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Recommendations for fitness and exercise equipment?

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  • Recommendations for fitness and exercise equipment?

    I had posted this question in the "Health & Wellness" Forum, but after looking around a bit I think this particular forum gets more views. So, I'll re-post here:

    If you had $6000-$7000 to purchase fitness and exercise equipment for your station, what would you get? Our small volunteer dept is looking at outfitting a fitness room and could use some guidance from other departments. Right now, we're definitely leaning towards a:
    - treadmill
    - recumbent bicycle (sit-down, not an upright bike)

    Not sure if we should invest in an elliptical machine since we're most likely getting a treadmill and bike. Also not sure if we should purchase a home gym system (perhaps a bowflex or another system that uses plates like the Body Solid EXM1500S, just as one example); OR should we instead look into a set of barbells and adjustable benches. A friend of mine is a barbell fanatic and insists that most exercises can be done with barbells.

    Advice is always appreciated!


  • #2
    Aside from the barbell fanatic, do any of your other members work out at home (like on their own treadmill) or at a gym? See what they use and involve them in the selection process. They may also be successful in bringing others in to work out.

    Don't rule out an elliptical or stair climber - one of our members is doing a memorial stair climb this weekend, and if we had one, he'd probably have been on it.

    Once you do select your gear, consider an informal, friendly competition - have your members post their workouts where others can see them. We certainly don't want anyone to hurt themselves, but if Jack, Joe, and Bill start trying to outdo each other (say, distance/rise on the treadmill), they all benefit.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


    • #3
      We have had treadmills, elliptical, bikes, but the one thing that is still working and gets the most use is our stair climber.


      • #4
        Treadmill, stairclimber, and rowers for cardio.

        Your barbell 'fanatic' is correct that most strength movements can be done with an Olympic barbell, plates, a bench and a squat rack. A proper squat rack will ensure that an individual can train heavy alone safely if they fail during a lift. For example, if you are bench pressing alone, the safety arms can be set just below your range of motion so if you fail on a rep, the bar can be set on the safeties and you can get out from under the bar. That's much better than a regular bench with no safeties where the bar can end up on your neck if you fail. With squats, the same thing. If you get stuck in the hole at the bottom of your rep, you can set the bar on the safeties and get out from underneath instead of being stuck and having to dump the bar or fall backwards and land on the bar.

        The plus to a squat rack is many come with a chin-up bar, so you don't have to get a separate one of those, plus you can get dip and various other attachments so the rack becomes an all-in-one strength station.

        Two racks with benches plus the above mentioned cardio equipment and you'd be pretty much good to go.

        Do not ever, ever, buy a Bowflex or similar unit.

        Some vendors will be able to help out on price since you'd be buying more than one of something, plus its for a department. One of the biggest(and from personal experience, the best customer service) would be Rogue Fitness.
        Two departments, twice the fun...


        • #5
          While having treadmills, stair climbers, and weight equipment is great, nothing is more affordable and more functional than using some of what you already have, such as climbing actual stairs (in gear), dragging hose (attach it to an old tire for more resistance), chopping wood, etc.


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies. Absolutely agree w/ Tree in that you have to get input from the membership. What we've done to get input is ask our folks at drills and meetings what they would like to have and use, but then we also created a simple online survey using SurveyMonkey.com. This website was free, easy to use and allowed us to get even more input from our members.

            If anyone has any recommendation about brands/makes of treadmills, bikes, stair climbers, etc. to purchase (or not purchase), I'm all ears.


            • #7
              I know this is an old post, but I would like to chime in with my own two cents if I can. I used to be a huge fan of barbells and free weights because when they are used int he right way you can have a really great workout and they show effective results overtime. However, due to some lingering back issues, I began to read up on workouts and exercises that were not as taking on your body while still helping you achieve the same overall fitness.

              In lieu of barbells and weights, I now use a plethora of resistance bands that are much less harmful to your muscles and your body and they help you gain the same amount of conditioning and strength. Essentially, let's say you benchpress some barbells until failure, you could achieve the same results by doing a similar resistance band workout till failure. The only difference here is the fact that resistance bands are easier on your body. I pair the use of resistance bands with several laps in the pool each day to get in my cardio workout.


              • #8
                $6,000-7,000 is not a lot of money when talking about quality exercise equipment.

                I would say focus on cardio as compared to strength training. In a perfect world, you would have the funding to do both, but given a limited budget, it's the lack of cardio health and cardio endurance that is killing members. I would focus on treadmills, stairclimbers and the like.

                As one of the previous posters stated, a tremendous amount of work can be done using the tools we use for the job, including strength development. Do some research on fire stations drills that build muscle and cardio endurance utilizing fire fighting skills and tools.
                Train to fight the fires you fight.


                • #9
                  You should doing both. A properly designed program can allow cardio and strength to complement each other.
                  Two departments, twice the fun...


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MikeG344 View Post
                    You should doing both. A properly designed program can allow cardio and strength to complement each other.
                    I agree.

                    THat being said the amount of money the OP is talking about spending can be easily tied up in one treadmill or elipticval. Much of the strength training can be done using fire department equipment or some low cost barbells or even discarded large tires.

                    If you do look at LODD data, much of it is tied to cardio-realted causes.
                    Train to fight the fires you fight.


                    • #11
                      Just to follow up on my initial post, our station ended up purchasing a mix of cardio and strength training equipment:
                      recumbent bike
                      dumbbell set
                      small home gym
                      rack cage system
                      medicine balls
                      floor mats
                      weight bench

                      We also received a donated elliptical and another smaller exercise bike, a few sets of barbell weights and assorted bars.

                      Also picked up a cool book called Functional Fitness Book, made for firefighters.


                      • #12
                        How about a nice big log out behind the firehouse and an 8 pound axe. Chop alternating right and left side. Start out at a couple minutes each side and work up to 5 or more each side. Heck of a workout for your upper body.

                        Have you got a hose tower? In full gear carry the high rise pack up and down the stairs. Cardio and strength work out.

                        Single person 24 foot ladder throws.

                        LDH drag.

                        I'm not opposed to exercise equipment but some real world skills an strength work is great exercise.
                        Crazy, but that's how it goes
                        Millions of people living as foes
                        Maybe it's not too late
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