Treadmill Doctor’s 11 Tips for Buying a Home Treadmill or Elliptical

1. Remember when you are buying a home treadmill or elliptical, that in most instances a specialty dealer will have more ability to work with you on price than a mass market store.  Usually at Sears, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Academy Sports, etc., you have to wait on a coupon, sale, or closeout if you want a discount.

2. When buying exercise equipment, make sure to consider where you will put the machine before you buy it.  If you are locating the equipment in a garage, porch or other area that is not climate controlled, expect problems.  Since most models use lubricants that can freeze or lose their ability to properly lubricate at very high heat or extreme cold, you can run into problems on both extremes.  Other problems you will experience in an open area is dust and dirt…these are the #1 reason for failure, not to mention corrosion and other problems associated with areas that have high humidity.  Additionally, arid climates quickly evaporate some belt lubricants for treadmills and joint lubricants for ellipticals.

3. Be sure to buy machines that are built sturdily enough to handle the workload that you want to give them.  Usually the higher the original list price, the better the engineering, the better quality of components, the better overall machine you will get for your money.  Conversely, if your budget is tight, don’t buy more of a machine than you need.  Our grandmother had a cheap $500 treadmill that received very light use every weekday.  Since it was lubricated and cleaned, it didn’t have a single problem in over 10 years.

4. For treadmills- We are starting to temper our view on orthopedic belts.  With that said, we still don’t recommend them because 1) a good pair of running shoes provide more cushioning 2) they hold in heat which shortens belt life, motor life, and electronics life 3) the increased weight of the belt shortens bearing life in the rollers.  We have tempered our view somewhat because the manufacturers of these belts have thinned them a bit which makes them weigh less and the backings have become much more friction-free on many models which has lessened the stress the belt places on the system.  The best way for the average person to see the effect of the belt is stand on the treadmill without any power to the machine and manually walk the belt to see how much friction it has and then compare it with a treadmill with a regular belt.

5. Do your research and get several price quotes from several different stores.  Typically, the more you deal with the various companies, the better deals they will come up with such as discounts, free accessories, financing specials, etc.

6. Tread carefully when buying over the Internet.  Some companies, like Landice will void your warranty if it is not installed by a dealer and some have restrictions on delivery distances from an authorized dealer.  As more factories face the reality of the Internet, this is becoming less of a problem.  If in doubt, contact the factory.  Another issue related to Internet buying is delivery.  Many of us in the business know how difficult it is to ship a single treadmill or elliptical without having it damaged so deal with a company that has been doing it a long time and has already learned how to do it.  Another issue to keep in mind is what you are going to do if you don’t like the machine.  Most companies accept returns but the cost to ship the treadmill or elliptical back to the factory can easily cost hundreds of dollars so it is quite an expensive trial test if the machine is returned.  Also curbside delivery literally means what it says…the trucking company will sit it on the curb and it’s your problem to get it into the house so either purchase inside delivery or have help ready.  Another issue is service…some have good service networks and others don’t but remember that you probably won’t get the type of personalized service you should expect from a local dealer.  The best in the Internet business in our opinion are Icon- makers of the Epic, Gold’s Gym, Healthrider, Image, NordicTrack, Proform, Reebok, and Weslo brands, Johnson- makers of Horizon, Matrix, Merit, Tempo, and Vision brands, Lifespan, Precor, Sole, Star Trac, and True (listed in alphabetical order, not in any order of preference).

7. Do take care of your treadmill or elliptical.  Whether they require quite a bit or little maintenance, keeping the treadmill or elliptical clean and the walking belt lubricated on the treadmill can be the difference between either having a great machine or having a money pit.  Refer to our Treadmill or Elliptical Care Pamphlet for maintenance instructions.

8. If you are considering used machines, really do your homework, then do it again.  We do rebuilding jobs for local health clubs all the time and do this work occasionally for people who are buying health club models for the home but to do it right costs quite a bit and if someone is telling you they have a used or rebuilt at an amazing price, you typically aren’t getting the entire story.

