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This is a guest post by Sue Madden, a fitness specialist at the Mercy Health Center of North Canton.
Gyms, fitness centers and health clubs can be daunting places for regular exercisers and non-traditional exercisers alike. Often the workout area is filled with lots of different types of exercise equipment – all controlled by a bevy of knobs and buttons.
Or perhaps you want to purchase a new piece of exercise equipment for home use. Just a quick search online reveals an overwhelming amount of choices.
If you’ve ever had this feeling, you are not alone. Perhaps this is one of the reasons you avoid fitness facilities or have exercise equipment in your basement gathering dust!
Don’t let “exercise equipment anxiety” (or frustration) keep you from using these great workout tools. Here are six tips to help you get the most out of them.
#1: Understand Your Individual Goals.
What do you want to accomplish with your workouts? Do you want to train for a specific type of athletic event? Are you looking to boost strength, cardiovascular fitness or both? These and other questions will dictate the type of equipment you need to use. If you’re not sure, then you need to…
#2: Do Your Research.
Before you even walk into a gym or health center, it’s a good idea to do some research first. Check them out on the Internet, read reviews and, best of all, give them a call. Often, if you call in advance, you can get a feel for how much assistance they are willing to offer. Also, the fitness center may provide an orientation session, which is what we do for every new member at Mercy Health & Fitness.
Don’t forget to ask about (or observe) the gym environment and the general make-up of the gym’s membership. If you’re a non-traditional exerciser, then a workout center that’s geared toward athletes may not be the right fit for you – and vice versa.
This tip, of course, applies to home exercise equipment, as well. Online research is a great place to start. However, the information will be overwhelming. This is where “try before you buy” comes in handy. And I don’t mean just give it a whirl on the showroom floor. You need several workouts on a piece of exercise equipment before you truly know it’s right for you. A gym membership, even if it’s for a relatively short period of time, gives you the opportunity to fully understand the equipment prior to your purchase.
#3: Remember, Exercise Equipment Is Adjustable.
You’ve got to set up a piece of exercise equipment to fit you before you use it. Using equipment that is not set up right or using it incorrectly can be a risk for injury. This applies at the gym and at home. And that leads me to my next tip…
#4: Ask for Help.
This tip should not surprise you, but I am always surprised that some people feel uncomfortable asking for help and guidance when they visit the Mercy Health & Fitness Center. Don’t let fear keep you from exercising! Again, if you are unfamiliar with certain types of exercise equipment, you are not alone. Asking for assistance and advice can make your experience much more positive. If you can’t find anyone willing to assist you at a fitness center, then perhaps you’re at the wrong place for you.
Asking for help and information when you want to buy a piece of exercise equipment is also critical. This is usually a big investment – from the financial aspect, as well as space considerations.
#5: Take Medical Conditions and History into Account.
Medical conditions should be a very significant consideration when using exercise equipment. Would you know what equipment to use or avoid after a knee replacement, shoulder injury or back injury? What if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke? This is another reason it’s important to research equipment and fitness facilities beforehand.
At Mercy Health & Fitness, we are a certified medical fitness center and specialize in helping those with a medical history. Not every gym offers this expertise, nor is it available when you are home working out by yourself.
#6: Ask Good Questions.
Here are some important questions you should ask a fitness specialist before buying or using exercise equipment:
- How much weight or resistance should be used?
- How often should I use this exercise equipment?
- What should my level or speed be at?
- If the machine has a heart rate monitor, what should my heart rate be?
So, remember that exercise equipment at home or at the gym needs to be the right equipment for your goals and health, as well as the right adjustment for your body size. Plus, you must know how to use the equipment properly. Finally, and most importantly, research and ask questions. These tips will help you get the most of exercise equipment you use.
At Mercy Health & Fitness Center in North Canton, we’re always available to assist you with exercise equipment and workout questions. Plus, as a medical fitness center, our trainers know how to help you exercise, even if you have a health condition. To learn more, visit the Mercy Health & Fitness site or call 330-966-8997.
About The Author
Eldon Jones, Director of Mercy Sports Medicine and Health & Fitness, received his B.A. from Walsh University, M.A. in Exercise Physiology from Kent State University, and MBA in Business Administration from Kent State University. Jones has worked at Mercy Medical Center since 1978. He currently serves as the volunteer advisor for the Canton Marathon Running Club Training Program. He also coaches the St. Thomas Aquinas High School girls cross country team.