What's real and what's hype in infomercial fitness machines; plus tests of 40 exercise equipment machines include 6 Consumer Reports Best Buys
Consumer Reports notes that gym memberships, which peaked at 42.7 million in 2006, have slid in the past few years while sales of home equipment have continued to grow. For those interested in building a home gym, it pays to shop carefully, taking into consideration one's budget, space constraints, and workout preferences. "You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good workout at home," says
Sexier Abs! Great Legs! Buy Now!
Infomercials make a lot of big promises about the exercise machines they hawk on TV and the Web. But do they deliver? To find out, Consumer Reports assembled panels of testers. One group looked at the ads and then used the devices, ranging in price from
The Ab Rocket
Cardio and Cardio Plus:
The Bowflex Treadclimber TC5000
Upper Body Devices:
The Perfect Pushup
The advanced workout with the Fluidity Bar
Before buying, Consumer Reports urges shoppers to:
- Read the fine print. Some devices come with disclaimers. For example, the Ab Rocket Web site features dramatic before-and-after shots, but also adds the following: "Results not typical. This person used the Ab Rocket Fat Blasting System, did cardio exercise regularly, and ate a reduced calorie diet."
- Calculate the total cost. Include shipping, unless otherwise specified, and any sales tax.
- Be careful of trials. A "30-day money-back guarantee" sounds good, but returning the product might be hard if the item is heavy or bulky, or if the buyer is required to pay shipping.
- Ask about return policies. Verify the company's return address and find out how long it will take to get a refund in case of return.
Best Buys for Treadmills, Elliptical Exercisers, Stationary Bikes, and Pedometers
Consumer Reports tested 40 conventional exercise machines, including treadmills, elliptical exercisers, and stationary bikes for exercise range, ergonomics, construction, safety, and more. Prices ranged from
- The PaceMaster Platinum Pro VR nonfolding treadmill, for
- The Epic View 550 folding treadmill, for
- The Sole F63 folding treadmill, for
- The LifeCore Fitness LC985VG elliptical exerciser, for
- The Spirit XBR25 recumbent stationary bike, for
- The Omron HJ-112 pedometer for
To find the right machine, Consumer Reports offers the following advice:
- Check your space. Elliptical exercisers and nonfolding treadmills are about the size of a small couch, and most stationary bikes are a bit smaller. Folding treadmills are generally shorter than nonfolding models, and can be stored upright. Elliptical exercisers take up more vertical space.
- Make it comfortable. Pay special attention to ergonomics. Treadmills should match the user's stride. Elliptical machines should be tested to ensure that they don't cause discomfort in the knee or hip joints. Stationary bikes should be the right size and provide a comfortable seat and pedals.
- Look at the features. The best machines offer a clear display with easy-to-use controls that show some combination of heart rate, calories burned, speed, incline or resistance levels, and details such as time and distance. Programs should allow you to adjust routines based on your fitness level and have heart-rate-controlled workouts that consider your age, weight, and gender.
The full reports on infomercial fitness machines and conventional exercise machines are available in the February '09 issue or online at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.
(C) Consumers Union 2009. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.
SOURCE Consumer Reports