Tempted to splurge on that magical device you saw on TV last night that promises to remove four inches off your midsection in just four minutes a day? As you know, I am not one for buying "As Seen on TV" products, but Consumer Reports did the dirty (and expensive) work for you to see what works, or more so, what doesn't. Here are highlights:
- Ab Lounge XL ($210). This mesh chair mimics the motion of a jackknife sit-up. The signature jackknife move engaged the target muscles, but for most tested muscle groups, it was not as tough as a full jackknife done on the floor. CR's take: Good range of motion, and can provide a good workout, but not a lot more useful than a floor mat.
- The Bean ($50). On average, results were similar to those with no equipment for this inflatable device that targets abdominal and oblique muscles. CR's take: It might strengthen abs, but the Bean alone won't get you lean.
- Urban Rebounder ($150). The intermediate workout on this mini trampoline for bouncing, aerobics, and running in place burned about as many calories as jogging at 5.6 mph. CR experts found the device easy to use and a nice change from typical aerobic exercise. CR's take: A good alternative to running, but more than the recommended 15 minutes is required to burn calories.
- Fluidity Bar ($200). The advanced workout on this floor-standing ballet bar with attached mat burned fewer calories than the no-equipment, circuit-training routine. CR's take: A pricey but potentially enjoyable alternative to strength training, plus stretching. But its heft could make it hard to store.