Fitness Equipment Safety Tips

Vision Fitness is a company that strives to make products that are safe to use. See below for a list of guidelines that can help you use your cardio equipment safely. Remember you can always refer to your Owner’s Manual for specifications.

Treadmills

  • Safety Key – The safety key is a red (or rarely black) magnetic piece that has a cord with a clip at the end. Make sure you are wearing the clip from the safety key anytime you use the treadmill, and have the safety key in the correct spot on the console. In case you feel light-headed, nauseous or need to stop unexpectedly, place both hands on the side arm rests to hold yourself up, place your feet onto the side rails and pull the safety key to stop the treadmill running belt immediately.
  • Space – It’s important to have enough space around the unit for use. You can check your Owner’s Manual for specifics. Generally you should leave a clear zone behind the treadmill that is at least the width of the treadmill and at least 79” long. This zone must be clear of any obstruction and provide the user a clear exit path from the machine. For ease of access, there should be a space on each side of the treadmill that is equal to 36” (915 mm) to allow a user to approach the treadmill from either side.
  • Maintenance – Another small, but ever so important, step in keeping your unit safe is following the maintenance. Refer to your Owner’s Manual for specifics, but generally it will be tightening the assembly bolts once a month, wiping the machine down after each use, waxing the treadmill deck (IF NECESSARY), and vacuuming any dust and debris out from underneath the motor cover.

Ellipticals, Bikes, & Ascent Trainers

  • Space – There should be one foot of clearance in front of the elliptical for the power cord. For ease of access, there should be space on each side of the elliptical equal to 36” (915 mm) to allow a user to approach the machine from either side.
  • Maintenance – Refer to your Owner’s Manual for specifics, but you should be tightening the assembly bolts on your machine once a month, wiping down the machine after each use, and all for elliptical only, making sure the tracks and wheels are clean and clear of debris.

Check your Owner’s Manual for specific information, but keeping safety in mind will also help your machine run longer and stronger for you.

Fitness Nutrition: Eating Right for Your Best Workout

It’s no secret that what you eat highly affects the quality of your home workouts. Without the right fuel, you lose performance and motivation, making you sluggish. Need help planning your nutrition strategy? Here are a few common nutritional challenges and a little advice on how to make them work for you.

Challenge 1: You’re working to lose weight and battling a tight schedule with work and family. You’ll be hitting the elliptical at 5 a.m. and really don’t have the time or appetite for breakfast. Besides, you’ve heard that working out on an empty stomach can help you burn fat.

Making it work: Although working out in a fasted state forces your body to burn fat as fuel, you won’t train as hard or burn as many calories, so you’ll lose ground by the time you eat breakfast. A better bet is an easily digested carbohydrate immediately prior to or during your workout. Great morning pre-workout snacks include juice, a sports drink or a banana smoothie. You may end up taking in a few more calories ahead of time, but you’ll burn them off with better performance during your workout and improved recovery following. Within an hour post-workout, top off with breakfast, including carbs and protein, for the most effective recovery and your best use of nutrients. Eggs and toast or a smoothie containing fruit and milk are both great options. On the go, try a nutrition bar containing both carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio.

Challenge 2: You and your treadmill are meeting up for a 75-minute distance run after work as part of your half marathon training plan. You don’t want to run out of steam, but the afternoon snack you tried before your last workout left you with a side ache for your entire run.

Making it work: Your last snack probably didn’t work for you because of the timing or the content. If your workout is more than four hours from your lunch, you’re going to need a carbohydrate-heavy snack before you run. If you are one hour out from your workout, think simple carbs like those given above. Two to three hours out, you can probably tolerate something that has a little more fiber and even some protein to give you better nutrition and staying power. Stay low fat, since fat is likely to lead to digestion issues and stomach upset during your run. You might want to start by trying some low fat yogurt and a piece of fruit or some whole grain toast and jam about three hours before your run. Since your run is more than an hour, you’ll also want to experiment with adding in some easily digested carbs, such as a watered down sports drink, during your run.

