How People Really Use The Total Gym To Get A Good Workout In Quickly

by Jackie Wicks

This is an in-depth interview that we recently conducted with the people who make the Total Gym. As you probably know, at PEERtrainer we are big believers in helping people find ways to exercise in a gentle yet effective manner. We want you to slow down a bit, but still engage.

We find that people exercise in a sustainable and effective way when they embrace an approach that we term “the opposite of the spinning class.” When exercise is gentle yet effective, you do more of it and burn more fat.

We also find that when you have exercise equipment at home, you’ll do more of it. We encourage all of you to have a healthy living library at home. Exercise equipment is an excellent addition to this. 

Here is the full text of our interview:


Jackie Wicks: Hi I’m Jackie Wicks, founder of PEERtrainer and welcome! Everyone knows that here at PEERtrainer, people are looking for us to make quality recommendations because there is so much conflicting information out there. One thing we do is dive right in and test the stuff ourselves, and we do this because we really want to know ourselves what kinds of things work. And so one thing that we decided to test was the Total Gym.

Now for those of you who’ve never heard of the Total Gym and haven’t seen the Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley commercials, they provide an entire gym full of equipment in one machine. And if you’re a home gym person, it’s really an ideal piece of equipment.

For the last two years, we’ve had the Total Gym XLS in our garage, which we literally use everyday. When I say everyday, I don’t mean we’re doing a full workout everyday on these.

A great example is just this morning, my husband came back from a bike ride, he parked his bike, he did one set of shoulder presses to offset the leg workout he had just gotten, and he literally just jumped on for two minutes.

That is not something that he’s doing every time, but this is what we mean when we’re always using this. Now our observation has been that this is a really easy thing for people to do, it’s an extremely useful tool.

Over the years we’ve begun to recommend the Total Gym, and during that time we’ve found it’s among a very small handful of fitness products that we still consistently use. We’ve also observed that it’s a very gentle piece of equipment, the workout sneaks up on you. It’s smooth, it’s enjoyable, and obviously because it’s enjoyable we keep doing it.

Members of the PEERtrainer community, as we all know, are looking to get fit and lose weight. So we wanted to get granular and ask some questions directly to Total Gym have been asked ourselves.

So today we’re here with Joe Crowley, he’s the Vice-President of Marketing for Total Gym, and Karen Dechaux, she’s the Director of Creative and Brand Marketing. So welcome Joe and Karen and it’s so great to have you here with us.

Karen Dechaux: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Joe Crowley: Thank you Jackie, it’s great to be here.

Does The Total Gym Actually Work and Help People?

Jackie: So, the first question I want to ask is this. Most people have seen the Total Gym on TV and the number one question they ask us is “Does this actually work? Will a Total Gym help me lose weight?

Joe: Well Jackie, it’s a great question because people get to be skeptical about things they see on TV. One thing that we always point to is the track record of the Total Gym. We’ve been marketing it on TV since 1996, continuously all that time. Prior to that, it was developed and used in physical rehab and PT offices for 15 years prior to that.

So we’re talking about a product that now has a 35 year lineage behind it and depending on what you want to do with the Total Gym, the Total Gym will help you accomplish those goals.

It’s easy to get started, it’s fun to use, it’s safe, it’s easy on your joints, it’s not jarring, and if you get on the Total Gym and you start using it, we recommend using it three to four days a week for ten minutes a day. And get started at a low level as a beginner and just start with something that we have laid out as one of our starter exercises.

And what we’ve heard from customers is, at first, they thought they only had ten minutes in their day and then they start using the Total Gym, and they start seeing results.

And the number one result that most people want to see is they want to lose weight. But, then they start realizing that they are losing the weight, but they’re also gaining a tremendous amount of energy, so that they feel much more energetic.

They are able to do more in their day, they find that they’re actually carving out more time to jump on the Total Gym so that ten minutes a day may turn into 15 or 20 minutes and they do 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night.

But, the customers that seem to really get the most benefit and the best results out of it have the Total Gym in their home in a place that is easily accessible so that when they have a window of time they can jump on the total gym and start using it.

So we’ve had everything from people who just wanted to tone and lose a few pounds all the way up to very large weight loss of 150-200 pounds and everything in between. And at some point we do have customers say, “Hey, I lost the weight and then actually I started gaining some weight because I’ve turned that flab into muscle mass” because, as we know, muscle mass weighs more. But, we’ve had just tremendous feedback from customers about their experience with the total gym.

