Workout Devices Get Rated (cont.)

Bryant: "This is a 'stability ball' but with a stable base, which allows you to do push-ups and other exercises. This kind of apparatus can be used effectively for muscle conditioning exercises. However, the infomercials hype that it can do everything -- like converting fat to muscle. That's impossible; those are two distinct tissues. Also, it claims to supercharge metabolism, which may lead people to believe they will burn calories like a furnace. That would be nice, but it won't happen."

Fishara: "It's a good product, but limited. You can't do a whole-body workout on the Body Dome. It's good for squats and crunches, but it's not at all a full-body exercise tool. It's one tool to be added to a series of others."

Body Flex

Bryant: The inventor of this program "alleges that so-called aerobic breathing is key to weight loss -- that it speeds up metabolism, allows you to burn more calories. That's really nonsensical. She says that performing 15-minute exercises is the key to stoking metabolism, which has no scientific basis."

Fishara: "Just looking at this program, it looks limited at best. I'd have to try it to see if it really did anything."

Bowflex

Bryant: "This is a system that involves resistance rods or bands. It's been around awhile and is good for resistance training. It's reasonably compact and can be used to do a variety of exercises. More experienced users might be more critical -- they won't experience what they get in a gym. But for the average user, it would be good for resistance training."

Fishara: "The Bowflex is a superb strength-training machine. When you use those cables, it forces you to challenge primary muscles in the shoulder, chest, and triceps as well as support muscles. The machine itself provides smooth range of motion and is the most versatile machine around. I highly recommend it."

A word of caution: Grabbing cables from behind could mean a pulled muscle. "But if you have a workout partner, he can pull the cable in front of you to get you started," Fishara tells WebMD.

The Gazelle

Bryant: "The Gazelle really tries to provide low-impact exercise, but the swinging movement is not necessarily great because it can be quite uncomfortable. The advertisements really play up the successively wide range of motion you can get. But it could be difficult -- even problematic -- if you do it repeatedly. They also tend to over-hype what you can expect to achieve."

Fishara: "This [As Seen on TV product] is advertised as a low-impact exercise machine, but what you get is almost no impact. It does provide very smooth range of motion. The problem is, your body performs actions that are not natural. They can potentially be dangerous because of extra stress they put on hips, knees, ankles, and lower back. Also, it's not made for very tall people."

Inversion/Gravity Tables