Fitness Equipment Fraud Consumer Reports
Your source for consumer reports on Infomercial Fitness Equipment
Do not buy Fitness Equipment from infomercials or internet marketers until you have all the facts and details, especially the ones they 'conveniently' left out of ad.
Here you'll find real consumer reports and reviews of infomercial products like Bowflex, treadclimber, and whatever else might look & sound too good to be true.
Share your experiences here and help others make an informed decision!
Straight Talk on Infomercial Fitness Equipment
Most infomercial fitness equipment is poorly made and poorly designed. From a bio-mechanics perspective, some can even cause damage to joints!!. Plastic bows and rubber bands usually do not match the strength curve of human muscles, and the strength curve may be different for each exercise. Bowflex power rods become more flexible at warmer temperatures, also the resin used to make the bows becomes more brittle over time and eventually they will break!! Rubber bands absorb moisture and lose their elasticity.
Iron or steel however, lasts pretty much forever (rust is not an issue unless you store your gym beside your indoor hot tub with no air conditioner). There are gyms that can do it all, but cost becomes a factor for most people. Quality specialty stores (online or brick and mortar) such as Fitness Revolution will have something that allows a full body workout ranging anywhere from $100 (fitness ball & dumbbell set) to treadmills, bikes, ellipticals and home gyms.
I suggest anybody looking for a home gym under $500 should get a set of either fixed or adjustable dumbbells with enough weight for your heaviest exercise, and a good solid utility bench or a fitness ball designed for use with weights. This basic setup will allow you to do most of the exercises that the cable gyms offer. It well definitely allow users of all sizes to get a good full body workout. All this can be had for $150 - $500.
Bowflex Rods Get Weaker with use
Okay, a few people sent me messages asking me to prove the rods get weaker. Well I'm not going to spend my hard earned money on junk to prove that it's true, not when the owners of bowflex have already seen the proof on their own machines:
Here's one from the yahoo group Bowflexexchange:
Date: Tue Sep 25, 2001 6:29 pm
How can i make my rods stronger?
My bowflex is older and they been weakened a bit. I can tell because the first 50lb rod is weaker then the second one, as it has been used more.
and another From: "Tom" <raging_dude2002@y...>
Date: Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:59 pm
Does anyone know whether the rods weaken with age?
I've had mine for about five years. Just bought additional 50-pound rods, and they're far and away stronger than the 50's that are on there. Tom
Post Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2003 15:55:31 -0000
Subject: [Bowflex fitness club] Bowflex RODS... Lose Resitance!!!!
I tried a Bowflex yesterday at a local authorized dealer...
I did like the fact that you could work thru and change to an entirely different exercise with ease... Not bad workout...
Here is the CLINCHER and reason I AM NOT buying one to date
The Rods lose their resistance.... I noticed that the 50lb ROD was a good 1/3 already stretched out... This was very apparent when the 2 RODS in question were unhooked from the clip!!! And, when used, I only found resistance when the rod was bowed about half way into the rep... I mentioned it to the dealer and even called a BOWFLEX service rep on it...
All I got from the REP was that you could send them back and have them tested... and if BOWFLEX thought they were losing their resistance they would send you a new ROD??? This is arbitrary...For the consumer... how do you know??? Than I just got drilled... "would you like to purchase a Bowflex today Sir?"
Plus: you have to pay the shipping when you send the rods to them!!
Note: not much of a lifetime warranty if you have to pay the shipping! - Fitness Guy
I'd expect more people with this problem if more people actually used their Bowflex, but truth is most people don't. Want proof on that too? Just look in any large cities' classified shopper papers, you'll see several bowflex gyms for sale. How many quality used home gyms do you see in the paper? rarely if ever. That's because people keep using equipment that actually works well.
A 50lb dumbbell will still weigh 50 lb in 20 years. It won't weigh 40 lbs after lots of use and it won't get brittle and break from old age either.
Here's a question: If bows are so great, why haven't commercial gyms switched to bows instead of weight stacks? Because the smart money is on the proven, reliable methods. Let other people be the guinea pigs on new unproven equipment, while you get better results with real equipment.
