SpinGym: You can’t polish a turd…but you can roll it in glitter
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than the Ab Circle Pro, along comes the SpinGym infomercial (and the Home Shopping Network and QVC UK) exercise gadget to prove me wrong!
The advertisement has all the tell-tale indicators of another typical hokey exercise gimmick which may lead you to think you’ll go from fat and frumpy to sleek fit freak (or dud to stud) in no time.
Because the advertising is so wrought with misinformation, I have decided to write a point-by-point review of the product’s marketing claims.
Before I go on, let me preface my comments by saying I really didn’t want to write a SpinGym review.
But after seeing the company’s website sales copy and YouTube videos, I felt it my sworn duty to both consumers and the integrity of my profession to take a stand against what I consider to be SpinGym’s misleading marketing campaign.
Impression of Spingym marketing materials
Upon review of all the promotional information on the website, in my professional opinion, I believe the SpinGym is just another typical exercise gimmick.
I predict the SpinGym will be yet another “here today, gone tomorrow” gadget which, in time, will ultimately find itself in a dusty grave in the closet or attic.
However, on a positive note, one redeeming quality might be cutting up the product for scraps.
The metal wheel can be used as a door stop, the little hand loops can double as earrings, and the nylon string could be used to tie your bumper back on after a low-speed accident.
The SpinGym marketing, similar to the Ab Wave, Wonder Core Smart, and Liproxenol, is over-hyped, promises quick weight loss results, and has little to nil scientific merit
Product literature uses invented techno-jargon to confuse consumers
Company claims it works certain muscles which, upon review of equipment demonstrations, does not appear to be the case at all
Beware the guru
Self-proclaimed SpinGym “creator” and frontwoman Forbes Riley (see Forbes’ comments at end of this post) is an actress and hired pitchwoman for a number of other infomercial products (however, I have seen no formal verification of her training in exercise physiology and biomechanics)
Emotive testimonials are used to stir consumer emotion, but testimonials are not proof of efficacy and do not constitute rigorous scientific testing
Wait, who is Forbes Riley anyway?
The SpinGym is fronted by perky self-proclaimed creator and presenter Forbes Riley.
When I first saw the name Forbes Riley, I had to ask myself, “who the heck is Forbes Riley anyway?”
Her previous (now defunct) Wikipedia profile stated she was a TV actress who has made a few extra bucks backing infomercial products.
While I certainly can’t deny she’s a delightful and lovely pitchwoman, I found nothing attesting to her formal credentials as an exercise expert.
Now look, I’m sure Forbes Riley is a nice person and I don’t want to begrudge her for making a living, but I think she should take a stand and protect what’s left of her reputation by not lending her name to this kind of pseudo-scientific nonsense.
Techno-jargon: “Gyrotronic” Resistance Training?
The promotional materials appear to use made-up techno-jargon which has no basis in reality.
The announcer states: “This unique combination of precision engineered weight and high performance nylon wound together gives you proven gyrotronic resistance training like nothing else….our modern award-winning German design takes the physics of Gyrotronic Resistance Training to a whole new level. “
I take particular issue with the phrase gyrotronic resistance training.
In my view, this is complete rubbish and only confers a deceptive scientific-sounding stamp of approval.
In over two decades in the exercise industry, I have never heard of any such thing.
I did a Google search of these terms and nothing comes up. Why? Maybe because it’s marketing jargon to make the product sound more impressive than it is?
Good luck finding the terms “gyrotronic resistance training” in any exercise physiology text book.
Award winning German design? “…takes the physics of Gyrotonic Resistance Training to a whole new level?” Please enlighten me. What award-winning design are we talking about?
SpinGym’s marketing materials claim this is a rehashed version of a children’s button on a string toy.
And what is the specific name of this award to which you refer?
The onus is on SpinGym to be honest and forthcoming with its customers.
SpinGym for a chest workout?
The SpinGym infomercial host, Forbes Riley, says (and I quote), “ For your chest, it’s the best. You’ll feel the burn through your entire upper body.”
However, as she’s saying this, the infomercial shows a buff guy with pillowy pecs pulling on the strings and activating his back, shoulders, and neck – which makes me question if the SpinGym execs even understand what muscles their own product actually works.
Unfortunately, most consumers are not biomechanists or personal trainers and are left to take the infomercial’s word for it.
“With up to 20 lbs of resistance with each pull, you’ll feel the SpinGym® effect instantly and you only need 5 minutes a day to see a noticeable improvement.”
Five minutes a day?
