Is it an Exercise Machine or an Expensive Clothes Rack?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Itís that time of year again, when thousands of home exercise machines are anxiously waiting to find out whether theyíre going to be used as intended, or mainly to keep the laundry off the floor.

Iíve broken the hearts of a few exercise machines in my time. Over the years, Iíve had 2 stationary bikes, a treadmill, and a Total Gym, and all of them ended up becoming expensive clothes racks within weeks of purchase.

They all seemed like great ideas at the time. I was sure that, if I didnít have to go through the hassle of getting myself out the door and to the gym, Iíd actually spend a lot more time exercising.

Wrong. After the initial burst of enthusiasm wore off, it wasnít any easier to get myself to use this equipment at home than it was to get myself to the gym. It wasnít always just lack of self-discipline on my part. Ever try to talk a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old into leaving you alone so you can play with your own toys for an hour? Fat chance. And somehow, by the time they were in bed and the chores were done, the idea of exercise just didnít seem very appealing any more. And then, of course, there was the additional problem of having to put away all those clothes before I could even get to the machine.

This is not an uncommon problem. According to this article, consumers spend about $4 billion every year on home exercise equipment, and 40% of us say we donít use it as much as we expected to. That works out to about $1.6 billion worth of over-qualified laundry racks sold annuallyónot counting the resale market. And we all know these are just the honest people, right? How many more of us donít want to admit to some researcher that we spent several hundred dollars or more for a rack to display our laundry on in the middle of the room? Or worse, that weíve done this not just once, but several times?

So, what happens to all the enthusiasm and optimism that leads people to buy this equipment in the first place? Is there something you can do to turn that good intention into a consistent exercise routine that will keep both you and your machine happy?

I think soÖ

The first step here is to get real about what an exercise machine can do for you, and what it canít. It can give you a very convenient, weatherproof way to exercise just as effectively as a serious gym goer. It canít make you want to exercise, make exercise itself easier to do, or remove any other obstacles to regular exercise you might have to deal with, beyond the transportation and public locker room/gym phobia issues. In fact, as the article linked earlier says, the more you expect having an exercise machine in the house to solve basic motivational problems, the more likely it is youíll end up not using it much. So, get those kinds of expectations out of your brain right now. The truth is that itís your job to make your exercise machine feel fulfilled and successful, not the other way around. Take this responsibility as seriously as you would taking care of a pet, and you'll do much better.

The second step is to find your own good reasons for exercising. Obviously, if youíre struggling with getting yourself to use a machine you invested money in for the pleasure of having it right in your own home, somethingís not right. If your good intentions, the convenience factor, and everything you know about how important exercise is for meeting your goals don't get the job done, an important piece of the motivation puzzle must still be missing. Hereís my theory about what this missing piece could be:

In my last blog, I talked about the difference between immediate and delayed gratification, and how we need both to function at our best. For many people, the benefits of exercise, at least initially, definitely go in the delayed gratification columnóyou donít really see them until somewhere down the road, when they show up as lost weight, as improved appearance, fitness and functioning, or if you stick with it long enough, as an easy way to get an endorphin high.

So, the trick to sticking with it long enough for these delayed benefits to boost your motivation could be to find some ways to get a little instant gratification from each actual exercise session. Here are some things Iíve tried that help me do this:

  • Compete with yourself. Keep track of your time, distance, heart rate, resistance level, calories burned, or any other such number you can come up with, and pick at least one of these numbers you will try to improve on during your next session.
  • Compete with someone else. If beating your own record isnít much of a thrill, find someone else to compete with, and play for a prize you both agree on. This could be a real-life exercise partner, or an on-line exercise buddy.
  • Do it for a greater good.. Join a sparkteam thatís competing with other teams, so that each bit of exercise you do is helping your team. Or make a deal with yourself and a local charity that youíll donate/pledge a little money for every hour or mile you complete. Be sure to tell your team or charity what your monthly goal is, so theyíll know whether youíre sticking to it or not.

