Ever tried to "workout" or do any kind of exercise or drill from a book? First of all, the book keeps trying to slam shut -- annoying, at best -- or you don't have the book with you when you want it because you didn't want to schlepp a big heavy thing to the gym or in your suitcase when you travel.
Having such experiences ourselves, the Training Fan caught our eye on an accessories rack at a large sporting goods store -- next to jump ropes and grips (go figure on that placement). Upon closer inspection and query, we discovered it is an educational tool developed and marketing by a personal trainer in New York City.
Imagine a book of exercises, with illustrations and with how-to tips -- except each one is placed on a strip of lightly coated paper for durable and attached at one end much like a, yes, fan, only thicker.
It's a marvelous idea and so simple yet so smart. Since its introduction in December 2001, originator Andrea Barash told SNEWS she's managed to place her training guide at the likes of Paragon Sports, Gym Source and TheSportsAuthority.com, plus we note she's scored write-ups in a number of national fitness magazines. Not bad for one woman without a big company behind her.
The first page … er, fan blade … tells you how to use the fan. Cards for each body part are color-coded at the end to allow you go directly to what you want to work out. Also, on the color strip is one of three symbols -- one represents an exercise with no equipment (think pushups), one for one with minimal equipment like dumbbells or a Swiss ball (a chest press using a rubber band), or one for gym equipment (a chest machine). Cool stuff. Barash also hits the important points and cautions of doing a warm-up, and the basics of aerobic and strength equipment.
Then it's onto 84 exercises and 20 stretches, all described simply and well.
Would we at SNEWS train with this? Most certainly — better than a book by far and easier to make use of. We'd also recommend it to our friends.
Despite how much we love this idea in its simplicity, there are a few points that we think could take a really really good idea and make it great:
>> The back of each fan blade has the title "training log" with lines printed on it. But who in their right mind will mark down what they did smattered through nearly 100 pages? A workout log needs to be all in one place for an overview of the entire workout. (If you go to www.trainingfan.com, you can print out log pages for free -- a nice benefit and open to all.) We think Barash was kind of looking for something to put on the back so as to not waste space. The alternative: Take the small pictures illustrating the exercises on each card (the ones that may require many Boomers to grope for glasses and then cover them with sweat droplets) and put them on the back, perhaps enlarging them or adding more for more detail. Then she can just add a few blank fan pages at the back titled "training log" with a note to go to her web site for more.
>>At the front of the fan, she details three sample workouts. But nowhere does it tell you what "page" the exercises included in each are on -- partly because the "pages" aren't numbered, and they should be. That way, if someone designs his or her own workout, the exercises can be easily found again. Another suggestion from inside SNEWS headquarters was to include stick-on colored tabs with the Fan (like those tiny transparent Post-It tabs) so users can mark their exercises and not fumble around or have to fan it open and flip it about like a Geisha. Another way to easily find preferred exercises.
But, really folks, this is a nifty training tool that could fit in a heck of a lot of gym pages and answer a lot of how-to questions simply and easily.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $24.95
For more information: www.trainingfan.com