Friday, April 16, 2010


You’ve got to love any product that Chuck Norris promotes. I mean how could you possibly go wrong with a product that the man who can do anything uses to prepare to be able to do anything? It sells itself don’t you think? And Christie Brinkley, well what is there to say about Christie Brinkley and her promotions. After all she has so many. Clearly people buy what she sells or Coke, Anheuser-Busch, ConAgra Foods, MasterCard Worldwide, Revlon, the Got Milk? people and multiple others wouldn’t have all jumped on the Brinkley-wagon. People love her, people want to be her or be near her and as a result will buy what she sells just because well, it’s Christie Brinkley. I’m sure both Christie and Chuck have a Total Gym® at home. And I’m sure they use it daily…

The Total Gym® ( is a strength training system which uses your own body weight for resistance. You have some flexibility with the resistance by adjusting the angle of the moving platform on which you are sitting to perform the exercises, but the maximum amount of weight you can lift with the Total Gym® is always a percentage of your body weight. The moving platform is adjusted by changing the angle to the support pole. Unless you can figure out a way to keep another person on the moving platform with you while you are working out, there is no way to lift more than you weigh. For some people this is probably a good thing, for others, perhaps not. Clearly depending on the exercise and your fitness and strength level it would take some time to build up to lifting your own body weight, but there are people who actually can do that and then some. I don’t really recommend the Total Gym® for those individuals because the resistance is just too limited. For those of us however that are not Adonis, this is a great product.

We purchased our Total Gym® when we were on the road for work, living in a small apartment and lacking both our home gym setup and a local gym membership. We figured that for a few hundred dollars we could get the workouts and bring the Total Gym® home to add to the other home gym products we have collected over the years. A good plan, and one that we were pleasantly surprised by.

Truthfully, we were not expecting anything fantastic from the Total Gym®. Even though the celebrity promoters are awesome in their awesomeness, one cannot assume that the product they are promoting is as well. After all, promotions are all about money, not about effectiveness. But with a Sears nearby and a desperate need for some resistance training, we gave it a go. We bought the last Total Gym® in the store and ended up with a discount because it was the floor model. If you go to the Total Gym® website you will see home models ranging in price from $599 to $1499. I think ours was $199 with the discount which brought the grand total to somewhere around $150. Our plan was already coming together brilliantly. We knew of the small footprint and the ability of the Total Gym® to slide easily under the bed for safe keeping so even if it was completely useless, we could at least hide it from ourselves and any future guests.

Some assembly is required, and first of all let me say that it is not quite as easy to assemble and disassemble as it appears on television. Not that this fact should surprise you in any way, but I thought I’d share it nonetheless. Once assembled however, the Total Gym® is extremely easy to use. You can work out every muscle group including abdominals and increase resistance as your strength increases. The resistance increments are dictated by the incline of the moving platform so for some muscle groups (example: shoulders, triceps) the jump can be very large. For other muscle groups (example: legs) the jump may not be enough and the likelihood of maxing out the weight increases.

For the most part the Total Gym® is easy to manipulate and use, however there are a few exercises that require some amount of contortion to get yourself into the proper position. Of course there is a distinct possibility that I’m the only one that has that problem, since my wife used to look at me like I had intentionally grown a second head very time I was unable to position myself properly. With that questioning look of “how could I have married such an idiot” lovingly expressed in her eyes, I often found myself with my left arm just millimeters from dislocation. Actually, now that I’m writing this, I’m sure that was just a personal problem related somehow to either my inability to tell my right from my left or maybe my overwhelming lack of efficiency of movement.

All in all, for an average person, and by this I mean not a bodybuilder or a powerlifer or someone with extra-super strength requirements, the Total Gym® is a great piece of equipment. We very much enjoy the versatility and convenience of such a small piece of fitness equipment. The disassembly part is still a little cumbersome, but with practice, you can get your time down to only a few minutes. If you live in a small space you really could set it up, work out and break it down all in the time it would take you to drive to the gym and shower. In this time-constrained world that we currently live in, convenience and speed are critically important, as is the ability to multitask. The Total Gym® is perfect for the lifestyle of most of today’s urban professionals. It’s easy to use, fits anywhere, allows for enough variety that you won’t get bored, allows you the ability to workout in private, and of course is promoted by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley. How can you go wrong?

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