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Have you been meaning to get into shape but find it difficult to get to the gym on a regular basis? Are you worried about wasting money on a gym membership that you'll seldom use? Do you ever arrive at the gym only to find every weight station occupied?
Whether you're trying to lose a few pounds, tone up your problem areas, or you just want to introduce some healthy habits to your lifestyle, investing in the convenience of a home gym system is the perfect solution. As the owner of a home gym, you will never again have to worry about expensive monthly fees, feeling crowded during your workout, or the stress of fitting a work out into a busy schedule.
Sunday, January 24th
Because they've been a leader in the home fitness industry since 1986, Bowflex's home gym system is probably one of the best known (thanks to their ubiquitous infomercials!). With clients as famous as NASA and others, Bowflex's revolutionary zero-gravity resistance-based home gym systems are proven to be far safer and more effective than traditional gym equipment.
Power rod technology
While most home gym systems rely on heavy, stacked metal plates to get you feeling the burn, Bowflex machines utilize a unique patented Power Rod technology. These flexible polymer rods maintain constant resistance throughout the entire repetition of an exercise and reduce strain on the user's joints and tendons. Without bulky stacks of weights to worry about, Bowflex Power Rod machines are compact and take up much less space than the average weight and pulley system.
Great for both newbies and experts
Many exercises can be performed from the same seated position with no weight reconfiguration required, saving time, keeping heart rates up, and improving the overall effectiveness and safety of the workout. If you're a weightlifting beginner, never fear! Bowflex's home gym models are great for experienced gym-rat and apprehensive couch-potato alike, with their exercise manual providing more than enough instruction to help you get your machine set up and your first workout completed.
Professional installation available
Set-up of your Bowflex machine will take between 1-3 hours with the option of in-home assembly available for an additional $299.
Bowflex's Revolution Home Gym costs $2,899, allows for 100 different exercises and comes with a standard 220 lbs of resistance, which is upgradeable to 300 lbs for $99. 600 lbs of leg resistance is possible. A Bowflex workout DVD is also included.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE model costs $1,499, allows for 70 different exercises, and comes with a standard 210 lbs of resistance, which is also upgradeable to 410 lbs for an additional $99.
Home gym overview
Although Bowflex's equipment is by no means inexpensive, Bowflex does everything they can to help customers get started on their fitness goals as soon as possible by offering pre-approved 18-month financing. If all payments are met on time and the purchase is made on a Bowflex Card, no interest will be charged.
One of our favorite things about Bowflex is their innovative technology designed by health and wellness experts. Trusted by over 1 million customers, Bowflex delivers reliable, compact, and versatile home gym products to meet all your home fitness needs. With a no-questions-asked 6-week money-back guarantee and a comprehensive financing plan, you can't go wrong with a Bowflex home gym. These systems earn our highest ranking.
Gracing the late-night television airwaves with celebrities Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley since the late 90's, Total Gym is a home workout system originally designed for use in rehabilitation centers. Mr. Norris and Ms. Brinkley have been users of Total Gym for the past 30 years, recommending it as a convenient and effective way to stay in great shape despite a busy schedule.
Inclined, padded board
The inclined, padded board perfectly supports the spine and the smooth gliding motion prevents strain on the joints, making it clear just why Total Gym was such a successful physical therapy tool. Total Gym creates resistance using between 6 and 60 percent of the user's body weight, which can be adjusted for varying levels of intensity. By changing the angle and position of the board, the user can target different muscle groups and perform different exercises.
Included with your purchase of a Total Gym home fitness system is a comprehensive exercise chart, a set of workout programs on DVD, and a training deck featuring the exercises possible with Total Gym and the recommended repetitions.
Light and compact
Weighing in at only 96 lbs, Total Gym is light, compact, and has the ability to fold up for out-of-sight storage. Three of the four available models arrive fully assembled, meaning you can begin working out within minutes of opening the box.
30 day money-back guarantee
Total Gym offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning if you're unhappy with your home gym system for any reason, Total Gym will buy it back, no questions asked. Depending on the model you purchase, warranties on the frame last 1 year, 5 years, or a lifetime.
Website needs updating
If we have anything negative to say about them, we think that Total Gym's website could use a little improvement - the automatic scrolling feature can make trying to compare home gym models a bit frustrating, and the constant chat window pop-ups, though presumably meant to be helpful, are somewhat distracting.