Weider Crossbow Electronics nightmare
Do Not Buy
Ryan of Kentucky, USA writes:
Owned for the last year, it does have a larger ROM/cable length but the resistance is not consitent throughout the ROM, especially initialy. There is also very little eccentric resistance. If it does break you can not get a hold of customer service the number is always busy and when they ask you to leave your name it number it wil not let you. I do beleive customer service has left the building and won't answer the phone due to overwhelming product defects and the shear volume of complaints. Do not buy, invest in free weights.
From the Crossbow user group....
Weider Crossbar Problem:
Unit continuously loses calibration (IE .. panel says 100lbs, actual resistance 160) repetedly and several times during any of the built in exercise routines requiring mid routine recalibration, which often needs to be repeded within just a few sets. Problem started slowly and is growing in frequency. Controle unit will often make a garbled squawk rather than a cleen beep during weight change when this is occurring. Recalibration success is inconsistant, suspect main logic board in console. The console will spontaniously, mid exercise either shut down completely, or reset itself to manual mode .. REALLY .. I think it's the console!!!
I saw one of these units on display at Sears, with an "out of order" sign on it, the console taken apart and wires everywhere! I would avoid this product as it seems to be riddled with electronic issues.
Bob of Alberta, Canada writes:
My second, and LAST Weider product. You can read other's reviews of the nightmare that is ICON service elsewhere - I don't need to restate. How does Weider stay in business? My first product was the Crossbow 1500. A tension bar snapped after three months(quite dangerously BTW) and ICON was MIA. Thank goodness I bought it from , who took it back and have promised a refund. Keep you posted. So, went online and bought the Platinum Plus for $999 from . Spent three nights putting it together and viola, very cool machine. Until the third use when the electronic board where you program resistance flashed red once, made a funny noise, then died. End of machine. Three uses. I won't even bother with ICON, and have emailed  asking for a full refund. Will keep you posted on how  Canada handles this. When it comes to Weider machines, my advice is be afraid, be very afraid.
5 great reasons not to buy the Treadclimber
It's a Stepper, It's a Treadmill, it's both! It's a Treadclimber.
Sometimes, when a manufacturer mixes 2 products or "motions" they can come up with a winner, as was the case with Elliptical Trainers - combining a cycling and running motion proved to be comfortable and not too hard on the body. And sometimes they come up with a total dud, like the Treadclimber.
I'll get right to the main points:
1. uneven height: the machine uses 2 hydraulic cylinders to control the up and down movement of each "tread", this causes problems, as anyone who's owned a cheaper stepper or rower using these cylinders can attest. The problem is that each tread will not decend at the exact same rate, and as such, one of your feet will usually end up higher than the other. This feels like walking along a street with one foot on the curb and the other several inches lower on the street, which is extremely awkward and can never feel normal.
2. Cylinders are unreliable: Again as people who have owned them know, the hydraulic cylinders on the step machines (and treadclimber) have a tendence to heat up with use, and leak, or blow their oil seals. This happens quite often too - do you want to deal with all the downtime, throwing off your weight loss or fitness program? I didn't think so.
3. Unnatural motion: Take a look at your feet when you walk. Notice how you place one foot nearly right in front of the other? That is a natural human stride, and this becomes more pronounced the faster you go. You cannot achieve this natural stride on the treadclimber because there are only 2 narrow treads, one for each foot. Even when you turn the step feature off, this problem still exists, you end up walking like a bow legged cowboy who's been riding for 3 days straignt, which looks and feels kind of rediculous, and you can FORGET ABOUT RUNNING ON THE TREADCLIMBER! The models in the infomercial hide this very well, trying so hard to make it look natural, but don't let yourself be fooled by them. It's easy to get sucked into the infomercial, these people have around 20 years of experience at perfecting the art of selling garbage to innocent consumers. Walk on a treadmill, then walk on a treadclimber, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
4. Noise: These things are noisy, you'll hear all sorts of creaks and clunks coming from it, expecially in treadmill mode, this can really make a workout unenjoyable, most treadmills are much quieter.
5. Price: For $2500-$3000 you can buy a highly Rated treadmill such as SportsArt and possibly a stepper if you really want both, or how about a $2000 treadmill and a $1000 elliptical? you can find value and quality in both at those price points, plus with 2 pieces of cardio, you can have your spouse work out with you!
