Fitness fads come and go—or so we thought. It turns out plenty of infomercial-worthy equipment, which we assumed was banished to basements and dumpsters, is still available for purchase online. Whether these devices work or are just good for a quick laugh (we dare you not to lose it during the Hawaii Chair video) is another matter entirely.
Nothing screams 90s exercise fad quite like the ThighMaster. The device—two metal tubes bent into teardrop shapes, connected on a hinge—is supposed to be placed between your knees to work the muscles in your thighs. And if you watch Suzanne Somers strut around in a high-waisted leotard in her living room—as we all do—in the infomercial, you’ll learn that the ThighMaster can also tone your chest and biceps (how versatile!). If that wasn’t enough, the company just came out with a vibrating version to, shall we say, help stimulate your body down there. ($19.99; ThighMaster.com)
Want to get the feel of cross-country skiing without leaving the comfort of your living room (or whatever space you store large fitness equipment in your home)? Look no further than NordicTrack’s Classic Pro Skier. The machine put the company on the map in the mid-1970s, and amazingly, you can still buy it today. Just slip into the foot holds and start walking, running, or skiing—minus the snow and frigid temperatures, of course. ($599; nordictrack.com)
The Shake Weight looks like an ordinary dumbbell, until you pick it up and realize the device pulsates in a way that is highly suggestive of an activity that usually takes place in the bedroom. So it was no surprise when Saturday Night Live parodied it. We could probably get past the public humiliation of using a Shake Weight if it actually delivered results, but in our experience, it didn’t work. ($36.95; amazon.com)
If you've ever been unable to sleep and ended up watching late-night infomercials, chances are you’ve seen trainer Tony Little hawking the Gazelle, a machine that’s like an elliptical with more range of motion. The Gazelle supposedly provides a full-body workout, but it’s hard to pay attention to any specifics with Little’s on-screen antics, including flirting with fitness models and yelling “buttocks” every time it comes up in the script. ($199.99; gazelleglider.com)
Americans spend most of their day sitting. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow turn that into a calorie-torching activity without ever lifting a finger? That’s the selling point of the Hawaii Chair. It looks just like an ordinary chair, except the seat moves in a circular, hula-like fashion (now you see where the name comes from), which forces you to engage your core. Make sure you strap in or risk getting tossed off. ($199; ib3health.com)
At first glance, it looks like an ordinary outdoor folding chair, but don’t be fooled. Another piece of fitness equipment from Tony Little, the Ab Lounge adds a twist to the traditional sit-up. Instead of doing crunches on the ground, the chair suspends you in the air to give you more range of motion. Say good-bye to straining your neck and hello to a sore midsection. ($139.95; amazon.com)