Jackie: Fantastic 150 to 200 pounds, that’s a big big deal.

Joe: Yes it is and these customers are rightly very proud of the accomplishments they’ve made with Total Gym. And with that they used a sensible diet to balance what they’re doing. Because we know, you can’t just exercise on one side and keep eating a tremendous amount. And not eat in a sensible way on the other side. So you can really combine those two things together and really get your metabolism working, it has a very positive effect overall on your metabolic rate.

Is The Total Gym Really For A Beginner Or Someone Who Is Not Athletic?

Jackie: And that moves us right into the next question, which you touched on a little bit in your answer. The question is this, I haven’t worked out in years and I’ve never really been that athletic. I’m intimidated to start. Is the Total Gym really for a beginner and how would I start?

Joe: Karen did you want to take this one, just from a female perspective?

Karen: Sure no problem. Well part of the beauty of the Total Gym is that it comes full assembled. So you can start right away. As soon as you get it, you can open it up it’s easy enough for both a male and a female to set it up together. So I think that intimidating factor is taken away. A lot of times with workout equipment, you get it and it’s just oh my gosh where do I begin.

But like I said, The Total Gym it’s already set up. And we’ve developed a DVD called the start it up DVD, which was actually developed just for the first time user. So that they can not only get acclimated with all the components of the gym, but to get them started on their initial workouts.

So we’ve tried to take the intimidation factor away. We’ve also created an exercise wall chart and work out card deck.

Jackie: I love that deck.

Karen: It’s really great because you can pick and choose which part of the bodies you want to work on. And it customizes it just for you. So you feel it’s not only a great piece of equipment but it’s a personalized piece of equipment. And the Total Gym, it’s great for all ages. Really from eight to 80 and at any fitness level. There’s actually within the card deck workouts that are specifics for kids. Which is, as a mom it’s great. Because we’re constantly being faced with the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

So you want to get your family healthy, not just you. I know my husband uses it, I use it and my children who are a little bit too young actually get on. [laughter]

Jackie: So did my four year old and my seven year old! So it’s funny.

Karen: And it’s great, it’s nice to see them excited about working out. And not just being in front of a TV or video games. This is something that it’s good for them and they enjoy it. And you enjoy it at any age so it makes it easy no matter what your level of fitness or your age. We also have a customized program for men and women, because we have different needs.

So we have a six to eight minute workout DVD. So if you’re crunched for time, you can work out and you can choose whether or not you want a woman’s workout or a men’s workout. So it’s just really a nice well thought out piece of machinery that it’s not intimidating. And it’s a great workout.

You Stretch While You Workout All Your Muscle Groups…

Jackie: And the segue ways perfectly into the next question. I only have time for a 10 minute gym routine. Can I possibly get a good workout doing this?

Karen: Exactly, like I said, we have the six to eight minute workout and it’s customized. One of the really cool things about Total Gym is that it works out all of your major muscle groups all on one machine. So you have cardio workout strength training and stretching while you’re actually working out. So you don’t actually have to take the time out to stretch before and after your workout, you’re stretching as you’re working out.

Also you don’t have weights to change, which also goes back to the intimidating factor. If you have a piece of workout equipment and you have to change weights. Not only does that waste time in between your workout transition, but also as a woman I can tell you it’s a little intimidating. Do I have to put this many weights on, am I getting a workout if I don’t have this amount of weight on. So I think that that is something that is really great about the Total Gym.

Jackie: I love that too, because sometimes you, even if you’re not as intimidated to change the weights, you wonder oh is this too much. Am I going to hurt myself?

Karen: Yes.

Jackie: And then you got nervous to even do it at all.

Karen: Exactly. One other thing that I think is really interesting is that the gym, and I think you touched on that, it is quiet. Now, I have a two-year old and a four-year old, but when my two-year old was just born I could actually have her in one room taking the small naps that she would take, but I could be in the other room and use that ten minutes that she was actually resting to do a quick workout without thinking that I was going to disturb her.

I think that’s another interesting thing, is that it’s quiet, you have it in your home, it’s convenient. You don’t have to get into your car and drive to the gym and spend money on gym memberships. You really can use it on your own time in that ten minutes.

Jackie: Excellent.

