Exercising on a budget can be as simple as buying a good pair of walking shoes. But when you want to make an investment in fitness equipment, new options can make your workouts interactive as well as high-energy.
Look for exercise bikes, treadmills and ellipticals that offer pre-set workouts, often with incline adjustments and/or increases in tension, to challenge muscles and burn a lot more calories.
The latest generation of heart-rate monitors uses a chest strap rather than a handgrip so you can more accurately make sure you’re in the right training zone — especially important if you’re doing interval training. While most fitness trackers and watches, and even some machines, offer heart-rate monitoring, chest straps offer a higher level of accuracy and some have interconnectivity so you can see readings on your wrist device.
iPod-compatible sound systems, USB ports and wireless connectivity are high-tech equipment advances that have changed the home gym workout experience. And web-enabled touchscreens and sophisticated built-in software allow you to map out a course and watch vistas go by as you move.
Machines that connect with iFit technology can lead you through hundreds of different workouts that you watch on the monitor while the system tracks your output. You can chart routes almost anywhere in the world thanks to Google Maps. There’s even incline-matching technology to simulate the natural terrain of your route. iFit also offers insights from elite trainers, enabling you to tap into their fitness advice.
Cyclists, in particular, have a wealth of machines to choose from. For instance, ProForm (proform.com) has a Tour de France model that lets you recreate the famed French race, complete with roadside spectators cheering you on. The Peloton cycle (onepeloton.com) offers a monthly service that broadcasts hundreds of live and on demand classes on its screen, giving you the experience of being in a group from the comfort of your own home.
Since these are big-tickets items, you should visit a dedicated fitness store for a detailed look and try out a variety of machines before you buy.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has great advice on choosing exercise equipment to use at home.