Top positive review
64 of 65 people found this helpful
on May 30, 2009
I'm really glad to be writing this review, as I fully believe the Total Trainer is the best home exercise machine on the market, bar none!
I've worked out on plenty of machine and free weight systems, but the glide rail trainer is without question the very best way to get the exercise you need with the minimum of hassle or danger.
With machines and free weights, you're working to move plates or dumbbells against gravity. Most people agree that free weights produce the best results, but just as many people will warn of their dangers. The problem is one of control, or rather, the lack of it in a vulnerable position. More than one person has been injured by a sudden muscle failure during a squat thrust or a bench press. That's why spotters are essential if you're going to use these kinds of weights.
What about the rest of us who don't want the bother and fuss with all that? Are we left to mess with machines with cables and plates?
I saw the first Chuck Norris infomercial many years ago, and thought it was the worst gimmick. C'mon, Chuck. How cool is that? Its too simple. Too basic. Too boring.
Well, fast forward to the present, and I recently saw another Chuck and Cindy infomercial, and y'know what? The point they made is very valid. They're still hawking this thing because they're still using it. Yep. The glide board trainer is something you can stay with for a long time.
So I made the decision to get one. I researched and reviewed, and Googled the heck out of these things, to find out the real scoop. (Like you're doing now, right?) Which unit is the one to get? Well, any glide board trainer is the one to get. You just need to determine which model.
I really like the Bayou Fitness Power Pro Total Trainer, (say that three times quickly.) Why? Its everything the high dollar Total Gym unit has, with even more accessories. This unit is ROCK SOLID, and is actually a light industrial version of the basic model. (Which means it can last for years in a gym with full usage.) That's great for the longevity issue, but how does it work.
Well, I'll tell you. This review is more of a plug for the glide board trainers than necessarily this particular model. Get ANY unit rather than none at all, because they flat out work!
I'm a big guy, (6'2", 375lb,) and I needed a unit large enough and strong enough to handle my size. This Power Pro unit suits that nicely, as it accommodates users up to 6'7", 500lb. That's an enormous difference between the basic glide board units, which typically handle a up to a 285lb, 6' user. The monorail system is not going anywhere, and there are no flexes or instabilities as are sometimes reported on the lesser models.
The attachments are nice, (bicep bar, bicep isolator, ab crunch strap, etc,) and they are really excellent and super well made. But they're really not so necessary. The basic handles attached to the pulleys are all anyone really needs. Switching the pulleys to the glide board itself is a great feature of this unit, and makes for not only excellent variations, but also a ton more resistance.
The concept of these trainers is so simple, you really need to stop and think about it. Manual, simple resistance exercises, (push ups, pull ups, situps, squats, etc.) have been around for centuries, for good reason. They work, and you can do them anywhere. But, what happens if you can't do a full chin up, push up, etc. What do you do then?
Herein is the excellence of the glide board. You are just modifying the total amount of weight you're pulling or pushing. Can you do a full chin up right now? How about 10? Most people can't do even one; and the heavier you are, the more impossible it becomes. Go home and cry? Not with this unit! Just set the angle of the glide board to a certain position, and only a percentage of your weight comes into play. The exercise is the same. The same chin up, push up, etc., but with a limited about of your weight to move. The concept is SUPER, and it really works.
Another aspect of this system I'm really liking is the range of motion you can get on almost every exercise, along with great control and safety. Example: I have bad knees. My right is worse than my left, and my left is reconstructed. I simply can't do a regular squat because there is a vulnerability about half way into the squat. I have to hold onto some if I do one bare. But with the Total Trainer, not only is the amount of weight greatly reduced, I'm in an inclined position, which affords great control and comfort. Better yet, I can grab the pulley handles and completely regulate the descent with my arms. I can literally "spot" myself with this system.
I've done many chest butterflies on a stack weight system, and believe me, they are BORING. The range of travel usually punks out as the plates reach their end of travel. But with the glide board system, your arms are fully engaged as far back as you can go, but you're in control because you can put your feet down on the floor quickly and end the exercise if you need to. You'll never rupture a tendon with this system. The range and control are superior to anything I've ever used before.
