As previously discussed in Using Exercise Equipment at the GYM: Exercise for Dummies Part 2, modern exercise equipment at the gym can get a bit overwhelming and can be complicated for people who are beginners or just people that are technically challenged.
So in order to clarify some of the hassles and in order for you to better understand how to get the most out of these machines, I have comprised this article/manual to help you with the settings of these machines, and what each thing means. If you have ever been one of those people who were afraid to mount a machine, because there were all these buttons, settings, and digital red lights flashing at you, this will definitely help you to be better prepared to look like a professional when you hook yourself up with a major cardiovascular workout. So here are some descriptions of buttons and settings that you will find on exercise equipment at workout facilities and gyms:
Buttons, Settings, and Features Of Exercise Equipment
Each piece of exercise equipment serves its own purpose in a workout, although different people prefer to use different kinds of machines. You can choose stair climbers, the basic treadmill, the elliptical trainer, or the stationary bike or “spin cycle.” That is entirely your choice, although if you are a beginner and have not built up your endurance you may want to break yourself in with a brisk walk before you go crazy on the full body and interval machines. All of these machines have settings, buttons, and different features, however, if you know what one button means on each, you can use one to learn another and so on. Let’s go over the basics.
The Readings On The Screen- Most of this high-tech equipment possesses a screen of some sort that displays your settings, levels, features, programs, heart rate, minutes in use, and calories burned. Here is a brief explanation of each.
The Control Panel and Buttons- You will probably be overwhelmed with all the buttons that these machines have. You will notice arrows, probably levels, programs, you may enter your weight, and other things as well. Each button has a different purpose, but I will go into better detail further in this article.
Settings & Options- You have numerous options when utilizing this equipment. You can set the levels, choose a certain workout program, choose a level of fitness, select a certain resistance, change the intensity of the workout and the speed, and also how long of workout you want to perform.
Other Features and Perks- You will probably notice that not all workout machines are made alike. However, with the trends in fitness these pieces of equipment have some impressive features. Most of the newer models all come with ipod ports so individuals can listen to their music while exercising. There are also ones that talk, have instructions, have power boosting buttons for a surge of intensity to the workout, and can compose you a workout according to your weight, height, gender and age. They also have features that can work your arms, chest, and more when you want a full-body workout.
- Calories Burned- You will probably not that your display says calories burned. This is the estimated calories that your body has burned. It will increase as the length and intensity of your workout increases. Calories are units of energy acquired by food in which the body uses to convert to energy. Thus when you are performing action and burning energy- you are burning calories.
- Heart Rate- Heart rate is usually a wire that is connected to track the speed at which your heart is beating per minute or this equipment can supply an estimate at which your heart may be beating. Target heart rate is important, because when you exercise when you reach your target heart rate, you are reaching your maximum potential for fitness and cardiovascular health. These measurements enable a person to know if they are at their target heart rate or if they are not.
- The Timer- The timer measures the amount of time that you have been performing the workout and can also tell you how long you have set your workout for. There is often another notification known as the cool down (which will automatically take effect and decrease the speed at which the exercise is being performed 5-10 minutes prior to the workout or program ending.)
- Programs- Most trainers, treadmills, and cycles have different options of programs for 30 minute- or longer workouts. These auto set the machines to include resistance, intervals, workout boosts, and courses that are pre-set to different levels which you can choose beginner, intermediate, and advanced OR it can be a number selection between 1-9. Usually the screen displays your choices and you use the button to select and manually navigate through your choices. To lock in a setting normally enter is used.
- Levels- Typically you will see a levels button somewhere on the control panel. It may likely have up or down arrows. Up is for more intense workouts and down is for less intense workouts. If you are a beginner you may want to work up to the point where you slowly and gradually acquire stamina and endurance, because if you go at it too fast- it may kick your butt.
- Speed- Commonly there is a speed button that adjusts how fast or slow the machine moves or works with you throughout the exercise. This is another preference you can use to accommodate your fitness level. However, remember speed is not everything. Often times slow workouts done with intervals, and a little resistance can prove better for calorie burning and adaptation to fitness.
- Intensity Or Resistance- The intensity and resistance that you want in a workout can be very important for the overall results you want to accomplish. Resistance is great for muscle training and is known as the pressure at which your body is working against. Adding to the intensity of the workout is usually done for interval training which is known to boost metabolism and burn more calories than the average consistent cardiovascular exercise. This is also true for adding resistance which can also help build muscle and burn fat such as weight training.
- Safety Switch- There is always a safety switch with this type of exercise machinery. This is to prevent accidents and injury from occurring in case a person immediately needs to stop the exercise or loses their balance. The safety switch shuts down the machine in event of any emergency.
- Levers and Adjustments- There are ways to adjust the bars for arms, the seats, and the peddles on these types of machines. The levers to adjust the seat are located beside the seat and around the other areas that may need to be adjusted. Sometimes in the more modern versions, there are power controlled buttons where you can press a button to adjust to your height and comfort level for the peddles, arm features, and seats. This you will have to observe and decide for yourself, however it is usually quite obvious how it works on this one.
Although it can still be a bit complicated, you should never be afraid to ask someone how to use a piece of equipment that is located in a gym. Chances are that, they have been there before and have needed instruction or clarification on how to use them too. Just remember when all else fails, contact a representative, a trainer, or a person that is nearby to demonstrate to you how to use what it is you are trying or wanting to use. AND.. Never, ever, forsake a workout because you feel intimidated by a machine, instead be humble ask questions, research online, or just at least start pushing tons of buttons and learn!