9. Since buying a treadmill or elliptical is a huge investment for most people, choose your dealer and factory carefully.  As with any product, a brand new company may not be around in a few years and parts can be very specific to machines and spares may not be available if the factory isn’t around.  A dealer for a reputation for high quality and personalized service is necessary for some people.  Other people feel confident in servicing their own equipment, so figure out which one you are and buy accordingly.  If you know one end of a wrench from the other, you might want to save a few dollars with an Internet or warehouse club or department store purchase.  Others may need to pay for the full-service price you should get from a local dealer but if you pay the higher price, demand the higher service level.  Many of the Internet shippers are now offering an additional installation service to try to mimic the style of personalized installation you get from a local small specialty store.

10. Treadmills and ellipticals are different than many other home appliances.  Remember, we rate a treadmill average if it has a breakdown only once every 5 years…that’s average!  Extended warranties can make sense if the manufacturer has a short warranty and if you get it from a reputable extended warranty company.  Remember the dealer is typically not the warranty provider and many have gone out of business over the years and others are hard to deal with.  For instance, UTS (Icon’s warranty company) is one of the best on the market.  If you get an Icon machine, buy the UTS warranty…it will be well worth it.  UTS’s number is 800-677-3838.  Also, Sears has a good extended warranty program and typically pays for itself if you use the machine.  On the other hand, we have had problems with the company called N.E.W. and many others have gone out of business so do your research on your warranty company if you have never heard of them.  We now also have our own extended service program now too so it is available for any purchase you make up to 90 days past the date of purchase.

11. A great final tip is if you want to save a bit of money.  Since treadmills and ellipticals are becoming more commoditized, they are getting better and better while the prices are dropping.  The machines being made today in the $1000 range are much better than the $1500 machines made 10 years ago.  If you need to save a few bucks and your doctor says it is OK, use a few degrees of incline always when you use your machine.  If the machine is well maintained and if you use a bit of incline (on the treadmill), you can get by with a bit less of a machine than you might need otherwise.  The incline allows gravity to take over quite a bit of the workload from the drive system.  We are able to measure this by using a simple AC/DC ammeter.  The amp load (thus the load on the electrical system) is reduced when using even a degree or two of incline.  A treadmill used with just a slight incline will last much longer than a comparably cared for treadmill that is used at level.  Plus, if you are going green, you use fewer amps and that translates into less electricity.  If you keep it clean and keep the walking belt well lubricated, that keeps the amp load lower too.

Why Our Minimum Wage Will Be $15 Per Hour

Treadmill Doctor Minimum Wage

Treadmill Doctor has announced that we will be gradually raising our minimum wage from $12 per hour on January 1, 2015 to $15 per hour on January 1, 2018. Today our minimum wage for a full time employee is $11 and when I looked at the payroll report several weeks ago, I found that if we tightened our belt just a bit and found ways to save, we could easily afford to raise our minimum wage to $15 per hour.

To put it into perspective, our town, Memphis, TN is one of the cheapest major metro areas to live in the United States. So using CNN Money’s cost of living calculator, you find that making a minimum wage of $15 per hour in Memphis is like making nearly $80,000 in Manhattan, nearly $50,000 in Los Angeles, or nearly $60,000 in Atlanta.

Our goal is not to make a social statement but to help the people on the lowest rungs of the ladder in our company to have a standard of living that is above average for our area. This is not something for everyone. If I operated a burger stand instead of Treadmill Doctor, I don’t know what I would do. We aren’t trying to be an advocate for a higher minimum wage but I do think that from a personal perspective, our society ought to use a modicum of common sense. If your people can’t afford to buy your product, how are you going to prosper?

What I would encourage is for business owners to take a look at your next payroll report and see what is possible. I looked at our payroll report and then had a conversation with my brother about what is possible, so we decided to raise our minimum wage. This was what we believed was right for our business and our people.

Needless to say, the news has been well received in our company. When you know that every one is going to be paid fairly- whether they make the big decisions or they sweep the floors, it makes it easy for everyone to move the company in the right direction.

You Have the Life You Want

This week I attended a multi-day meeting with a gentleman, Steven Memel, who is becoming a friend and he made the statement “things happen in your life. It is not your fault but it is your responsibility.” He annunciated much more eloquently than I have a belief that I have had since late adolescence; which is, you have the life you want.

