Todd is the co-founder and content manager at Fearless Men, a blog on Manliness that inspires men to grow strong, get fit, be wise, kick fear in the face and become a better man.
There’s no way to count how many pieces of athletic equipment are out there. They claim to burn fat, build muscle, and to make Chuck Norris appear in your bedroom. Or Sofia Vergara. Whoever you prefer.
Working out can be expensive. Whether you’re going to an expensive gym or buying paint buckets of protein powder, it’s a realm that you can easily blow cash on. Not that your health, wellness and nutrition don’t deserve the absolute best—that doesn’t mean that the best equals the most expensive.
For the anti-gym rat, the person who wants to build body strength and burn fat at home, here’s a comprehensive list on saving money on athletic equipment.
1. Free Weights, Bar Bells and Benches
If you’re allergic to the gym but want to gain muscle in a traditional manner (weightlifting) it’s hard not to lower the cost. Generally free weights equate to a cost of one dollar per pound. So if you want a pair of 25 pound dumbbells, you’ll need to spend $50. Two 50 pound dumbbells? Another $100. If you want to buy all the increments in between, you’re talking about spending mad cash.
Deals on this front can be found, but trust me, they will be quick and competitive.
Where you can save is the previously aspiring weekend warrior that bought a nice bench press set and weights to slap on it. Once they’ve used it three times it often then slowly gains a collection of dust for months or even years. That’s when you can find a good garage sale or Craigslist list deal if you can haul it away with a truck.
2. Treadmills, Ellipticals and Stationary Bikes
These megaton beasts will break a man or woman’s back, and their wallet.
If you prefer hitting the revolving pavement rather than braving the outdoor elements, purchasing a treadmill or elliptical machine may be ideal. And you don’t have to blow up Fort Knox to afford it either.
First you need to decide upon what piece of cardiovascular equipment you want. If you want something easier on the joints, go with an elliptical machine. If you want to practice your running skills, go with the treadmill.
There are other options as well, stationary bikes of course. If you don’t know what you enjoy and feel comfortable with, the best option for you is to get a free week-long membership at your local gym and try out the equipment several times. That’s a free way to self-review the product!
Next, look on eBay and Craigslist for what’s cooking locally and up for auction. Beware on eBay of shipping costs! It’s possible this could exceed what you’d actually pay for your exercise equipment.
Finally, look online and in the paper for deals at stores like Sears. They frequently want to get something off their floor. You can even give the store a call and see if a less-than-current display model is ready to be carted off. You could possibly enjoy a 30%-70% discount on a big ticket item.
3. Cable and Pulley Based Systems
Now this is a pretty broad category. Whether it’s Bow Flex, Total Gym, or some other pulley based system a washed up celebrity is selling, you can find a big win or a big loss when dealing for these.
It’s easy to look up the going rate for pulley based athletic equipment and compare that to deals on Amazon, eBay, and what people are listing in online classifieds.
Where you can go wrong is not knowing if the elaborate pulley system is fully functional. If one cord or pulley is misaligned, and you don’t know how to fix it, then you’ve bought a worthless piece.
These at home gyms can be dynamic and provide a lot of different toning exercises. Do understand that you run a higher risk if you buy it aftermarket of losing out because there is no valid warranty for you to call upon if it breaks.
4. P90X, RushFit, Insanity, and other video based exercise programs
Many of these programs require minimal or no actual athletic equipment. You may need to buy some resistance bands or a pull-up bar, but investment aside from the DVDs is commonly minimal.
Expect to spend $80-$150 for a DVD series like P90X or RushFit. This can save you a large amount of money on athletic equipment compared to a treadmill, tons of free weights, or a cable-based system.
Many of these videos will challenge your cardio, and help you tone your muscles. They can build overall athleticism. But don’t be fooled in their ad pitch that you’ll gain enormous muscle if that is what you are aiming for. The guys on the box art or the infomercial most certainly hit the weights aside from doing pushups in the videos.
Saving Money On Athletic Equipment
If your goal is to grow healthier and more active within the comfort and safety of your home, I salute you. I’ve done P90X before at home and it did help me on my journey back to fitness. If I lived in a cold state I have no doubt I’d be on the market for a treadmill. Whatever you do, invest your money into something you know is in good condition. And ensure you invest in something you are committed to using!
[Image credit Luc Latulippe / http://dribbble.com/luc]