The Total Gym company was first established in 1974. Originally marketed for the sports training and rehabilitation markets, the first infomercial for a home-model Total Gym aired in 1996. Since then, a continuing succession of Total Gym models have rolled out over the years, distinguished from one another by minor differences in build and accessories. The Total Gym 1700 Club and 1800 Club models are no different, with the latter replacing the former in most retail outlets.
Both the Total Gym 1700 Club and the 1800 Club model are larger than you might expect. The 1700 measures 94 inches long by 16.5 inches wide by 44.5 inches high. The 1800 Club measures 93 inches long by 16 inches wide by 44.5 inches high. Both machines fold down slim enough to store in the closet or fit beneath most beds when not in use. They don't have wheels for easy moving, but do come with rollers on the bottom rails that function almost like wheels.
The most obvious difference between the 1700 and 1800 Club models is purely aesthetic. The 1700 Club glideboard was completely black, with the model name inscribed in red and white. The 1800 glideboard is slightly larger, black with curved silver panels on the sides, and the model name in blue and white. The only real major design update in the 1800 is the addition of an auto-locking height adjustment, instead of the manual lock/unlock mechanism on the 1700 Club.
Despite the minor design differences, the Total Gym 1700 Club and 1800 Club models both function on the same principle. You adjust the glideboard rails to a steeper angle for more resistance, or a lower angle for less resistance. You then grasp the pulley handles and pull or push on them -- or the appropriate attachment -- to move the glideboard up the rails against your body weight resistance.
Although some manufacturers might include extra accessories as part of a package deal, there's a standard set of accessories that come with both the 1700 and 1800 Club models. These include a Pilates toe bar, dip bars, a wing attachment for pull-ups and leg curls, press-up bars, a leg cuff attachment and a workout manual that mounts on top of the vertical support.
There are, however, a few minor differences. The Total Gym 1700 came packaged with a weight bar that slides through mounting holes in the bottom of the glideboard, allowing you to add up to 75 lbs. of free weights for extra resistance. There's no mention of this feature with the Total Gym 1800, although it comes with ab crunch board attachments instead.
Total Gym pricing fluctuates wildly depending on which outlet you buy through. But the 1700 and 1800 Club models both retail for around the same price point, between $350 and $450 as of September 2010. You can expect to find the 1700 Club at reduced prices as it's gradually phased out in favor of the 1800. Both models come with a 1-year limited warranty.