Trying New Fitness Equipment? Tips to Make the Most of It

You probably saw the catchy ad campaign for a certain indoor stationary bike during last year’s holiday shopping season and maybe you know someone who has that sleek machine parked in their downstairs rec room right now. Maybe you have one yourself – and maybe it has become the most expensive clothes hanger you’ve ever had as you walk past it each day instead of hopping on for daily rides like you thought you would. 

With gym access either non-existent or restricted during the pandemic, many people have had to shift their exercise routines and find new ways to work out. Sales of home workout gear surged earlier this year – Reuters reported a 130% uptick in fitness equipment sales in March alone – and show no signs of slowing down over the next few years, projections say. Weight benches, free weights and exercise bikes have been among the most popular items purchased. 

But having the equipment doesn’t mean you’re making the most of it. And when your favorite cardio class at the gym morphs into a daily workout directed by you, self-motivation turns out to be a big factor in keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy. To kick your fitness goals into high gear, you’ll want to make sure you’re picking types of exercises that you really like. This will help you stick to a routine, and turn your workouts into something you look forward to doing for 30 minutes a day, according to Psychology Today.  

Once you create a personalized mix of exercises you like – try for a balance of cardio and strength-building – here are a few tips for wringing the most out of 2020’s most popular workouts: 

Free weights 

Handheld weights, kettlebells and free weight systems incorporating benches and bars have been flying off the shelves of sporting goods retailers all year.  

The perks: These strength-training aids are easy to use, convenient and effective for building and toning muscles. 

Make the most of them: If you are just starting out, don’t lift more than you are comfortable with. You want to select an amount of weight that you can lift at least a dozen times without feeling fatigued, the Mayo Clinic recommends. Also, be sure you’re using the proper stance. Watching an online video can show you how to position your body for maximum effectiveness when lifting weights. And for best results, put lifting on an every-other-day schedule, giving your body a day off to rest. 

Exercise bikes 

Wi-fi connected stationary bikes have emerged as a popular form of exercise, featuring virtual classes and leaderboards that allow you to compete remotely against other riders. 

The perks: A convenient cardio workout you can fit into your schedule whenever it works for you. 

Make the most of them: Try different instructors, and different types of rides. Try mixing in short rides to keep things fresh. A 30-minute pedal is much better than saying you don’t have time for an hour-long ride and skipping your workout. 

 Digital workouts 

Streaming services, online exercise apps and virtual trainers are changing the way people stay healthy. If you’re comfortable searching out your best fitness opportunities online, this can be a game-changer for people who want complete control over what kind of fitness classes they participate in, when they want to exercise, and how they want their motivation delivered. 

The perks: Unlimited convenience. With online apps and videos, a new workout is always at your fingertips, whether you are at home or traveling. 

Make the most of them: Do your homework. If you are selecting a virtual trainer, read the online reviews and pick one that works the way you want them to. If you’re going with a streaming service that offers exercise videos, most offer a 30-day free trial so you can decide if it’s right for you.  

 Once you decide on the fitness equipment that fits your lifestyle, make sure to pencil yourself into your busy schedule so you can make the most of it each day. 

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 Photo credit: Getty

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