victoryMost of us end up facing machines. They are cheaper than personal trainers, don’t bark at us, do what we ask and are always there waiting for us. But which ones are good, and do we want to buy one? Read on!

Treadmills and elliptical trainers are probably the two most popular exercise machines. But, what they can do for you is pretty different. Treadmills simulate walking. I call it “The Road To Nowhere…Come On Along!” Actually, it ‘s good fun. You can change the incline you are scaling, speed it up and usually plug yourself in to a nice easy march to burn off teh calories. Just bring your heart rate monitor with you because you usually don’t burn as much as you would like to think you do. You can read books and do this, make phone calls and tread, talk to friends and do it BUT that is part of the problem: you can fool yourself into thinking you are doing more than you are. That is why the HRM is so important. Know what you have accomplished.

The elliptical machine, on the other hand, does not fool anyone. This is one tough little ride. The secret is to throw your weight on the leg doing the work. Don’t try to equalize it, one then the other leg is the way to go and burn calories. I find I burn about 400 in about an hour. That is great for me, maybe more for you. The catch is it is much more energetic than the treadmill and you can’t just lope along. You have to push it.

Rowing machines were once the favorite tool for fitness but now they are rare in the average gym set up. since you are sitting down, the calorie burn is a bit less per cycle and so they are not as popular. You have to work a lot with them but you don’t seem to get the calorie burn for it all.

Pretty much the rule of thumb is: if you are sitting on your butt while doing it, you are not burning as many calories. So, the recumbent bike won’t burn as many calories in an hour as a Stairmaster will. You just are not carrying the weight of your own body and increasing your heartrate while doing it.

Stairmasters make you walk up the stairs! They are like an endless escalator. This will burn up a lot of calories HOWEVER make sure your knees are in working order because the Stairmaster is the hardest of all on your knees. Great if yours are sturdy, bad if they are not.

Those are some of the most popular cardio machines. There are plenty of strength machines as well, where you put yourself in the machine and do one exercise to strengthen one muscle. They are fine but know that they don’t burn much in the way of calories and that means you have to be in charge of what you are accomplishing.

Machines are great tools for you to stay in shape, whether you are trying to lose weight by burning calories or get stronger by lifting. However, think twice before you are tempted to BUY a machine. They are expensive and take up a lot of space. Moreover, the fun fades fast. Pretending you are on the Harvard rowing team lasts for about 20 seconds and then it gets hard. Treading is fine watching the TV, but trust me that eventually you will be bored with the treadmill and one day you will skip it.

It’s just the dailiness of it all that is a killer here. Having to get out and go to a gym is a huge motivator! Being with other people and having the excitement of seeing new things never gets old. Moreover, you don’t have to maintain the gym’s equipment. If your machine breaks at home you might have bought the 2 year service plan, you may owe more money to the company even if you have the plan (it may exclude some popular problems), you may have to send it back to the factory or take it to a store to have it fixed. And service contracts are not cheap. So, I would say don’t own a machine.

Oh, that there is always something new coming out. Rowing machines were the ultimate fitness tool years ago. Then there was the cross-country ski track. Treadmills were it back in the day but were supplanted by the elliptical machine. So, you may very well buy a big machine to play on and find out you wanted something which came out 2 weeks later. I would say just use someone else’s and let them fix it when it breaks.

this is one of the last of the Possets fitness blogs. I planned on doing this in January and am going to be doing a Pens, Inks, and Sealing Wax blog in February…it’s the month of the love note, you know, so get with it earlier than you normally do and end up sending a really nice billet-doux! What is that? Stay tuned and find out. In the meantime, take a look at Possets Perfume. We even have fitness blends for you to wear in the gym which are light and totally made to be a positive influence in your workout area.

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