Linda Melone
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6 Tips for buying workout equipment you'll actually use

Working out in the convenience of your own home has its pros and cons. 

In theory, it sounds like a great plan:

Step 1: BUY equipment

Step 2: USE equipment

Step 3: GET IN SHAPE in the convenience of your own home, all without paying a gym fee, fighting for a parking spot or wiping someone else’s sweat off a bench and then finding out you have MRSA and ending up on antibiotics for six months

Done, done and done, right?

Truth is, the only easy part is Step 1.

In fact, the hardest part is shelling out payments for the next six months.

Step 2 is easy at first, too, because you’re still in that honeymoon stage. Everything’s new and shiny and gazing at it reminds you of the fit person you’re about to become.

Hearts and flowers abound. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

The problem with Step 3 is it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to repeat Step 2 over and over until you reach Step 3.

Or you quit before you reach Step 3 because, like many relationships, the bloom is off that rose. You’ve lost that loving feeling. But it could also be because you’re using your loved one as a clothes dryer, hanging wet laundry off the handlebars and the treadmill belt to transport pizza from the kitchen to the living room.

Clearly, it takes a lot of self-discipline to work out consistently enough and hard enough to see results, as I’ve hammered home mentioned many times.

If you’re like the majority of people who buy home equipment, boredom sets in after a few weeks.

Your purchase, formerly known as the magical fat-blasting machine, is now tucked into a corner of your garage, covered with a musty blanket and left to return to the earth, placed in a time capsule or rediscovered during a move and put out on the driveway for $20 or best offer.

If I had a dime for every unused piece of equipment I came across on my first visit to a client’s house I could fill a coffee can with enough money to pay for an Uber ride from California to New York and back three times.

It’s a lot.

Gym interior with equipment gymSo in the interest of not having you waste your money on home gym equipment, I’d like to offer up a few guidelines to keep in mind before you decide to plunk down money for anything.

1. Consider your goals

Are you most interested in burning calories, getting firmer overall or both? A well-rounded program contains elements of both. As I’ve noted in prior posts, resistance training builds muscle, firms you up all over and boosts your metabolism. Cardio equipment burns more calories while you’re doing it and strengthens your heart. A mix of both is ideal, but if you need to choose one or the other, consider which one you’re most likely to do.

2. Pick something you’ll enjoy

If you hate walking or running it makes no sense to buy a treadmill just because you think you’ll burn the most calories. Choose equipment you’ve used in the past and know you’d enjoy.

3. Create a fun space

It’s much more pleasant to work out in front of a window or TV, in a well-lit, ventilated room versus a dark, dingy, musty basement. The latter scenario will be all you need to skip it altogether.

4. Try before you buy

Never buy something blindly. Go to the store and try out the equipment as you would use it at home. Evaluate its function, construction, and how it feels overall. It should feel solid, not rickety, and operate smoothly and solidly. Don’t cut corners on quality; you typically get what you pay for.

5. Decide on bells and whistles

The more technology, the higher the price tag, so choose wisely. A heart rate monitor and calories burned panel are nearly standard on every piece of cardio, but if you don’t need them you can often bring down the price considerably. 

6. Keep it super simple

For a simple gym set-up for a fraction of the cost of any treadmill, the following is all you need:

  • A fitness ball (check the chart on the side of the box for your correct size) inflated to the proper size, preferably burst-proof or “slow deflate”
  • A set of tubing in various resistances
  • Dumbbells and/or a weighted medicine ball(s) for resistance
  • A good pair of running or walking shoes for cardiovascular fitness
  • A heart-rate monitor to be sure you are working hard enough (not necessary but highly recommended)
  • Optional: an adjustable (flat and incline) workout bench
  • An instructional video/book/or consultation with a fitness professional to ensure proper form and to help you get the best results


What fitness equipment have you bought in the past that you used? Did you stick with it? Let me know in the comments section below…

Other posts you may like:

7 Ways to stick to a home workout routine

5 Best bodyweight exercises for women over 50

Fat burning intervals anyone can do (including beginners)

Got questions? Comments? Send ’em to me at and I’ll get back to you!

Till next time…

Your Ageless Body Coach,

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About the Author Linda Melone

Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.

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Leave a Comment:

Kim Brantley says

Thanks a million for blogging about this subject, Linda. I have grown curious about weight training since discovering your site and blog a week ago. I had my eye on a particular exercise machine (????) and probably would have bought it cold without checking further into it, had I not read your blog. I know what my goals are, so I’m going to get off my heiny, stop surfing the internet and walk into an equipment center and shop with my head first. Thank you again.

    Linda Melone says

    Thanks so much, Kim! Spending money on fitness equipment is never a waste as long as you use the stuff. I bought a Lifecycle back in the 80s and used that beast until only a few years ago. Although it was pricey at first, I got WAY more than my money’s worth in the end :).

Julia says

Morning Linda,

You are so right! I include myself in the group who purchased equipment only to see dust build up after a short time. After clearing out my equipment clutter, here is what I like to use and they are dust free: Freestanding Barre, set of dumbbells, and a fitness ball. At 60 yrs of age, I want a simple, clutter free environment with easy to use products that don’t hurt me. (the bands were the first to go as they snapped back and hit me in the face)

    Linda Melone says

    Ouch on the snapping band situation! They can be dangerous if they’re used a lot and develop tiny tears in the fabric you can’t always spot. And yes, the set-up you have sounds perfect: simple and all you need for a basic workout :).

Linda B says

I have about 8 workout CDs that I bought at Job Lot for $2 each, and 2 3-pound weights. I use them 2-3 Times a week, and almost daily during the winter. Small and smart investment!

    Linda Melone says

    Sounds like a good variety as well as a smart investment, Linda! 🙂

Joyce says

If you buy a multi-functional workout tower, make sure it’s easy to switch between exercises. You’ll be a lot more apt to use it if it’s easy to switch between exercises (just move a pin, etc.). I had one where it took longer to set it up for the exercise than the actual exercise – forget it. I use Dumbbells, exercise ball, bench, and step bench – easy to make so many workout variations. And don’t forget a good mat for stretching and floor exercises.

    Linda Melone says

    Excellent point, Joyce! The same goes from some models of dumbbells that require disassembly to adjust the amount of weight.

Myrna says

Yes, I have a treadmill, dumb bells, big ball, and now a stationary bike which I bought it for my husband due to he had a knee replacement. So I use it too. Treadmill I use in winter time. But 6 months ago I can down with falling arches. So been fighting it.

    Linda Melone says

    Sounds like you have a good set-up, Myrna! Treadmills are great when you can’t get outside and are lower impact than walking on asphalt.

Patricia Scott says

I have a small weight station that easily changes weights with pins. A stationery bike that I like when it is cold. Two large balls, various hand weights, speed jumprope, hulahoop, and walking shoes (my favorite). I also do kettle bells with a trainer, BudaKhi and Zumba. So far all have been a good investment. I chose stuff that made me feel like a kid when I used them.

    Linda Melone says

    Love that, Pat! Keeping it fun is such a great way to stick to a program. ????

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