Home gym overview
Great for beginners
Whether you're a senior, a stay-at-home new mom trying to get rid of some baby weight, or you're just someone who would like to tone up from the comfort of their own home, you'll love Total Gym's home gym systems. If you're a hardcore bodybuilder, though, you'd perhaps be better off looking somewhere else, as Total Gym's equipment is body weight-based and does not have extensive resistance modification capabilities.
For those in the market for an affordable, easy-to-use home fitness system, we recommend Total Gym as a great choice for a solid workout.
The Marcy fitness brand originated in Chicago, Illinois with weightlifter and performing strongman Walter Marcyan. Born in 1913, Marcyan began weightlifting at 18 and went on to win championships all over the USA, including earning 6th place in his division of the first Mr. USA competition. Marcyan had a great passion for physical education, and as well as opening his own chain of gyms in Los Angeles, he also began to design his own fitness equipment. In 1959, he introduced to the world what is claimed to be the very first All-In-One home gym system. Walter Marcyan's first home gym systems were used by larger-than-life figures such as Bruce Lee and President Ronald Reagan, as a rehabilitation tool during the latter's recovery from an assassination attempt.
10 home gym models
At present day, the Marcy brand offers 10 different home gym models, divided into two categories: weight stack home gyms and smith machines. Marcy's best-selling stack home gym, the MKM-91010, features a durable steel frame and a 200 lb vinyl-coated weight stack. This model includes a leg developer, a lat bar, a removable arm curl, and press arms, allowing you to target every muscle group and get a quality workout. This machine does require assembly, which can take anywhere from 4-8 hours. Customers say that the product is very well made and that any questions they had about assembly were quickly answered by Marcy representatives.
Serious strength training
The MD-9010G Cage System, Marcy's best-selling smith machine, is an all-in-one home gym system ideal for serious strength trainers and bodybuilders. Though weight plates are not included with the MD-9010G, it is compatible with both standard and Olympic plates, allowing you to up the intensity of your workout as desired. This smith machine includes many different functions and accessories, including a free-weight squat rack, high cable crossovers, an incline bench press, a pec deck station, a low pulley with a foot rest, and a weight bench with a Preacher Curl Pad and Dual Function Leg developer. Though assembly is a lengthy process (expect to spend at least 10 hours on it), the instructions are easy to follow.
90-day return policy
Whether you decide on a weight stack home gym or a smith machine, you'll qualify for a 2 year manufacturer's warranty and a 90-day return policy.
Home gym overview
Though Marcy's traditional home gym systems take up a bit more space and require more assembly than the average commercial-grade super compact machines, it is space well used. Between their safe, top quality construction, dozens of possible exercises, and Olympic weight compatibility, if you're after nothing less than a quality workout, look no further than Marcy.
Though perhaps not so familiar to the average consumer as other fitness brands we have reviewed, Bodycraft has been in the home gym business since 1994 and has maintained an amazing reputation since.
2 home gym systems
Bodycraft separates their home gym systems into two classes: Platinum and Legacy. According to the descriptions of the strength training systems that fall under the Legacy category, the innovative features of these machines were found to be so effective when first released by Bodycraft that it changed the way the whole industry designed home gym systems.
Adjustable cable arm design
For example, the XPress Pro was the first to incorporate Bodycraft's very own patented 180-degree Adjustable Cable Arm design to allow for a wide variety of exercises previously impossible to perform with a standard home gym machine, such as dumbbell training, core training, and rehabilitation exercises. This particular machine offers up to 200 lbs of weight stack resistance for most exercises and up to 400 lbs for the bench press and leg press. The cherry on top is a lifetime warranty for both frame and individual parts, which is the same for every Bodycraft home gym purchase.
Strength training system
From the Platinum category, we have the small-but-mighty GL Strength Training System. With its weight stack situated at a 45-degree angle, this home gym saves space and is easily accessible. Featuring an Ab Crunch station, Low and High Pulley Stations, Leg Extension and Curl Stations, as well as several other optional attachments, an excellent full-body workout is completely possible with this machine.
Home gym overview
Assembly instructions confusing
Assembly can take anywhere from a few hours to half a day. The only issue we found with Bodycraft home gyms is that assembly instructions can be somewhat confusing to follow, and there were a few reports of missing parts. However, Bodycraft seems to respond to these complaints quickly, shipping customers replacement parts overnight at no extra cost.
We like Bodycraft's wide range of models and their innovative steps in the history of the home gym industry. Their phenomenal lifetime guarantee is in itself a testimony of the quality of their products, demonstrating the confidence Bodycraft has that their home gyms are built strong enough to withstand the tests of time and daily use. For a reasonable price and exercise equipment suited to all fitness levels, we have no hesitations in recommending Bodycraft home gyms.
