Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sticks to Stools: 7 Random Objects Sold as Exercise Machines

See my new article here.

Some stuff was cut from the article. Probably due to the fact that some items didn't fit the premise very well, especially after editorial shifted it a little. Also, the Hawai Chair is somewhat redundant with the Red Exerciser from the main article.

Anyway, here are the out-takes (with pre-editorial format):

5. The Hawai Chair

The Pitch: We challenge anyone to watch the Hawaii Chair ad and not feel shame for clinging to time-tested exercise techniques like “getting off your ass” and “moving around a little”. Forget that nonsense. Just sit down and watch your unsightly shame melt away as the chair oscillates your ample carriage in a whimsically monotonous pattern, for hours on end. It works, if at all, by capitalizing on your body’s innate tendency to brace itself when it gets jerked around violently, thereby supplying all the guilt-placating activity a sedentary gastropod with money to throw down the shitter could hope for.

Research and Development: What kind of thought process would unite Red Exerciser and torque-horse motor? Our guess is that product testing with the fat-fuck demographic revealed some sympathy for the idea of sitting down to workout, but an aversion to wasting precious cake-eating energy reserves on self-powered swivelling. Thus, the motorized version of the chair was born: the Hawaii Chair, which is capable of handling up to 300 pounds of incarnate sloth. If you weigh any more than that, it is recommend that you buy a craft-matic adjustable bed and set it to vibrate mode. If you order now, they will ship you a rag for washing yourself that has been pre-attached to a stick, absolutely free!

Forget about the other items on this list. The pitch-chick assures us that, “None of them are as easy, as simple, or as fun as the Hawaii chair.” Leaving those dubious claims aside for the moment, we found it odd that they left out the whole ‘effectiveness’ thing. The only conclusion we could draw from their insistence that it can be used while reading, surfing the internet, or working at your cushy desk job is that it takes hours of use to get any benefit. Unfortunately, the tense smiles of the actors in the commercial, coupled with our intuition that moving from side to side all day is annoying as hell, tell us that this thing is essentially unusable. If you have any doubts, we will let Ellen settle them.

Clip of Ellen using the chair on her show:

7. Jump Snap

The Pitch: The term ‘virtual reality’ gets tossed around quite bit, but somehow the eggheads never manage to deliver. We are pleased to announce that the future is finally here: the Jump Snap. “A computerized ropeless jump-rope”, the Jump Snap is the next generation of rope jumping, providing all the health benefits of ‘snapping’ sound effects without the tedious gains in dexterity associated with regular jump rope. According to one enthusiastic reviewer, the "Jumpsnap really makes you feel like you are using a real jump rope." What a time to be alive.

Research and Development: Beautiful people and boxers jump rope to stay fit. You would too (you are pictured in an ill-fitting black leotard at about 2:53), but you’re an uncoordinated mess with the dexterity of a hung-over zombie (See 15 seconds into the clip) and the numeracy-level of a goldfish. What is to be done? Apparently, the solution is to remove the rope and keep the handles, reducing the term “jump rope” to a more old-school “jump”. Just add a computer to help you count and voila.

With the Jump Snap, we’ve moved past the world of little imagination and strayed into the wrist-slitting world of negative imagination, where kids dream of being less intelligent and athletic versions of themselves. They claim to have a patent pending for this piece of machinery, which is rather pathetic. No matter how many gadgets they build into the handle, you are still just jumping with pieces of plastic in your hand. Even their expert witness (2:32) only endorses the thing indirectly as something that can be done in combination with Pilates. We say that if you want to challenge your cardiovascular capacity on the cheap, grab a couple cans of creamed corn and get hopping, son. For the full effect, get that guy from Police Academy to stand beside you while making jump rope sounds. We hear he can use the work.

10. Healthvest

The pitch :

It is portable, affordable, and so easy to use the advertisers didn’t dare show anyone adjust those pull-chord thingies. For the negative jerks who will object that wrist/ankle weights work just as well and are less goofy looking, the ad has three irrelevant words: posture, posture, posture, which the vest improves through science, we are left to infer. In short, the Healthvest can do it ALL in 15 minutes, directly contradicting the repeatedly cited government guideline of 30 minutes. The message is clear: beat the system and stick it to the man with the Healthvest.

What of the science, you ask? Get this: orchestra conductors live longer than anyone else (5:50 in the video)? The connection between this bit of trivia and the Healthvest couldn’t be more evident if it were wobbling precariously on the edge of that lady’s heaving bosom: conductors have been wearing discreet tuxedo-friendly harnesses since the 18th century to which their wands are attached via invisible rubber tubes.

That or maybe they are trying to tell us that you can get equivalent health benefits from waiving your arms around erratically at passersby in time to a song that only you can hear. If we assume that they are trying to sell us something and not get us arrested, we must accept the former interpretation.

Research and Development : The health “vest” is to a regular vest as a micro bikini is to a regular bikini. In other words, it isn’t a vest at all. It would be more appropriate to call it the Healthparachute, because it looks a lot like parachute webbing, rip-chords and all. Our guess is that Dr. Weinstein in the ad got the idea during a Top-Gun-themed dance party while using the rip-chords on his jump-suit costume as props for his all-purpose speedbag-punching dance move.

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