Like all fitness equipment, the Total Gym is marketed as the best solution for all your fitness needs. User reviews indicate that the Total Gym has, in fact, helped many users slim down and build muscular strength and endurance as advertised over the course of its 30-year-plus history. But it’s not without its flaws.
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Early Total Gym models, in particular, had a narrow base that was relatively unstable. Recent models have a wider base to help combat this, but it’s still easy to tip the machine over, especially when it’s adjusted to the highest incline setting.
User comments indicate that a Total Gym may also roll unexpectedly on the floor when set to the highest incline; putting a mat beneath the Total Gym may alleviate this problem.
Glide Board Problems
User reviews indicate that the rollers that keep the Total Gym glide board moving on the incline rails may break after just a few months of use. The glide board also derails easily if you subject it to lateral movement when getting on or off. It won’t come off the rails completely, but it’ll roll grudgingly and stop when only partway down.
Be alert to any vibration, strange sounds or limited range of motion that indicate the glide board isn’t operating properly. If the rollers break, you can order replacements. If the glide board has simply derailed, dismount and adjust it until the rollers are seated on the rails once again.
Squat Stand Issues
When doing squats, your knees should never extend forward past an imaginary line that leads straight up from your toes, parallel with the line of your body. This means your feet must be positioned well forward of your hips. The squat stand on most Total Gym models is too small to allow for proper positioning. You can avoid this problem by doing side squats on the Total Gym, which allow you to position your knees correctly.
Caught Hair or Clothes
Long hair and loose clothing can easily catch in the glide board’s rollers. Eliminate this problem by tying your hair back and making sure your clothing doesn’t drape over the top or bottom of the glide board, where it might catch in the rollers.
Set Up, Take down
The Total Gym folds down for storage under a bed or in the closet, and the process isn’t difficult once you have a bit of practice, but it is more involved than the advertisements depict. There is a real risk of pinching your fingers during set up and take down if you’re not careful. Read the instructions carefully each time you fold or unfold the Total Gym, until you’re sure you’ve got the process down.
The Total Gym isn’t for bodybuilders, power athletes, or anyone else that needs to be able to move massive quantities of weight just a few times. Even if your particular Total Gym model allows you to add free weights to a bar at the bottom of the glide board, or if you wear a weight vest while using the Total Gym, you still can’t create enough resistance for a bodybuilding workout.