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Want to Crunch Together?
Nov 28, 2004 (Updated Mar 9, 2005)
by Jo Levy
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Relatively inexpensive; folds; works entire ab area.
Cons:Not necessary; not for the obese; can allow hyper-extensions.
The Bottom Line: The Ab Lounger has some good and bad points. It is not for everyone.
When my friend asked me if I thought she should be the Ab Lounge by Fitness Quest for $175.00 I said yes. Since then I have used it and am happy to say she is using it. Why I said yes to her and perhaps I might have said no to someone else will be in this review.
Recommend this product?
What is the Ab Lounge:
The Ab Lounge is one model of loungers made by Fitness Quest. This particular model is one that is Seen on TV. We have a Seen on TV store nearby however my friend purchased it through the television. Other models can be purchased in stores. There are some differences and at some point I will try to review other models. For now, suffice it to say that the Ab Lounge is a better choice than the Ab Lounge 2 which is less expensive but not as sophisticated as the Ab Lounge Ultimate for which you will pay $100 more. (The term lounge and lounger are used interchangeably; however it is called the Ab Lounge by Fitness Quest.)
This is a machine for the abdominal muscles which claims to tighten and tone your upper and lower abs and obliques quickly. According to their ad The Ab Lounge helps to transform flabby abs into sensationally sexy swimsuit abs. The fact is that although I am an advocate of abdominal work, weight training and cardiovascular work, once you leave me, eat 2 cheeseburgers and super size everything I cannot undo the damage done. If you have read any of my fitness reviews you will know I feel this way.
The bottom line is that in order to get rid of fat the most effective way is to do calorie burning exercises and watch what you eat. You cannot eat more calories than you expend and doing 1000 crunches on the Ab Lounge will do nothing for the super-sized lunch you just ate. (I am going to review this machine; however there are some basics that have to be understood first.)
I noted above the oblique muscles. Those are the muscles on your sides of your waist. There are two layers. They are internal and external. They help flex your spine and stabilize your torso. Remember that when you work your abdominal muscles you are strengthening your back as well so even if you hate doing crunches and do not care if you ever have a 6 pack or even a flat stomach think of your back.
The Ab Lounge is a light weight, 36-pound machine. It is actually less a machine than it is a lounge chair and that is what it looks like. It is a pretty blue color, made of flexible, soft material that will hold a maximum of 275 pounds.
This presents a problem for a couple of reasons. One reason I like machines for overweight people is because they often have a hard time sitting down and getting up. If they do not have a hard time, it is often something they just do not want to do. In addition, that added weight, (If it is more than you should weigh.) injury or illness can cause obesity or joint pain making it difficult to get on the floor. On the other hand most machines I have seen and used have seats that are too small for the large person. The Ab Lounge is no different. Not only is it small but because it is light weight a heavy person literally may not fit on it.
It measures 54" long x 31-3/4 wide" x 45-1/2" high. I like the height for people who will not get on the floor due to joint pain. However, again, because of the flexible material it may not be that easy for someone in a lot of pain to get on and off the Ab Lounge. You will be better off on a hard bench.
The Ab Lounge frame is made of rolled steel and I have no doubt that the frame is quite durable. I am not as sure about the lounge itself. Any material after awhile especially when a lot of weight is put on it will start to rip or sag. The Ab Lounge is not expensive and there is a 3-month warranty but do not expect to have this for the next 5 years if in fact you are using it several times a week and/or several people in your household are using it. It is slightly padded however the padding is not enough to make the Ab Lounge in my opinion comfortable. It is not uncomfortable though. It could not be heavily padded or it would not move unless it were a much heavier machine.
It has adjustable foot pedals which are nice. Your feet will be on the pedals or the base of the machine but as you extend into a full range of motion you will want your ankles resting on the pedals. For much of the time you will have your knees bent to do what the Ab Lounge calls the Jack Knife.
It also comes with a video with Rosalie Brown showing you a routine. I always recommend watching whatever video comes with whatever product you buy. Although the Ab Lounge does not require much figuring out, you will want to do the exercises properly. This video will help you. If you have never done a jackknife crunch (I would put it in quotes if I could -but word processing is not allowing me to- because the Ab Lounge is the only piece of equipment I have seen that has used that term. Certainly you can do a jackknife when diving. This is a bit different. I do essentially jackknife crunches on the floor. In addition, my gym has a machine (heavy and commercial) that forces jackknife crunches.
