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RISMEDIA, February 22, 2011—(MCT)—Shopping for workout gear can be, well, a workout. “Today’s home fitness equipment is better constructed and more effective—and offers you more options—than ever before,” says Bridgit Kin-Charlton, a personal trainer and owner of the B-defined studio in Williamsburg, V.A. “With choice, however, can come confusion.” Kin-Charlton offers the following tips for homeowners who are interested in purchasing fitness equipment.

Determine your goals. Certain machines (treadmills, stair-steppers) are ideal for burning calories and losing weight. Other equipment (weight benches, squat machines) is better for gaining muscle and strength. Consult a personal trainer or a salesperson specializing in fitness to discuss your goals and ensure that you purchase the equipment that will help you meet your goals.

Think about what you enjoy. If you hate climbing stairs, you’ll probably dread getting on a stair-stepper. If you love brisk walks, you’re more likely to embrace your treadmill.

Take measurements at home. Make sure any equipment you purchase will fit well into the space you have available. The space should also have needed electrical outlets, a good ventilation system and possibly noise buffers such as rubber floor mats.

Spend effectively. One good strategy: use up most of your budget on one solid aerobic training piece—a high-quality treadmill—and build around it with inexpensive strength-training equipment such as tubing and dumbbells.

Consider the bells and whistles. Even if you can afford them, you don’t need extras such as televised displays and fancy heart rate monitors unless you feel they’ll motivate you. Basic, high-quality machines provide just as good a workout.

Take a test drive. Wear workout clothes when you shop and see how the equipment feels. You may also be able to arrange a limited trial period at home, with an option to return equipment for a refund or store credit.

Ask lots of questions. Know the delivery and set-up, warranty and maintenance policies, including the availability of trained repairmen.

(c) 2011, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.