Joe: On that one, Jackie, we have many customers that have contacted us saying that they actually set up their Total Gym in front of the TV and while they’re watching their favorite show, they completed their Total Gym workout. So, it’s multi-tasking at its best, if you will. You’re doing one thing and accomplishing another at the same time. And, before they know it, their workout is done and they’ve watched their favorite show and they’re on with their day.

Jackie: Exactly. And that’s what many people say they’re looking for. You’re so busy. You’ve dropped off your children at school, you’re working all day and coming home, running around to different activities, then making dinner, and all you want to do is plop in front of the TV. And if it’s right there, you say, “Well, I could be watching TV and doing this, rather than having to go schedule it and make the time for it.”

Joe: Exactly. And our trainers have told us that a lot of people think they need to have a consecutive 10 or 15 minutes window of time to get a good workout. They’ve told us, “You can still get an equally good benefit if you have a five-minute window in the morning and a five-minute window in the evening.” It’s still the point of you’re just getting on the Gym. And one of the things about the Total Gym is that it fits into your busy lifestyle. You’re not trying to fit into the machine’s lifestyle, so to speak. It’s there, like Karen said. It’s convenience in your own home.

If you want to roll out of bed in the morning and jump on in your pajamas, there’s no one gawking at you from across the gym wondering, did you just roll out of bed. You’re in the comfort of your own home, and before you know it the workout’s done and you’re on with your day.

Jackie: We’re always telling people that at PEERtrainer that it all adds up, that you don’t have to have 30 minutes. When you are doing that five minutes here, or you’re doing five minutes there, people don’t tend to look at that as a workout, and they start to beat themselves up. And they don’t realize that this movement all adds up and it take steps where you crave and want to create even more movement.

And, we’re always talking about things like that for people, because they really feel that they can’t fit it in. But, meanwhile, they’re fitting it in all the time and they don’t even know it.

Joe: Exactly. And like we mentioned earlier, we have customers that said they didn’t think they had ten minutes, then found ten minutes and started benefiting from the results they were getting. And those ten minutes turned into 15 or 20 because it was something they found that was important for themselves. They were getting good results and they wanted to carve out more time in their day. So, that’s always a great story to hear from people.

Jackie: Absolutely. The next question is, I’ve always heard I need a mix of cardiostrength and flexibility. Can I get all three with the Total Gym?

Joe: And, the short answer is yes. Our trainers have always preached need in that mix of those three elements. And, working out on the Total Gym, as Karen touched on, it stretches you while you’re working out. So, it does save you the time of not needing to do stretching before and after workout, because you’re getting it during the workout. Some of the things we tell people if they want to rev up the cardio while they’re on the machine, they can do a circuit-training type of approach where they go from one exercise to the next with little or no stop in-between each exercise to get your heart rate really up.

Another way to boost your cardio even further is our cyclo trainer bike attachment that goes on the bottom of the Total Gym. Just like the Total Gym workout, the cyclo trainer workout is designed not to get on and ride for 15 or 20 minutes.

It’s designed to get on and ride the cyclo trainer for sometimes as little as just a few minutes, because it can be a very intense workout. But, it’s another way to boost your cardio.

It’s also another element that you can work into your Total Gym workout so that you can be doing some strengthening and stretching exercises, and then go into a couple minutes on the cyclo trainer, all still on the Total Gym, and then go back and do a couple more strengthen and flexibility exercises, and come back to the cyclo trainer.

So, again, you could almost do a circuit, including that cyclo trainer in that circuit. The customers that have purchased the cyclo trainer bike attachment as an add-on just love it and think it’s great. That way you don’t have all these different pieces of equipment in your house.

You have one piece of equipment that you can get cardio strength and flexibility on. Our trainers are always preaching that as we age, our flexibility becomes more and more important. We lose flexibility every year that goes by.

So, by working out on a piece of equipment like the Total Gym where it’s addressing your flexibility, it helps minimize other injuries that you may sustain throughout the course of normal daily life if your flexibility wasn’t as good as it should be.

Jackie: I don’t have a big space in my house for a gym. How big is it really? How much space do I need?

Karen: I have the dimensions here, so I can give you the exact dimensions. Unfolded it’s 19 inches wide by 90 inches in length and 43 inches in height. But, the beauty of the Total Gym is that it was made for easy storage. Folded, it’s actually 19 inches wide by 51 in length, and nine inches in height.

So, when you’re not using it you can fold it up. It actually folds to about the size of a standard ironing board, if you can envision that. That’s how it would be collapsed. Then you’re able to slide it under a bed, or store it standing up in a closet, or even against a wall.

