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By: Brandon Massey
With the start of the New Year, are you thinking about improving your personal fitness?  Perhaps dropping a few pounds or toning up?  Deciding to get in better shape is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions around.  Buying exercise equipment for your home is one of the best ways to make it happen--but it's easier said than done.

There are thousands of different home fitness products on the market today, from ab machines to treadmills, weight lifting systems to elliptical trainers, and that's just for starters.  With so many choices, which should you select?

In this article, we'll cover seven easy tips you can follow that will guide you to the best exercise equipment for your needs, and your budget.

1) Decide on your fitness goals.

Before you can begin your search in earnest, you'll want to figure out exactly what you wish to accomplish.  Do you want to lose weight?  Get washboard abs?  Pack on more muscle mass?  Develop your endurance?  Or, perhaps, achieve all of these objectives?

Once you've decided upon your fitness goals, you can move on to the next step.

2) Do an inventory of your space.

Exercise equipment can eat up a lot of room in a residence. Matter of fact, a typical treadmill or elliptical trainer can consume as much space as an ordinary couch.  And a home gym system, such as a Bowflex, can require an entire dedicated room.

So, decide exactly how much space you have available, and take detailed measurements.  If you have a limited amount of room--let's say you li
Cheap fitness equipment
ve in a studio apartment--then you'll definitely need to consider space-saver equipment that folds away when not in use or can be stored in a closet or under a bed.

3) Nail down your budget.

No matter what product you're considering, good exercise equipment is rarely cheap.  You want to make sure you have enough funds to get a quality unit.  

Generally speaking, the higher the price, the better the quality of the components, the more features you'll get, and the better the warranty coverage.  Also, the more you pay for a machine, the more likely you'll be to actually put it to regular use.

4) Do research online.

On the Internet, you can find an abundance of data for nearly every piece of fitness equipment on the planet.  A simple search engine query on any treadmill model, for example, will return hundreds of web sites.

I recommend you begin your search with the manufacturer of the product you're considering. The manufacturer's web site will likely have an extensive listing of product features and specifications; the better sites include owner's manuals, too.  

After this, drill down to the consumer-review sites, to get honest feedback from people who've actually purchased and used the equipment.

5) Give the machines a trial run.

Online research is tremendously helpful and saves time, but is no replacement for hands-on exposure.  Try to find a local store that sells the product that interests you.

Once you arrive at the store, put the machine through the paces. Is it a treadmill?  Run or walk on it for fifteen minutes.  Is it a free weights system?  Go through a condensed workout.

As you perform your "test drive," take note of the quality of the construction. Is it stable? Or does it feel flimsy and cheap?  Is the computer console (if it includes one) easy to read?  Or is it too confusing?

The salesperson present will probably try to entice you into a purchase, but resist, at this point.  Ask questions, but don't allow them to pressure you into buying the product.

6) Make a final decision.  

It's show time. You’ve conducted research online. You've gained first-hand experience at the store. Now it's time to make your final decision.

Or is it?  Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t found exactly what you're looking for, you're under no obligation to buy something today just to feel as if you're achieving a New Year's resolution.  After all, buying quality exercise equipment is a serious investment.  Keep looking if you haven't found the product that matches your needs and your budget.

7) Save money by purchasing online.

When you are ready to buy--whether that's next week or two months from now--I strongly recommend that you purchase your exercise equipment online.  Buying online directly from the manufacturer or a discount retailer can save you 40% or more off the list price. And because the market is so competitive, you'll usually get free shipping, too.

Brandon Massey runs an exercise equipment reviews web site. He offers detailed consumer reports on dozens of products, including the popular Smooth CE 7.4 Elliptical. For more reviews and advice about fitness equipment that can help you lose weight, increase stamina, and build muscle, visit his site now.

Featured Topics: Best exercise equipment • buying fitness equipment • 

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