Fitness equipment buying guide

 

Investing in the right fitness equipment to use in your home is a convenient, cost-effective and time-saving solution that enables you to exercise whenever you want. And as a little encouragement, we offer free delivery on all our large fitness equipment, plus a 3-year guarantee on parts and labour.

View our fitness equipment range 

Choosing fitness equipment

Our broad range of fitness machines and gym accessories will help to achieve your goals. But, what are they? Do you want to:

  • Build up, tone and strengthen your muscles (strength training)
  • Lose weight (cardiovascular with a bit of low-impact strength training)
  • Complement you training for the marathon (cardiovascular, strength and flexibility)
  • Improve your overall level of fitness (a bit of cardiovascular, strength and flexibility)

Once you know what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to choose the right equipment. To help you choose the right training tools, we give you a brief explanation of the three main types of training:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Strength 
  • Flexibility

And tell you which equipment is best suited for each type of exercise. However, it’s important to note that if you want to achieve any of these fitness goals, then you need to make sure you have a balanced diet.

Cardiovascular workout
Cardiovascular exercise involves raising your heart rate (cardio) and pumping blood around your body (vascular), making your heart and lungs stronger. The benefits of this form of exercise are:

  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Burns calories
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Decreases stress levels

In order to find out if you’re getting the most out of your cardio training you need to monitor your heart rate while you exercise (see section Heart Rate Monitors for more information).

Our range of cardiovascular fitness equipment includes:

Strength training
Weight and strength training is when you exercise with resistance to increase muscle mass and strength. However, strength training isn’t all about building big muscles; using lighter weights with more repetitions (eg. lift 1kg 20 times, instead of 10kg 10 times) will increase your metabolism and encourage fat loss without making you look like a body builder! However, if you do want larger muscles and increase strength, then you need to use heavier weights with lower repetitions. The benefits of this form of training are:

  • Helps support bones and joints
  • Improves coordination, muscle control and mobility
  • Increases muscle mass and tone
  • Improved metabolic rate
  • Decreased risk of injury

Our range of strength training equipment includes:

  • Multi gyms
  • Weights
  • Pilates
  • Resistance training
  • Boxing

Flexibility
To get the most out of your fitness programme and avoid injury it’s vital to include some flexibility training before and after your workout. Reasons for doing flexibility training:

  • Reduces the risk of back pain and muscle damage
  • Improves your posture
  • Helps you to relax
  • Tones and strengthens your muscles
  • Easy way to get into shape

Our range of flexibility training equipment includes:

  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Vibration platforms
  • Gym accessories

Treadmills

Elliptical trainers

Exercise bikes

Cycling gives you a cardiovascular workout while putting less strain on your back, knees and leg joints, improving your stamina and promoting great lower body conditioning.

Types of exercise bike

Upright – most closely mimic outdoor bicycles.

Recumbent – the seat is positioned parallel to the ground with the pedals in the front of the user, while a back support offers more comfort to users who suffer from knee or back problems.

Semi-recumbent – an inclined seat between that of an upright and recumbent, making it easier for elderly or disabled users to dismount.

Benefits

  • They are simple to use and require little practice - an ideal starting point for your exercise routine.Because there is less movement you can watch TV or read a magazine whilst working out.
  • Preset programs assist your workout routine.
  • A number of resistance levels allow you to exercise at different intensities. Look out for models with permanent magnetic resistance pedalling motion (which allows for a quieter action) and electromagnetic braking systems, which are virtually silent, found on the more expensive machines.
  • Heart rate tracking and heart rate programs allow you to monitor your effort level and train more safely.
  • You can track speed, time, distance, calories burnt and energy used, to measure your progress. Therefore, you can specifically tailor exercise to your own personal fitness.
  • Adjustable seats and handlebars, cushioned seat pads and more robust frames help to ensure a more comfortable workout.

Rowing machines

Rowing is a seated aerobic pursuit suitable for all users. It helps remove all the body weight from the ankles, knees and hips, moving the limbs and joints through a full range of motion, from completely extended to completely contracted. Also, a number of models can be folded to half their size, saving on space. The main thing to look for when buying a rower is the type of resistance it has.

Types of resistance

Magnetic – Controlled by electromagnets, this type of resistance provides a smooth, almost silent motion. It also allows you to control the level of resistance, creating the perfect workout for you.

