Working to get a foothold in the accessories market, Life Fitness in 2009 introduced two “kits” — basically very large boxes filled with all kinds of fitness workout gear such as resistance tubing, a stability ball, weights, a DVD, etc.
Our testers, who had different levels experience, from beginner to advanced, found that the Body Shape Kit we had (not the “Plus” version) included a nice selection of good quality equipment that didn’t give the impression it would break or otherwise fall apart. In addition, users felt the $299 price was a good value, considering all the gear the kit included. And the instructional DVD and program provided to help folks get started was a bonus that offered good education on using the various pieces and incorporating them into a workout.
For someone who is just beginning to set up an exercise routine, there’s a real value to having a wise assortment of gear, and this kit includes a combo heart-rate monitor/pedometer, the DVD, a non-rolling stability ball and pump, two 3-pound hand weights, two resistance tubes, two resistance rings, an exercise mat, one small fitness towel and a planner and workout guide. Our testers thought the kit would also be suitable, for somebody who wanted to do some kind of workout but perhaps just couldn’t get to a gym, away from the house for a workout, or fit in other kinds of exercise. One tester said it was great for a “recreational user,” but wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone who was more serious. Another pointed to the small size of the 3-pound weights, which would be too light for anyone except beginners.
The program itself adds great reminders about nutrition, stretching and making a balanced program part of your routine. Plus, it covers exercise safety thoroughly and gives plenty of tips for making the routines easier or more difficult depending on your level.
One turn-off to one tester was the implication that you needed to have an elliptical or other large aerobic piece of equipment for a full workout-—-that was perceived as just a plug to buy something from Life Fitness and didn’t sit well. Of course, you could run in place, walk around the block or go up and down stairs to add cardio workout to a circuit program, but that wouldn’t promote buying equipment.
One glitch was inflating the stability ball: “Challenging” and “impossible” were the words used for the process with the small hand pump provided. “It was just not sufficient to do the task,” said one tester. “We used an air compressor.”
All in all, the kit seems like a great gift idea for a woman (the weights just wouldn’t cut it for most men, even beginners) since it has all the starter pieces you need. It would also be a great purchase for somebody who doesn’t want to invest a lot but wants to start dabbling at or getting back into fitness. It is definitely not for a regular exerciser or experienced user.
Of course, some number-crunching may be in order for a possible buyer since if someone fully believed she would only use a couple of the pieces, it may be a better value to just buy those pieces separately. However, having them all---—even the ones somebody doesn’t feel they may use--—could also motivate a person to do other routines.
“My overall opinion is that's it a good tool and program. The user can adapt to their own ability and strength,” said one tester. “If used as directed, users would definitely improve their fitness level in muscle strength and tone.”
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $299 (The “Plus” kit for $399 adds a two-handled medicine ball and a foam roller.)
For information:www.lifefitness.com (click on your country, then “home products,” where the kits are listed under either cardio or strength)