I am a mother of 3 small children and in order for me to work out at my convenience, I decided to purchase the Bowflex treadclimber. I was offered the choice to have a company not only deliver the product, but for an additional 99.00, they would set it up, calibrate it and take away the boxes.
Once the machine was set up. I decided to use the step walking mode, and realized that as you increase the speed on the machine, my right leg kept going higher than the left one. Making the work out unbalanced. Then I changed it to the treadmill mode and all i could hear was an irritating clunking noise. Well thinking maybe the machine was defective. I called Bowflex and was told that's the way the machine is! As far as the step walker goes, the machine is set up for your dominant leg to push harder on the higher pedal, and as far as the treadmill mode goes, the noise is normal. .... well.
I decided that for a machine that costs me over $3,000 it was not worth it so I asked to have them pick it up and credit my account since they advertise (MONEY BACK GUARANTEED)well. i was hit with their "Policy" is that the consumer is responsible to returning the merchandise back to their warehouse in Tyler, Texas. then they credit your account... Doesn't sound too bad, until you face the night mare that the machine MUST be dissassembled the way it came. UPS or FedEx does not pick up such heavy machinery (which is over 395lbs.) You have to find a trucking or moving company that will deliver for you and the product must be BOXED. You have find a company that sells such big boxes so you can box it. Good luck trying to box a 300 pound machine. Once you accomlish that you are hit with the trucking companies fees which vary from California to Tyler, Texas on an average of $800-$1,000 and once the trucking company picks it up. Better hope you paid an additional $70-$100 to insure the product in case it gets lost, stolen or damaged.
Bowflex offers no help or guidance when it comes to returning the product. It took a week of frustration, Ive now spent close to $1,000 just to send it back! I could have bought one at the local retail store for that amount, and not dealt with the headache.
This affair really put my relationship with my husband to the test, cause he told me not to order such expensive machinery, but I was so facinated by the informercial and did not listen. Now I realize how wrong i was and how right he was, it has been a costly experience.
Total Gym a Total Rip?
> Anybody have any thoughts about the Total gym or has anyone had any experience with it. The infomercial makes it look pretty good?? Want to hear some feedback before I invest in it. Dano I had 3 problems for the short time that I owned and used one.
- First you quickly get used to the resistance.
- Second, the leg exercises are hard to do and awkward and the foot harness breaks after a short time and hurts when you use it.
- 3rd. It puts a lot of stress on your low back and wrists. I have had several back surgeries and I got rid of it for just that very reason.
Other Total Gym Reviews from the previous Fitness Fraud Forum:
- "I tried this and ended up sending it back. I'd been doing strength training with small free weights and thought this would give me a better workout with less risk of injury. I was mistaken. First, I sprained BOTH wrists using this -- it places a lot of strain on the wrist, even if you use proper form. I also found it placed a lot of strain on my lower back. I find I can do just as well with my hand weights and ankle weights, which take up much less space."
- "I bought the 3000 model. What I truly disliked about the Total Gym was the disruption of your exercise routine. You have to add or remove the pulleys, raise or lower the incline, add or remove the hand rails, etc. By then your enthusiasm has dwindled. My upper outer arms also bruised from the cables rubbing against them. I prefer a machine that is simple and requires no adjustments during exercise! That's what will keep me motivated."
- "the bench press and other exercises feel a bit awkward because your pivot point keeps changing as you slide up the bench (the pulley at the top of the bench gets "lower"in relation to your body as you go throught the range of motion)."
- "the problem is that the Total Gym 1000 is not constructed to accommodate heavy use....and as a result I have returned about 4 of these unit to the retailer on the basis of wheel wear...the wheels on the slide actually shred with heavy use...."
- "the plastic wheels wear out and the glide board is prone to de- railing in the middle of an exercise. ...if you use it consistently, you'll outgrow the resistance."
- "if you live in a small place where your going to have to fold it up I would say not to buy it. The total gym is heavy and is hard to fold down."
