The Insider: Exercise equipment that won't bore you to tears

Home gyms

It's time to take action on that New Year's resolution to get fit or shift a few pounds, and the gym seems the obvious choice. But the idea of collective exercise leaves many of us in a sweat before we've lifted a finger. And it's expensive.

Training at home seems a far less daunting experience, and even buying top-end equipment can still be cheaper than a year's gym membership. The problem is that in your sitting room there are no friendly staff to let you know that you're in danger of a heart attack if you keep doing it that way. Once you've decided that a home-based workout is your preferred plan of attack on those love handles, you're on your own. Doing your research and picking the right equipment for your fitness, training aims, available space and budget is crucial – as is being very sure about how to use your new machines.

"Before you buy any equipment, be honest about how often you're likely to use it," says Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine. "Make sure the machine you choose is right for you. You're far more likely to stick with a machine that makes exercise interesting, so resist the urge to buy the very cheapest model and get one with at least a few different programs."

Those who are out of the habit of keeping fit, or who are older or frailer, may opt for an exercise bike. They are usually lighter and take up less space than more complex equipment. Both upright and recumbent bikes primarily work the lower body but still affect the heart and lungs, and so can be used for endurance training and to burn fat. On a recumbent bike you are leaning back, closer to the ground, so these may be better for people who are a little unsteady on a taller bike; recumbent bikes tend to be more expensive. Research by the consumer group Which? found the Tunturi came out on top, not only among recumbent bikes out there but among all the home exercise equipment they tested. With an overall score of 81 per cent, Which? gave the bike top marks for durability, accuracy and ease of programming, with comfort and assembly also rated highly – and so it should be, for £586.

But it's not all about the money. The highest-rated upright bike, which also joins the Tunturi at the top of Which?'s overall table, costs a mere £175 (versus the lowest-scoring bike, which would extract almost £600 from your wallet). The York Fitness Anniversary c201 was commended for its durability, accuracy, comfort, and interest factor, as well as ease of programming and assembly – and it is more than £400 cheaper than the Tunturi.

Then there are cross or elliptical trainers. These offer a more challenging overall cardiovascular workout, aiming to combine the effects of a treadmill, step machine and exercise bike, and are good for both weight loss and improving fitness. Because the movement is smooth, these machines are good for people with joint or other skeletal problems. Again, York Fitness comes out on top in this category, according to Which?, with the Diamond X302 at £429. It gets top marks for durability, accuracy and comfort, and also scores well for ease of programming and assembly. Plus, with four out of five for interest factor, there's plenty of display info to keep you occupied.

One cross trainer to avoid might be the Motive Fitness X1 Manual Magnetic. It is £30 more expensive than the York trainer, is difficult to put together, according to Which?, and fails to score highly for interest factor.

Where to buy

You can buy some fitness equipment direct from manufacturers, for example York Fitness at; York also offer second-hand or refurbished equipment at a discount. Others, including Tunturi (, don't sell direct to the public, but you can download user manuals and other information from their sites.

Large retailers, including high street names such as the sports superstore Decathlon and the department store John Lewis, stock a huge range of fitness equipment. And you can buy online from the likes of and

Check price comparison sites such as, or to ensure that you get the best price on your purchase, especially as large pieces of fitness equipment usually cost several hundred pounds. Be careful to take into account the cost of shipping, as these are large and heavy items.

Things to consider

Be realistic: Choose an exercise goal that will push you but is achievable – you're far more likely to keep at it.

Condition: If you are unused to exercising or have a medical condition, consult your doctor before buying equipment or starting a training regime.

Space: The layout of your exercise area can dictate what equipment you can use properly. Measure up before buying.

Warm up: ...and cool down as part of your programme, to help you avoid injury.

Second hand: Pre-owned equipment can save you hundreds of pounds. Best disinfect it first though.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information on the best exercise equipment, visit their website at To get three issues of Which? magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower