10 Fitness Items to Splurge and Save On

Getting fit can be a pricey endeavor. From having the proper footwear to the right sweat-wicking apparel to the gadgets, gizmos and equipment that promise to help you get fit and healthy, you can spend a small fortune on working out—but you don't have to! Whether you're trying to find the gear you need to hit the gym or are looking to outfit a workout room at home, here's what you need to know about splurging and saving on fitness equipment.

Splurge: 5 Fitness Items Worth Spending More On


For many, money is tight. But when it comes to these items (assuming you're in the market for them), skimping for a cheaper model might cost you more in the long run.

  1. Shoes. If you've ever bought a pair of cheap sneakers and tried to run in them, you know a good pair of workout shoes is worth every cent. The proper footwear isn't just a matter of comfort—it's a matter of safety! Wearing shoes that don't correctly support the activity you're doing can lead to muscular imbalance, decreased performance and even injury or overuse. If you're just starting out with your fitness routine and aren't sure what type of kicks to buy, try on a variety of cross trainers, which are designed for multiple activities like walking, boot camp, lifting weights and being on the elliptical. Stick to name brands and splurge a little on the pair that feels the best on your foot. Get more sneaker-buying tips.
  2. Sports Bras. I know, ladies, sports bras are almost as expensive as your regular bras! But, they're actually almost more deserving of the price tag, because the difference between a cheap sports bra and a quality one is huge. Most department stores now have a sports section for bras, so try on a variety of options and find one that fully supports you and is comfortable (jumping up and down in the dressing room is encouraged!). It's worth it to pay a little more for a sports bra with adjustable straps, so that it can size down as you do, too! Find the best-fitting sports bra with this shopping guide.

  3. Pedometer. Sure, you can buy a pedometer for $5, but it won't be very reliable, and will probably only work for a few months before you need to replace it. If you want to accurately count your steps, plan to spend at least $25 on a quality pedometer that comes with instructions and requires calibration. Or, go for one of the more robust activity trackers that also monitor other activities, calories burned and sometimes even heart rate. 

  4. Gym Membership. While you certainly don't have to pay for a "big box" health club with every amenity under the sun, you definitely don't want to join any old gym just because it's the cheapest option. Always ask for a five- to seven-day trial membership first (which should be free). While some chains do have low rates that offer good-quality equipment, it's best to shop around. From equipment maintenance to cleanliness to the quality of the staff, most of the time you get what you pay for. Psst—here are some secrets to saving on your membership!

  5. Home Cardio Machines. It may be tempting to pick up the cheapest elliptical or treadmill when you're on a budget, but when it comes to buying a cardio machine for your home, you definitely want to invest in quality equipment. Do online research, go to a fitness equipment store and try out a variety of models to find a piece of equipment that is sturdy, easy to use and has a warranty of more than a year. Be sure to check out consumer reviews. Buying a good cardio machine the first time is far more cost-effective than having to buy another model after the cheap one breaks down. A high-quality model will last you for years to come, making its per-use cost much lower than a bargain-basement model.

Save: 5 Fitness Items Worth Buying on the Cheap


There's no point in spending extra money if you don't have to. Look for deals on the following fitness items, and you won't go wrong, but will save a lot.

  1. Dumbbells: There's not much variance between dumbbells. Sure, you can spend extra money to get them plastic-coated in pretty colors or cool-looking shapes, but if your budget is tight, the basic dumbbells will work just fine.
  2. Workout Apparel: Nowadays, there is so much workout apparel on the market that's affordable and high in quality. The key is either buying the big name brands on clearance or purchasing the smaller-named brands at discount stores. Both Walmart and Target sell high quality technical shorts, shirts and socks for low prices.
  3. Small Fitness Accessories: From resistance bands and medicine balls to yoga blocks and Pilates circles, you could easily spend a whole paycheck on workout add-ons. When buying these little extras, start cheap. If you find that—after a few months—you really love and use a particular fitness accessory all the time, then you can invest in a better quality version of it (and even then, you may decide that you don't need to!).
  4. Heart Rate Monitor: Heart rate monitors can get pricey in a hurry. However, most of the really expensive ones demand a higher price point because of advanced features (many of which the average exerciser isn't likely to use). As long as it has a chest strap, timer and a way to customize your calorie burn by entering your sex, age and weight, you should be good.
  5. Yoga Mat: Hardcore yogis may disagree, but if you're someone who casually practices yoga once or twice a week or you just want a non-slip mat for stretching at home, don't bother spending more than $25 on a yoga mat. Even the cheaper mats should last several years or more with regular use. And by then, you'll have a better idea of whether it's worth splurging on a fancier model.
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Member Comments

Thanks for the info Report
WIth the equipment, try before you buy, if you can. Borrow from a friend or try at the health club. You may decide that you don't really want it or won't use it enough to buy it. Or you can see which features you like or wish it had.
Thank you. Report
I agree about the low-cost items. I buy most of that stuff from discount stores. However, I disagree somewhat about the heart rate monitor. I got a Schosche (sp?) monitor that you use on your arm/forearm. I think it is a little pricier but absolutely worth it. I would have a very hard time with a chest strap!! Just my opinion. Report
Since I'm not sturdy on my feet and have a ton of health issues I bought an exercise mat instead of a yoga mat. I don't slip at all on it and its easier on my poor feet. Report
Good shoes that are the right size is super important. Get yourself fitted not shoes that 'fit'. IMHO. Report
I buy what I like whether it cost $2 or $200.00. Report
One good Husband is worth two good Wives;
for the scarcer things are, the more they're valued.
- Benjamin Franklin Report
I like my yoga mat! No slipping or sliding Report
TONETTER
My favorite item is the Frelonic exercise mat. They cost around $50 but stay fabulous for decades, so it's a good investment. They provide cushioned support for floor work and are easy to clean. I store it in my TV cabinet so it's easy to use during TV commercials. It's an absolute treasure and I actually look forward to using it. An excellent way to reward yourself. My first mat is still going strong and I've had it since the 90's! Report
Great information! Report
Thanks for the tips. Report
Thank you. Report
ANNE-IN-GTX
A few comments about buying shoes.

Just buying top brand shoes will do little if anything for you...you absolutely SHOULD buy those brands, but only after you have been correctly fitted for the shoes that SUIT you, your feet, and how YOU move. (Do you wear thin/thick socks for exercise? Do you pronate or supinate? Will you be walking/running/d
oing aerobics? All these things factor in!)

I wear Brooks Adrenaline shoes...I've worn them since they were in the 8th generation of the model (GTS8) they are now in the 17th generation (GTS17) I can go in to any store and buy those shoes whether a sports specialist, running specialist and occasionally a consolidation store (DSW etc.) Because those shoes fit ME, MY feet, and the way I move.
Could I buy another model of Brooks with the same certainty? Or another top brand?
NO!!!
Not without being properly fitted for those shoes.

So please, let's not talk about shoes, and the importance of good quality shoes without first acknowledging that fit, and use are just as important as the shoes themselves.

And ladies...BTW: Same thing applies to sports bras!!! Report
I couldn't agree more about splurging on the shoes and exercise bras. So many women don't bother with the sports bras and you can really tell! It has to be uncomfortable too. Report
As a man I just want to lose enough weight that I do not need a sports bra! ha ha
My favorite home purchase was my Bowflex. I love the rowing machine ability. Report


 

About The Author

Jennipher Walters
Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.
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