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Exercise equipment: 5 items to splurge on and 5 that aren't worth it

Exercise equipment is a must for those who have pledged to get fit in 2015. But exercise equipment can get expensive, so here are five items to splurge on, and five places to skimp. 

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    Linda Speerstra, right, leads a spinning class at the Hames Center in Sitka, Alaska. When it comes to exercise equipment, Brad's Deals recommends spending a little more on running shoes and gym memberships, but less on things like water bottles and dumbbells.
    James Poulson/Daily Sitka Sentinel/AP/File
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Are you a part of the 54 percent of Brad's Deals readers who made a New Year's resolution to get healthy in 2015? If so, you're probably in the process of gearing up for your new fitness lifestyle, which can be a totally intimidating process.

Exercise equipment can get expensive, and fitness newbies might not know which products to splurge on, and which they should buy on the cheap. But that's why we're here! If you're struggling to figure out what kinds of things you actually need to get into shape, we've got answers for you.

5 Things to Splurge On:

  1. Sports Bras -- Listen up, fellow ladies of the world: a quality sports bra is an invaluable investment if you're starting a workout routine. Good sports bras can get a little pricey, but I promise they'll be worth every penny when you hit the treadmill. Cheaper bras just don't have the support you so desperately need when moving around with a larger chest, so suck it up and spend the money--you'll be glad you did. Don't know where to start? Check out the selection at Sports Authority!
  2. Shoes -- The wrong shoes can mess up more than just your workout. As someone who sprains her ankle on the regular, I need serious ankle support when I run and lift. Know your body and its limits, and make sure you pick out a shoe that's designed for the activity you'll be doing. No one should be running around a track wearing Converse sneakers. No one! Head over to your closest REI, and let them help you pick out the perfect pair of running shoes for your feet.

    Don't skimp on gym memberships OR the right pair of shoes.

  3. Gym Memberships -- Yes, I know there are a ton of gyms out there that offer memberships for insanely low prices, but these kinds of discount gyms build their business models around the fact that most of their members will never come. Listen to this Planet Money report if you want the truth about cheap gyms, and opt for a pricier workout zone for better odds of staying on track and keeping yourself accountable. Do some research on the gyms in your area, and indulge in some free trial weeks before making a decision.
  4. Healthy Food -- It's a sad fact, but it takes a lot less money and effort to stuff yourself with junk food than it does to eat healthy, but if your New Year's resolution is to get in shape, you're going to need to splurge on the good stuff. Check out this clean eating grocery list from Skinny Ms. if you need some inspiration and meal ideas.
  5. Workout Pants -- You might think you can skimp on your workout clothes, and for the most part, you're right. But you'll be surprised at how quickly a cheap pair of workout pants will fall apart when you're wearing them every day. Invest in at least one well-made pair and you won't have to keep sewing up the holes that pop up along the seams of your cheap leggings. Surprisingly, places like Target have some pretty good quality options that won't break the bank. Try out this pair of Champion cold weather running leggings for your winter workouts.

5 Things to Get for Less:

Don't splurge on a yoga mat!

  1. Shirts -- While you'll want to shell out for some quality pants, don't waste your money on expensive workout shirts. As long as the material is stretchy and breathable, you should be fine stocking up on cheap tops. Kohl's has some major discounts on activeweargoing on right now, and Old Navy is a good place to score cheap workout tops for less year round, so check out those stores before you max out your credit card atLululemon.
  2. Yoga Mats -- You can find cheap yoga mats all over the place, so there's no excuse to pay more than $30 to get a mat of your own. JCPenneyis currently having a New Year's blowout sale, so snatch up one of these colorful mats for just $12.99 and get your downward dog on in 2015!
  3. Water Bottles -- I don't care what magical promises that $50 water bottle is making, at the end of the day, it's a bottle that holds water. There's really no need to spend more than $10 on a nice water bottle that will last you years. Try this one for $5.24 atWalmart.
  4. Dumbbells -- If you're starting an at-home workout routine, don't splurge on the equipment. Walmart has a wide assortment of dumbbells for super low prices, so you can tone up those arms without having to spend a fortune.
  5. Fitness Trackers -- If you weren't lucky enough to find a Fitbit from Santa in your stocking this year, you might be considering shelling out for one on your own. But before you drop the money, you should try out one of the free (or dirt cheap) smartphone fitness trackers, which can track everything from daily steps and calories consumed to your current heart rate and biking mileage! Check out this list from PC Mag of the 25 best fitness apps, and get yourself off the couch in 2015.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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