It can be integrated into your lifestyle, whether you have a space for it to have it sitting out all the time or you can put it away if you don’t have the space to dedicate that footprint in your house.

Again, it was developed to be convenient and just fit into the lifestyle of the user, which I think is another really interesting and good feature of the Total Gym.

Jackie: What I found is that it’s pretty thin. When you just said 19 inches, 19 inches when you think about it, a piece of paper it’s 8.5 by 11 inches. So, you’re talking about eight inches longer than that. Even though you’re looking at the length, it’s pretty narrow and from a personal perspective doesn’t seem to take up that much even visually.

Karen: Exactly. It doesn’t have that bulky feel. And, actually, it’s a nice looking piece of equipment. We have ours up all the time and it doesn’t look distracting, and doesn’t feel too cumbersome. It’s set up in our basement now. It blends nicely into the environment, because it doesn’t have that big, heavy, bulky feel.

Jackie: Yes. And that’s the same here. I think that’s probably why both of our children are climbing on it. [laughter]

Jackie: It looks pretty inviting. It doesn’t look that intimidating. My four-year old was actually climbing on it when she was three years old, and of course, we would run over hoping that she wouldn’t hurt herself. She’s pretty athletic, so she wants to dive into anything. And, she literally, before you could run over, already figuring out. You’re talking a three-year old can figure out how to push herself up and down. So much of the stuff looks pretty intimidating, but as a three-year old she’s jumping right in.

Karen: Exactly. They know how it works. In fact, my four-year old told me just this week, he said, “You can really feel this the next day.” And I thought where he is getting this from. Must be my husband. [laughter]

If You Only Have 5 Minutes To Work Out, What Do Can You Do?


Jackie: So, the next question is, if I had five minutes a day, what routine would you suggest? This is a very important one, because even ten minutes sounds like everybody has ten minutes. The one thing I always see that people write me on PEERtrainer is, “Listen, I can’t even deal with the whole thing of starting out on a workout routine.” And when we say, “Hey! What would you do for five minutes?” If someone only had five minutes, which routine would you suggest?

Joe: Karen and I talked a lot about this, and Karen touched on it in one of the other responses. We have our training deck, which has 80 different exercises, and quite a number, I think it’s 14 or 16, pre-defined workouts. 16 of those 80 exercises are what we call compound exercises, which will work multiple major muscle groups at the same time.

So, for somebody who only has five minutes a day, our suggestion would be to pick four or five compound exercises and run through those exercises in that five minute window. That way, they’re working different major muscle groups at the same time with these four or five exercises.

Just to expand on that same thought process, the training deck is there, and so, as you get more comfortable with the Total Gym, the training deck has the 80 different exercises.

They’re color coded by body part, they’re numbered – so you can pull out your own cards and decide, OK, today I want to do a five minute arm workout, or tomorrow I want to do a five minute back workout.

Or, I want to pick one exercise from four or five different body parts and incorporate that into a short five minute workout.

So really, it’s wide open to whatever the needs and the time constraints are of that consumer, but to get people started, we think compound exercises are a good place to point them.

And obviously, we have our six to eight minute workouts that are a couple minutes more than five minutes a day.

So, if people are able to spare another couple minutes, we have a men’s version and we have a women’s version of that, and those exercises work you through day one through day six, so it gives you step-by-step instruction each day, and then those exercises are also detailed in the training deck cards.

So, after you’ve watched it one time, you can then take the training deck card and know, OK, here’s the workout routine I need to do on this day, if you want to follow along with the six to eight minute workout program.

Why Do People Really Buy The Total Gym? What Motivates Them?

Jackie: Well, yes, in five to six minutes, I think, is not that hard of a stretch. But, the next question I have is, from your perspective, what is the main motivator for people who buy it? Why do they tell you they bought the Total Gym?

Joe: Most people that are buying the Total Gym have told us they’re buying it because they need to, they want to lose weight, get in better shape. They may have some life event coming up, such as a high school or college reunion, maybe a family wedding, or they’ve been to a doctor recently, and the doctor has told them, look, you need to get out in front of this issue that you’re having. Most likely it’s with their weight, and you need to start doing something.

And so, we get a lot of customers that come in that are doing little to no form of exercise, and so we’ve had a lot of experience with getting that beginning exerciser on to the Total Gym, getting them comfortable with it, coaching them along, and giving them all of the tools that they need to try to put them in a position to be successful. But, for most people, it’s somewhat of a vanity thing. I want to look better. I want to lose weight. But, we definitely do have health related issues of what is driving people to pick up the phone or go to the Internet and say, OK, today is the day I want to start changing my life.

