Pros: fast results, easy to use, quick workouts,best back support, excellent rehab
Cons: no accessories, low weight limit, not very smooth running, not overly sturdy
Ahhhh. Now THIS is one of my favorite topics- THE TOTAL GYM.
WARNING: This is a very long and detailed review. It is designed for the person who is truly interested in making the best investment in a TOTAL GYM product. If you are not interested in specifics and comparisons, this will probably overwhelm you.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
I have never been a person to stick to an exercise program. I rarely have the room, and certainly not the time to spend sprawling out on the floor beating my body painfully into subjection. It never interested me that much.
Not that I have not been physically active. I have been a runner and have participated in other physical activities, but nothing kept me devoted to exercise (before I found the Total Gym.) I grew up in the house of a weight lifter who also coaches a weight lifting team. I attended a phys ed oriented college with lots of high class equipment and training. So, it is not like I have not been around the opportunities to use and try out equipment.
I just did not find anything that thrilling or convenient to stick to using it over a short period of time.
After I had been in three car accidents, I was told my the chiropractor that I had to exercise to keep out of pain. I tried, but the exercises given to me were too painful to do. I could no longer even sit on the floor without pain.
A few years went by, and after a couple of months on intensive garden work, I managed to heal well enough from the accidents to not be in pain anymore. However, I did notice my grip fading over the winter months, and back pain made its appearance now and then.
When I had my daughter a few years ago, things took a drastic change- for the worse.
The birth went beautifully and I was so resilient from the herbs and nutrition that I practised during the pregnancy that I jumped up from giving birth and had no pain after that whatsoever- from the birth, that is.
After a couple of months, I began to notice my back was failing me. I could not pick up my little bundle of joy without extreme pain. By the third month, I was locked into place unable to move. I would sit on the ground sobbing with no way to get up, clutching my little girl to my chest feeling utterly helpless.
Planting the garden was impossible. I could not bend to plant the seeds, dig, or even put in a plant. My life was falling apart, and I could do nothing about it. I had no car, and no way to go to a chiropractor either. I thought my life was going to go down and never recover.
A year after my daughter was born, I tried desperately to do something. I could never use any other exercise equipment, due to the size and the pain it caused on my back and joints. I never bothered trying to find one to buy.
One day, however, I saw Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley on a TOTAL GYM ad. I was about to turn it off, when I heard Christie talk about her third child and how the TOTAL GYM completely changed her life after the birth. She was into her pants after only a few months of using it and she recovered her size completely with no problems.
I watched the ads over and over wanting desperately to have some kind of help. There was no way I could ever afford one, however. I was about to settle for the model 1000 when I learned that we got a bigger tax refund than expected, so I could afford to get a better model.
So, I did some research.
Here in this review, I will give you the reasons why I did not buy the TOTAL GYM 1000. The principle of all of the models is the same, and results are similar, just the range of benefits changes per model.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL GYM 1000 LIKE?
This TOTAL GYM model is licensed to FITNESS QUEST, who is an operation designed to bring cheaper brands of products to the mass marketing. The TOTAL GYM was selling so well on the infomercials, that they decided to license a low level model for those who might never make the investment to go to the bigger model shown on the infomercial with Chuck and Christie.
The TOTAL GYM 1000 is kind of like an ironing board. It folds out so that it rests at approximately a 45 degree angle from the floor. It is fully assembled. The weight of resistance used is your body weight. That resistance increases with each level of incline that you move the board up on. It hooks into place with a pin into a perpendicular bar. The support on the level bar is only a single bar, similar in design to the legs of an ironing board.
Through a system of pulleys, bars and a sliding board that you support your torso on, you can do a whole host of exercises using your own body weight as a counter balance. The incline levels (there are 5 on this unit) determine the percentage of body weight used to resist in the exercises.
The higher the level of incline on the board, the higher the resistance weight.
All models of TOTAL GYM will perform the same tasks bringing the same results.
The difference is:
in weight that it will hold
smoothness of operation
durability of moving parts and frame
comfort/ease involved in using each unit
available attachments offering more options for exercising different body areas.
SPECIFICATIONS OF THE TOTAL GYM 1000
I have been told that the TOTAL GYM 1000 is now retired, but you can still find it in some sales outlets. The 1500 is now the only model from Fitness Quest you can get. However, because it is still available, I will continue to review it.
Maximum weight will hold : 250-275 lbs.
Maximum height : 6ft
Product weight: 57 lbs.
Length: IN USE: 88" FOLDED: 51"
Height: 38" (rear) 52.7 (front)
warranty one year parts and frame
You can get a foot bar but it does not come with a foot platform. Makes leg exercises more difficult.
WHAT DOES THIS COME WITH
The TOTAL GYM 1000 is just that. Some packages come with just instructions, others come with a video and a leg pulley. I am unclear as to the inclusion of the flipchart. Since the unit is no longer produced, it is hard to find the information. The unit I originally tried did not have any attachments or a flipchart.
The glide board is very small. In essence, if you are at all medium to large framed and quite heavy, this machine is not for you.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ON THIS AND HOW OFTEN
A 10-20 minute workout 3 times a week is about all you need to get into decent shape. You can use the machine to train 80% of your body muscles. You do not have to make many adjustments to do the different groups, thereby reducing workout time.
WHAT DO I LIKE ABOUT THIS MACHINE
If I were really hard up and did not have the money, I would definitely opt for this machine over nothing. The concept is sound, and the machine will do its job, but it is very rustic compared to the higher models. I find that the principle of the machine is excellent no matter what level you buy, but it is harder to operate. I did not like the jerky operation of the wheels on one that is not brand new.
The short workouts a day are very effective. I do like that fact that this machine folds way down to store under a bed or in a closet. It is easy to fold and to move around. I like the fact that the price is so reasonable at about $175 or so. I like the fact that it does work.
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS MACHINE
The components used to make this machine are bottom line. The wheels are a rubbery substance, which over time get very rickety in operation, making the gliding and pulleys rougher and less easy to use.
The frame is rather flimsy. It is not something you can get really solid stability to put it onto a rug or uneven surface. Over time it might shimmey a bit and parts will have to be replaced. The cording for the pulleys is not very high quality and they will wear.
Also, if you are going to use this and store it daily , the temptation to skip days because you are too lazy to set it up is always a drawback. Having a place to leave it is better, but not necessary.
WHAT HAS THE TOTAL GYM DONE FOR ME?
I have used the TOTAL GYM for about 2 years now. It has completely changed my life. The exercises are easy, fun , and do not take much time at all to have a major impact on your body.
I got the strong hand grip back that I had in high school. If I stop using it for any reason (we were remodeling so I had to stop using it for a while - I was going nuts without it), it takes only a week or two to get back on the track to where you were when you left off. I found myself in sizes shortly after having the baby that I would usually take years to regain again, as when nursing, my body holds onto fat for a long long time until a year or so after I stop.
Hand grip improved, sleep improved. Hormonal fluctuations completely normalized.
Overall body toning is unbelievable for the amount of time spent on the gym. There were weeks I only spent one or two days on the gym and I still saw results. Abdominal muscles greatly firmed and strengthened. Back pain GONE. Shoulder joints very mobile. I feel like a different person when I use the TOTAL GYM on a regular basis.
I am able to bend and use my body in ways I could not do for years. It is greatly rejuvinating and beneficial.
When I stopped using it for a while (during remodeling time a couple of months ago), I did manage to sprain my wrist on a van door. The sprain has been pretty difficult to work with in my daily tasks. However, although I have been unable to use my wrist as well as I would like, I can STILL WORK OUT ON THE TOTAL GYM!
There is no strain on any joints and I have never had any back pain while exercising, unless I progressed to higher levels of resistance before I was ready.
HOW DOES THe 1000 MODEL COMPARE WITH THE OTHER MODELS OF TOTAL GYM?
The TOTAL GYM 1000 is a last resort if you can absolutely not afford anything else. (Remember, this model is still available , but discontinued, replaced by the 1500) As a comparison, I do not like it, compared to the other models. However, you will benefit if you are not too tall or too heavy.
The other options are probably better if you can swing it.
TOTAL GYM 1500
A bit higher quality than the 1000 , it is listed as coming with ( I quote from their literature):
"The TOTAL GYM 1500 comes with several features. Features such as the multi-function bar and leg pulley attachment are standard equipment. Total Gym also includes a comprehensive exercise booklet featuring beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise programs. It even has sport specific exercises to help you on the slopes, improve your tennis game or fine-tune your golf swing. "
The weight of this machine is listed as 50 lbs, not sure why so much less than the 1000. The price is usually about $249 or so. I will have more information when I review this product in its own category.
TOTAL GYM 3000
The infomercial model that Chuck and Christie have promoted last few years. Sturdier, more accessories, and easier to obtain. Still folds up really compact and is easier to move around. Still uses rubberized wheels but better quality. The cables are more sturdy, larger glideboard.
MUCH more expensive- but since it has been discontinued, you can find it on ebay for pretty good prices.
TOTAL GYM XL
The newest model from January 2002. A few changes to this model - a video from the LA FIRE DEPT who use this machine to train all of their men now. Also a video for using the machine for PILATES- an exercise form that makes a more lean and flexible body- used by many entertainers and dancers.
This machine is now used throughout the UK for Pilates studios. Also includes some accessories, and made with a raised pillow on each end for head rest (not particularly thrilling to me). There is more chrome on it, and the weight limit is 400 lbs. Height is about 6'2".
You will pay dearly for this machine, as it goes for $1400, but it is available on 1 or 2 year non interest payment plans- a defininite plus. Pushy sales people.
TOTAL GYM 11000
This is the model from the company who originated the TOTAL GYM back in the early 1970's. The company, EFI, was asked in the 1990's to license out the TOTAL GYM for infomercial distribution on a more cheaply made basis.
The oxymoron of the whole thing is that the infomercial brand, although made more cheaply, is more expensive than the original company's model. The demand for the infomercial unit (now called XL) is so high that they rasied the price on it to slow down demand therefore keep up better with it and they ended up selling more than ever!
This model, the 11000 is the one I finally settled on owning. The pulley lines are unbelievably durable (aircraft rating of 2000 lbs nylon coated steel) the pulleys and wheels are self lubricating ball bearing (delrin- high impact )and very smooth and easy to use even after two years in a dirty basment workout area.
The glideboard is very thick and rip proof. The accessory package is top notch and highly useful. The Pilates program also is available for this as are many other accessories. The resistance level is much higher - up to 68% of body weight, and you can raise that as well with another accessory.
MAX weight is 450 lbs.
Height is 6'6"
Unit weight is 95 lbs.
Lifetime frame warranty, 5 years parts
Has flip chart, videos, and all kinds of price discounted packages available if you like. The current price for this unit is $995 or you can get it with some accessories for $1195.
The shipping varies in your location of the country with highest in the EAST of $120 and the lowest in the west of $60. They also offer a more limited payment plan with $7 charge.
TOTAL GYM MODEL 24000
The ultimate model. With a weight limit of 650 lbs per person, this machine is designed for gyms or places where it stays up- although it does fold up and hang on the wall if desired to do so. VERY expensive.
WHO CAN USE THE TOTAL GYM?
This is the beauty of this amazing unit. Anyone, I mean, anyone can use THE TOTAL GYM. Weight limits in mind to settle on a model that suits you, this is fantastic for anyone from a power lifter (world class record holder John Carleo holds his title because of this machine training him exclusively).
Elderly and moderately disabled people can benefit from this machine. Old and young can use it. The higher models can be used by anyone in any size and weight. All will benefit greatly without strain and limitations found on most other equipment (yes, I have a friend with the BOWFLEX and this is far better to use for me than that is).
MY SUGGESTION TO YOU
Of all of the TOTAL GYM models I have seen and tried out, I have to say that the 11000 is the absolute best if you have an area that will tolerate you leaving it set up. You can fold it up, but it is heavier than the other models and I prefer to leave it set up. I have put it away daily with no problem- set up is only a couple of minutes tops.
If you can afford the TOTAL GYM 11000 I would go that way. The TOTAL GYM XL is more expensive but folds up smaller. The TOTAL GYM 1000 and 1500 are far less useful, and more limited in what you can do with them and what size you can be to use them, but if you are really without another choice, this is by far the best unit available in its price range.
CONTACT NUMBERS AND SITES
FITNESS QUEST (Total Gym 1000 and 1500):
This is mass market and I do not believe they work on commission.
TOTAL GYM INFOMERCIAL MODEL XL:
These sales people are pretty pushy. Ask for Larry, who is more helpful than others, but remember they work for commission so have questions ready and be aware of their dilemma too.
1-800-942-2441 or customer service : 1-888-811-9740
TOTAL GYM EXPERTS AND ORIGINATORS (EFI):
These people know this equipment better than anyone (all models) and are of the most help.
www.totalgym.com (where you can get a free video)
(you will get a lot of information and help if when you call the 800 number you ask for Sean- but remember, these people all work hard for commission, so please do not abuse his or anyone else's time)
UPDATE- FEB 2006
I have continued to use the TOTAL GYM constantly (I use the 11000 at home, and take the 1000 out when I am in need of a portable model) since writing this review, and the only complaint I have about it is that a piece that helps the unit fold up (placing the spindle in it) snapped off from a bad weld.
However, this did not affect performance of the unit. It is still working as well as the day I first got it and I have used it for rehabilitation of a leg injury with great results. Because of the great support of the unit, I am able to exercise the other muscles so that they will support the sore nerve and muscle without causing damage or pain to the hurt areas.
I still speak just as highly of these units, although they have newer models available for purchase now that these are discontinued from manufacture.