought it into my gym, assembled it, and placed it where I wanted it; good thing too, because it’s over 250 pounds. The elliptical machine, on the other hand, was delivered by UPS in a box, disassembled, and left in front of my garage door. I had to get the thing in the house, to my gym, and assemble it myself…no fun at all.

Another thing to bear in mind if you want to be serious about working out at home, is to make the environment as appealing and stress-free as possible. If your workout feels like a chore or the environment is uncomfortable, you will quickly find excuses not to do it. To that end, I made a few investments that help to improve the experience.

I purchased interlocking rubber matting for the floor from Modell’s Sporting Goods. They come in 12x12 and 24x24 inch panels that are a half inch thick. The matting not only protects the floors from scuffs and scrapes from the equipment, they absorb impact from floor exercises and help to ease the stress that comes from running on the treadmill. Not only will your knees and ankles thank you for it, it makes the room look more like a gym. See? Form and function.

I also have a TV/DVD combo unit wall-mounted within easy eye shot of all the equipment and exercise areas. I subsequently added a laptop and connected it to the TV to give me broadband entertainment options as I work out.

A modular, expandable, multi-shelf aluminum rack with casters holds all my smaller equipment and related paraphernalia, e.g., wrist and leg weights, rubber dumbells, free-weight plates, resistance strips, etc…

One of the last things I did was have one wall covered end to end, floor to ceiling, with a mirror. It’s actually two 6x9 ft mirrors placed side by side, but the installers did such a good job that you really have to look for the seam to see it. Not only do mirrors help you gauge your progress visually, they make the room look twice as large.

I also painted the walls a bright, cheery color, and mounted motivational posters.

It all works for me. I exercise between 40 minutes and an hour every day when I’m home. It’s so much a part of my daily routine now that I don’t really think about it anymore. Although I gravitate to the treadmill most days, I do use the elliptical, and even the Bowflex from time to time. The bottom line is I’m in there working out, which is much more than I can say about my old WoW membership I finally let lapse.

Yes, we got a big, heavy, expensive treadmill from Sears, rubber mat and all. We all love it and use it (surprise!) a lot in winter and during bad weather. My daughter runs on the thing for an hour. I just amble along for short periods as I don’t care a fig for my abs, but I suffer from anxiety, stress, and insomnia. A good brisk walk makes life bearable. (If you do buy a professional grade treadmill, it’s well worth the extra delivery cost and have a couple of sturdy guys carry it in and spend an hour or so putting it together. A co-worker of my husband’s was inspired to buy a treadmill after hearing about ours. He bought one and brought it home, and just managed to get it out of the back of his truck onto the garage floor, where it’s probably still sitting. The thing is heavy and has a thousand parts.)

If you use the treadmill on a steep angle, that should help stress her stomach and back muscles.

I have a Reebok treadmill I got about 4 years ago and has significant mileage on it (don’t know if it keeps a running tally,but haven’t found one yet). It is pretty much bullet proof. I would look at ratings for the specific models you choose on any and all vendor websites that allow user reviews.