An Illinois-based manufacturer of both commercial and home fitness equipment, Body-Solid has been providing exercise equipment to specialty retailers, fitness centers, schools, fire departments and more for over 30 years. Earning an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, Body-Solid is most well-known for their "Built for Life" lifetime guarantee on their products.
Single station gyms
Body-Solid offers a wide range of trainers, multi-stack stations, and free weight gyms, but for a compact and versatile home gym, we recommend their line of single weight stack Single Station Gyms.
Can't purchase online
One thing to keep in mind when browsing Body-Solid's online catalog of home gym systems is that, unlike other brands included in this review, you will not be able to purchase directly from the site. You will have to enter your zip code on the Dealer Locator page to find the nearest Body-Solid dealer to you and order from them instead. Fortunately, it seems Body-Solid dealers are widespread across the USA with dozens of locations in some states. Another thing to note is that Body-Solid's recommended retail prices may differ from actual prices in stores nearest to you.
Entry level home gym model
On the lower end of the home gym price range, Body-Solid offers the BFMG20 model for just $715. It comes with a 145 lb weight stack and, for a machine that only measures 64 inches in length and 47 in width, it is versatile enough to make a full body workout possible. Stations include the Pectoral Fly, Tricep Pressdown, Tricep Extension, Bench Press, Leg Extension/Curl, and the Low Pulley station allows you to perform a dozen more exercises, including seated rows and curls. The Body Focus tab lays out in more detail which areas of the body can be targeted, which exercises can be performed on each Body-Solid home gym system, and tutorials on how to perform them. The BFMG20 will not arrive preassembled, and assembly is reportedly on the more challenging end of the spectrum.
While it's great that this model is small enough to fit in any room, bigger may be a wiser choice. Some customers above 6 feet tall report that, due to their height, it is not possible to fully perform leg exercises. Shorter customers report being unable to reach the leg extension bar at all and that it is not possible to adjust it. Ultimately, it seems as though the BFMG20 is best suited to those of average height, though there is no mention of this in Body-Solid's product description.
Higher end model
Once again affirming the rule that you get what you pay for, the $3,640 G6BR Bi-Angular home gym model, which features a 210 lb weight stack and 6 stations, has pages of positive reviews. The Bi-Angular press arm feature allows fluid and smooth motion, applying resistance from multiple directions and producing up to 25% more muscle engagement by preventing the user's chest muscles from resting during the repetition. This machine is heavier than the BFMG20, but that means increased stability and no wobbling, even during fast, high-rep exercises. It is also much more adjustable than the previously mentioned model. More than 40 exercises are possible with the G6BR home gym system (included with purchase is an exercise chart and workout DVD) and the weight stack is upgradeable to 260 lbs. The only complaint we found about this model is that it is not easy to put together. Expect that it will take at least 8 hours.
Home gym overview
Good collection of home gyms
Body-Solid's collection of single stack weight home gym models have something for every budget and workout. If you're working with a bit more space, we also recommend you check out their smith machines and multi-stack trainers. We like Body-Solid's excellent lifetime guarantee on all of their machines, which not only includes frames and parts, but also normal wear on cables, grips, upholstery, and more. The most obvious drawback is that it is impossible to purchase directly from Body-Solid's website, but it will most likely not be too difficult to find a vendor near you.
If you ever went inside that gym you paid membership fees to, you're probably already familiar with the NordicTrack brand. They don't only manufacture treadmills and ellipticals, though - NordicTrack's unique Fusion CST 2-in-1 trainers combine cardio and strength for a trainer-led, fat-burning, lean muscle-building workout.
Easy on the joints
Their 6-foot tall tower features 3 pulleys with 20 possible resistance levels. The Fusion CST also uses flywheel-based magnetic resistance technology, which makes a workout with this system easy on the joints. Some models also include a pull-up bar and a rower. Assembly of this machine is very doable, requiring only the attachment of the arms, legs, handles, and feet. Grab a friend to help, though, as Fusion CST models weigh around 400 lbs.
iFit membership included
If you're not already a strength trainer, the prospect of teaching yourself how to use each station of a typical home gym can be a little intimidating. The Fusion CST series is not only visibly less complicated: with the purchase of one of these models comes a 1-year iFit membership, giving you access to a library of interactive easy-to-follow training sessions, as well as the ability to tune into live classes. You will also receive a wireless Bluetooth chest strap heart rate monitor, and the screen located in the middle of the tower of some models is actually a removable NordicTrack tablet. This home gym system is a cross-training favorite of the cycling and running crowds.