Please note that the routine by Brown includes diet tips and recipes. Ultimately any piece of equipment you buy or any magic pill will come with words to the effect (quote) that this must be used with a sensible diet and exercise program. (end of quote)
Jo, Your Personal Trainer, Tells You How This Works:
We are told that the Ab Lounge "Jack Knife works our abdominal muscles with a fuller range of motion than crunches or sit ups." Those of you old enough may remember the days when we did sit ups. We would have someone hold our legs or tuck them under a couch and sit up. For a long time now, crunches, which are a small movement, are seen as the best way to tone the abdominal muscle (remember I am saying tone, you cannot spot reduce any part of your body.) We are also told that the Ab Lounge strengthens the core muscles as in Pilates. See my review Spri Foam Rollers.
The Ab Lounge is a simple piece of equipment. It is designed to cradle your body while supporting your head, neck, and back throughout the entire exercise. It does do that. One advantage to machines is that they do force you to do a better crunch, i.e. one that is in good form in an easier manner than doing them on your own.
There are handles on the sides. Please use them until you get used to getting on and off the Ab Lounge. You will then place your hands over your head and grab onto the bar. I can almost guarantee that the first time you do this you will not be able to figure out how to move the top part of you and the bottom at the same time but you can. You will do it once and realize the technique. As you pull yourself up by the top handle the bottom of the AB Lounge comes up as well. Essentially this is what I call a double crunch since without the machine you can do a crunch using just your upper ab muscles (lift yourself slightly off the floor with your hands loosely behind your head) or you can lift your lower half off the floor with your legs up. Your bottom comes up in a slight curl working your lower abs. Turning to the sides will work your obliques. What I do on the floor is bring my bottom and top up at the side time essentially simulating the Ab Lounge or the Ab Lounge is simulating me. Whichever way you want to think about it. That is all there is to doing a crunch with the Ab Lounge.
There is a feature of the Ab Lounge that I do not like. I mean I really do not like it. Although they advertise it as using a full range of motion, I disagree. I think stretching your muscles to work your core is essential. However hyper-extending either forward or backward (going back to the point where your chest is lower than your waist) is never something I would suggest a client do. Yet the Ab Lounge allows for that. As you get used to this machine you will find out that it goes back.
Since we now know that crunches are most effect with a small range of motion using not only this full range but a hyper-extension makes no sense to me. In fact some will say that the range of motion should not be more than 30 degrees or so and I would agree with them. The Ab Lounge gives you a greater range of motion which in my opinion not only is not necessary but I will say it one more time, hyper-extending can be dangerous.
I am a Personal Trainer. These are My Final Thoughts and why I recommended it to my friend:
I recommended it to my friend and will recommend it if this is the only way to get you to do crunches and work your abdominal muscles. I said many minutes ago that working them works your back. I am not even mentioning working these muscles from an aesthetic view point- just from a health and long-term mobility point of view.
My friend has listened to me and does not arch her back on the Ab Lounge but is using is effectively and doing crunches every day. Two sets of 25 well done crunches are better than 200 half hearted ones. Hold in your tummy the entire time you are using the Ab Lounge.
This machine is not for the morbidly obese since it will hold only 275 pounds. Please get advice from your doctor before starting any exercise program. And please this machine will be very enticing for children. Young children should not be on this machine and certainly not unsupervised since they can get hurt. I have no problem with pre-teens using the Ab Lounge as long as they are careful, have been taught properly how to use it and know not to hyper-extend.
I am recommending it. Personally I would rather spend that money on equipment that I could not simulate exercises with as easily such as resistance tubes or dumbbells. If you will not do ab work on the floor and you do not think this will become just another place to put your clothes rather than hanging them up, give it a try. You can return it after 30 days if not satisfied. Just read the fine print before you buy it if you think you most likely will be returning it.
Feel free to leave me a comment or question. You may also e-mail me privately.
Other reviews in which you might be interested include:
Stamina AB Hyper Extension Bench
Thane AB-DOer Pro
Yukon Ab Crunch
How to Choose a Health Club
Curves for Women
After reviewing the Ab Lounger 2 I have changed my rating of the Ab Lounger from 3 stars to 4.
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