Challenge 3: Building activity into your daily life has you looking forward to a laid back ride tonight with your favorite playlist and your indoor cycle after the kids are in bed. You don’t want to skip dinner with your family, but you know that a big meal makes for an uncomfortable workout. You also know that proper refueling is important, but you don’t want to overdo it before bed.

Making it work: Since your workout is low impact, you have a little more flexibility on eating beforehand, but you’re still better off keeping your meal light and low fat. Try reducing your portions by a third to half and skip the butter on your bread and veggies (great steps for losing weight, anyway!). You’re right that post workout you’ll need a little something before bed. Once again, concentrate on getting in some carbs and protein for the best recovery, although a little fat at this point won’t hurt you and might keep you satisfied through the night. You could try some pretzels and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or toast and a boiled egg.

The keys to fueling your home workout are to use your pre-workout window to emphasize carbohydrates that are easily digested with a bit of protein and fiber if you’re at least 2 hours out from your workout. For long workouts (more than an hour), you’ll need to add in a little something during the workout to keep you going. This should be easily digested and primarily a carbohydrate, such as sports drink, energy gel, or a banana and water. Post workout, concentrate on getting a meal within the next hour or two or a snack that contains both carbs and protein to help you protect the muscle you’re building and to help your body access its fat stores for better results. Following these few basic steps will make a big difference in the results you see from your workouts.

 

The Benefits of Using Stationary Bikes

Although new exercise routines and regimens seem to appear on a daily basis, and treadmills and ellipticals continue to be the most popular cardio pieces in the gym, don’t overlook the original piece of stationary exercise equipment, the bike. The benefits of using an exercise bike are numerous and diversified. It is a great workout for beginning exercisers, elite athletes, those returning from injuries, or someone doesn’t have the space or budget for a high-end treadmill or elliptical.

Other than training your cardiovascular system and burning calories, the single most significant benefit to using a stationary bike is that it allows you to do those things without the pounding and impact of weight bearing exercises. An exercise bike allows you to train while giving your skeletal system and joints a break. So physiologically, you can see how it is useful to every type of exerciser.

Although there are dual action bikes (with upper body arms) available, most bikes in use today are lower body upright and recumbent bikes. Don’t fall into the trap believing that because you are not using your upper body, you are not getting a good workout. The largest muscles in the body are in your legs and when you put them in motion against resistance, you will get a great workout.

Stationary bikes are a great way for first time exercisers, overweight users looking to lose weight and those needing a low-impact workout to begin an exercise program. They are fixed motion pieces that require very little coordination and are relatively easy to use. You can elevate your heart rate and burn calories and fat without the stress of a weight bearing exercise.

For elite athletes, the bike provides a great complementary cross training workout, while reducing the risk of developing overuse injuries. You can get off your feet and give your joints a break from impact activities, yet you can continue to train your cardiovascular system. Each activity you do works your muscles differently. The bike can also add variety to you workout routines.

Finally, if you are recovering from an injury or joint replacement, the bike can be an integral part of your recovery and help get you back on your feet doing what you love to do.

Finally, cost and space. These are two of the biggest factors or hurdles people encounter when trying to decide on a piece of fitness equipment for the home. If you can’t commit to at least $1,500 for a quality treadmill or a $1,000 for a quality elliptical, a stationary bike may be the better option for you. There are many quality choices for under a $1,000. Or, if you are tight on space, the bikes take up less room and are portable. Just wheel it out in front of the TV and you are on your way to a healthier future.

Summary of Benefits

  • Trains cardiovascular system
  • Burns calories
  • Low impact
  • Easy to use
  • Low risk of injury
  • Helps develop leg strength
  • Excellent form of cross training
  • Can add variety to weight bearing exercise routines
  • Bikes take up less space
  • Are typically more affordable
  • Are portable

So if you’re in the market for a new piece of cardio equipment, consider an exercise bike for a great low impact workout that you can easily fit in your home.

Travel to Different Destinations without Leaving Home

Keep your workouts fresh and exciting. Exercising with Passport Media Player can transform your static workout­ routine into a dynamic adventure, filled with intensity, excitement and education. While en route, scrolling text appears on-screen to inform the user about locations along the way.