    Have you had a hard time in the past, or are you currently struggling to get yourself to actually use your home exercise equipment?

    What's your plan to get yourself to use it?

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    I'm somewhat sad to say that my treadmill, while not a clothes hanger has moved into the garage for Christmas. When I started running it was my best friend, but took a back seat to the outdoors and the gym. Of course the precor treadmills at the gym are smoother than my 8 year old pro form treadmill with the belt that slips a little. So when you think about buying that expensive piece of equipment consider how long it takes to pay for itself in terms of a gym membership with all the equipment you could need. Save some money go to Ikea a buy a clothes rack and a gym membership. Report
    Oh wow, I laughed when I read the topic. Not funny but true for me. It was a clothes rack. Such a shame. I am using my equipment now, and have lost 40lbs. Report
    Unfortunately, I have to admit that my exercise bike that I've had for quite a few years seems to have been relegated to clothes horse status. I hope to change that in the not too distant future. Report
    If I had room for them, my exercise machines would get used, at least on days when weather doesn't allow going outside. Unfortunately, I have no place to set them up indoors, so my recumbent bike and treadmill are sitting in a shed, and my Total Gym is in the back yard covered with a tarp. I was using the Total Gym outside before it got too hot but that's not an option right now. Report
    I am on my second treadmill because I wore my first one out! That first treadmill got me through fifty pounds of weightloss when I had four small children and couldn't get to a gym. I probably logged a good thousand miles on that thing before it gave out on me!

