My  wife and I are looking forward to buying our first home later this year, and with that, I'm giving some serious thought to investing in some equipment to work out at home.  Transportation is a difficult issue for me, I'm uncertain about working out around other people, and besides, I like the idea of doing it shirtless in the privacy of my own home and at a time of my choosing.  To that end, I'm wondering what the general consensus is around here regarding the SoloFlex or other similar machines and if they do any good and are worth the cost.  I do not pretend to have the slightest bit of knowledge about fitness trends or what works and what doesn't.  I just know that I enjoy cooking and eating and am good enough at both that I need to work to get my weight down and also want to start building some muscle.  I'm not talking hardcore bodybuilding here; just getting stronger and more fit and toned.  I'm currently sitting at 190 lbs. on a 5'6 medium-built frame, so I'd like to lose about 20 - 25 lbs of bad weight along with building some muscle.  I'd like to get one of these machines since I don't feel I'm at the point now where I could deal with free weights very well.  A treadmill might also be in order.  I'll say up front that I resist fad diets and don't intend to make radical changes to my diet.  I eat very little in the way of junk foods, rarely drink soda or other sweet drinks, and believe a diet should  have variety and be well-balanced. My greatest weakness is my love for sweets, which I enjoy making and eating.  I'm willing to make changes in what I eat, but won't, for example, cut out carbs or whatever.  With that, I'm open to suggestions, especially regarding the machines.  If this topic has come up before, I apologize.  But, I find the search function on this site to be very user-unfriendly.  And by the way, feel free to message me here on the site if you're so enclined.

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Carl:  All I can say is that the challenges of getting there and back are very real and beyond my control for the time being.  I encourage you to take a look at my profile page.  I think I have it set so everyone can see all my details.

I had dropped the gym suggestion and suggested buying some free weights, and eventually a bench, a pullup bar. Don't need much really.

If I didn't have the gym option (which I've been faced with before) I'd hit Craiglist up for all that stuff.

I will check our your profile, however, before adding anything more.

Sorry Carl...for some reason, I had thought that there was a section on one's profile page here that allowed them an area to tell a bit about themselves.  I now see that is not the case.  Sorry.

When I was a kid, my mom would often send me outside to play in order to "work up" an appetite before dinner. When you work out, you will end up eating more through larger portions or more regular snacking since your body is trying to make up for the calories you spent. If your main goal is weight loss, modifying your diet will give you better success. By that I don't mean adopting the fad diets you see advertised, but rather taking control of what you eat. Without going into details, I would keep an eye on portion size, cut out all liquids with sugar (that includes juices) and limit eating between meals. 

As for the workout machine, I would only get it if I knew, without a shred of doubt, that I had the self discipline to use it on a regular basis. Otherwise it will end up as a great clothes rack as other people mentioned. I personally have no self motivation to work out on my own, so I find group classes with a trainer useful. A good trainer will ease you in a routine and ensure that your form is good to prevent injuries. The group aspect sure is intimidating at first, but with time you become part of the group with the benefits of camaraderie and support. They give me hell if I shirk one day so that keeps me in line. It is an expensive way to exercise but I believe that good health is one of the best investments a man can make.

In the long run I would also recommend free weights over machines.  My goal is to safely carry a pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink when I'm 90 (aka live independently into old age). No machine will help you train the stabilizing muscles needed to perform such a task since their purpose is to limit the motion of your exercise towards your main muscle groups. 

My experiences:

1.  I started going to the gym because my back hurt from carrying my briefcase.  My membership came with some personal training sessions, and my trainer taught me about 20 exercises using machines and free weights.  Now, a couple years later, I no longer have to carry the briefcase, and I could achieve my weight-training goals with just the free weights because I've also learned even more exercises.  I might do that if I move away from my gym, though right now my big goals relate to cardio, which I like doing inside.

2.  I've used multi-function machines both at my regular gym and in hotel gyms.  I find them like cheap pocket knives - so many functions, they do none well, compared to single-exercise machines at the gym.

3.  With my present work schedule, I do almost 0 exercise during the work week.  On the weekends, I expend about 500 extra calories each day, compared to a work day.  [I have a fitness tracker so I'm somewhat confident in the measure.]  That's an extra meal.  I asked my doctor if I should eat more just on weekends, or try to spread my food intake evenly over the week, even if I can't spread out my activity - to maintain my low-end-of-healthy weight.  She said to eat the extra calories on the weekend rather than spreading them out.  She also said that at my age, ideally I'd have 5 small meals a day rather than 3 larger ones.  So, talk to a doctor or nutritionist or dietician before starting on even a "no snacking" diet.  It may not actually be best for you.

No experience, but - Does Rent-to-Own not offer exercise equipment?  That may be a way to take it for a test drive.  Or, buy one used and commit to sell it at a loss if you're not using it regularly after x months.  Basically rent-to-own but with more hassle.

When you've gone to the gym, which have you seen people waiting most often to use: one of the three dozen different exercise machines, or the few squat racks and free-weights? More often than not it's the latter, because they're more effective and simpler. Weight is weight, unlike trying to figure out what's a good level of resistance for a bowflex, cable, or resistance band machine. 

If you're trying to lose weight, 90% of that is going to be diet, any strength training will just help keep you from losing muscle. Generally speaking it's very difficult to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, so you're probably going be losing weight first while getting into the habit of strength training. As other have mentioned, any kind of aerobic exercise won't really help you lose weight, it just improves your cardio. 

I'd say start out with bodyweight exercises first. When you're comfortable doing a bunch of pushups and squats and a few pullups, then you're ready to work in some free weights. A set of free weights, squat rack and bench will cover most of what you'll need to work strength wise. 

I just started a fitness program and the first month's workout is walking for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week.  With the specification that while 30 minutes in one shot is admired it is not required.  The goal is to get you to get used to exercising.  It is geared to the regular average person at really any adult age.  After that it will add exercises.  What I’m not sure because it said don’t look further.  Just get the exercise habit going.  As simple as that workout sounds, it has been surprising that I have to think about it to make it happen more than I expected.  
I understand your keep it cheap until you know it is a solid investment. 

I agree; rowing machines are excellent. My first choice for warmup at the gym; a good one is pricey, though.

It's important to know how to use the thing; at my gym, other than someone I know who rows and I (I rowed in college), no one knows how.

Yesterday I saw a guy banging his hands on his knees with each swing. Some just sit there and use their arms; almost comical.

I second resistance bands. They're surprisingly good considering how little room they take plus they also work your balance / form in addition to strength. Very versatile, inexpensive (all things considered) and easy to store, move around, etc.

I second the recommendation for C25K.  Remarkably simple program, and there are free apps for your phone that literally, in a synthesized voice, tell you to run, walk, and cool down at the proper intervals.  Mine sounds like a Marine DI.


I've already finished it on a treadmill and am repeating the program, outside. Outside is harder.  This morning's run was W3D2.


I recommend it for nearly anyone.

Is there a site for Convict Conditioning you would recommend?




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