Compatible with all Vision Fitness Classic, Touch and Elegant consoles, Passport Media Player with Virtual Active (available for purchase as an accessory) allows users to travel to exotic locations from all over the world.  Below are two of my favorite locations destinations, though that may change as more destinations will become available in the future.

Chicago destination on Virtual Active

While traveling through Chicago, you’ll notice thousands of tulips along Michigan Avenue, also known as ‘The Magnificent Mile.’ These tulips typically bloom in late April, just north of the Chicago River. The historic Water Tower is the largest shopping district in Chicago, with an impressive 3.1 million square feet of retail space. More than 22 million people visit this area annually, where dozens of the world’s leading luxury retailers have a strong presence.

Along your journey you’ll pass through Millennium Park, which is known for its beautiful and interesting public art installations. The infamous ‘Cloud Gate’ (referred to by Chicago residents as ‘The Bean’) is a three-story, 110-ton sculpture that distorts objects with its curved mirror/reflective surface.

From there, you’ll travel along the Chicago River through the heart of downtown. There are 38 movable bridges that span across this river. In a feat of engineering, the flow of the river was reversed for sanitation purposes in the early 1900s. The river is famously dyed green each year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In1992, the river broke into an underground freight tunnel network, flooding the lover levels of many buildings.

Italy

The journey to Northern Italy takes you though areas where early adventurers in the Bronze Age were attracted to due to the prevalence of copper ore. Marble, semiprecious stones and oil shales have also been found in this region. Travel along the historic road to Timmelsjoch, which was built in 1959 to accommodate tourists while seamlessly blending into the landscape. Back in 2007, this infamous city had an average of 50,000 tourists a day. On the border of Austria in Italy’s Otztal Alps, Timmelsjoch is often referred to as the ‘secret passage’ because it is used less heavily than other mountain passes in the area.

The transition from Timmelsjoch to Venice is quite noticeable as Venice has no roads and is only navigable on foot or by boat. Known for its canals, gondolas, and beautiful architecture, Venice is also recognized for its film festival. Founded in 1934, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world. Another site worth noting along your voyage is Piazza San Marco, or ‘The drawing room of Europe.’ This is one of the few great urban spaces left in the area that’s not polluted by the sound of motorized traffic.

Try either of these destinations on your Vision Fitness treadmill, elliptical or exercise for an entirely different, interactive workout experience.

Train with the Intervals Program on Your Exercise Bike for a Change of Pace

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise BikeThe Intervals program on a Vision Fitness® upright or recumbent bike can be a valuable tool in your fitness regimen. Bikes are a great way to get your cardio training in, while giving your skeletal system a break from the stress of a weight-bearing exercise like treadmill running. One of the keys to exercising on a bike is maintaining a sufficient level of intensity so you are maximizing your time spent exercising. Unlike a treadmill that forces a user to keep up, on a bike, the user must push himself/herself to keep the level of intensity up where he/she is truly benefiting from the workout. This is where a program like Intervals can really help.

What is interval training?
Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the level of intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. The goal for interval training is to push the body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level with the objective of improving your performance.

The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrates. A general parameter to measure where this threshold is would be 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. According to the web site www.medicinenet.com, train below 85 percent and it’s aerobic; train above 85 percent and it’s anaerobic. (For more info on monitoring your heart rate, click here.)

Using the preset Intervals program

After selecting the Intervals program on your console, you will be prompted to enter in your age, your desired time and your weight. Once you have done this, the console will then ask you to enter in the difficulty level. This may require a trial and error period as you figure out which level will best challenge you. The resistance level will automatically change from segment to segment, alternating between a higher level of resistance (the active phase) and a lower level of resistance (the rest phase). These changes in resistance are designed to push you past your aerobic zone and into your anaerobic zone during the active phase, as described in the paragraph above. The duration of each segment is determined by the total time you entered in the beginning.

The benefits of interval training are numerous, and it is becoming the preferred method of training for many of today’s elite athletes. Benefits such as burning more fat, decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, strengthening your immune system, and lowering cholesterol, are all attributed to interval training according to Dr. Joseph Mercola (www.mercola.com). Also, it can ultimately put less stress on your joints because you are exercising for shorter periods of time.

