Pros: Relatively inexpensive, flexible, surprisingly well-built.
Cons: Smallish board can be awkward for larger users.
If you are looking into the total gym system, as I did, you may run across the "total gym supra" (hereinafter TGS). TGS is a version of the total gym produced by Fitness Quest for Sears which differs slightly from other versions.
The most noticeable difference is the glide board, which is a little wider than on other base total gyms. Nevertheless, if you are over 5'10" in height, this may not be the system for you as the board is a little small for anyone taller. (I am 6 ft. tall and use it, but have difficulty doing some exercises which are awkward because I am just a little too big for the glide board).
The TGS package is pretty nice for the price. It comes with: (1) the machine itself; (2) 3 resistance bands; (3) 2 exercise videos (4)leg pull/pull-up accessory;(5) pilates attachment; and (6) a squat stand.
SET-UP & CONSTRUCTION
The TGS comes pre-assembled and takes about 5 minutes to set up and get used to. While setting it up, I was struck by how well built it was for the price ($250 new). The TGS is solid and stable, with decent (not great) padding.
The TGS is easy to use and allows for a wide variety of exercises (100's if you are imaginative). Apart from the size of the glide board, the only major problem was with the fact that some of the exercises are designed to be performed while you are inverted (i.e. head down, feet up) which caused blood to rush to my head, making it hard to do that excercise for very long.
The best exercises are pull-ups, squats, and weighted crunches. The reason these are the best is because this machine allows you to do these exercises (1) with very little impact; and (2) even if you are not in good shape.
For example: there was no way I could possibly have ever done a standard pull-up when I first got the TGS. But, because the machine allows you to use only a percentage of your weight on these exercises, I was able to do quasi-pull-ups on the TGS until I became strong enough to do regular ones. This leads me to an important point. This machine will probably not be particularly helpful if you are already in good shape (sorry chuck).
If you are on a high-school football team and want to get stronger, etc. this is not the machine for you. However, if you are a flabby week-end warrior, it can be a great help. It can also be very useful in strengthening after injuries due to its adjustability. Given the nature of the device, I would not recommend it for older or extremely obese people.
The TGS does, as other posters have indicated, make exercising relatively fun and easy. Nevertheless, it remains exercise and requires some personal motivation.
That having been said, I can truthfully state that in the past year I have lost 40 lbs. and have nearly doubled my strength. The TGS was partially responsible. While not a miracle, the TGS is a good value.
Finally, a note of caution, beware if you purchase through fitness quest as the higher end models increase in price exponentially. (I would never spend $2,000 on a total gym, but that is precisely what the fitness quest phone rep. was suggesting I do.). Try it out at your local store and see if you like it before you buy.
Due to product advancements, the Total Gym, while a good concept is no longer state of the art. I would suggest going to your local Sears or Sporting goods store to see the great values now available in workout equipment which does not suffer from some of the deficiencies of the Total Gym.