    Now, we have a five bedroom house so we can have one room dedicated to working out. We have a smith machine style resistance gym and I love it. We use it a lot.
    I bought an exercise bike back in January, and yes, it now has clothes hanging on it ^_^;; Fortunately, this doesn't mean I'm not exercising anymore. I've just moved on to other things. Since I've lost some weight and become more comfortable with exercising in public, I've started taking both an aerobics class and an bellydancing class. The exercise bike has served its purpose, and I'm keeping it for backup now in case I have to miss class due to inclement weather or some other unforseen circumstance. Report
    I bought an AirClimber last year so i could work my legs when it rains outside.
    It appealed to me because I used a stair stepper at a fitness center that had air shocks so I figured it would be similar.
    However,the stair stepper had handles and the air climber does`nt so I always had a fear of falling off backward on this thing.
    But,I had a brain storm and put it in front of my tall dresser and it was a perfect match.I can support myself on the dresser or even look at a magazine while stepping away.Now I use it quite often and challenge myself to add more steps every week. Report
    I was amused to stumble across this article today, as I just wrote a blog post yesterday titled "Ode to My Elliptical"! Two things have been working for me, to help maintain my commitment to using it daily:
    -- A promise to myself to use it soon after I wake up every day, even if it's just for a few minutes, to help jump start my metabolism for the day.
    -- Thinking in terms of lots of small bursts of use, every time I go in my bedroom, rather than facing the sometimes daunting prospect of a big workout. Report
    I love my home gym!! i can get on it whenever i feel like it & don't have to worry about a babysitter!! Report
    If i spend money on something i use it so that i get my money worth. I am currently on my second treadmill. The first one i had for l0 years and replaced the walking belt once the the motor died. I have had my current treadmill for three years and just recently replace a part that controlled the incline. But my husband did insist that he needed to have a bow flex and he used it for about two weeks then stopped. Since i didn't want it in the first place and i was content with using just hand weights it doesn't get used often but i will use it occasionally to vary my routine. Report
    If i spend money on something i use it so that i get my money worth. I am currently on my second treadmill. The first one i had for l0 years and replaced the walking belt once the the motor died. I have had my current treadmill for three years and just recently replace a part that controlled the incline. But my husband did insist that he needed to have a bow flex and he used it for about two weeks then stopped. Since i didn't want it in the first place and i was content with using just hand weights it doesn't get used often but i will use it occasionally to vary my routine. Report
    yes I get to workout at work but I like the ellipticle and the crosscountry ski machine and my golf clubs oh yea dumbells are cool and the curl bar also the back bumper of a truck is great for tricepts Report
    It's more diffcult for me to work out at home than go to a gym which I prefer to do. I have hand weights which I use while watching T.V. and during commercials, get my sit ups, push ups and bicycles in as well as thigh work in so I try and use regular items at home but get my best works outs completed at the local gym. Report
    Thanks for the home gym reminder! Report
    I love my treadmill. It's my second one as I wore out my first one. I also have 2 set of hand weights and a kettle bell. I use all of this. I have arthritis in my knees and I would love to get a gazelle or a recumbant bike so I could give my knees a break. Report
    Yup, I have several pieces of equipment too. I'm trying to vary them with my renewed effort to get back in shape and shed a few pounds. I find I have to do my exercise before I'm really awake and can talk myself out of it. I go into auto-pilot at 6 a.m. and "just do it" before waking my daughter and getting on with a day at work. It seems to be working. Report
    I have a stability ball that I use at work. When I'm not sitting on it and the boss is out to lunch, I do Spark People videos. It's a blast! Report
    I don't have any room in my home for large pieces of exercise equipment (thank goodness), but the few supplies I do have (step, wii fit, ball) sit around collecting dust or act as toys for my children. Report
    I bought a very nice treadmill last year at a auction, only paying $65 and it has all the bells and fancy things on it, like the heart rate moniutor, incline and even 2 fans!!!! Funny thing though, I bought it a year before I even moved it into the house! LOL! Report
    I use the Gazelle daily- I have started to challenge myself with steps per day. I am up to a minimum of 20,000. Walking the dog three times a day for at least 30 minutes helps. I also have hand weights and am up to the thrre pounders. I do have a fitness center membership for water aerobics. Report
    Thank you so much for this blog!!! After reading it, I suddenly remembered my Nordic Track that been stowed away in the back of a closet for years.......and after dragging it out again (which in itself was a workout!!), it has found a home in the family room, and I hope the visual reminder will cause me to get "back on Track"!!! Report
    well the big blue ab roller, the kind that stretches out like a lawn chair holds my stability ball. I hate that ab roller I think it was made for taller people. My husband wants it and says he is gonna use it but haven't seen him on it yet( He is such a pack rat LOL!)