Air – The resistance on these models is determined by your pace, which means that the resistance increases when your pace increases. This allows you to have some control over your workout.

Water – Just like air resistant rowers, the resistance level increases when your pace increases; however, the resistance

and pressure levels can also be adjusted by adding or removing water in the tank.

Benefits

  • It's beneficial for the back, improving suppleness and developing strong posture, through recruiting the muscles of the torso in equal proportions to the other major muscle groups of the legs and arms
  • Very low impact on joints.
  • Once your technique is developed, the motion is flowing and overstraining is unlikely
  • Form your own resistance, so the more energy you put in, the tougher the workout you give yourself
  • Strengthens the heart and improves circulation
  • Heart rate compatibility means that you can monitor your performance and pace yourself at the required level, be it for fitness or fat-calorie burning

Multi gyms

Pilates and Yoga

Boxing, weights and other gym accessories

Boxing is a great way of toning your body and letting off steam at the same time. It is suitable for all sports which require good upper body strength: rugby, cricket, rowing, etc. Focusing on upper body conditioning, working the arms, abs, chest and shoulders, it also includes some lower body exercises in the kick boxing area and increases your overall fitness levels.

Weights are excellent for muscle toning. They can enhance muscle definition and stimulate muscle development in areas which are not frequently used with other exercise apparatus.

Gym accessories Whether you want to target a certain area of your body or make your workout more enjoyable with some music, then your best bet is to invest in some smaller equipment.

Exercise mats are ideal for warming up or cooling down during your workout. Stretching helps to keep your muscles and ligaments flexible, avoid strains and injuries and releases tension.

 

Medicine balls target the core muscles, which helps you to strengthen your other muscle groups.

Trampolines create a fun form of exercise and can be easily stored away after use.

Exercise balls can help you to tone up your whole body, improve core stability, posture and balance.

Resistance bands are designed to give you a full-body work out and can help you to lose weight, as well as build muscle.

Nike+ iPod sensor kit works exclusively with your Nike+ trainers and iPod Nano to give you feedback during workouts and lets you track your performance on your computer.

 

Heart rate monitors, body fat scales and pedometers

Heart rate monitoring provide the best indicator of your personal fitness. They help you set realistic fitness targets, make your exercising more effective and provide immediate feedback.

Measuring your heart rate

 

Age (years) Target HR Zone 50-75% (beats per minute) Average Maximum Heart Rate 100% (beats per minute)
20 100-150 200
25 98-146 195
30 95-142 190
35 93-138 185
40 90-135 180
45 88-131 175
50 85-127 170
55 83-123 165
60 80-120 160
65 78-116 155
70 75-113 150

Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures in the table here are averages, so use them as general guidelines.

Please note: A few high blood pressure medications lower the maximum heart rate and thus the target zone rate. If you're taking such medicine, contact your doctor to find out if you need to use a lower target heart rate.

Body fat scales give a better picture of your overall health and fitness. They measure weight, total body water percentage and body fat percentage.

Pedometers are compact units allowing you to record your number of steps, distance and calories while exercising – commonly the number of features will increase with price, while some models also include a radio.

 

Console technology

Most cardiovascular equipment features sophisticated computerised training programs that will motivate, mentally stimulate and most significantly provide you with meaningful workouts and great results.

Typically the more expensive models normally reflect more sophisticated console technology, including advanced heart rate control features, but this is worth paying for if you are serious about achieving optimum fitness results. We list the types of console available for each model with a close up alternative image.

 

The software automatically adjusts resistance (ellipticals, bikes and steppers) or speed/elevation (treadmills) to ensure you are working within your given training zone.

When selecting which type would be most suitable, pay particular attention to the number and type of programs on offer, and whether it has an LCD screen (Liquid Crystal Display), which digitally displays information, or an LED screen (Light Emitting Diode) showing profile performance with easy to read lights.


 

Guarantees and safety warning

Our guarantee

All large fitness equipment includes a 3-year guarantee on parts and labour.

Safety warning

Before starting a new exercise programme we recommend you consult your doctor or other professional medical adviser, particularly if you suffer from:

  • A heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Joint, muscular, or back problems
  • Any similar conditions

 

Or you are:

  • Pregnant
  • On any prescribed medication
  • Currently under the care of your doctor
  • Convalescing

Please note: This advice should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor; and, if you are in any doubt as to your fitness or are concerned about your health, then you should ask your doctor or any other health care professional for more information.