Exercise Infomercials: We Try Before You Buy

Exercise Infomercials: We Try Before You Buy

It's late. You're sitting on your couch watching TV, about to slip off to sleep when you see it: someone balancing, sweating or lunging their way to a great body, smiling all the while, all in the comfort of their home.

But as good as those exercise products look in their infomercials, how do they really work in the real world?

I got my hands on some of them to see for myself. See my verdict below.

Click here to check out some earlier "Good Morning America" reports on infomercial products.

I want to preface these grades with a disclaimer: There are different workouts and equipment for every type of person and I evaluated these products on my own wants and needs for getting fit. I am a middle-of-the-road, 5'7", 142-pound, athletic, 38-year-old woman who always is working (struggling) to stay fit and healthy. These are my personal opinions.

VIDEO: Becky Worley puts five fitness products to the test.
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Shake Weight: B+

I love this product -- it causes my triceps and biceps to burn without stressing my shoulders. I leave it in the kitchen and pick it up for a micro-workout when I'm waiting for the microwave or talking on the phone. I can grab two minutes here or a minute there and feel a little burn while doing other things. When I've spent some serious time with the Shake Weight, it makes my arms sore in a good way. One caveat: Don't let anyone see you using this thing, it looks obscene and ridiculous.

The Firm Wave C-

The "firm" videos are incredibly popular and this one adds a crescent shaped workout board to the mix. The board is an added prop to use for stepping, lunging and crunching, but generally I felt like this was only a slight upgrade from a 1980's step-aerobic class that used a standard flat board.

The exercises that had me rocking on the board while doing upper-body exercises didn't particularly engage my core or cause me to work harder balancing myself. I experimented doing the same exercises standing still or just moving side to side on the flat ground and I felt the same level of exertion. I understand the principles of stabilization and engaging your core, but this product didn't get me to the same state of instability as a device like a wobble board that demands whole body muscle recruitment.

Bottom-line: The Wave seemed gimmicky and didn't actually add to my perceived exertion.

The infomercial promises that this workout will burn fat three times faster than regular cardio workouts because of the "speed slimming intervals", but I wonder how that works. Interval training is based on going to nearly max intensity and depleting energy stores, but when I did the Firm Wave workouts, the sets of exercises and the reps within them were too short for me to get really gassed. Some of the strength exercises did take me to a "burn," but it wasn't extreme or consistent throughout the workout. I am not super-fit, so I don't think it's me, it just seemed low-intensity.

I liked some of the benefits of having an angled surface to work on (great for doing squats and keeping my heels slightly elevated for less stress on my knees) but generally doing ab workouts on the hard, curved plastic was more painful than doing them on a yoga mat or ball because the plastic was uncomfortable. I also found the exercises that had me lying over the wave on my stomach impossible because of the way the curved hard plastic dug into my pelvic bones.

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