    I prefer my stability ball and weighted ball to the ab roller. Report
    I have no problem using my exercise bike, my urban rebounder or my weighted hula hoop. My challenge is my elliptical trainer. I love the ones in gyms, but no way I can afford one of those. My elliptical trainer is a cheaper home model and even on no tension, it has some kind of resistance! Two minutes and my quads are screaming.
    Two minutes takes me a quarter mile, so to motivate myself, I'm downloading a song ($.94 each) for every mile I log on the trainer. So far, I've downloaded 3 songs in a week. Report
    I love my home gym, it's very liberating! Report
    Have started getting much better using mine at home! Realized how much time it saved me from having to go to the least half an hour a day. Well worth it. Report
    I went on craigs list & bought an eliptical, a total gym, hand weights & a ball for 150. I plan on getting a treadmill next. I turned my spareroom into a gym w/my 2nd tv in there. I hop on the machines, flip on my favorite tv show & pedal away. Report
    I have a treadmill my husband bought me, I use at least three times a week. My 15 year old daughter also uses it. Yes, sometimes the jackets get thrown onto it but I just toss them off and go to town! I love my treadmill. Report
    I use my stationary bike every single day! I still have my gym membership because I need more of a workout than that. But, I would love to have the room and money to buy a couple of more active cardio machines, then I would never have an excuse not to exercise. My only excuse now is how anxious I get while driving and my inability to do exercise DVDs in my top floor apartment! Report
    I do better with execise DVD. I get very bored with the same exercise time and time again. I also go outside to jog or run when the weathe permitts. I have had home execise ecquipment in the past and have used it for a peroid of time and the got bored with them. My exercise routine is always changing to keep me interested. Report
    We bought free weights & bench about 5 years ago. we used it about a month and it's been hang drying clothes ever since. I am starting to use it again after i hurt myself on this multistation weight machine contraption at my gym. I have more flexability with my free weights and i can use it whenever i want. Report
    I'd bought a lot of equipment in the past and just didn't use it ... and I especially didn't use any of the gym memberships I ever had (although I thought the Y was the best). Bought a treadmill last year, though, and it has been terrific! I get on it and do a few minutes when I wash or dry my clothes. I also find that I like doing a bit of walking during my work day, for stress relief. I have some free weights I can't use due to a shoulder injury, and a machine I can't use because the movers bent a crucial part. But the treadmill is a major plus. And I'm ready to bring the NordicTrack (my third!) so I can use it for cross-training. Report
    I have weights and bands at home. I use a treadmill at work. But I only have a 30 minute lunch break. I am just beginning and 58 years old with back trouble, so I am planning to build up to longer and more intense workouts. I will have to stay and work out after work eventually. I have also walked in my livingroom with music and or video. I am on my way. Our house is so small, I doubt if we will ever buy equipment. but we have 7 acres and i don't mind walking in the living room. As I said, I am a beginner anad have at least 150 lbs to lose. Report
    I was a bit leary when my husband said he wanted a treadmill because I had seen them used as clothes racks. Our treadmill has taken a beating because I now use it too...6 years later and it's still going strong. He then wanted a recumbent bike..turned out he didn't like it as much, which is ok, because I like it a lot and use it most days...sometimes he walks on the treadmill while I ride the recumbent bike..We are empty nesters so we have use our bonus room for the equipment and we have a tv to watch or to use for DVD's and a weight bench too. Having it at home saves me lots of time and I can set the room temp to be just the way I want it, which is cold, in both summer and winter. Report
    I've got less excuse than a lot of people...I work for a physical therapist (in the billing department) and have 24/6 access to any kind of exercise equipment/pilates equipment/treadmill/ name it, I've got it at my fingertips for free. And I'm here every week, Monday through Friday, and sometimes Sundays. I use it? Not nearly as much as I should. But I have been improving, for the past 7 weeks I've been using the equipment more. Report
    We decided OUT OF SITE-OUT OF MIND, so we took our our three pieces of equipement out of the bedroom and put them between the living room and the dining room and in site of the TV screen and use them all daily! Pat Report
    I just loved this blog. I am so guilty as charged with all the equipment, and it does take up a lot of space, so sure your going to use it to hang clothes on or something,LOL. When the kids were little and went to school I faithfully went to a small "Curves" type studio that also had different aerobics classes. Dropped the kids at school and I was waiting at the door for them to open, very very inexpensive but one day I went and they had closed and left along with everyones money. Was really upset, not so much about the money because it was sooo inexpensive(always wondered about that), but I had gotten in the habit of going every day and it was about 5 min. from my house and just women. Even though I wasn't dieting at the time everyone was noticing me getting smaller and at the time I wasn't big at all.

