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The ’90s through early ’00s was a time when people didn’t necessarily have high-speed internet connections, and most certainly did not have wi-fi. Because of this technological impairment, most late night shopping looked a little differently than it does today. Instead of browsing a perfectly curated collection of impulse purchases based on your browsing history, you basically had two options: sit through a QVC presentation or watch infomercials during your late night programming.
Either path you took you were most definitely bound to find some fitness gadget guaranteed to shape you up… or a Girls Gone Wild commercial… because not having high-speed internet sucked for more than one reason.
These devices were clunky, ineffective, and most important of all, just expensive enough for that late-night “I’m going to change my life tomorrow” confidence to be unshaken as you took down the number on the screen to call and order from your landline.
My parents did this. Yours probably did, too. Now, most suburban garages that once homed ’90s kids roller skates are filled to the brim with these contraptions. The following is a list of my favorite pieces, relics from a time before the information age, where you could be robbed of your hard earned cash and not fulfilled with hardly earned gains.
The king of all pieces of garbage collecting dust in the garage, the Bowflex home gym was most definitely a purchase by and for your old man. Resembling an extremely shitty version of the iron throne, the Bowflex is essentially a bench press and pseudo-rack style piece of equipment that incorporated cables, pullies, and most importantly, THE POWER OF THE BOW.
The cables were attached to these metal bows in order to provide continuous resistance throughout any lift — something that gravity apparently has been shit at this whole time. These bows couldn’t resist snapping and were easily broken and worthless, much like your father’s spirit when he realized tugging some cables 30 minutes a day wouldn’t make your mom love him any more.
If the Bowflex purchase is on Dad, the Total Gym is most definitely the torture device-esque, body-weight workout experience brought to your garage by Mom. This thing is utterly stupid. It is a sled on an inclined plane that basically serves as one giant pulley. You are the weight. You are the pulley.
It’s a simple machine for people very simple of the mind. Truthfully, this one was in my home and I got way more work done watching the instructional video. It was just a VHS of CHUCK NORRIS and Christie Brinkley’s fine-looking, middle-aged ass showing you how to use the thing. I definitely burned more calories watching that while avoiding looking at Chuck at all costs. If you’re not catching my drift, it’s a coming of age story about a boy exploring his body with Christie Brinkley serving as his guide and tutor. Sup, Christie. You can still catch it.
Hey, scrub. Do you know that you’ve been doing pushups wrong your whole life? Now you do. The problem with pushups is that humans’ wrists don’t pivot when they are supporting the weight of their entire body. Thanks a lot, God. Fortunately, a Navy SEAL figured out some sort of magic loophole and now your wrists can bend, turn, and break with ease. Navy SEALs, man. They figured out how to do pushups and send people to heaven way more efficiently than God ever did. I’m sure this machine is a staple in every Navy bootcamp station.
This is a clothing rack you could also use for pull-ups. Hang it from the ceiling for those, or anchor it between your floor and doorframe for optimal sit-ups and tripping clumsy parents when you forget to move it.
David Hasselhoff, drunk on Michelob Ultra and cheeseburgers, stumbles upon a magic lamp on a sandy beach. A genie grants him one wish. “I… I wish for a beach chair… that can give me abs!” David says. And POOF. I think that’s how this thing was born. There’s no way this isn’t the byproduct of some horned up ’80s teenager’s wet dream. Sit in chair. Wiggle around. GET ABS. It was also really good at flipping over, perfect for shedding some pesky weight in the form of cranial blood.
Google the jingle, folks. IT’S FITNESS MADE SIMPLE. IT’S MADE FOR REAL PEOPLE. IT’S CHANGING REAL LIVES. It rivals the Kars For Kids jingle in annoyingness, and for this reason alone, John Basedow and his likeness were banished to the box of old VHS tapes your parents save for some reason in the the hellscape that is your attic. You will find his feathered hair and toned bod on an old VHS sleeve and think to yourself, hey, this guy looks like White Goodman.
We cover a lot of terrible gym equipment, supplement advice, and other ins and outs of fitness this week and every week on Supps Dawg. It’s a show run by me and Dan Regester, and we’d appreciate if you’d listen and subscribe. Guests include Liv Langdon, Kyle Kingsbury, Conner Moore, Alex George, and plenty of other faces and names you may recognize from the Grandex Media network.