Update 28 January 2013
It appears the SpinGym is now a discounted clearance item on the Home Shopping Network website. I’m curious to know if the SpinGym is at the end of its marketing lifecyle.
SpinGym: You can’t polish a turd…but you can roll it in glitter
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than the Ab Circle Pro, along comes the SpinGym infomercial (and Home Shopping Network) exercise gadget to prove me wrong! The advertisement has all the tell-tale indicators of another typical hokey exercise gimmick which may lead you to think you’ll go from fat and frumpy to sleek fitness model or dud to stud in no time. Because the marketing materials are so wrought with misinformation, I have decided to unleash a point-by-point, Charlie Sheen-style torpedo of truth into the bow of the SpinGym.
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Before I go on, let me preface my comments by saying I really didn’t want to write a SpinGym review. But after seeing the company’s website sales copy and YouTube videos, I felt it my sworn duty to both consumers and the integrity of my profession to take a stand against what I consider to be SpinGym’s misleading marketing campaign.
Upon review of all the promotional information on the website, in my professional opinion, I believe the SpinGym is just another typical exercise gimmick. I predict the SpinGym will be yet another “here today, gone tomorrow” gadget which will ultimately find itself in a dusty grave in the closet or attic. However, on a positive note, one redeeming quality might be cutting up the product for scraps. The metal wheel can be used as a door stop, the little hand loops can double as earrings, and the nylon string could be used to tie your bumper back on after a low-speed accident.
- The SpinGym marketing, similar to the Ab Wave and Liproxenol, is over-hyped, promises quick weight loss results, and has little to nil scientific merit
- Product literature uses invented techno-jargon to confuse consumers
- Company claims it works certain muscles which, upon review of equipment demonstrations, does not appear to be the case at all
- Self-proclaimed SpinGym “creator” and frontwoman Forbes Riley (see her comments at end of this post) is an actress and hired pitchwoman for a number of other infomercial products (however, I have seen no formal verification of her training in exercise physiology and biomechanics)
- Emotive testimonials are used to stir consumer emotion, but testimonials are not proof of efficacy and do not constitute rigorous scientific testing
Techno-jargon: “Gyrotronic Resistance Training”?
The promotional materials appear to use made-up techno-jargon which has no basis in reality.
The announcer states: “This unique combination of precision engineered weight and high performance nylon wound together gives you proven gyrotronic resistance training like nothing else…. our modern award-winning German design takes the physics of Gyrotronic Resistance Training to a whole new level. “
I take particular issue with the phrase gyrotronic resistance training. In my view, this is complete rubbish and only confers a deceptive scientific-sounding stamp of approval. In over 20 years in the exercise industry, I have never heard of any such thing. I did a Google search of these terms and nothing comes up. Why? Maybe because it’s marketing jargon to make the product sound more impressive than it is? Good luck finding the terms “gyrotronic resistance training” in any exercise physiology text book.
Award winning German design? Takes the physics of Gyrotonic Resistance Training to a whole new level? Please enlighten me, SpinGym. What award-winning design are we talking about? Your marketing materials claim this is a rehashed version of a children’s button on a string toy. And what is the specific name of this award to which you refer? The onus is on you, SpinGym, to be honest and forthcoming with your customers.
A Chest Workout? Highly unlikely
The SpinGym infomercial host, Forbes Riley, says (and I quote), “ For your chest, it’s the best. You’ll feel the burn through your entire upper body.” However, as she’s saying this, the infomercial shows a buff guy with pillowy pecs pulling on the strings and activating his back, shoulders, and neck – further testament to the fact that even the SpinGym execs don’t understand what muscles their product works. Unfortunately, most consumers are not biomechanists or personal trainers and are left to take the infomercial’s unreliable word for it.
Who is Forbes Riley anyway?
Like most infomercials, the SpinGym is fronted by perky self-proclaimed “creator” and presenter Forbes Riley. When I first saw the name Forbes Riley, I had to ask myself, “who the heck is Forbes Riley?” Her profile on Wikipedia, that bastion of editorial integrity, gives me the impression that, aside from her work as a TV actress, she’s propped up her career by hawking infomercial products. While I certainly can’t deny she’s a delightful and lovely pitchwoman, I found nothing attesting to her formal credentials as an exercise expert. Now look, I’m sure Forbes Riley is a nice person and I don’t want to begrudge her for making a living, but I think she should take a stand and protect what’s left of her reputation by not lending her name to this kind of pseudo-scientific nonsense.
Claim: “With up to 20 lbs of resistance with each pull, you’ll feel the SpinGym® effect instantly and you only need 5 minutes a day to see a noticeable improvement.”
Five minutes a day? As much as we’d all like to believe you can get the body of your dreams in 5 minutes a day, don’t hold your breath. In all my years of working with clients and patients, the only people who ever got long-lasting results were people who regularly put in serious time doing their exercise routines, were consistent about it, made healthy dietary choices, and overhauled their lifestyle habits independent of structured exercise.
Ah, but I note they sell DVD workout videos with it. So wait, if the SpinGym did what it was supposed to in 5 minutes per day, then why do you need to give customers these DVDs? I think this is because if customers get results from doing the add-on DVDs then they may potentially ascribe the benefits to 5 minutes on the SpinGym. Look at most infomercial gimmicks and gadgets and you’ll see the fine print which says something along the lines of “use in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise.”
