Workout Devices Get Rated

Experts Argue Pros, Cons of the Latest Exercise Equipment

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Kangoo Jumps. The Bowflex. The Body Dome. The Ab Away. You've seen them on TV. You've heard the promises -- tight abs, sculpted arms, supercharged metabolism, burn calories like a furnace. But do these products really deliver?

For feedback, WebMD turned to two experts, both with the American Council on Exercise (ACE): Cedric Bryant, PhD, ACE's chief exercise physiologist, and Sal Fishara, MS, exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer with Forza Fitness in Manhattan.

Here's their advice on several "As Seen On TV" products: the Ab Away, the Body Dome, Body Flex, Bowflex, the Gazelle, inversion/gravity tables, Kangoo Jumps, spinning bikes, the Total Gym, and trampolines (mini).

The Ab Away

Bryant: "This is an abdominal 'training' product that focuses on the lowering action of a sit-up. That's fine, it's an important aspect of exercise, but there's nothing magical about it in terms of sculpting. The ads say the product is safe because of the cushioned back support. But given the dimensions of the device, it would seem that for individuals of average height or taller, it will be too short to provide any real support for the back."

Fishara: "The problem is, you are seated almost upright during the movements. I don't think that's necessarily good. In order to activate abs, you need to bend from the mid torso. If you bend at the hips like old-fashioned sit-ups, you're going to use hip flexors, not abdominals. You could do a full range of ab exercises using just your own muscles, with no machine, and get more results."

The Body Dome