You might say that you don’t have any control over where you are born, where you grow up, or if you have a life-changing accident and if you say those things, you are absolutely correct. What I am saying is that when events happen in your life, you have a choice to overcome.

Tim (names are changed) was my first college roommate and a heck of a guy. We worked our first summer together at a truck dock on the graveyard shift, loading all kinds of heavy materials onto trucks during the night, lifting weights and running during the day, and doing the normal partying college things in-between. We were on the same college football team and we really “clicked” when we first met and he always had a good time in life no matter what he did.

Towards the end of the summer after a bunch of work, a bunch or working out, and a bunch of fun, we said goodbye at the end of a shift at 6 am at the truck dock and both got in our separate trucks to go home. That would be the last time I saw the Tim I had grown to love. To make the story short, a drunk driver ran a red light, smashing into his truck, and severing his spine- paralyzing him from the waist down.

I visited Tim in the hospital daily for a while but when he started to recover he pushed all his friends away. He dropped out of college, went home, and slowly died.

I had another friend in high school, Joe, that had almost the identical scenario happen to him and after he recovered from the drunk driver assault, he finished high school, got his accounting degree, and created a home-based CPA firm. He worked tirelessly to become the best CPA, studying tax law changes, to get the best deal for his clients and his practice grew exponentially. His income afforded him the ability to buy a large home built custom to accommodate his paralysis in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Memphis.

The difference was that Tim decided to give up on life and Joe said to himself, OK I’m in a mess not of my own doing but I’m in control of the rest of my life. Circumstances are not going to dictate that I am doomed to a lesser life.

Face it. We all have disadvantages in one way or another- unless you are Paris Hilton but I would suppose hers is that she has no shame. The same holds true for your fitness level. Did you know that they make fitness machines that will accommodate you if you have paralysis, or even less major disabilities?

We have been doing testing for a company called Alter-G that makes a weight assisted treadmill, essentially supporting the weight of the user so they can rehabilitate and slowly regain the ability to walk on their own. The world is filled with people who are trying to help anyone in any position. You just have to decide to start.

I like to say there is no tomorrow. There is only today, and more specifically there is right now. What are you doing right now to make the life you want? Are you Tim or are you Joe? You have a choice because as my friend Steven says, “things happen in your life. It’s not your fault but it is your responsibility.” Overcoming is a choice!

Vaping- Is it Good or Bad?

Nicotine vaporizers, also known as e-cigarettes, are starting to take the public by storm. The process of using a nicotine vaporizer is known as Vaping. Why is Vaping and why are e-cigs popular and are they good or bad? The answer to the second questions is…it depends.

The answer to the first question is Vaping is simply inhaling a vaporized combination of of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavorings. (Wikipedia) To the uniformed, that sounds like dangerous chemicals but all of these with the exception of nicotine, these have been used in food products for decades. We will leave the debate about those components for another day.

It simply takes the liquid mixture and vaporizes it in a heating chamber and then the process of inhalation allows you to absorb the nicotine into your lungs. If you think this doesn’t sound healthy, you are right…it isn’t! Studies have been done that show that the reaction to inhaled Vaping fluids is almost unrecognizable in regard to cellular damage as tobacco smoke (Clinical Cancer Research). The difference is that Vaping liquid does not contain 69 known carcinogenic components while tobacco smoke does (American Lung Association).

So why would we discuss Vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking? Because it is. In an unscientific series of conversations with people who have been long-term smokers who have tried Vaping, they have all reported that it is the easiest method they have ever used to try to quit smoking. Treadmill Doctor’s head of Information Technology has smoked for decades and while he works out regularly, he has been concerned about smoking and has tried patches, nicotine gum, etc.

Two months ago, he started Vaping and since you can control how much nicotine you include in the liquid, he has been able to slowly dial the nicotine down to zero. Now he says that he has to solve his oral fixation without overeating but he has seen a real difference in his pulmonary functioning and he says he has more energy and is sleeping better as well.

Another person that I have known for almost two decades started Vaping about 3 months ago and he has lost nearly 20 lbs, has stopped using the e-cigs altogether, and said he was bordering COPD and now his doctor says that he has seen a massive reversal and improvement in his lung function.