As much as we’d all like to believe you can get the body of your dreams in 5 minutes a day, don’t hold your breath. In all my years of working with clients and patients, the only people who ever got long-lasting results were people who regularly put in serious time doing their exercise routines, were consistent about it, made healthy dietary choices, and overhauled their lifestyle habits independent of structured exercise.
Ah, but I note they sell DVD workout videos with it.
So wait, if the SpinGym did what it was supposed to in 5 minutes per day, then why do you need to give customers these DVDs?
I think this is because if customers get results from doing the add-on DVDs then they may potentially ascribe the benefits to 5 minutes on the SpinGym.
Look at most infomercial gimmicks and gadgets and you’ll see the fine print which says something along the lines of “use in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise.”
For athletes–SpinGym is a powerful warm-up for explosive sports like tennis, baseball and volleyball–and great to carry in your bag before a night of bowling or a round of golf.
I believe this claim is really making a stretch, like a drowning man grabbing for any passing driftwood that will keep him afloat.
The metabolic pathways and biomechanical movement patterns of these sports are markedly different than those provided by the SpinGym.
If you watch the SpinGym video you will see that the movements they demonstrate are anything but explosive in nature.
This gives me the impression that the manufacturers really don’t know much about exercise physiology or basic biomechanics.
Given the company’s vast knowledge of so-called “Gyrotonic Resistance Training,” not to mention the accolades of an unnamed award for product design, I’d have expected they’d know better.
SpinGym® cardio and kickboxing classes are starting in gyms worldwide
I have not seen any spin gym cardio and/or kickboxing classes anywhere, and I’m confident I have a reasonably good pulse on what’s happening in the global fitness industry.
Can any other exercise professionals out there enlighten me here?
Note: Since I originally wrote this , not one fitness professional has mentioned to me their use of the SpinGym with either their personal training clients or group classes
“…we provide a 30 day money back guarantee AND a lifetime waranty*…. Don’t be fooled by SpinGym’s size, you will feel the results in less than 30 seconds!”
This string of words is wrong on a number of fronts.
First, I believe the 30 day money-back guarantee, while I’m happy they offer it, is a classic cop-out for these types of products.
Many people lead busy lives (hence the reason they purchased a product touting quick and easy “results”), but whether they get around to packing it up, carting it over to the post office, and standing in line for a half-hour to mail it back is an entirely different story.
At $29, it could cost more in lost time, wages, and productivity than it’s worth going through the trouble of returning it.
Second, a lifetime warranty makes the assumption the company will be around for the lifetime of the product.
While it’s remotely possible the company could be around in 30 years, looking at many infomercial products of yesteryear, most pack up shop when the product runs its expected lifecycle and sales dwindle (now on HSN clearance as of Jan 2013).
Third, “feel the results in less than 30 seconds?”
This claim appears to pander to the typical “pleasure seeker, pain avoider” mentality.
When people think of exercise, it conjures up images of the drill sergeant, caricature-like trainers on the Biggest Loser barking in the faces of contestants grimacing in pain as they futilely attempt a push-up or sit-up.
The obvious implication in this claim is that exercise is tough, if not damn near impossible, so buy our product and you can get the body of your dreams in 30 seconds instead of 30 months.
No exercise gadget infomercial is complete without enthusiastic or weepy-eyed testimonials attesting to how the product has transformed their lives from a frumpy toll-booth attendant to cat-walk supermodel.
Consumers need to understand that an infomercial is explicitly designed to do one thing, and one thing only: sell product.
Testimonials allow companies to get away with murder because ultimately, no matter how over-the-top and sensationalised the testimonial is, the company can always go back to the “they said it, we didn’t.”
A main limitation of infomercial testimonials is that, from a science-based perspective, personal experience does not separate cause and effect from coincidence.
In other words, if the person was using the SpinGym at the same time they were walking six days per week and living on nothing but quinoa and alfalfa sprouts, there is no way to conclusively ascertain whether they lost 10 kilos (22 lbs) as a result of the SpinGym or regular real exercise and healthy eating habits.
In one testimonial, a lady says, “I just had surgery and I need to work out my right arm. ”
To which I respond, even if you’ve had surgery, you still need to work out your entire body, as it is one big connected kinematic chain. If you only work out your right arm, then you’ll end up looking like a human fiddler crab.
In short, when you see an infomercial, always disregard all testimonials and look closely at what they’re telling you.
How much does it cost to buy SpinGym?
The SpinGym sells for $29.99 USD or $49.99 USD to ship to international locations.
