We Try Before You Buy: 'GMA' Gives Infomercial Exercise Equipment a Workout

VIDEO: Becky Worley tests claims made for exercise equipment not available in stores.PlayABCNEWS.com
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This morning on "Good Morning America" you saw my reviews of infomercial fitness products. I've posted the full details below:

3 Minute Legs: D

Squats and lunges are amazing exercises, but despite their simplicity they are surprisingly difficult to do properly. 3 Minute Legs assists you as you squat or lunge, holding your weight at the bottom of the squat and providing assistance as you come back up.

The device seems well built, but I have some issues with the concept and the promises that the device makes. Conceptually I understand that for many people just squatting their weight is hard, but in those instances couldn't you use a chair as the end point of the squat or a fail-safe if you can't lift out of it? Why pay $113 instead of just using a chair.

Also, when I did lunges on the 3 Minute Legs, I felt my front leg had to splay out much farther than I usually would to accommodate the motion of the rollers.

Finally the infomercial claims the product works on all surfaces, but in the product's instructions and in my tests it doesn't work on carpet.

3 MINUTE LEGS manufacturer response:

"We appreciate and acknowledge GMA and all media looking at products that are marketed to consumer and fully acknowledge your right to come to whatever conclusion. The company wants to fully understand the protocol but did not have the time to do a thorough review of the analysis. The company does stand by its product and has a money back guarantee. The majority of consumers around the world are satisfied with the product."

-- Thane USA

Jump Snap: B+

You've got to be kidding -- a jump rope that has no rope? Why don't I just hold a couple of soup cans and jump around my living room? This was a product I thought I would hate, but I didn't. Jumping rope is primary -- we learn it when we are little and something about it is both easy and hard all at once. The three challenges to jumping rope: it's boring, which makes you struggle to do more than 5 minutes of it; you get tangled in the rope; and it's hard to jump rope indoors without whacking your lamps and snapping the rope on your favorite knick-knacks.

The Jump Snap has solved many of these problems.

Problem 1: Jumping rope is BORING: Because it has no rope, you can jump rope indoors -- AKA, in front of the television. Want to catch up on Desperate Housewives? DVR it and watch it guilt-free while you jump rope.

Problem 2: It's hard to commit to jumping for more than 5 minutes: Because the Jump Snap has a counter on it, it records how many times you jump, how long you jump and how many calories you've burned. Somehow this really motivated me to jump rope for much longer than I would with a traditional jump rope.

Problem 3: Tangles: Since Jump Snap has no rope, you don't get tangled, you don't take as many breaks, but one thing I liked about the Jump Snap was that it has a little noise that sounds like a rope whizzing through the air -- it simulates the real sound of a jump rope, but if your form starts to fail, the sound doesn't play -- it's an audio cue to pay attention and get back on track.

Zumba: A-

Zumba is an exercise craze that combines Latin music and moves with a little bit of cardio and hip hop. It's low impact, lots of twisting and hip swiveling, and great music. The moves aren't totally explained: it's a lot of watch and try to follow, although they do have a breakout portion of the DVD that shows you the basics of each move.

There is a lot of dancing, not as much talking as most exercise videos; which is nice. Mostly the low impact workout is great for people who don't want a ton of jumping and joint stress.

One caveat: I felt like I needed different shoes than my normal sneakers -- I wanted more like a smooth bottomed dance show for all the pivoting, so you may want to factor that into the cost. One other perk -- since there are so many classes offering Zumba, you could take a class and use the DVDs to supplement when you don't have time or access to a class.

Ab Doer Twist: C-

I wanted to love this -- who doesn't want an ab machine that will help you burn those lower abs, but doesn't stress your back and your neck.

The Ab Doer Twist is a sturdy and seemingly well-constructed piece of equipment that has cushions in all the right places and responds well to crunching and leaning back. You can move laterally to work the sides of your core and the workouts have you twisting and crunching at a pace that gets a sweat going, but it's not a cardio exercise.

At the end of an intermediate workout I felt that my sides and my back had worked really hard, but I felt no fatigue in my lower abs, the flabby section that we all want to target. This does seem like a good workout for people who have low mobility and want to strengthen their lower backs, but unfortunately it's not that one device that will let you max out your abs while preserving the rest of your body.

AB DOER TWIST manufacturer's response:

"We appreciate and acknowledge GMA and all media looking at products that are marketed to consumer and fully acknowledge your right to come to whatever conclusion. The company wants to fully understand the protocol but did not have the time to do a thorough review of the analysis. The company does stand by its product and has a money back guarantee. The majority of consumers around the world are satisfied with the product."

Insanity: B-

Last year I reviewed the P90X infomercial DVD series. It was amazing and I have dipped in and out of the routines all year. Insanity is the follow-up product from the same company. Insanity has the same high production values as P90X, it has really fun and likeable instructors who encourage and push without being fake and corny. And Insanity has got a no-joke approach -- it's hard, they don't sugar coat it; keep up if you can. I couldn't.

I am a 40-year-old jock and I like to work out hard, but after five minutes of the first Insanity workout, I had to pause the DVD and go put on a second jog-bra. This is the highest high impact work-out I've ever done. So first up, if you have any joint issues -- knees, hips, ankles, back -- this is not for you. It's just too bouncy. This is for people who have gotten through the first P90X routine and want something that's hard hard cardio. This is not for beginners, but it lives up to its name -- it's insane and intense and if you want a workout at home that will take you to the next level, this is it.

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