I have been an avid cyclist for almost 20 years but for about the past 5 have been Mountain biking or trail riding whichever you prefer to call it. I love it; there is nothing better than riding through the woods with only the sounds of nature, your bike, breathing, and music.Read More
Supporting The YMCA: A Mission-Driven Organization
By Dane Burks
I started my career in Wellness more than 22 years ago in college. It seems that I have done every job there is in one fashion or another so I can, at least, say I am well rounded. I worked for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee for eight years before starting my company but continued to be involved in YMCA. I donated my time as a training instructor for four years after I left and probably certified/orientated 500 people to the Y’s strength training methodology.Read More
I recently took a trip up to Columbus with Dane and my cousin Jason to see the events at The Arnold Classic. It was a great experience to see all the amazing athletes, and we got to watch the Olympic lifters with Arnold himself. He was taking selfies with the lifters in the background — we got a giggle out of that!
Though it was an incredible exhibit of human feats of strength and the amazing things people can do when they choose, this article isn't about that. Not directly, anyway. It's not about Olympic lifting, or powerlifting, or Strongman, or Crossfit. It's about a person that I miss and love dearly. A person I lost about 20 years ago.
As I watched the powerlifters do some incredible lifts - some up to three times their body weight - it brought back memories of Mark. He was my first cousin and a natural athlete. He was not only that, he was someone I respected very much.
When we were kids, he would come to our house and work doing whatever he could around the house to earn money. He was always ambitious. He was working and saving, and growing. And growing. He'd come inside and down a gallon of milk. It would drive my mother crazy! She'd get up to make eggs or cereal and say "Where's the milk? I just bought a gallon yesterday, where did it go?" Mark would be at our house daily and daily he'd eat everything in the house. My memory of him at this time, around age 14, was of a tall, lanky boy and his push mower always with a gallon of milk in his hand.
He was tall and lean and powerful. He got it honestly. Our grandfather was a big, strong man. His father is a big, strong man. It was in his genes.
When I was about 20 years old, I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida to live with Mark at the beach. He was the same age as me but somehow seemed so much older and wiser. He had his own business, took care of his younger siblings who were still in high school. He drove a Corvette, had a great house, and a giant cell phone (it was 1990). I looked up to him. He was so very all-American and inspiring.
He started powerlifting when he was in his early 20s. Very quickly, he became a top lifter in the South. While I lived with him, I got to witness firsthand the life of a powerlifter: the diet of massive amounts of protein and hours in the gym training. He loved it. And, I loved watching him lift. He would always do Arnold impressions.
He loved everything. Life was good for him. Beautiful girlfriend, all of the material things, strength, looks, friends, family. I would ask him, what if something happens and you lose everything and he would say "I made this once, I can do it again." I will never forget that. That one comment from him had a profound effect on me.
He worked hard to make a good living and he was generous and big-hearted. Not only did he care for his siblings and help raise them, but he also gave me a place to live for free. With Mark's help, so many of our friends and family lived better lives.
Around 1997, close to the time my mother and grandfather had both passed away, Mark injured his back lifting and started taking OxyCodone for the pain. The drug took hold and he was in its grips, unable to break free. It was so hard to understand. I'd seen drug addiction plenty of times and how it would wreck families. But how could this happen to Mark? He was formidable in every way: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our family was devastated by this. Seeing him lose his will, shrink down to an unrecognizable figure that didn't even resemble the young man he was six months before was more than we could bare.
We prayed for him constantly. The family talked with each other regularly trying to find a way to help him back to the life he had before. We weren't successful and shortly after he died from a drug overdose at 27 years old.
I realized, after my recent trip to The Arnold, that I never really grieved over losing him. Already numb from the loss of my mother and grandfather, I didn't allow myself to feel the tremendous pain from losing someone else so close to me. Mark wasn't unbreakable as I thought. That was just my youthful perspective. He had a good head on his shoulders, but we are all at risk of having a bad day that we don't recover from. That is life.
To Mark: You were amazing. Kind, loving heart. I'm sorry beyond what I can express that your life ended too early. I admired you so much. You would have done so much more, given more time. Your words of wisdom, your love, and your memory will always drive me and always be with me. I miss you.
One piece of equipment that can be useful and convenient for a runner is a home treadmill. But with dozens of choices, it can be hard to choose the right one. In my opinion it is best to talk to someone who specializes in exercise equipment. These experts, however, are not usually found at a large retail store (such as a “big box” sports store). Your best bet is to talk to local specialty shop. Since I run a local specialty shop, my advice might be perceived as biased, but I do know fitness equipment. If you want to consider all the options and find what suits your needs, an all-in-one shop like ours is where you should start your search. What I mean by an all-in-one shop is a place that sells new, used, and refurbished commercial fitness equipment along with service and delivery.
Here's a quick little questionnaire to help you figure out which treadmill will suite your needs:
Settling on a Budget
What if you don’t know what to spend? Let’s clear that up. Consumer Reports suggests you spend at least $1000, but most of the top-rated treadmills are $1500 and up. Precor is usually at the top of the list and in my experience they make a good product with good customer support. It is important to know that manufacturers of fitness equipment make them in tier levels. 1. Residential, which is usually the cheapest and can be found in any big box store. 2. Vertical market/light commercial, typically used in hotels/apartments, is more expensive but more durable. 3. Commercial, what you would find in a YMCA or Gold’s Gym, is the most expensive and it is usually a shock to find out how expensive. The increase in price gets you an increase in durability, stability, function and the amount it can be used continuously. The easiest way to explain it is to think of Ford Trucks. You have basically three options, Ranger, F150, and Super Duty F250/350 and with each choice you get an increased degree of function and capability. The truck model analogy brings up a fourth choice: used or refurbished commercial fitness equipment. Like cars and trucks, used can be a good choice because you get a low mileage unit with all the features for as much as half of what you would pay for it new.
