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Healthy Buys: Exercise Equipment Is Worth Nothing if It Isn't Used

By Carol Krucoff
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, January 5 1999; Page Z15

Some of the most expensive dust catchers in homes across America are the fitness gifts of Christmas past or the gadgets of New Year's resolutions gone awry. An estimated 14 million Americans spent a total of $5 billion on exercise equipment last year, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. To help people buy products they'll use and enjoy, they offer these guidelines:

Commit to your goals. The single biggest mistake consumers make is to assume that buying equipment will ensure its use. But having equipment won't get you in shape. Using it will. To get fit, you must make a commitment to a long-term program of exercise in which your equipment plays an important role.

Know what you like. If you're not sure what kind of equipment you enjoy, consider trying a short-term membership at a fitness club so you can sample many types of apparatus.

Try before you buy. Wear athletic clothes to the store and do a full workout on the equipment you're considering for purchase.

Analyze your space. Before you shop, measure the space available in your home--including ceiling height--for the equipment. Choose an appealing location that offers light, ventilation, music and other features that will make workouts pleasant.

Consider other users. Quality and versatility will be important if people with different goals, habits and physiques will use the equipment.

Listen to the machine. If should be quiet enough for you to watch TV or listen to music, and it shouldn't disturb others.

Buy from a reputable manufacturer. Make sure the product comes with a written warranty and that the manufacturer has a customer service number. Ask about installation, maintenance and servicing.

For a free copy of the brochure "How to Buy Exercise Equipment for the Home," write to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's Fitness Products Council at 200 Castlewood Drive, North Palm Beach, FL 33408, or fax a request to 1-561-840-1130. For more information, visit their Web site:

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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