It is also available in the UK on Amazon under the moniker JML Forbes Riley SpinGym Silver for £24.99, or on QVC UK for £28.86.
While still a relatively cheap price (which makes it an attractive offer), let’s not forget the SpinGym is comprised of a block of metal, two loops, and some string.
I can’t imagine that costs much to make one.
So at a price of $30 per unit, that’s an absolute killing for the marketers provided they sell a few hundred thousand units.
I’m guessing this might explain how they’re able to offer “free” shipping.
Even more laughable is the additional $20 charge to ship to international locations, but then right next to it is the phrase “free shipping.” You do the math.
It’s obvious I wasn’t very nice to this product.
However, I feel it is important to point out that the marketing is, in my view, misleading to consumers because the claims are not substantiated by any independent peer-reviewed research.
My views expressed herein are my own and are not influenced by any ulterior motives or industry payouts.
My opinion is a qualified opinion based on university qualifications in exercise science, nutrition, and business, as well as my 25+ years experience in this industry.
In closing, I believe the SpinGym, much like the Ab Circle Pro or Liproxenol, is just another over-hyped gimmick which over promises but, without reducing calorie intake and increasing your overall daily activity, will unlikely deliver any substantial or lasting health benefits.
Wednesday 10th of July 2019
So it’s years later after this article first came out...and guess what I found in a thrift store? So for the dollar it probably cost me (it was in with a bunch of other stuff)...and after entertaining it for some time...I can review and say this much:
1. You must have zero muscle tone in your entire upper body for this to improve anything. If you came out of a 400 day coma, maybe this would help...but only with regaining range of motion.
2. Nothing about this creation is remotely tiring...I have found better challenge to my chest muscles (resulting in fatigue and soreness) with a pull start weed whacker or lawn mower.
3. Absolutely a waste of time. I know for a fact I’d get a better calorie burn coming off a treadmill and also work more muscle groups. I don’t need to be a fitness expert, just an average human who’s tried a treadmill before. Why would I waste even five minutes? Why even tote this ever so small and travel friendly device? I can simply do 5 minutes of jumping jacks, squats, pushups, or any combination....they can be done without anything but myself...
So to the silly spingym I say...It’s been fun...but you ain’t the one...
Dr Bill Sukala
Wednesday 10th of July 2019
It's the ol' package-up-a-garden-brick, call it fitness equipment, and then use the apologist disclaimer "Well hey, anything that gets people off the couch, right?" It's just too bad these things are so pervasive and available for people desperate to get healthy.
Friday 27th of July 2018
I just bought a SpinGym and I have to say, I love it. I have used it only a few times, and after getting the hang of it, I am already feeling "the burn" in my arms and back. Also, I can already see my arm tone gaining definition. I am THRILLED by the almost immediate results of this product and intend to order another as a back up. I feel that basing the review of this product on an infocommercial is bad form and extremely misleading. Really, all you did was critique the infocommerial, but without giving the actual product a fair chance, you are leaving out the most important information -- this thing WORKS!
Friday 1st of March 2019
I agree. I used to weigh 656 pounds and only able to exercise from a chair. I used the spin gym religously everyday along with walking and of course eating a healthful low carb, high protein diet that I split between 3 meals and 3 snacks. I built upper body strength and created enough combination weight resistance and cardio exercise that aided in the loss of over 300 lbs. I built yes shoulder muscles, traps, and neck as the article said along with biceps, triceps wrist and firearms. I soon after looking enough wait was able to stand while working out and began realizing that when doing so it worked my chest and entire core. Now with that being said I need high reps to muscle exhaustion when using it. You have to use it to its full potential. I didn't worry about watching the clock or the number of reps I focused on reaching the muscle exhaustion state before moving to a different exercise on a different muscle set. This works. You can take with you to work and anywhere really. I lost mine not long ago in a move and I am buying another. That is how I found this article. I am looking for the website. I recommend it highly. It helped me change my life.
Tuesday 10th of April 2018
Dr Bill Sukala,
You haven't purchased or tried the product. I can now ignore your entire article.
Being that I've actually purchased the product myself, I'll leave a real review here. Being a travel writer, I am constantly looking for ways to make fitness portable. Aside from my TRX & resistance bands, the spin gym fits nice and snug in my purse or luggage. I use it in the airport, I use it at the carwash, I use it while I'm watching tv - heck, I use it wherever I'm wasting time. It has great resistance and even if you believe it is useless, you have to admit that some movement is better than none. But trust me, 30 reps and I'm already feeling it. I'm already seeing a difference in my arms in just two short months. Also, It surprises me that you would complain about a $30 price point. That is a small price to pay for portable fitness equipment. People spend more on one meal.
