1. Warranties are a game, pure and simple! Most people don’t know that warranties are non-transferable in the fitness industry so if you are buying a used piece of equipment, most likely you won’t have a warranty … even if the machine is only a month old! One great exception to this rule is that extended warranties are typically transferable, for a small registration fee. Due to the warranty structure of the fitness world, fitness equipment products are one of the few places where extended warranties actually make sense for a consumer.
The latest hyperbole is “lifetime” motor warranties. The secret is that motors fail due to defects in material and workmanship very quickly. The reason that motors fail in the long pull is due to worn brushes, worn bearings and the like. In other words, when you motor fails in 10 years, it is due to wear and tear, not defects. Nearly all warranties won’t cover failures due to wear and tear.
2. Infomercial actors didn’t get their bodies from what they are selling! There may be an outlier out there but I’m not aware of it. The wonderful marketers in the fitness business want you to associate the pictures of ripped abs, beautiful physiques, and the objects of desire that they show in their commercials with their product, but let’s get real…the bodies you see on TV and magazines are the result of great genes and a workout schedule that you wouldn’t believe.
As a former competitive Division One NCAA athlete I can tell you that to become and remain competitive, it requires workouts that are no less than two hours and that is a light day. Most days include three to four hours of workouts to achieve a chiseled body.
3. There is no accepted standard for rating treadmill motors. That’s right, factories can call the motors in their fitness equipment anything they want and they do! I was around when the fitness business was in its infancy, and remember that the first treadmills had a motor that was physically enormous and had a label that showed it was 1 HP or 1.5 HP.
NEWS FLASH! DC Motor design has not advanced dramatically since the early 1980’s and today’s motors can be 1/2 the size of those in the early days. In some cases, the motors are much, much smaller. It is hard to find a motor these days less than with a label claiming 3 HP. Since it is impossible for a DC motor on a 110VAC 15 amp outlet to achieve anywhere near 3 HP, guess who is getting tricked?
4. You don’t have to look like a Greek god to be healthy. The extremist may go overboard and workout 24/7 but you don’t have to do that to be healthy. A well-kept secret is that too much exercise can be as unhealthy as too little. I once knew an athlete that had such low body fat that the medical staff believed he was hurting his kidneys, since your kidneys float in fat. He had employed diet and exercise to such an extreme that he was actually hurting himself.
Just as anything in life, moderation is the key unless you are training for a competition. 30 to 60 minutes of cardio and a light weight workout on ergonomically correct machines is enough to stay healthy. Move around during the day instead of sitting in a chair like a potato (otherwise, you will start to look like a potato). Eat a sensible diet instead of using a 1/2 gallon container of ice cream as a snack.
5. 20% of people use fitness products religiously. My guess is that 80% of the public that shops for fitness equipment actually has a clothes rack fetish. That would explain why only 1 in 5 machines that are bought are actually used with any consistency. I don’t like this stat and the factories don’t want you to know it.
Another fact that is not well known is that the cheaper the machine, the less likelihood that you will use it. Use rates on the cheapest machines are laughable. It would make sense though that the most serious people who use their machines are also willing to invest the most into it. So when you are on your elliptical and ready to quit, remember that not only are you getting into shape, you are also keeping your membership strong in a very select community.
6. Ellipticals have wear parts just like treadmills. I’ve heard of salespeople who try to sell an elliptical over a treadmill because they say there are no maintenance issues. I guess if we wanted to sell more elliptical parts we would agree with them but the fact is that some of the pressure points on an elliptical like ramps, wheels, shoulder joints, drive belts, etc. have more stress on them than on comparable parts of a treadmill.
7. Size matters but not in the way that you think! You people with dirty minds are going to be disappointed. The larger the physical motor, the better. The wider the drive belt, the more area that can distribute the surface tension if properly aligned. The larger the roller, the slower it turns in relative speed to a smaller roller. These are truisms. What isn’t known is that if you put junk bearings into the larger rollers, the smaller rollers with quality bearings will win; every time.
Where size starts to create problems is when a factory pairs a large motor with junk drive system parts. Its like pairing a V8 motor with a sorry transmission. Another area where size is a problem is walking belts on treadmills. You would think bigger is better and it might be to make sure you don’t step off the side but in reality, the larger the belt, the more wear it puts on drive system parts. You want to get as small a belt as you can safely use and no more.