Sticks to Stools: 7 Random Objects Sold as Exercise Machines

Any idiot can build a better mousetrap, but it takes a special kind of individual, a genius if you will, to look at the existing mousetrap and figure out semi-plausible ways in which it could be used as an all-purpose exercise system.

These fitness products seem to be made mostly from random repurposed goods that you probably already have in your basement:

#7. RED Exerciser

Also Known As:

A stool.

The Pitch:

Experts have been telling us for decades that the secret to achieving good fitness is like the secret to sex: repeat one movement over and over again until you get health benefits or your butt gets sore. The Red Exerciser, as a swivel-stool, is guaranteed to produce at least one of those two outcomes with prolonged use.

Ironically, you could probably burn more calories standing still, but do you really want to risk putting all that strain on your joints? Anticipating the scorn of all you fitness dynamos out there, one reviewer poignantly writes: "you already have the energy. me i dont have it. thank you red." And at this rate you never will have it, brave sir.

Research and Development:

We're thinking a couple of guys on the design team, who've ducked out on a looming deadline to nurse their beers at a local bar. So they're languidly swiveling to and fro upon their stools, until one of them looks up and says, "I've got it!"

#6. Bender Ball

Also Known As:

A regular ball.

The Pitch:

A recent trend in fitness has been the emphasis on developing core strength. A popular way of doing this is to perform exercise movements while balancing yourself on a ball, which forces various muscles to help stabilize you. The Bender Ball is a tiny version of the bigger ball that you can already find a typical gym, and it apparently gives you ridiculous abs and a sports bra.

Research and Development:

There is nothing funny at all about developing core strength. A woman naming a shitty kid's ball after herself and selling it as a health product? That's pretty ballsy, even for master trainer Leslie Bender.

The Bender Ball sells for $9.99, which is reasonable except that the kid version costs like $2. One concern is that you have to inflate the Bender Ball yourself with a straw. As one reviewer writes, "It hard to get a firm ball." A truer statement, if spoken, would unleash the rapture.

#5. Super Swim Pro

Also Known As:

A rope.

The Pitch:

These days it's common knowledge that swimming is a safe, low-impact way to achieve all your fitness goals. According to the ad, fully harnessing that power involves tethering yourself to a poolside pole and then flailing meekly against the resistance it provides. As with any exercise program, an important part of staying motivated is feeling like you aren't making any progress at all. If that were true, the Super Swim Pro would be a great piece of equipment.

Yes, that's an official video from the Super Swim Pro people and, yes, we're pretty sure it features a swimmer dying at the 30-second mark.

Research and Development:

Imagine looking out into your backyard. The neighborhood kids are teasing your dog who runs towards them at full speed only to strangle himself once he runs out of rope. Now, look into your heart and consider whether it would occur to you to similarly hobble your loved ones while they are trying to enjoy themselves in a pool.

If you answered no, you are a better person than whoever invented the Super Swim Pro. Forget the "Super" version, the regular Swim Pro was probably just a rope attached to a collar that fits around the neck. We never thought we would say this, but in this case water wings are a good way to preserve your dignity. Apparently everybody agrees since we couldn't find any reviews online.

#4. Urban Rebounder

Also Known As:

A small trampoline.

The Pitch:

The clip opens with a lady who has an understanding of the word "amazing" that differs greatly from ours. If we were pressed for a one-word description of her stomach, we would probably settle on cottage-cheesy. What she lacks in tone, however, she makes up for in enthusiasm, bouncing 'that thang' up and down on the Urban Rebounder. With this device, you too can achieve porn-star-like endurance, which can be gained via the boundless potential of repeated bounding.

Research and Development:

Trampolines are good fun, and can even help somebody get in shape. Apparently, the word wasn't nearly sexy or edgy enough to be marketable. Now, substitute in the term 'rebounder' and throw in the word 'urban' for some extra edge, and you might have something.

Just add a 'stability bar' and hastily recorded DVD, and you have transformed a trampoline into a tactical training system suitable for people that like to bounce: rap guys and anyone that has ever watched Roadhouse.

Apparently though, the urban intensity is a little too much for some reviewers, "I can't use it more than 5 minutes without my calves and my feet killing me. Don't even have anything in your bladder or you will loose it."