- "I got my hair caught one or two times beneath the bench despite tying it back, adding an element of anxiety to subsequent workouts! The difference in levels of resistance on the Total Gym are too great, your choice is either easy to the point of pointless or a higher level that leaves your muscles sore the next day (and not very motivated to work out again). I got bored with the exercises very easily, and the foot strap attachment ripped, requiring me to precariously stitch it together to continue using it. True, the Total Gym is much less expensive than most gyms on the market, but as I learn repeatedly in life, you get what you pay for."
- "I purchased the 1000 version....I can agree with a previous reviewthat it lacks in truly overloading the lower body for anyone that is not very deconditioned there. One other sour point is the height and weight requirement (you must be no more than 6 ft. and 200 lbs. to use the machine)"
- " the leg exercises do not work to well. I can barely feel it when I do the squats. The machine is also a pain to fold up and store"
- "..don't expect to pack on a lot of muscle, especially if your strong to begin with. Some of the exercises are awkward because of the fixed pulley positions, such as the bench press. There is no great leg exercise. You can do squat type exercise but your limited to 75% of your body weight, and it's uncomfortable."
- " I have to change the position of the machine and add and remove pulleys and the handlebars too many times to stay engaged. Also, the pulley system for the lower body moves is awkward and doing squats and lunges on the machine caused great knee strain."
Shellie writes: I saw the Total Gym in an infomercial and fell in love with the concept! Once I got it however, my opinion changed rapidly! It is impossible to fold up for "easy storage" and a complete pain in the butt to even adjust for different exercises. It looks great in the infomercial but that's where it needs to stay. I would not recommend this VERY user unfriendly device to anyone.
Sue writes: The infomercial says that the Total Gym stores *easily* in a closet or under a bed. The thing weighs a TON! It's a decent product if you have a place to leave it open all of the time. If you have a small apartment & would need to open & close it daily, you might want to think again. Because it weighs so much, it does not fold down easily. Even if you're careful, it is easy to get your fingers caught in it. Despite being careful when I was folding it, it has fallen on my foot (fortunately no broken bones) & my head concussion. Needless to say, it's the last time I used my Total Gym.
Carol writes: I had purchased the Total Gym at a Montgomery Wards store a few years ago. It cost me $80.00. The store was having a close-out and I would save about $40.00. I get the thing home and besides the fact that it weighed a ton like Stacey said and I have a small apartment. It's true, you have to leave it open. Trying to open and close it several times a week will cause you undo injury. One of the bars hit me in the head and I saw stars. It hurt so bad I cried. Look I'm forty years old and I don't cry from pain too often. I finally gave it to a friend for free just to get it out of my sight. I wonder if she is still my friend. Thanks but no thanks to that
A good quality utility bench and a pair of adjustable dumbbells are much more versatile and just as compact as the total gym. You could substitute a fitness ball for the bench if you get a strong one.
Pilates informercial promoting "long lean muscles"
"Fitness Guy" <fitnessfraud@y...> wrote:
> I'm getting so tired of hearing that one I had to make a special post for it. Some women avoid weight training because they believe it will give them bulky muscles. However, strength training is a critical element to maintain a healthy weight and strengthen your body.
Wayne Wescott, weight training expert and PhD, researched the effects of weight training on women and found that "the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for eight weeks gains 1.75 pounds of lean weight...and loses 3.5 pounds of fat...women typically don't gain size from strength training, because compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause bulking up." It takes lots of good old testosterone to get big muscles.
For the Pilates people to try to tell you their machine can change your genetics is just crazy. Put a bodybuilder on a pilates, will his quads get any longer? NO!
Fitness guy, I definitely can concur with your gripe about the latest b.s. in the health and fitness field and that is the misconception that a certain type of exercise will build "long, lean muscles like a dancer's body" This hype is almost as pervasive as the " no exercises necessary " methods of weight loss and miracle pills. I get this every week at least once from women who are unrealistically afraid of bulking up. "I want to build long lean muscles" is the new cry of the blissfully ignorant. Okay , I say, go to your doctor and ask for surgical reattachement of every muscle origin and insertion. But there's no use in any gnashing of teeth over this phenomenon more than any other advertising fraudulence. The uninformed will always be prey to the unethical. Just keep on plodding away to enlighten the masses and maybe someday..
