Exercise equipment advertised on television ranges from outlandish and fairly useless to highly effective. While some equipment is based on credible scientific knowledge, others are designed specifically to appeal to viewers who want a quick, easy fix to getting fit and don't offer actual benefits and may actually be detrimental to the user.
The Shake Weight
This modified dumbbell has a spring in inside, allowing the weight to transfer from side to side. It's meant to be pumped or shaken in the hand. The claim is that this action offers a more effective workout than traditional dumbbells and increases muscle activity by "300 percent" when compared to traditional dumbbells.
The Shake Weight comes with a DVD that takes viewers through a six-minute workout and costs around $30.
Does It Work?
Reviews are mixed among consumers, but the consensus among fitness professionals is fairly uniform in declaring the Shake Weight ineffective and perhaps even laughable.
- WebMD says the six-minute workout suggested by Shake Weight is ineffective for any real results and people would be better off with a traditional strength training regiment.
- A Greatest staff writer and fitness enthusiast tried Shake Weight for a month and found that her upper body strength actually decreased.
- Amazon users give this product an average of nearly four out of five stars - an impressive rating for an exercise product so universally ridiculed.
The shaking motion of the weight doesn't allow for full range of motion and may promote injury if used improperly.
The Simply Fit Board
This curved platform debuted on the popular show Shark Tank and is designed for twisting and balance work. The claim is that it will tone and strengthen the core and improve overall balance. The Simply Fit Board company claims it is a fun, easy, and effective workout.
The board starter set includes a workout DVD and costs around $30.
Does It Work?
- Fitness Test Lab praises the versatility of this product and says it can present a challenging workout to even seasoned exercisers.
- Women's Health says the board is indeed a good option for strengthening the core but will not necessarily deliver "six-pack abs."
- Target shoppers give the Simply Fit Board an average of four out of five stars.
The risk of injury from falling is high with this product, particularly among users with balance issues.
The MaxiClimber unit provides a vertical stepping workout similar in motion to climbing a ladder or rock climbing. Makers of the product claim the workout provides both cardio and resistance training while also providing a workout that keeps burning calories long after the workout is done.
The climber is accompanied by a diet plan and a smartphone app to help keep track of workouts and costs around $200.
Does It Work?
- Best Workout Guides praises the MaxiClimber as a challenging and effective workout. The reviewer chronicled her first month using the machine and noticed weight loss and overall toning.
- The experts at Garage Gym Builder say the MaxiClimber is a versatile, safe piece of equipment suitable for cardio and resistance training.
- Shoppers at QVC gave the MaxiClimber 2.9 stars out of 5; recurring themes in negative reviews included an unstable set-up and the experience of back pain while using the machine.
Though most reviews from experienced fitness enthusiasts are largely positive, this equipment may be too challenging for those new to exercise.
The BowFlex Max Trainer
The BowFlex Max Trainer is a combination of an elliptical machine and a stair-stepper, complete with a large display and customized workout program. BowFlex says the Max Trainer (specifically, the M7 model) "learns" the user's workout capabilities and adjusts accordingly, allowing users to get the most challenging workout with each use.
The Max Trainer M7 costs around $2200 and often includes free shipping when purchased directly from BowFlex.
Does It Work?
- Fitness blogger Steve Frazier makes the claim that the Max Trainer M7 burns more calories than any other type of equipment in his experience.
- Treadmill Reviews says the Max Trainer M7 is an excellent option for home cardio equipment with the only criticism being the assembly required.
- Shoppers on Amazon largely give the Max Trainer M7 high marks with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5. One negative review complained that they were too sore to use the machine daily - something that might be seen more as a positive review by someone looking for a truly effective workout.
The price and assembly of this machine seems to be the most frequent complaint by reviewers, though most agree that it is an effective, challenging piece of equipment.
No Magic Pill
The effectiveness of exercise equipment offered on television varies widely, with some gimmicky and others designed to appeal to fitness enthusiasts who want to try the next greatest thing available. No piece of equipment will get a user into good shape without effort on the part of the user, just as no piece of equipment can make the claim to provide rock-hard, six-pack abs without dietary changes made by the user.
While it's great to mix up workouts and try new things, it's important to research exercise equipment prior to buying to ensure it's not a waste of money.