The beauty of this program, especially on a bike, is that anyone can start it and begin to reap the benefits immediately. Interval training can closely simulate participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and lacrosse. All are activities that include quick bursts of energy intermingled with periods of active rest.

Interval training has long been a favorite of coaches because it can be an effective means of improving an athlete’s cardiovascular capacity, thus helping their performance on the field. It can also help an individual burst through those dreaded “plateaus” we have all encountered at one time or another after performing the same exercise routines for an extended period of time.

For me personally, the active phase helps push me to workout harder, while reducing my perception of how long I have been working out, a big-time bonus in my opinion. So if you are looking for some variety and want to spice things up, I suggest you get off your feet, get on a bike and challenge yourself with an intense Intervals program.

 

Tips for Purchasing a New Exercise Bike

During my days as a sales representative, it always amazed me when people in need of an exercise bike would typically ask a lot of questions about bikes, but would rarely get on and try them. There are many exercise bikes on the market and, like any other product, there are designs that will fit your needs and others that won’t. The most important thing to do is try out a variety of models and choose the best one for you. Here are some tips on what to look for in an exercise bike.

Comfort

There are two major frame styles of bikes from to choose: recumbent and upright. The number one question I received over the years was, “Which is better, recumbent or upright?” There is no right or wrong answer. Both styles keep you moving and raise your heart rate. Because both styles of bikes require you to sit, a comfortable seat is extremely important.

Recumbent bikes

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Vision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike with reclining seat feature.

This is a great option for users who require extra lumbar support. Many recumbent bikes, like the Vision Fitness® R20, now offer adjustable mesh seats which tend to be more comfortable and use a more breathable material that significantly reduces the amount of sweat build-up.There are also seats, such as that on the R40, which have an additional “recline” feature, allowing the user to be slightly tilted back, thus opening up the diaphragm and enabling easier breathing. It is a wonderful feature for pregnant women who would like to (comfortably) continue their cardiovascular training. A “walk-thru” recumbent bike makes it easier for a user to comfortably enter and exit the bike. This is particularly important for those who have sustained a lower-body injury and/or users with mobility setbacks.

Upright bikes

For the average person who is used to and enjoys a more traditional bike, an upright frame is the way to go. Much like with the recumbent, a comfortable seat is extremely important. Ensure that you have enough padding/comfort so you can sustain your workout for your intended duration. Remember, if you’re not comfortable on any given piece of equipment, you won’t use it!

Adjustability/Stability

The more adjustability you have, the more you can customize your perfect fit. Recumbent bikes have a front/back seat adjustment, while upright bikes have an up/down adjustment.

Check the seat adjustment for ease of use. It should have a very simple lever to pull, and the seat should slide smoothly to accommodate your height. If it is a struggle to adjust the seat, check out alternative bikes. If the bike will have multiple users, seat adjustments that contain a numbering system might be best. Numbering systems are an easy way to remember your preferred position and quickly adjust.

The stability of a bike is also very important. The last thing you want is for your bike to be rocking back and forth or from side to side. Better bikes have adjustable stabilizers to provide a more stable ride. Shake the recumbent exercise bike while you are sitting on it. Poorly made recumbent exercise bikes wobble as you peddle. A quality machine should not move at all after you’ve properly stabilized it.

Quiet/SmoothVision Fitness R40 Recumbent Exercise Bike

Quality components are important for any piece of mechanical equipment. Exercise bikes are no different. Higher-end bikes will use a wider internal drive belt, which provides more surface area and a smoother, more fluid feel. Make sure the pedals of the recumbent exercise bike move in a smooth motion. It should feel natural and not make any funny noises. If you need to move your legs at unnatural angles, the machine is not a good fit.

Finally, purchasing an exercise bike is an investment in your health and wellness. Take the time to seek out a specialty store in your area and speak with a trained sales associate. They are there to help you find the perfect piece of equipment and assist you in reaching your goals comfortably and efficiently.