Wal-Mart Fined $750,000 for Exercise Equipment Safety Defects
Wal-Mart failed to report hazards with Weider and Weslo exercise gliders, despite knowing of at least 29 consumers who were injured while trying out the gliders in Wal-Mart stores across the country. The injuries included fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and a compression injury to a woman's spine.
In November 2001, Icon Health & Fitness Inc., the manufacturer of the gliders, agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty for failing to inform the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a timely manner of 86 incidents and 68 injuries involving the same exercise equipment.
The injuries were the result of a defect in the arm supporting the seat on the exercise gliders that can disconnect during use, causing the user to fall abruptly. That settlement also required Icon to establish internal recordkeeping and monitoring systems to keep track of information about product safety hazards.
In April 1999, CPSC and Icon jointly announced a recall of the gliders. Consumers are advised to stop using the Weider Shape Glider (Model WECR 4306), the Weider Power Glide (Model WECR 4406), and the Weslo Shape Trainer (Model WLCR 4356) immediately and call or write Icon Health & Fitness for a free repair kit. Consumers can call Icon at (800) 999-3756 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, or write to Icon Health & Fitness Inc., Attn: Customer Service Department, 1550 South 100-0 West, Logan, Utah 84321-8206.
Exerpt from: exercise.about.com/library/weekly/aa103101a.htm
Beware of Fitness Fraud
You Can't Lose Weight in Just Minutes a Day
Paying Attention To The Warning Signs
“Lose weight in just minutes a day!”
That actually translates to: “If you believe this, you’re really stupid.” Yes, there are some things you can do in just minutes a day and, unfortunately, losing weight isn’t one of them. If an infomercial is making this promise, or any other extravagant claim such as weight loss with little or no effort, or guaranteed washboard abs, that’s a sign they’re totally full of crap. Yes, some of these products do work. SOME of the ab gadgets sold on infomercials really do target your abs, but are you aware that abdominal exercises don’t actually reduce the fat over your tummy? These people are trying to convince you that working your abs will result in washboard status, and that just isn’t true. Losing weight requires work, Period. Are the experts touting this product really experts? What are their credentials? If a doctor appears on the screen to say, “I’ve used this [insert stupid fitness gadget here] with many of my patients and have seen incredible results,” ask yourself this: Is this person really a doctor? Is this someone you would really trust? Would you believe this ‘doctor’ over your own?
Of course, it gets confusing when the expert is someone you recognize. For example, Tamilee Webb now has an infomercial for her Ab Away Pro. I’ve heard of Tamilee Webb; I even have a few of her workout videos. So when I first saw her infomercial, I was prepared to give her a chance. Then, she promised me I would have a firm, flat stomach in just minutes a day (yeah...now pull the other leg). This infomercial made wild promises that most fitness professionals would recognize as the big fat lies they are. But what about you? Do you know anything about exercise physiology and biomechanics? About eccentric and concentric movements? Don’t be lured by big, scary exercise words and don’t be fooled into believing crazy, too-good-to-be-true promises just because the expert is someone you recognize. ,h Read the Disclaimers.
If you’ve ever seen a car commercial, you’ve probably seen a flash of microscopic writing on the bottom of the screen. Who knows what it really says; maybe “zero percent financing only applies during a lunar eclipse, on the third Thursday of the eighth month of a leap year.” Look for these types of disclaimers during infomercials, particularly during the testimonials. You might see the disclaimer, “Results may vary,” or “Results not typical.” Translation: “We paid this person to say they lost weight with our product.” Okay, to be fair, maybe some of these people are real and have seen results, but, like the disclaimer says, those results probably aren’t typical.
Are the Promises Based on Scientific Research? Sure, some infomercials say things like “Clinical research has proven...” or, “In an independent study by doctors...” to show you how solid their products is. If they don’t tell you where this study can be found, call them up and ask them where the study was published. If it’s not in the Journal of the American Medical Association (or some other reputable journal), skip it. Most aren’t going to be published studies anyway. If they were, wouldn’t your doctor be recommending some of these products?
In the end, you have to use your common sense to decide whether these products will really help you reach your goals. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.