Life & Style | Health

Beware of the gym gimmicks

Go into any sport shop today and you'll see an array of strange contraptions and gadgets that promise to get you into shape. But are they cheaply made gimmicks or genuinely effective ways to build muscle and tone up? We asked Dan Harrison, co-founder of Evolve gym - opening soon in Jumeirah - to test seven of them. This is his no-holds-barred verdict

  • By Craig Hawes, 4men magazine
  • Published: 00:00 May 15, 2011
  • Strength ball, Dh90
    Strength ball, Dh90

    Manufacturer's claim: Regular use can lead to greater grab strength as well as improved circulation.
    Dan says: Looks like a time bomb and would probably take a bomb specialist to figure it out. Grab strength? Ha! Just hang off a rope for two minutes and that will teach you grab strength. How much is this thing anyway?

  • Forearm flexor, Dh25
    Forearm flexor, Dh25

    Manufacturer's claim: Strengthens the wrists for sports such as tennis and golf.
    Dan says: Good effort, but if it's true grip and forearm strength you want, stick to deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups on your fingers and wrist curls on a straight bar. Yet another fancy looking gimmick that any functional movement will blow away.

  • Balance board, Dh39
    Balance board, Dh39

    Manufacturer's claim: Improves balance and coordination, provides greater trunk and pelvic girdle stability.
    Dan says: Balance board, bosu ball, wobble board... blah blah blah. They all preach the same thing and in actual fact it's proven that greater core activation comes from heavy compound movements as opposed to using these circus devices. However, truth be told, they are good for rehab in certain cases.

  • Waist trimming band, Dh20
    Waist trimming band, Dh20

    Manufacturer's claims: Great for weight reduction and back support.
    Dan says: Ha! What a joke. Don't even get me started. Weight reduction comes from 80 to 90 per cent diet and some functional exercise, not a foam belt. Enough said.

  • Exercise wheel, Dh25
    Exercise wheel, Dh25

    Manufacturer's claim: Strengthens upper and lower body.
    Dan says: Nice. And something that I might use from time to time. Great for core activation and overall trunk strength. There are alternatives like the plank, TRX plank and other variations of the plank but this could add some fun too. Be assured that it is a more advanced core movement and involves great shoulder stability. Check out Ross Training on YouTube to see how it's really done.

  • Power twister, Dh45
    Power twister, Dh45

    Manufacturer's claim: Strengthens your upper body muscles, including chest, shoulder, back, triceps and biceps.
    Dan says: Whatever you do, don't let go. It almost took my head off! As much as you may want to look like the Incredible Hulk by bending a bar, you’re better off sticking to push-ups and pull-ups. You will work your muscles through a greater range of movement pattern and it doesn't cost a thing. Although I must say, it might be useful to keep under your bed in case of intruders.

  • Squeezeball, Dh10
    Squeezeball, Dh10

    Manufacturer's claim: Enhances blood circulation in the skin tissue and muscles.
    Dan says: Um... No. If all you want to do is increase blood circulation in the skin tissue, why not put your hands in some warm water. And as for muscle activation, I would much prefer a squash ball not some bobbly toy that some might mistake for, er, something else.

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