If you start a new exercise program or change your existing workout routine, an important decision is what equipment you use to reach your health and fitness goals. There are a number of exercises you can perform using only your bodyweight, but chances are you will want at least some equipment to increase the variety and challenge of your workouts.
The most important aspect of any piece of equipment is it must be something you are willing to use. It does not matter how good a piece of equipment is supposed to be or how many people like it. If you are not willing to use it, then it will never give you the results you desire. Once you figure out the type(s) of equipment you want, the next step is to decide what specific items you will get and where you will buy them.
Where to buy equipment is an issue, because people often buy exercise equipment from some of the worst places. People spend an incredible amount of money buying exercise products seen on infomercials, but these products are usually overpriced, poor quality, and ultimately items that do not help you succeed. There are definitely some good products sold through infomercials, but most are a waste of money.
If these products were really good, they would be sold for years, but most of the time, they are only sold for a few months then end up as clearance items in discount stores or are never heard from again. There are only a small number of products, such as the Total Gym and Bowflex, which are around year after year, because they are useful exercise products. However, the better models are rather expensive.
Many infomercial products are designed to make you perform the same movement over and over. These pieces of equipment are often portrayed as being the only thing you need to transform your entire body, but this is very misleading. Repeating the same movement over and over will not cause well-rounded fitness improvements, but instead cause muscle imbalances because the same muscles are always working more than others.
Personally I would stay away from any piece of exercise equipment that only lets you perform one specific motion, unless you want to use it as one small part of your overall exercise program.
Many people have been disappointed by infomercial exercise products and you may even have made some purchases, which are likely sitting around collecting dust. Since more and more people are leery about buying infomercial products, they often choose to buy exercise products from large chain or discount stores, such as Wal-Mart or Target. The benefit to buying from these stores is they carry more established and popular products, but you can still run into problems.
The biggest issue is the quality of many exercise products sold in large chain stores is just not very good. For instance, two of the more popular types of equipment right now are exercise bands (rubber tubing) and exercise (Swiss) balls. Both types of equipment are inexpensive and can be used to perform a wide variety of exercises, making them great pieces of equipment for practically everyone. However, some exercise balls and bands are much better than others.
I have found that bands and balls sold at large chain stores tend to be among the poorest quality available, especially in recent years. I frequently look at the items offered in these stores and occasionally even buy something, but these stores continually change the brands they carry and more often than not, the brands the stores previously carried were better than the ones they currently sell.
I assume the product buyers purchase equipment based on the cheapest price they can get, rather than ordering better products that may cost a little more. Since exercise bands and balls have become so popular, there are many companies making them and pricing has become more competitive.
As a result, some companies focus on making products as inexpensively as possible, even if the quality suffers. These inferior exercise products frequently wind up on the shelves in large chain stores.
It may not seem like the quality of equipment like exercise bands and balls can vary that much, but there is a noticeable difference between different brands. For instance, cheaply made exercise balls can be lopsided when fully inflated and some of them are so flimsy they feel like they will pop without much weight.
As for the bands, poor quality ones do not stretch evenly and you will feel inconsistent increases in tension when using them. These bands can also tear more easily and will definitely not last as long as better quality exercise bands.
The good news is exercise balls and bands of much better quality are available and generally do not cost much more than the poor quality products found in many stores. You just have to know where to find them and these days your best bet is to buy them online through companies that specialize in fitness products.
At this point there are hundreds and probably thousands of exercise equipment companies, but two in particular are respected and used by individuals and business throughout the health and fitness industry.
The two companies are Power Systems which has been around since 1986 and Perform Better, which I believe is at least as old, but I do not know exactly when it started. Both companies are similar and carry a number of the same products, but there are differences as well, and some people prefer one over the other.
I have purchased equipment from both companies and never had a problem with either of them, so I feel confident in recommending them equally. Both companies primarily market towards fitness professionals, but anyone can purchase equipment from them.
They do carry some high-priced equipment, but most people will be interested in their less expensive products, such as the exercise bands and balls. In addition to having better quality products (at similar prices) than large chain stores, they also have a greater selection, so you can be sure to find the right equipment for your ability level and fitness goals.
Most people don’t even realize these companies exist, yet they have been standards in the health and fitness industry for many years. When new and interesting quality exercise equipment comes out, it is often sold by Perform Better and/or Power Systems years before it ends up on the shelves of large chain stores. There are also many items that are effective and popular among fitness professionals, yet never make it into most stores.
In the end, it is all about the quality of your workout and if you have the right equipment for your style of training, it is easier to achieve your goals than if you are using inferior or poorly designed equipment. Of course, you still have to do the work and put forth the consistent effort required to be successful. Good equipment will certainly help your progress, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.
14 years of experience and education in health and fitness