Home gym overview
Limited for body builders
It probably goes without saying that the Fusion CST is not a serious body-building tool. The resistance doesn't go any higher than 20 levels, and it isn't really specified anywhere just how much weight that actually is. Another con is that the cable arm height is not adjustable.
Finally, the limited 1-year parts and labor warranty leaves a lot to be desired - many home gyms come with 2 year, 10 year, or lifetime warranties, and should your Fusion CST stop working in some way, it would probably be more of a challenge to find a third-party repair service. There is a lifetime warranty on the frame.
Poor return policy
Another possible drawback of purchasing from NordicTrack is their return policy: any returns, which are only possible for the first 30 days, will cost a $250 fee as well as a 10% restocking fee. You had better be sure the Fusion CST is the unconventional home gym of your dreams, or prepare to bite an expensive bullet.
If you don't know where to start, we'll break it down for you. Home gyms essentially come in two varieties: weight plate gyms, and resistance system gyms. Weight plate gyms, while more complicated, pricier, and bulkier, are better for bulking up. These home gyms come with one or more weight plate stacks that can be used to increase resistance for a tougher workout and impressive results.
Resistance gyms create tension using technology from flexible rods to magnets to simple bodyweight. One advantage of this type of resistance is that it puts less stress on tendons and joints, meaning that working out consistently with a resistance home gym can be especially beneficial to people who suffer from arthritis. These home gym systems are typically compact and perfect for those who wish to tone and sculpt their bodies.
There are a multitude of home gym brands and models available for purchase online today. When deciding which is the best fit for your personal fitness goals, there are several factors to consider:
TopConsumerReviews has reviewed and ranked the best Home Gyms available today. We hope these reviews help you pick the best home gym for your fitness goals!
Exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet are the best ways to not only ward off unwanted pounds, but also to keep yourself healthy.
But in this day and age, with ever-increasing demands on us from the work and home fronts, who has time to actually go to a gym? The good news is you don't need a gym to get a good workout in at home.
What are the benefits of a home gym?
The biggest benefit of a home gym is convenience. Unless you belong to one of those 24-hour health clubs, most gyms simply are not open during the extended hours most people need in order to squeeze in a workout there. When you have a home gym, you can squeeze in a workout any time of the day. Even if you're the mother of three, with a home gym, you can find time to fit in a workout without worrying about finding childcare first.
A home gym is also less expensive to operate. Aside from the initial investment in the equipment you wish to include in your home gym, there are no monthly membership fees, no initiation fees and no hidden costs. You spend some money up front, but the investment will last for years.
There also is the elimination of the extra time it takes to travel to and from a gym. Unless you are lucky enough to live in an area where the gym is right next door, most people travel an average of 10-15 minutes to reach a health club. That's 30 minutes or more spent just driving to a facility, when that time could have been spent working out at home.
Another benefit of having your own home gym is the elimination of waiting in line to use equipment at the gym. While gyms have a variety of equipment, they often only have one of each kind of weight machine, and maybe a handful of cardio equipment. If you visit the gym during one of its peak hours, you may find yourself standing around waiting to use equipment more often than you are breaking a sweat. With your own equipment at home, waiting in line is no longer an issue.
Another big advantage to a home gym is that you can work out in anything you choose. For most people, going to the gym can be a stressful event. You have to wear the right kind of workout clothes and be presentable. For working professionals, encountering clients or other coworkers at the gym is a reality. So working out in your old ratty sweats you've had since college probably isn't a great idea in a gym. But at home, what you wear isn't an issue.
With a home gym, exercisers also can tailor their workout equipment to what they hope to accomplish. If you prefer cardio, then an investment in a good treadmill or elliptical machine is a good start. If you only wish to tone your muscles, rather than get big and bulky, then some light free weights should do the trick. One of the biggest drawbacks to an expensive gym membership is that much of the equipment that is available is never used by the average exerciser. With the home option, you get to decide what you need and how much to spend on it.
One of the biggest complaints about gym memberships is that gyms often can turn into a social situation, which many exercisers find unappealing. There is nothing worse than having a limited time to work out, and spending it being hit on by random strangers.
So no more excuses about not having time to exercise. With a little research and upfront cost, you can do it from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
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