for Buying Exercise Equipment
for a way to shape up? Keep fit? Stay limber? A diet
of regular exercise can help. Different types of
exercise benefit the body in different ways: some
improve flexibility; some improve muscular strength.
Others enhance physical endurance, and still others
improve cardiovascular and respiratory efficiency.
Intentions Require Follow-through The benefits of
exercise are widely known, but the keys to maintaining
an exercise program can be elusive. Unfortunately,
relatively few consumers stick with their programs:
basements, rec rooms, and yard sales are stocked with
costly stationary cycles, treadmills, and rowing
machines that have been underused, neglected, or
turned into clothes hangers. Good intentions are no
match for stretching, walking, lifting, swimming ó
or any other regular physical activity. Which exercise
is best? The one youíre really going to do.
fitness equipment for home workouts can represent a
sizable financial commitment as well as a lifestyle
change. The Federal Trade Commission advises work-out
"wannabes" to exercise good judgment when
evaluating advertising claims for fitness products.
Before you buy, the FTC suggests you ask yourself the
Are Your Goals?
you want to build strength, increase flexibility,
improve endurance, or enhance your health, look for a
program that meets your personal goals. Remember that
the best route to overall fitness and health is one
that incorporates a variety of physical activities as
part of a daily routine.
You Really Use Exercise Equipment?
theory, exercising at home sounds great. But if you
donít use a piece of equipment regularly, it can
burn a hole in your pocket without burning off any
calories. Before you buy, prove to yourself that
youíre ready to stick to an ongoing fitness program.
Set aside some time in your day for physical activity
ó and then do it.
Exercise Equipment Help You Spot Reduce?
No exercise device can burn fat off a particular part
of your body. To lose the proverbial spare tire or
trim your hips, you must combine sensible eating with
regular exercise that works the whole body. The
reason: Everything you eat has calories and everything
you do uses calories. Your weight depends on the
number of calories you eat and use each day.
Increasing your daily physical activity will burn
You See Through Outrageous Claims?
regularly can help you shape up. But some companies
claim that you can get results by using their
equipment for three or four minutes a day, three times
a week. Sounds fabulous, right? But realistic?
Not really. Hereís how you can spot the fantasies
when youíre sizing up claims by equipment
Any ads that promise "easy" or
"effortless" results are
false. Many ads that make big promises about
number of calories youíll burn also may be
Indeed, some of the claims are true only for
who already are in top physical condition;
not be true for anyone.
Claims that one machine can help you burn more
calories or lose weight faster than others can
to evaluate ó especially when you canít
"scientific studies" mentioned in the
these claims, apply two rules:
Equipment that works the whole body, or major
of it, probably will burn more calories than
work one part of the body.
The more you use your equipment, the more
why itís important to select equipment that suits
you and your lifestyle. A study might show that a
different device burns more calories an hour, but if
itís uncomfortable or difficult to use, chances are
it will gather dust rather than help you burn
You Checked the Fine Print?
for tip-offs that getting the advertised results
requires more than just using the machine. Sometimes
the fine print mentions a diet or "program"
that must be used in conjunction with the equipment.
Even if it doesnít, remember that diet and exercise
together are much more effective for weight loss than
either diet or exercise alone.
ads also feature dramatic testimonials or
before-and-after pictures from satisfied customers.
These stories may not be typical. Just because one
person has had success doesnít mean youíll get the
same results. And endorsements ó whether theyíre
from consumers, celebrities, or star athletes ó
donít mean the equipment is right for you.
You Try the Equipment Before You Buy?
you buy any exercise equipment, try it out. A few
minutes at a sporting goods store while youíre
wearing street clothes isnít very helpful. Test
different types of equipment at a local gym or
recreation center. Better still, go to the store
dressed for exercise and give the equipment a full
You Shopped Around?
you buy, check out articles in consumer or fitness
magazines that rate the exercise equipment on the
market. Much of the equipment advertised on television
or in magazines also is available at local sporting
goods, department, or discount stores. That makes it
easier to shop for the best price.
be fooled by companies that advertise "three easy
payments of ..." or "just $49.95 a
month." Before you buy any product, find out the
total cost, including shipping and handling, sales
tax, delivery, and set-up fees. Get the details on
warranties, guarantees, and return policies: A
"30-day money back guarantee" may not sound
so good if you have to ante up a hefty fee to return a
bulky piece of equipment youíve bought through the
mail. Check out the companyís customer service and
support, too. Who can you call if the machine breaks
down or you need replacement parts? Try any toll-free
numbers to see whether help really is accessible.
you can get a great deal on a piece of fitness
equipment from a second-hand store, a consignment
shop, a yard sale, or the classifieds in your local
newspaper. But buy wisely. Items bought second-hand
usually arenít returnable and donít have the
warranties of new equipment.
advises consumers to:
claims that an exercise machine or device can
provide long-lasting, easy, "no-sweat"
results in a short time. These claims are false:
You can't get the benefits of exercise unless you
fall for claims that a product can burn fat off a
particular part of the body - for example, the
buttocks, hips or stomach. Achieving a major
change in your appearance requires sensible eating
and regular exercise that works the whole body.
the ad's fine print. The advertised results may be
based on more than just using a machine; they also
may be based on restricting calories.
skeptical of testimonials and before-and-after
pictures from "satisfied" customers.
Their experiences may not be typical. Just because
one person had success with the equipment doesn't
mean you will, too.
calculations when you read statements like
"three easy payments of ..." or
"only $49.95 a month." The advertised
cost may not include shipping and handling fees,
sales tax, and delivery and set-up fees. Find out
the details before you order.
details on warranties, guarantees and return
policies. A "30-day money-back
guarantee" may not sound as good if you have
to pay shipping on a bulky piece of equipment you
want to "return to sender."
- Check out the
company's customer and support services. Call the
advertised toll-free numbers to get an idea of how
easy it is to reach a company representative and
how helpful he or she is.
The FTC works for the
consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair
business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid
them. To file a complaint or to get free information
on consumer issues call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
Federal Trade Commission