Home workout machines

I’ve decided to get a home workout machine. What sort is best? If I’m just gonna get ONE, should I get an exercise bike, or a weight machine, or what? Knowing which brand names are especially good or bad would be helpful.

There’s three adults in my family. My daughter and husband are both somewhat active, but need to lose weight. I need to lose weight and tone up, and I’m sedentary.

I’ll let other Dopers chime in on the type or workout you should undertake (although it’s generally best to do both cardio and weights), but I’ll just point to a helpful site that, well, reviews the reviews for weight machines:

Of the links the above URL provides, I don’t think you can access Consumer Reports online unless you’re a subscriber, but you can go to their website and pay to have a single-article reproduction faxed to you.

The Men’s Journal link it provides is dead, but thanks to the helpful folks at the Internet Wayback Machine, you can access the archive here:

I agree that it would be best to do both, however, I don’t want to buy both at once. I’m leaning towards buying an exercise bike so that we can read/watch movies while exercising.

The archive is useful, thanks. I can go down to the library and look up the back issues there!

Tad off topic, but . . . your local library probably subscribes to the EBSCOhost database, which usually contains both Consumer Reports and Consumer Research in full-text on-line. And most libraries these days let you log into the database from home, providing you have a library card. I’d try that before paying for the articles. Just suggesting it as an option.

In my opinion, the single best piece of exercise equipment a person can buy is a good treadmill.


<<< I agree that it would be best to do both, however, I don’t want to buy both at once. I’m leaning towards buying an exercise bike so that we can read/watch movies while exercising. >>>

Yes, that is a very good plus. My mum bought a second hand bike for $50 - absolutely perfect condition, it just doesn’t have a computer or anything. She then bought another bike which was in terrible condition but had a basic speed/distance indicator on it from St Vinnie’s for $5, took the speedo off it and gave it back to Vinnie’s! :slight_smile: It sits in front of the TV and I love riding it while watching Doctor Who. I’ve been mucho lazy about it lately!
We also got a rowing machien for $10 and have an airwalker but I haven’t used either of those in months!

I prefer an exercise bike, which I like because I can read a book or magazine while pedaling away. Wish I had room for a treadmill, but I think I’d get dizzy trying to read if I were bopping along on one.

Of course, this is just my opinion, but I’ve always felt that if you can read or watch tv while exercising, you’re not working hard enough. It’s true that you should have ‘light’ days as well as intense days, but for the most part, you should try to work your body as much as you can. Jogging or running is pretty much the best way of doing aerobic workouts. When the wife and I decided to start working out, we went looking for treadmills. Now you can spend a whole hell of a lot on these…from $3K on down. We went with a Proform (got ours for around $600). It works well for us. We’ve had it almost a year, and it gets used just about every day. Even if you decide that you don’t want to go with that particular type of treadmil, I do recommend that you get one that is Ifit compatible. That way you can not only download pre-made programs, but design your own using I2Workout. I found that especially when getting started, having those pre-made workouts was easier for me to do. I didn’t have to make myself raise the incline, or up the speed, the program did it automatically. And I don’t want a home gym either, so I just do sit ups, push ups, and have two dumb bells for curls…I figure that gives me a well rounded fitness program. Good luck.

I use a Schwinn Spin bike. I’m too lazy to go look for a link, but they’re pretty common. IMO, they’re superior to other exercise bikes because they scale well (ie, the easy setting is easy enough for beginners, but they also go hard enough that you won’t outgrow them. I’ve been on lots of exercise bikes where getting a hard workout is next to impossible) and because they mimic a real bike quite a bit. As a result, if you use a spin bike for a few months, then decide you want to take up road biking or mountain biking, you’ll find yourself in decent shape for bicycling. Believe it or not, but many exercise bikes are not very much like really biking.

You can also move around on a Spin bike. You can stand up and really hammer, like you’re climbing a hill, or you can sit and spin fast like you’re sprinting. You can buy videos that work with the bike and simulate an outdoor bike ride. And you’ll get a GREAT workout.

I don’t know what your budget is like, but aWaterrower is a pretty neat exercise machine. My boss bought one for the office, and I love it. There are no nobs to adjust, no special things to attach, just a simple, elegant exercise machine. It is also very cool-looking and provides a great conversation starter.

Basically, it is a rowing machine that uses water as the resistence (imagine that!). So picture yourself in a rowboat: If you want to lazily row from one shore to the next, you would just sorta dawdle and pull. But if you were racing the guy next to you, you would pull harder and dig deeper. Same with this. You can have a relaxing 10 minute pull and just stretch your muscles, or really dig in and work- and it ‘automatically’ adjusts the same way as water does. All you do is pull harder, and the resistence is there.

