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The latest in home fitness tech

Temperatures are hovering in the single digits and it’s snowing — again. Do you really want to bundle up and slog through slushy streets to the gym? Or worse, run outside?

If you don’t want your fitness routine to falter during Buffalo’s long winter or if you want to set new, realistic goals this year, there’s a bevy of home workout equipment that will get results and keep your interest.

Today’s home exercise equipment is interactive, flexible and tailored to every budget and fitness level.

Take stationary bikes. At Pacillo’s Fitness Gear in Amherst, customers seeking the high-tech and high-end can find the Keiser M3, which retails for $2,000. With a shiny aluminum flywheel and magnetic register, the Keiser bikes run in watts, are all encompassing, and measure everything from calories burned to resistance level very accurately, store owner Michael Pacillo said. According to website Indoortrainingbikes.com, you can burn as many as 1,000 calories per day using this bike.

Too pricey? Local outlets like Pacillo’s also sell stationary bikes with plenty of bells and whistles at lower price points.

“Whatever budget a customer has, we can work with them,” said Pacillo, whose family started the exercise and martial arts equipment company in 1976.

Home fitness equipment sales, which took a nosedive during the recession, are on the upswing, said Tom Cove, president and CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. He said the trend reflects societal preferences.

“You don’t have to wear fancy yoga pants or worry about what you look like,” he said. “You can put your kids on the bus and still get in your workout. This is huge for Americans for whom choice and flexibility are the driving force.”

Treadmills continue to be the number one home exercise product, Cove said, adding that new innovations make them more efficient and compact, good for young professionals or empty nesters living in smaller quarters.

While many people seek out the higher-end treadmills replete with several workout routines, the compact Spacewalker by Bodycraft, which features a built-in a work station, is popular, Pacillo said. It sells for under $800 and can be folded up when you’re done.

“It’s perfect for people who want to get activity in while they’re working or doing something else,” he said.
Dan Gronkowski, of G&G Fitness with locations in Orchard Park and Williamsville, said while treadmill and elliptical sales remain strong, they’ve recently sold more rowing machines, too.

“For less money, you get a lot of strength and cardio training in the same workout,” Gronkowski said. “Rowing machines work 84 percent of your muscles.”

The humble kettlebell combines the functionality of several free weights — at a price point of under $30. (VTX version here from Pacillo’s.)

More efficiency is evident at all price points and sizes. The kettlebell, for instance, ranging from $20 to $30 each, combines the function of several free weights in one and provides a more dynamic range of motion than a regular dumbbell.

“Kettlebells can be used in strength training or added to a cardio for a good workout,” Pacillo said.

Another affordable and simple item that’s seeing a surge in popularity is the chin-up bar. Running between $30 and $50 each, the bar attaches to a doorway for arm and upper body strengthening or put on the floor for abdominal crunches.

“A lot of people are moving toward using their own body weight to exercise at home,” Pacillo said. “You don’t have to spend a lot.”

Gronkowski echoed this, saying more customers are gravitating toward smaller accessories such as balls and push sleds.

“People are more educated now about fitness options, and there are many videos online showing them how to use the accessories,” he said. “You don’t have to buy $2,000 worth of equipment.”

Although plenty do. Some of the more popular high-end equipment G&G sells includes the Inspire Multi Gym (around $1,700) and the Inspire Fitness Functional Trainer ($4,000).

At Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the most popular pieces is the Bowflex M5 Max Trainer, said Dick’s Community Marketing Manager Anna Whieldon. Retailing for $1,600, the Bowflex is a low-impact cardio workout that includes numerous pre-programmed workouts, resistance levels, and workout programs, such as calorie burn, stairs, and fitness test.

There’s also a less expensive version: the Bowflex M3 Max Trainer, which sells for $1,000. It boasts an “intense workout that can be completed in just 14 minutes, has a small footprint….and tests your endurance levels.”

In the time it takes to watch the morning news, you can kick start your day in a way that has work/life balance written all over it.

Like anything else, consumers are buying more exercise equipment online, Cove said. However, you often don’t get the same type of customer service you would at a brick-and-mortar store with educated people to help you make a selection to match your goals.

“We ask people all sorts of questions when they’re looking for home equipment, including how often they plan to use it, how many others in the home will use it, and how much they weigh,” Pacillo said. “It makes a difference.”

And regardless of what customers are shopping for, Pacillo emphasizes that larger home exercise equipment is an investment. He advises customers to consider how their bodies will change over time.

“You want to buy equipment you can grow old with,” he said.

Where to find it

Pacillo’s Fitness Gear
3493 Sheridan Drive, Amherst; 873-4333

G&G Fitness Equipment
7350 Transit Road, Williamsville; 633-2527

3170 Orchard Park Road, Orchard Park; 712-0090

DICK’S Sporting Goods
Boulevard Mall; 640 Alberta Drive, Amherst; 242-6903

Walden Galleria; 2 Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga; 651-0600

Quaker Crossing; 3434 Amelia Drive, Orchard Park; 821-1616

Eastgate Plaza; 5105 Transit Road, Williamsville; 565-0417

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