There are hundreds and maybe thousands of fitness gurus claiming to have the perfect answer, the “magic bullet” for fitness and a solution for a healthier body and lifestyle. Well, I’m not going to pretend to have the perfect answer! However, I do have some tips on easy-to-use exercise equipment that may be some of the best for all ages and is particularly suitable for those of us who are baby boomers or a little more experienced. It’s the Bowflex… any version, but a basic machine like the Bowflex Sport is a perfect place to start.
So what’s the catch here? Absolutely no cheating at all…just an enthusiasm to share some thoughts on perhaps one of the most efficient, versatile and affordable exercise machines available for home use. The Bowflex combines aerobic exercise and strength training with a smooth pulley and power bar resistance system that’s easy to set up. You can easily change resistance with the power bars through a wide range of motion for a complete aerobic and strength workout. Now don’t get me wrong on the expected results. Bowflex ads feature muscular, smiling young men who we would all like to look like, regardless of age. Well now you may just want to regain some muscle tone and some of that past strength and endurance you once had. In any case, here we are with 55, 60, 65+ and AARP card holders. Most of us simply want to maintain or improve our strength, muscle tone, and respiratory efficiency. Today many doctors and fitness experts advocate weight training and especially the use of free weights as we age. Everyone now recognizes that maintaining and/or building our strength is critical in later years. Sure, we’ll function with increased confidence and renewed strength, but we’ll also be less likely to fall, and if we do, less likely to break, since strength training increases our bone mass. What we don’t hear about too often is the potential for injury with free weights if not properly supervised. In addition to the potential for injury, there is also a need for other equipment, such as multiple benches and racks, to get a full range of activities with free weights.
So let’s talk about the Bowflex. Perhaps you’ve watched the infomercials and watched the group of muscular young men and women gather around a Bowflex machine and marvel at how easy it works and the quality of the workout it provides. So how does this apply to you…at age 55, 60, 65 or older?
First, you can use Bowflex safely without the need for a partner. However, before starting a program, check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have physical ailments that prevent vigorous exercise. The Bowflex is a home device, and since it is in your home, it is available at any time. I must warn you about the “now you can use it anytime you choose” hype. That may be correct, but to be successful you need to set a consistent time each day for your workout. Once you start failing or changing timings, you’re in real danger of skipping days and then a week or more and then all of a sudden you don’t have a set schedule and you’re back to being a couch potato.
The Bowflex machine comes with a very good exercise and instruction manual and most will also have an instructional DVD. Let’s go over some real-world Bowflex 101 and set some realistic goals and easy-to-follow instructions:
1.Keep a set schedule, either daily or every other day. Many prefer exercise routines early in the morning so they don’t get canceled later in the day by unexpected events…or loss of willpower. Early workouts also tend to set a positive go-for-it attitude when those endorphins kick in after a good long vigorous workout. Many experts say that the most effective time for the body to exercise is mid-afternoon and the least effective is at night. Exercising late into the night can also cause some sleep disruption.
2. Review the exercise manual provided by Bowflex but don’t become a slave to the routines described. Although the programs were developed by experts, let your own sense of what works be your guide.
3.After reviewing the manual, establish your initial program routine and stick to it for at least two full weeks or more without deviating. Maintaining a consistent pattern will allow you to assess whether the program you have selected is comfortable for you and not too boring. It is important to make training interesting and challenging. Boredom can cause you to drop out of school, so don’t let that happen!
4. Design your program to include aerobic and strength exercises. While Bowflex will go a long way in building strength, aerobics are fantastic and important.
5. Start with easy resistance power rods. Remember, this is going to be a lifestyle addition and not a quick fix, so there’s no reason to use too much weight resistance at first. It is best to get comfortable with the operation of the Bowflex using a lower resistance and then gradually increase the weight/resistance.
6. Don’t feel obligated to “do the manual.” Select the exercises that work well with your strength and flexibility and rotate through them. However, be sure to balance your upper body, arms, legs, and abs in your program.
7.Make sure you take advantage of the aerobic rowing motion. The seat slides easily and the resistance power rods and pulleys are exceptionally smooth.
8. Get creative! In no time, you’ll be totally at ease and able to handle any of the Bowflex routines. When that happens, you’ll be ready to mix and match and create new routines on your own.
So while this is an exercise machine for all ages, the Bowflex, in my experience, is exceptionally well-suited for the great generation of Baby Boomers and beyond. Its simplicity of setup, easy process of switching from one workout routine to another, wide range of weight resistance, and easy, fluid motion give this machine an A++ rating in my book. While this is not an advertisement, you may want to check out the Bowflex website or other websites that offer exercise equipment. In any case, start with a healthier lifestyle.
Be active, be healthy and be happy!