It is also the only machine that doesn’t leave me feeling hurt or tweaked. It feels natural, so I don’t get any joint aches or anything like that. Muscle fatigue, yes, pain, no.

It also sounds cool. wooshing water and all. I like it while watching the news- I get lost in the rythym and just keep going while watching MTV or something.

Worst thing about it- starting price is $800 or so…but it is worth it.

I guess you can also buy the Internet hook-up and race other people, etc. if you are so inclined.

Take care-

oops…seems like any of the other links on the American site are bunk…try www.waterrower.co.uk (where I ordered it from for my boss).

I’ve recommended them before, and I’ll do it again: if you want free weights to be a part of your at-home routine (which you should), and you don’t have a lot of room, get some Powerblocks. They’re dumbbells that can be adjusted in a flash; just move a pin, and you’re ready for your next set. I’ve had mine for about 6 years, and I still use 'em quite faithfully.

They have a lightweight set that adjusts from 3 to 21 pounds per hand in 3-pound increments, or you can get a set like mine that adjusts from 5 to 50 pounds in 5 pound increments (I also got an add-on that lets me go as high as 90 pounds per hand, and there’s even a third add-on available that lets you go to 120 pounds per hand). The only downside is, they’re weights, which means if you can’t find a local dealer, expect to pay a lot for shipping. Because, you know, weights are heavy.

This is what I’ve tried over the years to stay in shape…

YMCA membership… too much of a hassle to get there and back again.
Stair Stepper… a waste of money; all it did was hurt my knees.
Free Weights… I wanted more of an aerobic workout.
Total Gym… took up too much space.
Stationary Bicycle… tired my legs before I got winded, and no upper body workout.
Nordic Track… gave me the upper body workout, but even for a cross country skiier like me, it was awkward.
Treadmill… this is what I have now (for about five years) and I love it. I can watch TV at the same time and it gives me a great workout. It’s the only approach I’ve been able to stick with.

Good luck.

Does anyone here use an elliptical machine? Should I go expensive or not? Thanks for your replies. Lynn, sorry for the hijack.

Great workout, aerobic & strength.

Either a weight machine or free weights would be preferable to tread mills and stationary bikes. My own theory–if you want to use walking/running/bike riding as part of your cardio workout, it’s far better to walk around the neighborhood or a park (or a shopping mall or some other indoor venue if the weather is bad). Doing your cardio in a natural setting makes it a lot more pleasant and interesting.

Just make sure you get one big enough to hang the coats of all the family members. Because that’s exactly what it will turn out to be. A coat rack. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You’re not kidding about this. You’re really going to get serious and workout every day. Sure you are. Just like all the rest of those folks who are selling their “slightly used” exercise equipment in the classifieds. If you really are serious about exercising forget the equipment and start a walking program. It’s free and one of the best exercises ever. And it’ll get you away from that damned TV!

I agree wholeheartedly about both these statements. Especially if one is just beginning an exercise regimen. However, I wanted a more intense workout than walking, and I cannot run on a hard surface due to the lingering effects of a severe leg/ankle break about ten years ago.

By all means, start walking!

But if you want a machine to help you in your endeavor, then I recommend a treadmill (for an aerobic workout). Free weights are best for toning muscle or building strength.

It all just depends on what you feel you need to work on.

I do not LIKE the outdoors. This includes going out to get the mail. I’ve got some fairly nasty allergies, too. I’m more or less acclimated to my house allergens. Besides, Texas weather comes in only a few varieties: too hot, too cold, and too wet.

My neighborhood is not particularly pleasant to walk around in. If I LIKED being outdoors I’d try it to the best of my ability, or going to the gym on a regular basis. I’m not quite an agoraphobe. Yet.

I’ve got a bad knee (old injury from when I was a preteen, plus it’s got arthritis in it now) so I think that I’ll probably pass on the treadmills.

I should probably have mentioned that I cannot walk very far at all, because of heart problems as well as the knee.

I was really kind of hoping to learn a few good brand names and models of exercise bikes, so I can look in the classifieds for used ones. I figured that I could pedal for a bit, then rest for a bit while I catch my breath, and pedal some more.

The comments are interesting, thanks.

I’ve been using an elliptical for several years at the gym and bought one for the house almost two years ago. If I only had one machine, that would be it.
I had to stop all impact exercises after years of running - disc went bad. This thing is a good workout, keeps the weight down, plus the evening news lasts about right for time.

Lynn, the information you provided about your specific circumstances leads me to the conclusion you’ve already come to… namely that you need something other than a treadmill. A stationary bike seems like a reasonable alternative.

I regret I have no information regarding models/brands to help you in your search.

I wish Consumer Reports had a free online version, because I know they’ve done effectiveness studies of the various types of machines.

Once again, good luck.