So to fully answer the second question, we would recommend that if you don’t smoke, don’t start Vaping. Nicotine is a dangerous drug and contrary to the tobacco company CEO’s, we all know it is highly addictive. Even a small teaspoon of highly diluted Vaping fluid is LETHAL to some people. In small doses, it has causes vomiting, seizures, and even death when absorbed through the skin. When inhaled, it can cause the arteries to narrow and constrict. (WebMD)

If you do smoke, I have seen firsthand evidence that it is very effective at helping you quit smoking but it isn’t a great long-term replacement due to the health effects of nicotine exposure and the possible side-effects of Vaping liquid. There is a push to regulate e-cigs and from the research, it looks like that is a good idea. (How Stuff Works)

3 Reasons Why You Are Worthy

With our focus on fitness, we sometimes forget some of the basic tenants that we need to remember about life. It is amazing what just a bit of encouraging can do for people. Most people don’t know that Hitler was twice rejected as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. How would the world be different if he was encouraged to become an artist instead of a monster.

Remember that while you are pursing excellent health, you should also pursue personal excellence as well. With this in mind, I came up with three statements that I believe you should keep in mind on a daily basis.

You are worthy to be loved.

We sometimes forget our value to the human race and not only are you worthy of love,    you are also worthy to give and receive love. My guess is that is why a dog is such a popular pet. He poops in the middle of your floor and then you angrily shoo him outside to cool down. In 10 minutes when you open the door, he is ready to be your best friend again…which brings up my second point.

You are worthy to be forgiven.

What I found years ago is that the hardest person in the world to forgive is yourself. We    carry around the baggage of things that we have done for years. No matter what your stance is on spirituality, it is cathartic to forgive yourself. It is also cathartic to forgive others. When you carry around a grudge, typically you are the only one that knows about it. Yes, there are the curmudgeons that let you know about everything that you’ve done but they are the exception. Forgiving yourself and others will feel like you set down an 80 lb. weighted vest that you were carrying around.

You are worthy to be your best.

If you remember that you are worthy to be loved and you forgive like there is no cost, you are ready to be your best. Your best is different for every person but that’s what is great about freedom. You can choose your path and then pursue it with reckless abandon. When things don’t work out, forgive yourself and move on. The world becomes a better place when people are pursuing excellence and focusing on what drives them.

The world would be a different place without Steve Jobs but think about how different his work became when he was staring death in the face. Having massive obstacles makes us focus like nothing else. What is your massive obstacle. Is it losing 50 or 100 lbs? Is it betting it all on that business idea you have had in the back of your mind forever? Is it making that call to the old friend that let you down 10 years ago? Whatever it is, remember that you are worthy to be loved, forgiven, and to be your best.

13 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

I saw this list on written by Nikola Gjakovski and it just struck a cord with me. You can find the full article and the one point I left off at the link below. My comments are listed below each point and express my experience with my Golden Retriever whose name is Cooper.

1. Never pass the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Cooper loves joyrides, in fact he took one with me yesterday!

2. When loved ones come home always run to greet them.

Cooper never misses a chance to greet a family member. He learned not to jump when a puppy & since he can’t contain his enthusiasm, he spins around in a circle.

3. Never pretend to be something you’re not.

Cooper never puts on airs. What you see is what you get!

4. When you want something, look at it until you get it before it’s gone.

My dog follows this point exactly! Look at the desired object and then me, back to the desired object then me, object – me, object – me…success!

5. Take every opportunity to run.

Cooper does a victory lap around the yard every time he gets let out of the house.

6. Take every opportunity to nap.

This is his specialty. If its raining, its a great time for a nap. A bright sun that makes you sleepy…great time for a nap. Just finished a brisk walk, time for a nap. Eat breakfast…nap time!

7. Delight in a simple joy of a long walk.

When Cooper sees a leash, he gets an excitement that equals a kid at Christmas. He loves taking a walk.

8. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Cooper is one of the rare dogs that squints when he gets happy so in addition to everything wagging, he squints on top of it.

