Fast Company

When Innovation Goes Wrong: The 5 Creepiest Exercise Gadgets

Use your imagination. Or don't, actually--you might be mentally scarred.

The fitness industry seems to roll out the next big thing about as often and with as much fervor as gadget-mongers do. But like The Newton, some exercise innovations just fail or fade away. For every FitBit, there’s a Twisterciser; for every Bosu Ball, there’s a NordicTrack moldering in someone’s basement.

There's three basic design challenges for any would-be fitness gadget: 1. Does it work? 2. Does it look cool? 3. Do you look ridiculous using it?

Most gimmicks fail the first. Almost all fail the second. And a surprising number fail the third, spectacularly:

Ciclotte by Luca Schieppati
We’ve tackled spokeless wheels , but spokeless wheel? If this new carbon, steel, and fiberglass exercise bike did have spokes, they’d probably be in the shape of a Circle-A anyway: What with its uncomfortably slim seat and viciously pointy handlebars apt to stab unsuspecting gymgoers on their way to the treadmill, Ciclotte has medieval torture device written all over it.

Shake Weight
You’ve seen the infomercial. Svelte young women and now massively buff men groaning and grunting and rapidly jiggling the shaft of a dumbbell between two clasped hands. (There's no other way to describe this. We tried.) The Shake Weight works like a piston--jerk it and the spring-loaded weights on each end fire and recoil, letting you “shake your way to firm, fabulous shoulders in just six minutes a day.” The Shake Weight claims to use a new workout technology called “dynamic inertia.” Other examples of dynamic inertia? Try ChatRoulette.

Home Gym Office by Philippe Starck
< At last year’s Milan Furniture Fair, the sybaritic French designer debuted a collection of nine fitness items for the Italian manufacturer Alias, including a wall bar for stretching, a jump rope, and this weighted necklace for practicing ballasted exercises. The jewelry’s resemblance to a certain love toy was disturbing enough before Starck advised that we’re supposed to “love ourselves at least 15 minutes per day, at home and at work.”

Walkstation
Steelcase’s integrated workstation--basically a treadmill shoved underneath a height-adjustable desk--is meant to encourage better posture, movement, and Working Girl attire among cubicle drones whose main source of exercise involves leisurely excursions to Blimpie’s. They say: “The Walkstation lets you walk comfortably, burn calories, feel healthier and more energized…all while accomplishing the work you’d normally do while seated.” We say: Heavy breathing at work is not cool.

iGallop The iGallop was developed by Osim, an Asian manufacturer whose primary export is massage chairs. It’s meant to simulate riding a horse--or a mechanical bull if that’s the way you roll--and therefore tone the abs, back, and thighs. If the iGallop doesn’t strike your fancy, try Joba’s similarly styled Core Muscle Trainer--complete with stirrups--or just give it to your cat:

Poor guy's face says it all.

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