Three Cheers for Cheap Gear: Part I

>> Monday, April 5, 2010

Those of you who follow us on Twitter know we have a new cross-training buddy: our Spinner Sport Spin Bike. What we didn't tell you is that we scored this baby for under its Amazon price (which, if you're in the market for a spin bike, you know you can't really beat their prices/free shipping). Not only that, but we also supported a local business in the process. Smiles all around!

First: Why did we choose a spin bike? As I mentioned above, cross-training is definitely the primary reason. We also were considering starting up (yet another) a gym membership. However, the gyms in our area leave much (MUCH) to be desired. So, we took some time to examine exactly what we like about gym memberships -- again, mostly cross-training opportunities with spinning, yoga, and free weights -- and started researching a bit.

After I injured myself during the Philadelphia Marathon last fall, I was unable to run for over a month. We joined a gym, and I took to the bike. I was pleased to find spinning a challenging workout -- even when I chose to do it on my own (not being yelled at by a fitness instructor). My fitness level stayed stable, and I even gained some speed -- PRing at a 10K in January despite a slick layer of snow. Yeah, indoor cycling gets my heart rate up into the good zone, and I sweat like a pig. No joke.

So, in short: We wanted a spinning bike because it offers us excellent cross-training -- as well as a safeguard in case one of us becomes injured in our primary sport, running. And, at least for me, the bike gives us a low-impact speed training buddy.

Step back, though. We're runners. So, when it comes to equipment for at-home gymin' it, a treadmill is something we certainly want to purchase eventually (despite how hardcore we are about running in negative temps and snowicanes, sometimes we just can't run outside in the climate). We have heard from our friends with kids that when you have little ones, it's hard to get in your run unless you can stay put. One small problem -- a "good" treadmill (that can handle Stephen's speed) is expensive. And I'm not hiding a baby bump, so we don't need to worry about all that just yet.

So, we also went with the bike because of its relative affordability and for its practical application in our lives today, not tomorrow. We found this particular bike, the Spinner Sport, on Amazon -- and it got rave reviews. But we made sure to do our homework before whipping out the plastic to hastily purchase. In fact, we gave ourselves the weekend to think about it.

Then on Saturday morning, we hit up our local athletic supply store (it was the first time we'd even been in there). And -- wouldn't you know it -- the exact bike we'd set our sights on was sitting on the showroom floor. With a $499 price tag (same as Amazon). Best yet, we got to hop on it for a test ride.
  • Foremost, I was impressed by the bike's stability. Home models (versus the fancy, pricey) can be wobbly and just feel cheap, for lack of a better description. Not this one, even in the standing spinning position, this thing is rock solid. 
  • It also has a water bottle and holder (many of the more expensive models didn't, and I go through gallons of water while riding). This "feature" may seem silly, but it was one of my checklist items.
  • It's extremely portable -- just roll and go. 
  • It's not too terribly heavy (which may sound like a contradiction, like it isn't solid, but please see above, where I write about how stable this baby is!).
  • Did I mention it was selling at the Amazon price? Yeah, that was attractive at the time of purchase, too.
And on, and on, and on. Back to the deal we got. Like I said, the price tag said $499, but since I had done my homework, I told the salesman that I could get it somewhere else for that exact price, where it was new, still in the box (the one at the store was also new, but out on the floor). He said he could lob off $25 -- which essentially covers tax, and we took a few moments to think. We ultimately decided to take it because it was already assembled, no shipping, tax was covered by his discount. Yeah, we are pretty thrilled with the bargain!

If you figure it all out over the course of a year, we're each "paying" a $20 gym membership in order to pay off this bike. Might not sound like we're getting all the benefits -- but if you factor in the number of days we simply didn't make the effort to cart our butts to the gym, we know we have made the right choice. And if you're looking for other ways to bring your workout home, while also saving money, check out this guest post from a few weeks ago.

And later this week, we'll show you all the tent we bought a few weeks ago that was originally nearly $400. And we snagged it up for less than $175! Camping the coast of Maine on the cheap-itty, cheap, cheap, here we come!

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