DennisBeaverSeptember 08, 2012 (Original publish date) • By Dennis Beaver

Do you know what is both the most popular and most used types of home exercise equipment?

Treadmills — probably the most straightforward exercise machines — account for more than 55 percent of the home fitness market. Put a treadmill in front of a TV or other source of entertainment, and in no time at all you’ve run or walked a couple of miles, rewarded by a wonderful dose of endorphins, and feel great when stepping off,  a true believer in the delightfully addictive benefits of daily exercise.

Routinely, health care professionals recommend treadmill exercise to their patients, sometimes to help save a patient’s life. But there is a lot more to owning a treadmill than just buying the first one you see at a sporting goods store or from online recommendations which are often misleading, as Greg, our Lemoore reader, discovered earlier this year.

He is 35 years old, ex-Navy, and describes himself as always being a big boy. Now over 350 pounds, hypertensive and diabetic, his doctor “shamed me to stop eating like a pig and exercising for the people who love and depend on me,” Greg told us.

“She ordered me to buy a treadmill and run on it every day, and that’s what I did, after research online and a recommendation from a department store salesman. But after four months use, it completely fell apart, and the store refuses to do a thing.

“They tell me that it only had a 90-day warranty for parts and labor and I have to buy a new one,” our very sad and worried reader said.

Ninety-day, useless warranties are well known to the treadmill industry, as we learned from Brian Jamison, regional account manager for True Fitness Technology of St. Louis, Mo.

“Warranties are usually the last thing that a customer thinks of, and a 90-day warranty on exercise equipment is telling you to run the other way,” he stressed.

“I can’t afford to buy a new treadmill, Mr. Beaver. Can you help me?” Greg asked.

We only have one answer to someone with that kind of dedication: You bet we will!

He relied on your employee’s eecommendation

We spoke with the corporate media relations spokesperson for the store where Greg purchased his treadmill. We told her about Greg, his health issues, and how he relied on a specific recommendation from their salesman to buy a treadmill which was clearly not appropriate for someone his weight to run on every day.

“He served our country in the Navy, and now needs your help. What do you think is fair?” I asked, confident of her answer.

A split second later, she replied: “I feel bad about this. We owe our customers and especially military service people more. I am going to have our national sporting goods manager call your reader directly, and at no cost to him, Greg will have a top-quality treadmill in his house next week.”

‘Good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good’

“There’s an old saying that applies so well to exercise equipment,” Jamison said. “Good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good.” He then gave us these buying tips:

1) A treadmill will be the most used and abused appliance you’ll ever buy for your home. Invest in quality.

2) It has to be easy to use. A product with a lot of bells and whistles does not equate with something that is easy to use and which encourages use. Many people make the wrong investment in exercise equipment by going the inexpensive route, and because the machine is poorly designed, uncomfortable or difficult to use, it’s not used and winds up in the garage.

“Spending $700 on something that is never used turns out to be far more expensive and simply money wasted when compared to the right investment in a quality piece of equipment. This is why it is so important to visit your nearest specialty fitness store, where trained staff will guide you to products which will suit your needs, goals and limitations. Realistically, a quality, entry-level treadmill that you just walk on will cost from $2,200-$2,600. One for running will begin at $3,000.

“Reaching your goals in exercise and receiving the benefits are a direct result of your dedication, consistency and enjoyment of your exercise experience. High-quality exercise equipment encourages use, directly impacting your well-being. Whether you are a walker or a runner, there is a feeling of better health — perhaps from that time you are away from the world and its problems, simply investing in you,” Jamison concluded.

And Greg? He has been investing in himself, on the new, quality treadmill the store delivered.

It was one he could never have afforded. Along with it was a note, reading, “From a grateful country.”

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.