Q. My New Year resolution is fitness and exercise. I am shopping for gym equipment, what advice may BBB provide for making wise purchase decisions?

A. Many people are finding ways to set up a home gym as a way to stay in shape without coming into contact with others and maybe even stay within their newly resolved budget. But, in some cases, the equipment can be costly. BBB has some tips on what to know when considering gym equipment and staying within budget:

How to choose and purchase home gym equipment:

Consider your physical needs. Start with your fitness needs and goals. Any equipment you buy should match up with your objectives and interests – otherwise you may not use the equipment after the initial excitement wears off. If you have any existing health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, or a back injury, check with your doctor about what kind of exercises and equipment are safe to use. Review the appropriate exercises and strength resistance as well to avoid further injury.

Set a budget. With such a wide variety of home gym equipment on the market, it is relatively easy to set up an effective home gym on just about any budget. Review your budget on how much you can afford to spend on home gym equipment and compare it to the money saved if you terminated an existing gym membership. The National Academy of Sports Medicine and Consumer Reports, has useful guides that can help you choose the right equipment for your specific budgeted amount.

Measure your space. Another consideration that will affect your purchasing decision is how much space you have to dedicate to your home gym. Measure the work out space carefully to see if specific pieces of equipment will fit. More importantly, measure any entryways the equipment must fit through to reach your home gym space as well.

Read consumer reviews. Once you've found a piece of equipment that matches your fitness objectives, is within your budget, and physically fits in your designated space, it's time to start reading reviews. Read multiple reviews from several retailers and pay close attention to any comments about the quality of the equipment and the experience with the retailer. Reference these comments when making a final purchasing decision.

Beware of "get fit quickly" solutions. Don't give in to the temptation to buy equipment that promises miraculous results. Maintaining physical health is a long-term endeavor that will require effort. If a seller says their equipment will get you in shape with little to no effort, a healthy dose of skepticism is advised.

If possible, test equipment before you buy. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends wearing exercise clothes and athletic shoes to try out exercise equipment before you buy it. Many brick and mortar stores have display equipment you can try before you make a purchase. Make sure you can operate and feel comfortable using any equipment you plan on adding to your home gym.

Compare prices. Since exercise equipment is often sold by multiple retailers, compare prices between sporting goods stores and manufacturers. You may be able to find the same product for a lower price at a different store. You can also consider purchasing used equipment, but proceed with caution. Most second-hand equipment is purchased "as-is," and sales are often final with no option to return.

Understand delivery options. When purchasing large home gym equipment like treadmills or weight machines, find out how you will get the equipment from the store to your home. Read carefully or talk directly to a sales representative to find out how much shipping costs, what delivery fees you can expect to pay, and whether or not the delivery person will set up the equipment for you.

Inquire about fitness equipment returns, refund policies, and warranties. New home gym equipment usually comes with a guarantee or warranty program, but some retailers may have altered these due to the pandemic. Retailers may now have special restrictions for delivery and returns so before placing an order, find out if a retailer has a return policy, if refunds are available and how they are issued, what the return process is, who pays for return shipping, how much it costs for heavy gym equipment, and if you will be charged a restocking fee.

Inspect equipment before purchasing or upon delivery. Before you take the equipment home, make sure it is in perfect condition with no defects. The same goes for receiving a delivery. If you notice the equipment is missing pieces or damage, you aren't obligated to accept it.

Understand in-store financing before you agree to it. If a store offers you in-house financing for larger equipment purchases, read the financing plan carefully. Find out how long the financing lasts, how much interest you will pay, and whether there is a fee to pay the balance in full early. If a retailer offers you a rent-to-own plan, read the FTC's advice on renting to own. .

For more information

See the article BBB Tip: Smart Online Shopping, if you plan to purchase gym equipment online. If you prefer to find a safe gym to work out in lieu of setting up a home gym, see the BBB Tip: Joining a Gym. .

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.

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file photo / Jim Winsett of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga