Total Gym 3000

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Is the Total Gym 3000 worth $700 more than the Total Gym 1500?

Mar 3, 2005 (Updated Mar 7, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Good flexibility on some exercises, has a squat stand.

Cons:Have to move around too much; not for those wanting to build muscle.

The Bottom Line: I am not recommending the 3000. It costs more money than it should. You can do better with others.


After I reviewed the Total Gym 1500 I told another personal trainer that I did not like it. He had bought the Total Gym 3000 for his wife and suggested I look at hers to see if I like it any better. He is not a fan of the machine. His wife likes it but does not love it.

I was curious what the differences were between the 1500 and 3000. This was also prompted by the fact that the 1500 (which is just like the 1700) costs under $300. The 3000 is $1400. Please note: The XL is an upgraded 3000. The XL costs $1400. There is a special on the 3000. You can buy it for $999. The biggest difference between the two is that the XL will hold 400 pounds and the 3000 holds 300 pounds. There are some cosmetic differences and a couple of accessories that the XL has but unless you weigh closer to 400 pounds than 300 I do not think the XL is worth $500 more than the 3000.

The Total Gym 3000:

The Total Gym is made by FitnessQuest. The prime reason for this review is to see if the 3000 is worth $700 more than the 1500 thus I will be comparing the two.

The Total Gyms are simple machines. They are one of the few that do not have to be assembled. You will get a few simple set up instructions but all you will essentially have to do is pull the machine out of the box.

They both claim to combine strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility in 10 to 20 minutes a day. They are both endorsed by Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris. This is silly but I am sure these endorsements are a reason some people buy the Total Gym. Please do not think Christie or Chuck have this in their basement and are working out on it! You may have heard them say that the Total Gym can give you one of the fastest and most effective resistance workouts you will ever experience. To make it even more enticing you can try it for 60 days and then return it if you do not like it.

The 3000 comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The material that came with the 1500 I used said there was a one-year warranty. These warranties may vary depending on where you buy it so check on that.

We are told that the Total Gym 1500 trains over 80% of your upper and lower body with over 60 exercises. The 3000 gives you over 80 exercises. You get a video and instruction chart with the 1500. You will get two videos with the 3000. They both work the same way and it is my opinion that although the machine is simple, it takes some practice to get a feel for how to use it.

The facts:

Both models are made fairly similarly. The 3000 has chrome upper rails and is nicely padded just like the 1500.

They both fold and roll. I didn't fold or roll the 1500. I found the 3000 to not fold or roll as easily as I had hoped.

The 3000 is 90 inches long by 43 inches high and 18.5 inches wide. That is very similar to the 1500. They are the same length, the 3000 is half an inch wider and the 3000 is 5 inches shorter.

The weight limit on the 1500 is 275 pounds. The weight limit on the 3000 is 300 pounds.

My experiences and thoughts of the Total Gym 3000:

I am a personal trainer and safety is my first concern. Total Gym claims to be safe for all fitness levels. It is not recommended for children. Please be very careful using fitness equipment around children or leaving them where your child can get into or onto whatever you own.

Because there are no weights to lift one might think it is safer than other machines where your fingers can get caught or a plate (circular weight) might fall on your foot. I disagree and will walk you through my experiences on the Total Gym.

The Total Gym 3000 like the 1500 has a board that moves. The board is comfortable. The foam inside it is one inch thick, which is adequate. The way you work the resistance is by moving the slide up or down with it at various levels. There is one pin that pulls out. Once it is out you can move the slide up and down the machine at different heights. This controls the resistance. Metal openings fit into 6 rungs on the machine. The higher the slide the more difficult the exercise and the more resistance you have. This is identical to the 1500. To translate what these 6 rungs mean in terms of resistance is this: At the highest level you are moving 60% of your body weight. At the lowest rung or resistance you are moving 6%. To make this even clearer, if you do a pull up you are lifting 100% of your weight. However you are not pulling up your own weight on the Total Gym so it is not an exact analogy. I am just trying to show you how this resistance works. Moving 60% of your body weight will not be adequate for many and I can promise you it is not adequate for Chuck Norris!