How do you do lat pull downs at the gym? Use a stack machine, right? Grab the big, wide bar, sit on some stool, and yank down til it goes behind your head. Where does the exercise end at the top? When the stack reaches the bottom. If you want fully engaged motion, you have to dip down quite a bit, (at least I do,) and then its not very comfortable.
Well, with the Total Trainer, you set the glide board angle, insert the pull-up bar at the top of the unit, move the board up and lie down on it, and then grab the bar and pull yourself up. You're actually doing a modified pull up, (which is what the lat machine is supposed to be duplicating, BTW.) When you let yourself down, you go all the way down until you're hanging there with a full stretch. That's fantastic! No other machine I've ever used gives this much range. You'll really feel the full stretch with this system.
I can do the best butterflies I've ever done with the Total Trainer. The range is total, and the completion of the exercise is not compromised by the limits of the unit, (as you'll often find with butterfly machines.) Also, its very easy to stop at the top of the exercise, and rest a bit, (which is always very satisfying.) I like a 10-12 rep set like anyone, but these days, depending on the resistance level, a 4 rep set is kicking. Two of those, with a minute rest between is excellent training, believe me. Because of this, its easy to work up to more reps and more sets before increasing the resistance.
The leg curl exercise is outstanding. I normally hate leg curls because the hamstring is a very difficult to isolate muscle. Also, most leg curl machines have this really annoying leg pad that rides up your calf through the range of the exercise. But just clip yourself into the foot pedals, set a fairly low resistance, lie fully down, and curl those legs. The motion is very smooth and linear, with no grabs or grasps at the end. The movement is very complete, and you just know you've done an excellent exercise.
Put the pull up bar at the bottom on the unit, and lie down upside down for shoulder push ups. You'll love the motion, resistance, and total feeling.
Want to do more abdominal work? (Who doesn't?) Enjoy full situps? (Most don't.) Well, here's a tip you won't find in the manual. Instead of doing situps with your feet in the foot pedals and the board at an incline, simply turn around and put your feet on the floor, and use the incline to moderate your situp resistance. You'll love it! And you'll do a lot more of them than lying down flat on your back. Start with the glide board in a very steep angle for the least resistance in this position. As your stomach muscles get stronger, move the angle down, until you don't need the modification any longer, and can turn back around and use the foot pedals with the board inclined upwards.
The ab crunch strap is the best I've seen. Marvelous for isolating the abs.
A few quibbles:
You must have the manual to work with this unit. I had an awful time trying switch the pulleys and fold the unit up without the manual. (I bought my unit second hand.) Bayou Fitness seems to be fine company, but for some reason, they don't think its important to have this unit's manual online in a PDF. They offer the dual rail manual online, but the monorail has enough differences to warrant its own manual online. Several well responded but unnecessary emails were sent to Bayou Fitness about this.
Secondly, the foot trays are not a good design at all, as they both swivel up and down and each has its own strap. You have to fuss with getting each foot into the tray, then cinch it down. (This is an exercise on its own!) The single foot strap of the other units works much better. Here's an area where more is not better.
The foot-board, (against which you do squats,) is wider than standard, but mine will bend where the tubes insert into the machine. Its not huge issue, but the board is no longer square to the trainer when this happens. I've taken to flipping it over and using the backside until it evens up, but I think eventually this could fail or break with enough bending back and forth. I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, so it may just be my unit. Watch out for this, though.
The unit is a tank. 122lbs dead weight, and it isn't going anywhere. It folds up for storage and moving, and can be unfolded and in use within seconds. (Try doing that with a weight stack system.)
Please, don't let people fool you. You've got an entire gym's worth of equipment in this excellent system, that you'd otherwise spend many thousands of dollars trying to replicate on your own. Plus, this system is much, much, much better in almost every respect. (You can get plenty ripped with just this unit, believe me. Don't listen to "experts." Watch what you eat, and exercise with this unit daily, and you'll soon have much to show for it.)
That value of this system is phenomenal. New, from the company, is less than $700, which is a steal considering the construction and accessories. $1500 would not be excessive for this excellent unit, and the Total Gym will sell you their equivalent, (with less accessories,) for just that much.
The important choice is not so much which unit to buy, but THAT you buy; because without this excellent exercise machine in your home, you're missing out on exercise that's essential, controlled, safe, and really fun. You will enjoy using this machine for a long time. (Just ask Chuck and Cindy.)