One machine that meets all your gym needs


I am often asked what is the best single piece of aerobic equipment you should have in your .  A stationary bike, or stepper, for instance?

The answer, for the broadest range of users in terms of age and , is a good cross-trainer. Now, I might have gone with a rowing machine, as that gives you the hardest all-over – legs, arms, core and aerobic – but a cross-trainer works all the parts of the body while allowing you to keep going for a bit longer than most people can manage on a rower.

It works the legs, obviously, and some can even isolate the glutes, calves or thighs. And it works the arms too, if you use the levers properly. Interestingly, it also brings in the core if you let go of the handles and just let your legs do all the work.

The better cross-trainer machines will have programs that tell you when to favour your arms, your legs and even when to reverse the cycling motion to bring other muscles into play.  If it has a heart rate monitor, so much the better.

Now, most block buildings will have, as their basic pieces of kit, a treadmil and a stationary bike.  So why is a cross-trainer better than a bike?  Because it is weight bearing while a bike takes all your weight on your backside.

Why is it better that a treadmill (which is also weight bearing)?  Because it has very low impact on your knees, which is a big issue for older people or those who may be carrying a bit of weight.

Now, as with most kinds of gym kit, there is a huge range of cross-trainers available – from the frankly pathetic TV offers to top of the price range professional gear.  As in most areas in life, you only get what you pay for.  So if your block is about to upgrade its gym gear, persuade them to invest in the best cross-trainer they can afford.

And one other thing, however attractive these late night TV equipment offers may seem, there’s a few points you should remember.

1.  The guys and girls with diamond hard abs and glutes probably did not get them working on a machine that claims to make exercise effortless.

2. If you have never seen the machine they are advertising in a real gym, it probably means it’s worthless.

3. Never forget that great stand-up comedian line:  “I bought an exercise machine off the TV and it does exactly what they claimed … it fits under the bed.”

If you want specific advice on the best equipment to fit your price range, email me on


Learn more from Title fitness editor Grant Hyde at



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