My opinion is that you should try what you review. It's like reviewing a restaurant you've never sat in.
Dr Bill Sukala
Tuesday 10th of April 2018
Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your viewpoint, but I think you should also take a closer look at some of the points I raised regarding what I consider to be overblown and deceptive marketing.
"Gyrotronic resistance training?" Really?
Forbes who claims to be the creator of the product and an exercise expert thinks her own product works the chest (i.e., "...for your chest, it's the best!"). Newsflash: It doesn't.
You'd think someone who hangs out a shingle that she's an exercise expert would understand this.
Five minutes a day? Based on what research? Why not four minutes? Why not six minutes? Seven minutes? Anyone? (...crickets chirping...)
I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything about everything and I'm not beyond changing my views in light of any compelling evidence. But since I started in the health field in 1990, I have seen an ENORMOUS number of wacky products come onto the market with all kinds of idiotic advertising behind them, much of it confusing, misleading, or just plain wrong. The real issue here is that misleading advertising confuses people and leads them down a path of quick-fixes and gimmicks that are highly unlikely to result in someone losing 100 kg (220 lbs). And sadly, as quickly as these products arrive, they disappear into oblivion after they've run their marketing cycle (only to reappear with a different name at a later time).
As for the argument "anything that gets people off the couch is a good thing," on one hand, yes, I get it, but on the other hand, many products are just overhyped distractions that keep people from making and sustaining any real, lasting lifestyle changes.
Another product that was massively popular for a few years was the Ab Circle Pro (https://drbillsukala.com/ab-circle-pro-review/). They used the same line that "hey, it gets people off the couch," but my expose on their deceptive claims led to the company being flagged in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States for deceptive advertising. If the "results are not typical" then they're deceptive. The company was eventually fined $25 million dollars by the feds and driven out of business.
The larger issue with infomercial products, supplements, and detox teas etc (that many people are not aware of) is the fact that they all undermine responsible public health messages and make it difficult for health professionals to stem the tide of obesity and associated cardiometabolic disease (diabetes, hypertension etc). People come to me with distorted images of reality and think they're really going to "detox" and "lose 20 pounds per week." Why do they believe this? Where did they get that idea? You guessed it: marketing.
In your particular case, I'm sincerely happy that it's something you find useful. You could also buy resistance bands for a fraction of the price and get the same effect. Point is, there's nothing magical or mystical in the Spin Gym except for magical or mystical thinking.
I'm sure you're a nice enough person and not beyond reason, and I acknowledge your opinion and take it on board. But if you take a step back and look at the sheer volume of predatory products out there (body wraps, detoxes, ab blasters), I'm sure you can see all the hype and hoopla which can be detrimental to people with serious obesity and other health problems.
In closing, I should add that I present my articles for free, with no hidden agenda, with the hope they help people make an educated buying decision based on BOTH sides of the story. Some people say my articles are "biased," but, in fact, they actually provide much needed balance for biased and deceptive marketing that preys on the public's lack of basic scientific understanding. If after reading my article someone wants to buy the product, by all means, go ahead so long as it's an educated purchasing decision.
Thanks again for taking the time to leave your comment. Kind regards, Bill
Monday 9th of October 2017
I recently used one in a road rage incident, very effective a bit like a modern day version of those Argentinian Bolas the Gauchos used to throw at cattle. I keep one in my car they're better than a baseball bat and are legal to carry. As for a piece of gym equipment they're about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.
Dr Bill Sukala
Tuesday 10th of October 2017
Yes, they're very handy for those daily road rage incidents. And if you have a fender bender, you can use the rope to tie your fender back on until you get to a panel beater to fix it up for you. Rage on, soldier!
Thursday 18th of May 2017
Hi Bill, I found this post after trying to find a genuine review of (a different) SpineGym: search google for 'Indiegogo + SpineGym'. This one is not for weight loss but to try and heal chronic back pain and is rather more expensive. Any thoughts on it?
PS. I found this whole comment section hilarious. I can't help but think of the time sink it has been for you though. It seems like debunking things takes up more time than it takes to make up a new scam!
Dr Bill Sukala
Friday 19th of May 2017
Mate, we live in a world of alternative facts and realities. People are desperate to be misled by the next guru or health messiah. Sigh.... Here's an interesting article I came across recently. Worth having a look: https://theconversation.com/alternative-facts-a-psychiatrists-guide-to-twisted-relationships-to-truth-72469