9. Never pass up the chance to snuggle.

If you imagine someone that loves their soft bed, Cooper would be at the top of your list.

10. Always kiss the ones who are mad at you to make it better.

His favorite thing to do when he makes somebody mad is to lick their hand as his bid to bed for forgiveness.

11. Listen attentively and don’t offer a solution.

The one thing I always know is that Cooper won’t tell me that my opinion is wrong. If he does, we are going on tour.

12. Be brave, optimistic and completely present.

Cooper always lives in the moment. He always has a happy demeanor. He completely fails in regard to bravery.

13. Give and accept love with every breath.

The most important lesson I learned from Cooper is that he always loves and wants to be loved. From when he put his head in my baby’s lap and let him pull his ears or his concern and peering at me over the bed edge when I was sick, Cooper loves people.

Why Am I Gaining Weight When I Am Working Out to Lose Weight?

One of the most de-motivational and unsettling occurrences is when you start to work out to lose weight and you step on the scale after two weeks of PERFECT discipline and you GAIN weight! A typical response is to cry yourself to sleep while emptying a box of donuts or getting a new bag of chips out and finishing off a quart of salsa that you have been denying yourself.

Do not fear! Stick with your program and you should quickly lose the extra weight and then start to lose weight. There are been many theories about why new exercisers start to gain weight. Some claim it is an increase in muscle which I would think gaining a few pounds of muscle in a week is highly unlikely. A more plausible argument would be that your body is retaining water as a reaction to new muscle activity. Another argument is that the body is going into a fight-or-flight type of reaction to the immediate increase in muscle activity and your body is storing additional fuel for the activity.

Regardless of the reason why, I know through experience of helping thousands of people that if you stick with it, you will see results. For some people this takes the form of shaping up your body BEFORE you see weight loss and others you will see weight loss BEFORE you see a big change in body shape. The net result is that we know from the experience of millions of people that if you stick with a regimented diet and exercise program, you will lose weight.

The caveat is if you have a medical issue so if you don’t quickly lose any gained weight or if you have had a sustained exercise and diet program with no weight loss and no change in body form, please see a doctor.

How to Achieve Balance in Your Life

Do you work too hard? Do you play too hard? Do you mix Grey Goose and Red Bull because nothing beats two sets of wings?* I’ve heard all my life how we need to have a “balance” in our life. I suppose it is my generation’s (Gen X) reaction to the Baby Boomers that work like dogs but the succeeding generations have realized that there is more to life than work.

The trick is how do you do it. How do you know when you have reached a “balanced” state? The reason most people struggle with this answer, including me in the past, is because we typically work toward a balance that someone else has recommended. In other words, someone else’s idealized image is what you struggle to meet. It is similar to when your doctor who is 50 lbs. overweight tells you that you need to lose some weight.

All of it started for me with a talk by Holly Green, who is the former CEO of The Ken Blanchard Companies. Ken is the author of the One Minute Manager. She simply was asking what does winning look like to your business? I simply extrapolated that to the rest of my life. What did a winning relationship with my kids look like? What did a winning spiritual life look like? What did a winning personal fitness life look like?

Let’s start with the assumption that most people want to tell you how to live your life. Everyone wants to tell you what to do- politicians, your boss, your significant other, religious people, and don’t forget your mom! If you don’t define success for yourself in every major area of your life then someone else will. So do it now! Right now! Don’t wait! Do it immediately! (For those of you who appreciate sarcasm)

Remember when you were growing up, you were advised to get an education, work hard, get that college degree, buy your first car, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc? Every one of these pieces of advice was given from a perspective of an idealized image of what was best for you- by someone else. If you followed the advice, you might have a good life to the outside world, but is it your life?

  1. Figure out what winning looks and feels like to you for each major area of your life. Just a few examples of broad categories are:

a. Family

b. Relationships

c. Work

d. Children

e. Interests/Hobbies

f. Spiritual

  1. Make a chart outlining what winning looks like to you in each area. Some people like to write it down, others prefer a mental chart.
  2. Review your chart each morning before you start work.
  3. Make all of your decisions with your “winning” picture of each area in mind. Ask yourself when making a big decision, “is this going to help me win?”
  4. Know that you are achieving “your” balance and let everyone else who has a different idea of balance pound sand.

