15 Home Workout Tools for Every BudgetPosted on Apr 4th 2011 1:00PM by That's Fit Editors
Refreshing your at-home fitness routine is a great way to muzzle some of the most common excuses for not working out -- "I'm so busy!" "The weather is so bad!" How? By investing in home exercise equipment. In one study, people with home gym equipment were 73% more likely to be active than those without one. Don't worry about knocking down walls, either-you need only one tool to get your heart rate up for a cardio workout and some strength equipment to firm up. We have pinpointed the best options for your budget, along with some extras to help you meet your workout goals.
Cardio Budget Buys: Between $20 and $80
Burn 110-plus calories in just 10 minutes with the Reebok Adjustable Speed Jump Rope. You can also add weight to the handles to sculpt shapelier arms. You'll need at least a 9-foot ceiling and a body that can take high-impact exercise. ($20; amazon.com)
For an indoor alternative, step while watching TV, or pop in a DVD for a challenge. Reebok's Incline Step includes slanted risers (for variations that target different muscles) and a 20-minute DVD. ($80; amazon.com)
Exercise DVD fans spice up their routine with Gliding Discs. Stand on them and slide around on a carpet or rug for a low-impact workout that hits underused muscles like the inner thighs. ($23 for discs and 3 DVDs; glidingdiscs.com)
Cardio Mid-Priced: Between $599 and $1,000
Pedal off pounds pain free with the Vision Fitness R1500 bike. There's no hunching over handlebars on this recumbent ride, and the cushioned lumbar supported seat is so comfy, you may not want to get off. ($599; visionfitness.com)
Baby your knees and burn megacalories. A no-impact elliptical trainer like the Nautilus E514 mimics running, and you can reverse directions to work more muscles. This model is so smooth, it feels like high-priced gym models. ($999;nautilus.com)
Fair-weather walkers and runners will like the Horizon Fitness T203 treadmill. Its cushioning system provides more shock absorption at the front of the belt where your foot lands and is firmer at the back where you push off. ($1,000; horizonfitness.com)
Strength Budget Buys: Between $5 and $35
For a high-intensity strength and cardio routine, grab a kettlebell. In just 20 minutes, you can burn up to 400 calories and firm all over. GoFit offers a 10-pound kettlebell with a beginner DVD. ($35; gofit.net)
Rubber resistance bands and tubes mimic machine moves and target back, hip, and inner thigh muscles that are hard to hit with dumbbell exercises. Braided Xertubes are a bit pricier but more durable than traditional models. ($30;spri.com)
Perfect for beginners, dumbbells are easy to use. Choose lighter ones for small muscles like triceps, heavier ones for larger muscles. (from about $5 a set; available at retailers such as Sears)
Strength Mid-Priced: Between $30 and $300
Make body-weight moves like planks and leg lifts more challenging with Contour-Weights (you'll probably want two). Secure the long neoprene tube around your waist, drape it over your leg, or hold it like a bar for upper body exercises. Available in 6, 9, 12, and 15 pounds. ($30 to $57; spri.com)
Avoid dumbbell clutter but still challenge yourself with heavy weights (key for fast toning) with Stamina's Versa-Bell weights. You get 9 dumbbells in 1: A simple click transforms the weight in 2.5-pound increments, from 5 to 25 pounds. ($300 per pair; staminaproducts.com)
This portable device is like a gym in a bag. Attach the TRX suspension trainer to a door, put your hands and feet in the handles, and you can do more than 300 exercises. ($200, includes guide and DVD; fitnessanywhere.com)
Excellent Workout Extras
For a flatter belly: Exercising on a stability ball activates more ab and back muscles for faster firming. The TrainerBall (pictured) makes it easy: Moves are printed right on the ball. ($30; trainermat.com)
For better balance: Basic moves like stepping forward and back become more challenging on the 6-inch-wide Beamfit Activity Beam. The result is a gentle strength and flexibility workout that targets your core and improves stability. ($125; beamfit.com)
For cyclists: Turn your bike into an indoor cardio machine by hooking it up to the CycleOps Magneto bike trainer. It even provides progressive resistance: As you pedal faster, the difficulty increases without you having to shift gears. ($270;cycleops.com)
How to Save Money on Used Workout Equipment
Preowned equipment can be a bargain. About 85% of home machines sit unused after 18 months, so they're almost like new, says Woody Fisher of Treadmill Doctor, an equipment servicing outlet. Usage tells more about a machine than its age. Follow our smart-shopping tips for the best deals.
Take a test drive: Fifteen to 20 minutes is recommended.
Get a warranty: It's usually only available if buying through a store.
Ask questions: How often was it used? "Mostly as a coat hanger" is code for "buy it now" if everything else checks out. Why are you selling? "I'm trading up for a newer model" means it's probably been used a lot, so pay attention to how smoothly it operates.
Look for deal breakers: Check for an overly dry, cracked, frayed-at-the-edges, or misaligned treadmill belt, as well as any knocks, grinds, high resistance, or excessive friction when any machine is used on a low setting.
Do your research: See the used buyer's guide at treadmilldoctor.com (look under treadmill or elliptical review tabs). Call the manufacturer to check for recalls.