Here it is: My first blog post ever. What treadmill should I buy? Should I use a treadmill? What you need to know about treadmills, ellipticals, stair masters, any stationary cardio equipment, and how to get the best return on your investment of time and money when you exercise. My good friend Bob Miller, who owns RW Miller Jr. & Associates and by the way is a fantastic Human Resources professional posted a question on Facebook recently asking: "I want to buy an elliptical machine - anyone have any suggestions?" Another friend replied that he should get a treadmill because treadmills "stay in use the longest." I thought answering this question and commenting would make an interesting and helpful blog post. I don't recommend buying an elliptical or for that matter a treadmill, a step machine, an arc trainer, or any piece of stationary cardio equipment with one exception which I'll get to shortly. Why does somebody buy a treadmill or elliptical machine? I imagine for most people, because they want to lose weight or maybe they want to get moving, get in shape, tone up, etc… Well buying a stationary piece of cardio equipment is NOT the best solution. This leads us to: What is cardio? For me, cardio can be defined as increasing your heart rate to a designated range for an extended period of time. Is it good for you? Absolutely! However; cardio alone doesn't give you the best Return on your investment of time. Let's talk about using a treadmill. First, it was Mark Verstegen, The President and Founder of Athletes Performance who told me that "Running on a treadmill is NOT running." You see on a treadmill the belt keeps pulling you back which deactivates your glutes. Not cool at all! It's not functional. It's unnatural movement. Chris Nentarz from EnduraSports, who we are fortunate to be part of our team and does regular work for us on site at TrainSMART, informed me that Woodway has a treadmill called Curve that doesn't use power and is manual. So this is a very rare exception and there may be others on the market that I'm not aware of. Also, we live in a multi planar world so why would we train in a single plane. In life, we don't simply move only forward (saggital plane). We move backwards, side to side (frontal plane), and we rotate (transverse plane). We need to train accordingly. But, even if all this isn't enough to convince you that you don't need a stationary piece of cardio equipment consider this. 70% of all the calories we burn come from our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Your RMR is simply the calories that you burn from running the machine that is your body. Yes. You're burning calories right now while you're reading this article, when you sleep, think, breathe, circulating blood, pumping your heart, perspiring, etc… 20% of all the calories we burn come from Activities of Daily Living. 10% of all the calories we burn come from the Thermic Effect of Food (digestion). I learned this from dotFIT. This doesn't change dramatically even if you work out hard 3 - 4 times per week. So the best way to burn calories or better yet lose fat is to increase your RMR. You see it's not primarily about the calories that you burn during the 30 to 90 minutes that you're working out. It's about what's happening the other 22.5 to 23.5 hours of the day. The best way to increase RMR is to add healthy lean mass (muscle)! Stationary cardio work is not going to do it. You need to do resistance training, preferably in a multi-planar environment. When you do resistance training you are not only burning calories, you're giving your body a stimulus that is going to increase your RMR for the next 24 - 48 hours. It starts the process of turning your body into a fat burning machine! This is the key to losing fat and inches which is far more important than losing actual weight. The answer? What I do recommend as a practical, sustainable, and extremely affordable alternative to cardio equipment is functional body weight training and exercises. These can be done at home with limited space and access to little or no exercise equipment. Functional body weight training (you can add weight of course) allows you to reap the benefits of resistance training, increase lean mass, build strength, improve balance, improve flexibility / mobility while getting every single bit of the benefit of cardio training all at the same time. That's what I call a great Return on your Investment of time! You can't beat it! Lastly, my favorite tool for functional body weight resistance exercise is TRX. I'm a huge fan! TRX is a suspension training system that uses a single anchor point, weighs 1.5 pounds, can train every muscle in your body from toe nail to finger nail, is for anyone at any level of fitness, and can be used anywhere. I have one bolted on to a weight loading support beam in my basement that I use all the time. I love it! I hope this was helpful. Please contact me with questions. Thank you, Joe Fox Joe Fox is founder and President of TrainSMART Personal Fitness, a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a Functional Movement Systems Specialist, a TRX Professional Education Graduate (Suspension Training, Group Suspension Training, and Sports Medicine), a Business First HealthCare 50 Winner recognizing medical professionals for improving the quality of healthcare in WNY, a former NY State Powerlifting Champion, and was recently featured in article in Business First titled "What Makes You Sweat?"