Gyms are a great way to get in shape. But attendance drops when New Year's resolutions wane.
"People stop working out for all sorts of reasons. But lack of time and inconvenience are two of the most common," said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports. "When you have an exercise machine at home, you eliminate both of those factors."
Consumer Reports tested treadmills, rowing machines, spin bikes and ellipticals.
"If you're just starting out or you have back, hip, or knee problems, an elliptical is a great alternative to a treadmill," said Consumer Reports Senior Analyst Peter Anzalone. "It creates less impact on your joints and it can still give you a great cardio workout."
I got a chance to actually visit the Consumer Reports labs, and Anzalone told me what they look for when testing.
"User safety, construction, ease of use, quality," said Anzalone.
Rather than have countless exercisers on the machines they invented a device that is controlled by air and tests among things, including the different levels of resistance.
"How well the equipment accommodates different statures of people; that the elliptical stride suits your particular stride," said Anzalone.
After testing dozens, the AFG 3.1AE Elliptical, for $1,100, is a great choice.
And with the popularity of indoor cycling, many want a spin bike at home. Consumer Reports Analyst Rich Handel asked cycling buffs to test the bike, mimicking moves done in class.
"For the actual panel testing we did about a minute in each position, warm up and then the exercise," said Handel.
They looked for one that's sturdy, stable, quiet, with solid hand grips.
Consumer Reports recommends the Diamondback Fitness 510IC for $800 that has a built-in workout program.
Another non-weight-bearing workout machine is a rower. While water-rowers offer a soothing sound, Consumer Report also looked for one that accommodates different-size users and has varied adjustments for foot pedals. The winner? The $900 Concept2 Model D.
And with treadmills being the most popular exercise machine, analysts remind us to make sure you've got room. Most average 7 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and you'll want at least 3 feet behind and a couple feet on each side. You'll also want one with a safety clip to stop the belt immediately.
Consumer Reports uses a machine known as the "Johnny Walker" to test treadmills. It simulates a 170-pound runner putting on a half-a-year's use.
The ProForm PRO 2000 was voted the "Best Buy" for around $1,200. It folds and is easy to store.