Testimonials: The hallmark of hokey gimmicks
No exercise gadget infomercial is complete without enthusiastic or weepy-eyed testimonials attesting to how the product has transformed their lives from a frumpy toll-booth attendant to cat-walk supermodel. Consumers need to understand that an infomercial is explicitly designed to do one thing, and one thing only: sell product. Testimonials allow companies to get away with murder because ultimately, no matter how over-the-top and sensationalised the testimonial is, the company can always go back to the “they said it, we didn’t.”
A main limitation of infomercial testimonials is that, from a science-based perspective, personal experience does not separate cause and effect from coincidence. In other words, if the person was using the SpinGym at the same time they were walking six days per week and living on nothing but quinoa and alfalfa sprouts, there is no way to conclusively ascertain whether they lost 10 kilos (22 lbs) as a result of the SpinGym or regular real exercise and healthy eating habits. In short, when you see an infomercial, always disregard all testimonials and look closely at what they’re telling you.
In one testimonial, a lady says, “I just had surgery and I need to work out my right arm. ” To which I respond, even if you’ve had surgery, you still need to work out your entire body, as it is one big connected kinematic chain. If you only work out your right arm, then you’ll end up looking like a human fiddler crab.
Claim: For athletes–SpinGym is a powerful warm-up for explosive sports like tennis, baseball and volleyball–and great to carry in your bag before a night of bowling or a round of golf.
I believe this claim is really making a stretch, like a drowning man grabbing for any passing driftwood that will keep him afloat. The metabolic pathways and biomechanical movement patterns of these sports are markedly different than anything the SpinGym can dish up. If you watch the SpinGym video you will see that the movements they demonstrate are anything but explosive in nature. This gives me the impression that the manufacturers really don’t know much about exercise physiology or basic biomechanics. In my humble opinion, given the company’s vast knowledge of so-called “Gyrotonic Resistance Training,” not to mention the accolades of an unnamed award for product design, I’d have expected they’d know better.
Claim: SpinGym® cardio and kickboxing classes are starting in gyms worldwide
I have not seen any spin gym cardio and/or kickboxing classes anywhere, and I’m confident I have a reasonably good pulse on what’s happening in the global fitness industry. Can any other exercise professionals out there enlighten me here? (Note: in the nearly 2 years since I authored this, not one fitness professional has mentioned to me their use of the SpinGym with either their personal training clients or group classes).
Claim: “…we provide a 30 day money back guarantee AND a lifetime waranty*…. Don’t be fooled by SpinGym’s size, you will feel the results in less than 30 seconds!”
This string of words is wrong on a number of fronts. First, the ol’ 30 day money-back guarantee, while I’m happy they offer it, I believe this is also a classic cop-out for these types of products. Many people lead busy lives (hence the reason they purchased a product touting quick and easy “results”), but whether they get around to packing it up, carting it over to the post office, and standing in line for a half-hour to mail it back is an entirely different story. At $29, it could cost more in lost time, wages, and productivity than it’s worth going through the trouble of returning it.
Second, a lifetime warranty makes the assumption the company will be around for the lifetime of the product. While it’s remotely possible the company could be around in 30 years, looking at many infomercial products of yesteryear, most pack up shop when the product runs its expected lifecycle and sales dwindle (now on HSN clearance as of Jan 2013).
Third, “feel the results in less than 30 seconds?” This claim appears to pander to the typical “pleasure seeker, pain avoider” mentality. When people think of exercise, it conjures up images of the drill sergeant, caricature-like trainers on the Biggest Loser barking in the faces of contestants grimacing in pain as they futilely attempt a push-up or sit-up. The obvious implication in this claim is that exercise is tough, if not damn near impossible, so buy our product and you can get the body of your dreams in 30 seconds instead of 30 months.
The SpinGym sells for $29.99 USD or $49.99 USD to ship to international locations
While still a relatively cheap price (which makes it an attractive offer), let’s not forget the SpinGym is comprised of a block of metal, two loops, and some string. I can’t imagine that costs much to make one. So at a price of $30 per unit, that’s an absolute killing for the marketers provided they sell a few hundred thousand units. I’m guessing this might explain how they’re able to offer “free” shipping. Even more laughable is the additional $20 charge to ship to international locations, but then right next to it is the phrase “free shipping.” You do the math.
As of 28 January 2013, the SpinGym became a discounted clearance item on the Home Shopping Network website. You can now get it for about 30% off at a price of $19.95 with only $1.99 shipping. Could the SpinGym be at the end of it’s marketing life cycle?
It’s obvious I wasn’t very nice to this product. However, I feel it is important to point out that the advertising campaign is misleading to consumers because the claims are not substantiated by any independent peer-reviewed research. My views expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by any ulterior motives or industry payouts. My opinion is a qualified opinion based on university qualifications in exercise science, nutrition, and business. In closing, I believe the SpinGym, much like the Ab Circle Pro or Liproxenol, is just another over-hyped gimmick which overpromises but will unlikely deliver any substantial or lasting health benefits.