On the whole, the reviews are mixed, and we must concede that some supposedly negative aspects are a tad overblown, like this one reviewer who was concerned about "sharp pains in [the] knees" or the lady who "had problems with 'the girls' bouncing a bit too enthusiastically." That last review captures an idea so impossible that we fail to understand it no matter how many times we read it.

#3. Side & Glide/Gliding Discs/Fitness Disks

Also Known As:

Frisbees and/or Tupperware lids.

The Pitch:

Maintaining a high level of intensity is always an issue when working out. The Slide & Glide, a pair of plastic discs, gets around that problem by injuring its users should they make the mistake of letting their attention wander for a moment. There is nothing like the very real chance of getting your teeth knocked out to keep you on your toes, and the 'gliding disks' these guys are selling certainly provide that.

These things are so effective, the associated official infomercial (screen captures are shown on the company's website) was deemed superfluous and purged from the internets, forcing us to show you a video featuring an expert Fitness Disk user. For an expert who has produced several such videos, she seems awfully tentative with those things. In terms of entertainment value, the gratuitous cleavage in the video almost made up for her obvious fear of an accidental de-toothening.

Research and Development:

Anyone who has tried to walk on ice, wet bathroom tiles or a floor festooned with banana peels knows that imminent slippage and its concomitant strains are a hell of a workout. An easy way to achieve this effect is to strap something slippery to your appendages and try your best not to fuck up your own shit. But how?

Old margarine or Tupperware lids people. Try strapping some of those to your feet, walk onto some kitchen tile and watch the flab fly. As a reviewer says, using the gliding disks is "like shuffling on giant slippery floor coasters. Not exactly a workout."

#2. FIRM Fanny Lifter

Also Known As:

A plastic step stool.

The Pitch:

The Fanny Lifter is brought to you by the FIRM, which is either a company that sells fitness products or an evil cadre of murderous lawyers, we aren't too sure. At one point (about 12 seconds), the ad suggests that the FIRM is actually an all-star team of rather soft-looking masters of exercise, or MEILFs for short. If it is used properly, the MIELFs claim that the Fanny Lifter will do just what it says.

Research and Development:

The idea of using steps for exercise is by now cliche (e.g. the 'stepper' fad in the '80s). For their part, the FIRM brings innovative flimsy-looking plastic-stool technology to the table, we believe in an attempt to sell housewives on the idea that the Fanny Lifter will seduce their husbands into finally giving it to them in the can.

That high-quality, fully adjustable and stable stepping equipment is readily available will not deter the FIRM. What is more, the FIRM laughs derisively at the suggestion that stools similar to the Fanny Lifter can be purchased at Wal-Mart for under $10, and that milk crates can be had for free.

#1. FIRM Sculpting Stick

Also Known As:

Some pipe.

The Pitch:

As we have seen, the FIRM can be counted on to make you a firm believer by firming up your ass while keeping your resolve firm. Besides supplying an endless stream of puns, the FIRM is "making history" and "changing minds" by allowing the general public to consume its best-guarded technological secret: the Sculpting Stick. Based on the label alone, your interest may have been piqued. "What is thing? A stick for making sculptures? That's pretty cool." It is not. It is just a stick. Sure, you can twist out both ends for some reason, but at the end of the day, this thing isn't fooling anyone.

Research and Development:

This is another instance of negative imagination. The basic idea is sound as people have been working out with barbells for a long time. However, if you take a barbell and eliminate the whole adding/removing a wide range of weights thing, all that you are left with is a marginally heavy stick. You can call it whatever you want, but rest assured that a prehistoric Mesopotamian tribesman has already invented it.

The women in the ad are shown using the thing for balance more than anything else, just like the walking sticks of old. The only problem is that leaning heavily on a stick while you are trying to exercise your legs is counterproductive. Of course, cavemen weren't concerned with targeting specific muscle groups or developing core strength, so we can forgive them for not anticipating the needs of those who would eventually rule the earth: matronly depressives. The FIRM, though, should have known better.

If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy our look at The 10 Most Laughably Misleading Ads. If you feel like watching an add for a product that's actually useful, check out this spot for Clitter: It's Body Glitter For Your Vagina. Then head over to the blog for a day by day breakdown of the Beijing Olympics from resident augur Mike Swaim.

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