Saturday February 4, 2012
Things to do before you invest in fitness equipment
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
IT'S the New Year, and surprise, surprise, you've put on a few pounds!
Chances are, one of your resolutions is to lose some weight and with the festive holidays finally out of the way, now's the best time to do it!
But knowing the typical individual, time is often a factor and going to the gym is too inconvenient. You just can't seem to find a slot for it on your already tethered, details-filled-with-God-knows-what diary.
As an alternative, many people end up buying some kind of fitness equipment so that they can do the exercises in the comfort of their own home and at their own pace.
But is it worth it?
Apart from helping you burn off calories, fitness equipment, such as a treadmill or a simple weight machine, can also end up burning a hole in your wallet.
“Many people start off ambitious. But most times, the equipment they buy just ends up being a white elephant,” says John Anthony, who is the manager-cum-trainer at Kepong Baru-based Universe Gym.
“A lot of times, it just becomes a towel hanger,” he says.
Knowing what you want
Nutritionist, wellness coach and trainer for the Miss Universe Malaysia 2012 pageant, Wong Yu Jin, says one should assess his or her own fitness goals before going out and purchasing fitness equipment.
“Quite often, people walk into a fitness store with no idea at all what they want to achieve. When this happens, overzealous sales people from fitness stores may push equipment which has the highest profit margins but may not be entirely suitable to the purchaser.”
Exercise supplements and equipment trader Sukhdev Singh says one should conduct the proper research before deciding whether or not to invest in health equipment.
“If you have the budget or means to splash your money on some fancy equipment, then go ahead. But please do some research first. There is a lot of free and fantastic advice that you can get on the Internet on this.”
Wong concurs: “Find out the options available to you before purchasing. Most of the time, we think of fitness equipment only in the form of treadmills or cycling machines.
“There's a plethora of equipment available to the home user today. Speak to friends, consult fitness trainers or simply go online to find out more.”
Sukhdev says one could otherwise first consult with a professional that could help point a person in the right direction.
“Speak to experts in this field. Before you decide to buy that treadmill or stair-master, test it out at a fitness store or see if you could try out a friend's, if he or she has one.
“Once you're satisfied and you have all your queries answered, then by all means, go and get your machine.”
A lot of times, there's still the possibility that you don't really need a piece of equipment that would cost you the earth.
“If you need to shed just a few pounds, then simple exercises, such as brisk walking, mild jogging or just watching your diet, can help do wonders and save you thousands of ringgit,” says Sukhdev.
“Sometimes, all you need is a simple change of habit,” he says.
John says having an exercise group would be a huge benefit for those looking to engage in regular, outdoor exercises.
“If you can't find a group, at least join a friend or have him join you. Having a partner ensures means they can help motivate or even compete with each other. This ensures consistency, which is what you want in order to achieve your goals.”
Alternatively, one could consider training with a certified fitness coach, says Wong.
“You may want to invest more in a qualified trainer rather than expensive fitness equipment. Work with the trainer first and if you feel that certain items should be purchased after consulting your trainer, go ahead.”
If you're willing to hire a professional trainer, then why not just join a gym?
“Most people say they don't have time but are you really spending all of your time doing productive things,” Sukhdev asks. He believes that one can always make time if they really needed to.
“If you're really committed, then finding time should not be a problem,” he says. Sukhdev adds that a person looking to join a gym should apply at those that require the least amount of travel times and most competitive fee packages.
“Look for gyms that allow short stints, if you're not the committed type. Alternatively, joining (a gym) for the long term will ensure that you have no choice but to stick to their programme to get your money's worth!”
Value for money
If all of the alternatives suggested above are not conducive and you exercising at home with some form of fitness machine is the only way to go, at least try to get the best value-for-money equipment you can buy.
“It is a myth that you have to spend thousands of ringgit to find fitness equipment that work for you. Sometimes, simple items like an exercise mat, a Swiss ball or a skipping rope might be all that you need,” says Wong.
John says equipment such as a health bicycle, or simple weights like dumbbells or a barbell, can help do wonders.
“You'd be surprised how a couple of simple equipment like a couple of dumbbells can help shape and tone various parts of your body.”
Alternatively, with research, there are many exercises that can be done at home without the need for any kind of equipment at all.
“This can be push-ups, squats or sit-ups. Various household items can also be used to assist you in your exercise routines.
“A chair could be used for added leverage to increase the intensity of a push-up. Water bottles and pails can also be filled with either water or sand and used as makeshift weights,” says John.