When you buy home fitness equipment from any major maker, you will see a ‘With Expert Assembly’ option. This costs anything from £50 to £80. You get your treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike put together for you. This saves time, stress, and the chance of getting something wrong (or even breaking a part).
The big question is – what factors should you consider when deciding whether you need expert assembly?
This page covers the things to think about to make the best decision for you. They include your personal situation (age / ability / time), the money, type of equipment (and overall cost of it) and the risk of getting something wrong if you do it yourself.
If you are a DIY enthusiast, an engineer or just a practical ‘hands-on’ type person (or have one in your close friends / family group) then you can save yourself some money. Fitness machines are not so complex as to cause problems to you. In fact, the challenge might be fun.
On the opposite side, some buyers of home fitness equipment are older, less hands-on, or just dread things like putting Ikea furniture together. If this is you, and you can spare the extra money, then read no further. Assembly from experts will not only save you time and effort – it will reduce your stress levels.
It is the people in-between that should dig a little deeper.
You might be happy to attach some arms or pedals, though not too keen on a bigger project. You might have enough spare cash to pay for assembly, though be wondering whether it would be better spent on something else. Here the type of equipment, overall cost and potential risks should be considered.
A small irony. The type of equipment that would benefit the most from expert assembly rarely has this as an option. I am thinking of those complex, multi-station home weights gyms with weight stacks, pulleys, and benches.
Expert assembly is offered for the regular / popular machines including exercise bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and elliptical trainers.
Assembly for most models involves attaching the arms and upper console. Depending on the treadmill, you might also attach accessories like iPad holders. Machines with automated incline or mechanisms which fold them up will have more parts. You will not need to attach the belt, or work with the motor / electrics. The question to ask yourself is how complex your treadmill is, for a simple (Sub £250) model, assembly should be super-straightforward.
You will usually need to attach the pedals, handlebars, and saddle. Again, the complexity of the unit is the key factor. A simple f-bike will only need a few plastic accessories screwing on. A studio bike with multiple accessories will have more adjustable parts – though still be relatively simple to assemble. The majority of bikes do not need expert assembly. If you are worried about this or buying a more expensive / complex (£350+) model, then that extra for setup could give you some peace of mind.
There are more moving parts to assemble on cross trainers compared to the other machines. Some machines mix exercise bike and elliptical cross trainer capabilities – adding a new level of complexity. Instructions and tools mean it is relatively simple to put together the fixed bars, moving handlebars and pedals of a cross trainer, a small mistake will make for an uncomfortable experience. If you are on the fence, then paying for assembly for any decent elliptical trainer is the way to go.
Here you need to attach the rail, saddle, and the handle to the rope (which should already be in place). If you have a folding model, then the rail will have a pivot point, which you lock and unlock with a metal pin or lever. In a similar way to treadmills, the parts you assemble are key, though not complex. With a little help, you should aim to put a basic rowing machine together yourself. If you have a complex / expensive unit, for example a water rower, then that extra money is small as a proportion of the overall cost.
Two points to consider for money.
If you are spending £100 on a basic machine, then £70 for assembly is a huge mark-up in relation to the original cost. Compare that with a £1000+ Nordic Track treadmill, where the setup by an engineer will only be 5%+ of the total.
This also ties in with the complexity of machines and size / weight increasing along with the cost.
People from all walks of life use fitness equipment. The concept of opportunity cost will apply to many people. If it would take you 3 hours+ to struggle through assembly of your machine, then you should consider what you could earn in that time. If you can afford the cash (though don’t like wasting it), then you can also translate the price into an hourly rate… for example, if a £70 assembly saved you 2 hours of discomfort, is £35 per hour a good rate for you, personally?
If money is tight, and you really cannot assemble things yourself, then it may be cheaper to find a handy-person in your own friends / family group – or even look for one on your local Facebook group (or similar).
My final thing to consider is whether you could break your new fitness machine before you even start it. It is unlikely that any branded equipment will cause you problems this way. If you inadvertently crack a plastic cover, then it can be replaced easily. Big brands will do this, though if you go for a ‘no name’ Chinese knock off, then customer service may be lacking.
Your ability, the type of equipment and money matters are the key factors. If you are wavering on your purchase because you are nervous about risk, then the comments at amazon and elsewhere are worth checking. People are fast to complain if machines are hard to assemble or prone to breaking.
A 5-minute read through those comments will either put your mind at rest or get you to pull the trigger and pay for the expert assembly after all.
You will already know whether you love assembling things or dread it.
If you are wavering, then consider the following:
The most important thing for me is not to let worries about assembly stop you from starting your fitness journey.
Check out the following guides and get started today!