If you’ve never set foot in a gym before but you want to get fit, you may be wondering what sort of equipment awaits you, what it’s for, and how to use it. This simple guide covers all the basics found in most gyms:
Treadmills are probably the most widely known sort of gym equipment. They’re essentially running machines, allowing you to go jogging indoors instead of bracing the hills and cold winds of the great outdoors. They’re great for seasoned runners and beginners alike, as the speed can be altered accordingly, right down to a slow walking pace. The incline can also usually be adjusted, creating a harder workout with a steeper incline, and an easier workout with a decline. Altering the incline means different legs muscles will be worked during your run or walk.
Elliptical trainers are another great means of cardiovascular exercise, but are much lower impact than running on a treadmill, which is great if you’re just starting out or have problems with any of your joints – particularly your knees. They’re akin to going skiing, and are self-propelled using the motion of the human body to keep them going.
It’s probably pretty obvious that an exercise bike is actually quite similar to regular bike – just without all the wheels! Again, exercise bikes provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout, and the resistance can be altered according to your needs, leading to a tougher workout or an easier one. Spinning classes can make exercise bikes a lot more fun, as you’re following specific instructions with a group of people.
Yet again, the rowing machine is a cardiovascular exercise machine that mimics the motions of an outdoor sport – in this case, rowing. But there’s no danger of capsizing or getting your feet wet when using a rowing machine! These offer your upper body just as good a workout as your lower body – possibly even more so – and so they differ to most other cardiovascular exercise machines which focus mostly on the legs.
Steppers are an interesting way of mimicking the action of walking up a staircase! Another low-impact, cardio workout, steppers are great for those just starting out in a gym who want to get up to a basic fitness level. Different resistances can be applied for a tougher workout as you progress to higher fitness levels.
Moving away from cardiovascular workout equipment, weights machines instead focus on strength and muscle definition. There are many different types of weights machines, all focusing on different muscles and muscle groups. There are machines to increase the strength of your arms, your upper and lower legs, your back, your chest and your abs. Whichever area you want to get more toned and defined in, there’s sure to be a machine to help you get there!
Free weights are weights separate from any machinery, which require learning specific techniques in order to improve muscle strength and definition. They’re most commonly used for arms and back workouts.
Andrea McKinley is the writer of this article. She works for Sports Kinetics, which sells fitness equipment online at very cheap rates.