So what unit or tier should you invest your money in?
If you go out and buy a $500 treadmill from one of the big box stores then you are basically buying a throwaway unit. Typically these places do not cover the warranty on the product; the manufacturer does. The manufacturer then subs out the warranty work to a third-party contractor. Residential service can be challenging to schedule so sometimes you can wait a month or more before you get service. Once the warranty expires, then labor and travel rates apply which can be anywhere from $100 to $150 and that is just for the diagnostic fee. If the service tech cannot repair the unit in the first visit, which often happens, then you will be billed a return-visit fee plus the cost of parts. This will eclipse the cost of the treadmill to replace one part.
The next option is a vertical market or light commercial unit which will usually cost anywhere from $1500 all the way up to $4000 for a high end one. These units have better quality and stability and are designed to be used several hours a day by multiple users. They come with decent warranties and are usually worth repairing at least one time out of warranty for the lower cost units. To find these units you typically have to go to a specialty store like ours.
There you will come in contact with new commercial equipment which can range in price from $4000 all the way up to $15,000 for the most expensive. Commercial units are designed to be used continuously 8-plus hours a day by every kind of user imaginable. Once a person tries a commercial unit, it is hard to use lesser products. This is where the dilemma comes in. The commercial feels the best but the price point of the light commercial is what most people are willing to spend. Enter the used/refurbished option.
Buying Used or Refurbished
You can have the quality and durability of a commercial treadmill for around the cost of a light commercial treadmill. These units are more expensive to repair but extended warranties are usually available. Treadmills that cost $7000-plus retail can be had for $2500 to $3000 refurbished. If purchased from a good shop, then service is easier and less expensive because the used unit can be repaired with used or rebuilt parts, dropping the cost of service in half. So in a nutshell, a little more investment will get you a high-quality treadmill.
If you invest your money in a commercial treadmill, new or used, what does that get you in features compared to the other tier models? Treadmills all have some standard features. In all diagnostic records that I have seen stored on treadmill memory, most users use the quick start/manual option 90% of the time while only 10% actually use a program. I mention this so people will not get wrapped up in the program listing. All commercial treadmills come with user programs, a 12 to 14 mph max speed, elevation to 15%, contact and telemetry heart rate, and a varying degree of screen data. iPod connectivity comes standard now on some but not all. Personal video screens are not standard and is an awesome feature but it is also very expensive to repair outside of warranty. The cost of wall-mounted TVs has come down so much that this is the option I recommend for entertainment. In my opinion, a simple commercial treadmill with the basics is the best option. Features are great but can lead to a lot of service frustration.
I have brought up service several times in this article. Service technicians are some of the most under-respected individuals in the fitness industry. They keep millions of the machines going every year so member/customers do not miss their workouts on their favorite treadmill. They know more about the equipment then the manufacturer in some cases and will give you an unbiased opinion about which ones are the best. They are a good reference if you want to know details about a particular brand or model. They also deal with the manufacturers on a daily basis so they know which ones have the best customer service. (Why am I so high on service technicians? I started my company as one.)
So when do I need one? First, always get your owner’s manual when you purchase a new treadmill. It will have a preventive maintenance schedule in it on how to care for you treadmill weekly, monthly, bi-annually, and annually. It will also usually have a list of error codes that your treadmill may prompt when something is malfunctioning. These error codes can lead you to a simple solution for repair or signal you to get more professional help. My dad use to tell me to pick a dealer not a car so you get the total package. The same applies with fitness equipment, especially commercial. Reputable stores will have full-time service technicians and a stock of parts for the products they carry or easy access to them. In most cases, they will have options for lower repair costs with rebuilt or used parts. If you are close then you also have the option of bringing your treadmill to them to have it repaired so you won’t have a travel charge. Some shops offer moving and logistics services in case you ever want your treadmill moved. So choose a reputable shop and you will be pleased with the outcome.
We have been in business for 10 years in service and sales but we started as a service company. We have done work for just about every major commercial fitness equipment manufacturer. We are doing service work for at least 15 manufacturers right now and these are the ones that I feel have good product and good customer service: Cybex, Matrix, Precor, Schwinn, Stairmaster, and Freemotion. They all have strengths and weaknesses but for the most part these are good companies.
I hope that this article has been helpful. Give me a call if you need to know more.
Founding Partner of Dane Fitness. Cyclist, Former Ironman Competitor. Dad and Husband. Scientist. Philanthropis
Dane learned fitness center operations by working for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, which appointed him Wellness Director for two centers. He left the Y and started Dane Fitness in 2003. He knows every aspect of the industry from wellness to manufacturing. He stays on top of the latest in wellness and the fitness industry through constant contact with industry experts, manufacturers, and relentless research.
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Tell me how this company got its start.
Deanna: The company got started out of a need for good service in the industry. Great products were available but service was lacking. Treadmills were down, service would take weeks and customers were unhappy. Dane, who was working for the YMCA at the time, left his job and started out working on Star Trac equipment. Then a week into it, he had a bike wreck and broke his arm.Read More
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