    Had it all manual treadmill, electric treadmill(still have), stationary bike and recumbent bike(still have both), stair stepper(long gone), trampoline with the bar (still have), weights of all kinds, and so many exercise DVD's I couldn't even tell you. With all that hubby had to have a rowing machine, said ALL the guys at work had them and loved them, tried talking him into getting into a routine with something we already had first but nope he was getting it. That was about 2 years ago and he's used it once in all that time, it takes up more room than any other piece of equipment in the house, he doesn't use it as a clothes rack he just throws his clothes on top of

    Right now I'm unable to exercise because of a surgery gone bad injury, and you don't know how bad I want to get on one of these pieces of equipment. Funny, you don't appreciate what you have sometimes till you can't use it not that you don't use it. Report
    Had the exercise bike. Used it for awhile, then it collected dust so gave it away. Then got the treadmill, used, from a co-worker. It didn't work right so my landlord put it in his garage to use himself until the motor burned out. Then joined a gym...and another...and another...and a fourth. Used it for about 6 mos. Then paid per month for the extent of the contract...not using them. Big gym...women' only gym...neighborhood gym. Finally invested in a stability ball, dumbbells (two sets - one for home, one for office), and a resistance band (actually a Christmas 2007 gift). Use those more regularly during SP exercise videos...or while watching TV. What really motivated me was giving friends all the gift cards I received for Christmas in 2007. When I did 30 straight days of exercise, they gave one back to me to go spend. Never knew which of them would give it to made it a fun surprise and kept me moving! Report
    My treadmill was decorated for Christmas. Made my workout colorful. Report
    My husband and I started out with just an elliptical. As we saw we were using that regularly we decided to add a treadmill, mainly because I need variety otherwise I get bored. Just recently we added a bike to the mix and I have bought the Sparkpeople cardio DVD's (can't wait!). I'm not going to lie, some days it's hard to get downstairs and bust my booty, but I refuse to let my equipment (even if bought used) go to waste. I already have a laundry sorter, I don't need another :) Report
    The only home exercise equipment I have is a set of dumbells and a trainer for my bike.

    This year I'm economizing so no gym membership. My plan is a circuit or two of weights with the dumbells and 20 minutes on my bike. Pretty good workout. I'll admit that it isn't 100% as good as going to a gym but it will be good for me and extra money to save and put against bills.

    I've used this equpment on and off over the years but no doubt I got my money's worth out of it several times over. Report
    We bought a treadmill (top of the line) from someone and use it ALL the time. Now keep in mind that there were times when it became a DUST collector but now that we have more time (because the kids are finally starting to grow up alittle) we use it at least 6 times a week! Report
    I much rather use the equipment at our company fitness center. But, I have ended up using the $180 elliptical I bought last year almost every morning. It wakes me up and makes me feel good that I at least got 30 minutes in on something on those days that it gets crazy at work and I end up working on a deadline instead of working out during my lunch hour. Report
    I just love that manual lawn mower/bicycle combo in the photo. THAT would be one heckuva work out! Report
    Guilty!!! I've got a bike and a treadmill.. and when I use them it's great... but I have every excuse in the book... Report
    I use my treadmill and this is my 3 one. The exercise bike my first one I loved the 2 I hated so gave that away. Love to have an eletipticle?? But hubby does not want me to buy anymore equimpent. Maybe somebody will throw one out and I can grab it up. Report
    I actually do use my equipment! YAY!!! I did put my exercise bike on "time-out" for years.. but I'm back at it. Other than that, I have several dumbbells and (newly purchased and LOVING it) a stability ball.

    What I want to know is where do we get the bicycle lawnmower?? HA! Love it! Report
    I like using my Videos like TaeBo. I not much on "machines" at home. Report
    But the bar on my weight bench is so convenient for hangers! Seriously, my computer is right next to my bench. I looked at it and had to laugh as I read the blog. It is covered in clothes. I'm getting ready to buy a treadmill. Hope it has a more useful life. Report
    I once owned a treadmill that became a clothes rack. Now I have various small things like a few dumbbells, an exercise ball, a bunch of videos, a Wii Fit...... Everything gets used at some point, but some things do sit around for a while before getting used again. I am low on energy from going through cancer treatment, but when I feel better, I do break out various things I own and give them a try in an attempt to regain strength and stamina. The thing that collected the most dust was my gym membership. I was diagnosed last May and once I had my first operation, I didn't see the gym again until just this month. So I was grateful to have a few things at home to use when energy allowed.

    Now, my boyfriend, on the other hand, has an easy rider and a home gym and a situp bench taking up tons of room in the rec room and collecting tons of dust....... Report
    This is so true I have gone to friends houses and they have clothes hanging on their equipment , I use my treadmill and I would like to purchase a stationary bike or ellipticall Report
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