At the end of your life, you only have yourself to blame if you don’t feel you lived life the way you wanted to do it. This sounds simple but you get the life you live and if you don’t have any idea of where you want to end up, any road will get you there but you probably won’t like it.

If you are pursuing your ultimate goals to win in every area of your life, you will achieve your balance. Will that be balanced for anyone else? Who knows but if it works for you why should you struggle for someone else’s ideal?


Fitness – What Happens When You Push Too Far

So you watched the latest episode of The Biggest Loser and you want to replicate the success of the people you have seen on TV. They are working out like maniacs so you decide that you must duplicate their intensity in order to duplicate their success. This is a misnomer.

If you do decide to try Crossfit after you have been sedentary all your life or if you want to do 3 hour workouts from the inception of your exercise program, you must realize that there are some potential downsides.

You don’t have to feel like you are on the verge of dying in order to have a good workout. When you see the people on TV that are drenched in sweat, breathing like it is their last breath, and seeing spots while laying on their back and looking at the sky this is not the ideal for which you should be striving. Steady, consistent exercise is much more effective and you are more likely to stick with the program.

Going on a starvation diet makes your body react like….wait for it….you are starving to death! When you go on a starvation diet, your body decides that times are bad and starts to shut down non-critical functions so you completely defeat the purpose of a starvation diet when you try this. A muted caloric intake is much more effective.

Rhabdomyolysis is a $5 word that is great to use when playing Scrabble but it isn’t great condition to achieve. The NIH defines Rhabdomyolysis as when the breakdown of muscle tissue is so severe that you actually have muscle particles present in your bloodstream. In extreme cases, Rhabdomyolysis can cause kidney failure and death. Most people don’t realize that when your muscles are sore, that is because the exercise has damaged the muscle tissue and the soreness is a result the damage and your body repairing itself. The more strenuous the exercise, the more chance of Rhabdomyolysis.

There are more reasons you should be reasonable in your training but these are the most common results that we see when someone catches the exercise bug and loses their mind when they decide to start.

The Most Boring Exercise Advice You Will Ever Receive

If you don’t want to read the whole post, you will get the idea with one thought. Consistency and persistence is the key to a healthier life. Don’t read any further because this is boring advice. It has nothing to do with upbeat hip-hop music, group sharing and accountability, being on the donuts only diet, doing something fun, or being entertained while you work out. It has everything to do with being consistent no matter what you choose and having the persistence to stay on schedule.

With that said, if you decide that the “all-you-can-eat bear claw diet” is the one for you I think you are going to have problems no matter what you do exercise wise. On the flip side, the “1 minute a day to great abs workout program” is not going to get it done either. We have to be realistic without going overboard. If you limit your caloric intake without being anorexic or working out regularly without starting out with the Ironman workout, you can get in better shape and live a healthier life.

There is nothing sexy about this. People ask me, how can I stick with my workout when I step on the scale and I lose a pound today and tomorrow I step on the scale and I gain 2 pounds? The answer is STOP STEPPING ON THE SCALE! You aren’t going to reach your goals if you are always second guessing yourself or your mentors.

The way you lose weight, get in shape, and stay in shape is get a program that works and follow it consistently and with persistence. If you sabotage yourself that is also done with consistency and persistence. STOP IT! You must set yourself up for success, not for failure.

If you have a habit that makes you fail, change what you are doing. If you slip up at the neighborhood donut shop, go to work with a different route. If your idea of single serve ice cream is a 1/2 gallon container, stop buying the 1/2 gallon container. If you hate the idea of walking 2 miles a day, start with 1/4 mile. If bread seems to have a magnetism to your buns, avoid the bakery at the supermarket.

The important thing to remember when you start a program is to make a commitment! If you are a 25 year old male with commitment problems, Crossfit may be a better fit for you but if you really want to tackle your weight and/or health issues, develop a nonintrusive light workout that sets you up for success. Drink one less sugary soda each day. Count these little things as wins and avoid the things that create losses for you. You can do it but you need to be consistent and persistent to be successful.