The company says that a spotter is not needed. I disagree especially for the novice. You can lose your balance and fall off. Nothing holds you on the slide.

When I used the 3000 I was already very familiar with the 1500. I was cautious at first with the 1500 so I could get used to the machine. The greatest asset the 3000 has is a platform. That was one of my complaints with the 1500. I did not like the wing bar that I stood on. This platform is used as a squat stand. It is made of plastic. My friend ’s wife is the only one who uses her Total Gym and she weighs about 120 pounds. I cannot imagine how someone 295 pounds is going to use this day after day without some damage to the stand. This area is used for squats (Squats must be shown to you or watch the video carefully.) so your entire body weight is resting on this plastic stand. Granted if you are looking at other models that have the squat stand, the one on the 3000 may be a bit better. I do question the durability of the stand.

The Total Gym works on a cable system. Lying down I decided to grab the chrome handles. The handles get attached to the cables. I did the same exercises on the 3000 as I did on the 1500. There is no difference in the technology of the machines. I felt or did not feel the flyes exactly the same on the two machines.

Then I wanted to use these same handles to do rows. Rows work the back. In order to do that I had to turn around. So I had to get down off the board with no rails or any type of side to hold on to. So now turned around I could do rows. I did feel them particularly with the board raised. I moved the board to various levels and did feel a difference. I felt like I was moving attachments and my body constantly.

There was a comment on my review of the 1500 that during any workout equipment has to be moved. That is true however when I use a stack machine, I put a pin in and out and it takes one second. Even with dumbbells when I use various weights I have them in front of me. I still stand by my feeling that moving the pieces around is more annoying on the Total Gym than on other machines.

There is no doubt that the Total Gym does a lot for the money. I can work every body part. I can do exercises such as leg raises for my abs (which can be done on any surface including the floor), bicep curls, and seated rows for my back. Although you are getting some cardio vascular benefit the Total Gym, in my opinion, does not replace cardio vascular work on a treadmill or walking outside. The key really is that the cables you are holding, whether on the top of the machine or the bottom, are moved at the same time as you slide the board up and down.

One positive that I like is the flexibility the machine gives me. For example on a chest press machine my arms are in one position. I can replicate this movement with the cables and move my arms whether out to the side a bit as in a punch you might to in a kickboxing class or bring my arms back to hit my deltoids (shoulders). However I have been working out for over 25 years. My fear is that even with instruction you can hurt yourself if your form is not right. There is too much flexibility. I think that a more controlled machine is more effective and safer for the average person.

My final thoughts:

Let’s look at what these models offer to see if the 3000 is worth $700 more than the 1500. The significant differences are:

1. I can do 20 more exercises on the 3000 than I can on the 1500.
2. I get 2 videos instead of 1.
3. The 3000 holds 25 more pounds of weight.
4. The 3000 has a squat stand rather than wings.

My feeling in general about the Total Gym 3000 is the same as that for the 1500. I can see this in a rehab facility which is one place that the Total Gym purports to be used.

I do not see body builders using this. You will be bored out of your minds in about 5 minutes and so tired of moving the pieces around and turning your body from front to back that you will stop using it. This is just my opinion. Christie Brinkley thinks the slide and pull motion is fun. I thought it monotonous and tedious.

However if you do like the Total Gym because it gives you a workout for less money than other machines and you do not mind switching the attachments, then I would save the $700 and go with the 1500 or the Total Gym Platinum for $241 which has a squat stand rather than wings or the Total Gym SupraPro.

For the beginner who is careful and gets used to the machine the Total Gym is not a bad choice. I am not recommending the 3000 though. I think you can do better for the money.

Please feel free to leave me a question or comment or e-mail me if you want advice.

If you have any medical conditions, are a woman over 50 or a man over 40 just starting an exercise program please talk with your doctor first.


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