Want to trade in your tried and true dumbbells for something a little more fun? These 7 kooky fitness contraptions are worth their saltBy: Emily G. W. Chau
Between dumbbell phones and six-pack hula chairs it can be hard to figure out which fitness equipment is worth your time and money and what’s merely an exercise in creative marketing. (Shake Weight, we’re looking at you.) So we asked Chris Poirier, general manager of Perform Better, a functional training and rehabilitation equipment provider, to weigh in on what’s cutting edge and what’s plain silly. (Video: A total-body workout that requires just one tool) See which fitness equipment made the cut.
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This isn’t your daughter’s jump rope. These 2-inch wide ropes are similar to those you’d see in a fish yard, and are a fun and different way to get in some cardio. Rising in popularity over the past 3 years, battling ropes can be found in many gyms or you can buy your own, says Poirier. (Search: Where can I buy battling ropes?) Anchor the ropes to a tire or pole. Then grab hold of one end in each hand and get the ropes undulating up and down quickly. Your arms are waving the ropes, but since you have to lunge and generate power from your core, battling ropes work your entire body.
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No, they’re not moon boots. Strap on these low-impact rebound shoes and bounce around for a heart-pumping cardio workout. Run in place, leap side-to-side, or perform jumping jacks. It’s literally like having springs on your feet. “Kangoo Jumps let you do plyometrics in a fun way,” says Poirier. “It’s like a trampoline, but you might get tired after jumping around for a few minutes.”
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“Pullups are one of the best upper-body exercises you can do, but a lot of people avoid doing them because they can’t,” says Poirier. “The Pullup Revolution lets you do suspended pullups, so you don’t have to lift your full body weight.” Attach the device to your pullup bar, put your foot into the stirrup, and you’re ready to go. In addition to making traditional pullups easier, it also allows you to perform tons of more complicated variations.
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Flapping a thin piece of metal might look silly compared to benching a loaded barbell, but the Bodyblade delivers a solid total-body workout without heavy weights. The outer blades oscillate up and down, creating resistance and working your muscles as your body counteracts the vibrations. While the Bodyblade targets your core, it’s probably better for shoulder rehabilitation, says Poirier. Once you get it going, the Bodyblade creates quick, short fluctuations that can get movement back into your shoulder without a lot of strain.
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Think of the X-iser as a Stairmaster on steroids. Used to train everyone from the Navy Seals to the NFL, the X-iser is a portable, high-grade mini-stepper designed for sprint training. Instead of running stadiums outside, step onto an X-iser and start pumping your legs for a great cardiovascular workout. It can elevate your high-intensity training regimen while improving your balance and coordination. An added bonus: The X-iser isn’t just for running in place. Place your hands on the pedals for pushups or lie down and use it for hip raises.
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Weighted sleds (also called power sleds) look a lot like traditional snow sleds, only they have an extra set of handlebars on one end and a center dowel to anchor Olympic weights. Combining cardio with strength training, sleds are great tools for interval training and increasing the explosive power of your legs. You’re not limited to just pushing and pulling them, either: Sleds can be used for squat rows and shoulder presses, too.
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Given their widespread popularity, suspension systems like the TRX and Jungle Gym might not qualify as weird anymore, but they’re still worth a mention. Lightweight and portable, these nylon resistance training straps can bring your workout almost anywhere there’s a place to anchor them. Grab hold of the straps for squats and inverted row alternatives or rest your feet in them for suspended pushups and more. This single piece of equipment can pack a total-body workout. Plus you can change the degree of difficulty simply by changing your angle and where your feet are planted, says Poirier.
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