I want to change my lifestyle. I need to start getting my health in order so that I’ll have more energy so I can do more things with my kids or with my grandkids, and just to be able to enjoy more daily activities.

We don’t typically get people that are high-end athletes. We do get some, but more of our customer base comes from the other end of the spectrum of, they’re de-conditioned, and not doing any exercise and they’re getting started.

So that’s why we’re so proud of the success stories that come out, because here, somebody wasn’t really doing anything, and then six months, a year later, they’ve lost “x” amount of weight, they look different, they feel great.

And they’re now a Total Gym fanatic, and telling everybody that will listen to them about how great the Total Gym is, which we love to hear those kinds of success stories because we do think that the Total Gym is a product that really can change somebody’s life in a positive way.

Buying A Total Gym: The Rent vs Buy Argument….

Jackie: That’s excellent perspective. So, that last question, bottom line, I’ve thought about it, and obviously, you touched a little bit about this, but I’ve thought about it but I want to know why I should actually buy it, why should I invest in one of these things? Literally, that was the sentence, why should I invest in one of these things?

Karen: I think that the keys to why they should invest are, we’ve touched on a lot of different things, but I think the convenience factor, the fact that it’s you can save time, you can get a great workout in a very short amount of time, it works with your lifestyle, you do not have to drive to the gym and wait to use machines. And, you can do it anonymously, you can do it in your home, you don’t have to feel intimidated by oh, is this person looking at me, am I doing this correctly.

Again, with the whole gym membership thing, a lot of people, and myself included at one point, you spend a lot of money on gym memberships and you don’t use them. So, what’s great about the Total Gym is you’re actually buying something; you’re investing in something that you’ll own. So, you don’t have to go to the gym, you can own one, which we have great payment plans making it very affordable for people to purchase a Total Gym.

And bottom line, you’ll see results. We have proven results from people, real people, real results. These are our success stories that Joe has just touched on. And, I think that’s what it is. It has worked. It will work. We make it simple or everyone. It’s great for people of all ages and all types of goals whether it’s just to maintain, to tone, to lose weight. Whatever your goals are, the Total Gym is all in one, the package solution.

So, for me, I think what’s really nice is you don’t get bored with it. There are a lot of different workouts. It’s very versatile so you can target one body part one time and another body part another time.

You can change it up a bit. You’re not constantly doing the same thing, which makes it fun and it makes you keep on coming back to it.

Joe: You know, what’s great about it we sometimes call it it’s a family gym because, as you touched on, Jackie and Karen, you can have the Gym in your home and everybody in your household can benefit from results on the Total Gym because each person, it customizes the workout to them because you’re lifting a percentage of your own body weight. So, unlike gym membership where it’s OK, well, I’m paying this much for a single or I’m paying this much for a family, once you have the Total Gym in your home, everybody in the household can benefit from it.

And, the Total Gym is built from a very high quality. It’s built to last a lifetime. We always tell customers it’s the difference between renting versus buying when you look at a gym membership versus a Total Gym that, at the end of your gym membership left to show for it is more monthly payments if you want to keep going. A Total Gym you’re going to have for the rest of your life.

And so, from an affordability standpoint, if you look at it over the course of a period of time, the Total Gym is a no-brainer.

And then, we definitely try to make it as affordable and easy for people to try with free shipping, easy payment plans, we have a 30 day money back guarantee, we back every Total Gym we sell with a manufacturer’s warranty.

We’re not going anywhere. We will be here to service customers with any questions or concerns they may have, with any issues they may have with their Total Gym.

So, we stand behind every Gym that we sell. So, we think if you add all those things together, the time savings, the money savings, the results and the ease of getting started, it adds up into a no-brainer decision of why wouldn’t I want to get started?

Jackie: Well, thank you. It was just fantastic. So, again, it’s Joe and Karen with Total Gym. And, thanks again for just being here to answer all of those questions that, obviously, so many people have asked us.

Joe: Sure. Thank you, Jackie for having us.

Karen: Thank you.

Joe: We greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your members.

Link To Buy A Total Gym With A Coupon Code:

Purchase a Total Gym 2000, 3000, or XLS and receive 10% off using code with Promo Code: 11001.

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