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FitEquip: 3 Things Worth Trying

Here at FBG HQ we are inundated with requests to try new fitness products. Sometimes it’s hard to choose what to review and what not to, but when in doubt we always ask ourselves two questions. First, “What would readers want?” Second, “Will it provide good writing material?” (Hence our reasoning for trying this, this and this.) The below three products don’t really have anything in common other than they’re interesting and met our FBG-review criteria. We’ll let you guess which ones answered what questions satisfactorily…

Winsor Slimming PilatesWinsor Slimming Pilates

Winsor has a pretty good rep in the fitness world for putting out solid Pilates workouts. In fact, back in the day before FBG was even born, Tish hipped me to some of their DVDs. So when the company emailed us asking if we’d like to try the Winsor Slimming Pilates set, we nodded our heads enthusiastically. The set comes with four DVDs, a wall chart featuring different exercises, a nutrition guide, a weight-loss plan, a tape measure and “the Accelerator.”

Last one sounds kinda scary, right? Don’t be too afraid. It’s pictured to the left and really is pretty easy to figure out once you get into the DVDs. It includes a combination of resistance cords, hand weights and weighted bars—allowing you to perform 200 unique strength-building moves. Basically it’s like an uber-compact Pilates reformer that you can take with you anywhere. (Definitely an item to add to this work out while traveling list!)

The DVD workouts aren’t exactly advanced, so if you’re a longtime Pilates devotee, this set may be too easy for you (not to mention that the “cardio” workouts can hardly be considered cardio). But if you’re new to the Pilates scene, it’s a pretty solid intro and it’s sure to get your biscuits burning. Mari Winsor herself leads the DVDs, and she’s got a bit of crazy in her, but in a good way. The DVDs also do a good job of explaining how to maneuver the Accelerator, which I was slightly concerned with since I’m pretty spatially special. It’s amazing how many positions you can get that—and yourself—into. Overall, it’s a good pick for newbies!

acumatAcuMat: Eco

This is by far one of the most unique products to land in our inbox in a long time. This spike mat or “bed of nails,” is said to decrease muscular tension, reduce stress, improve blood circulation, strengthen the immune system, increase energy and improve your ability to fall asleep. Quite the cure-all, huh? So we had to put it to the test.

A little shorter than the size of a traditional yoga mat, it’s basically a rubber mattress with plastic spikes attached in a circular pattern. And by spikes I mean spikes. Like ouchie spikes. The idea is that you lie on the mat (anywhere really—back, side, stomach), and then pressure from the spikes activates your body’s production of endorphins and “feel-good” hormones like oxytocin. Releasing those endorphins improves well-being, while oxytocin helps you relax. The first time I tried it, I laid a towel over the spikes and then lay down on my back for 15 minutes. At first, it wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it wasn’t painful. After a few minutes though, I was used to it, and at the end of my “bed of nails” session, I did feel more energized yet calm. Later I was brave enough to try it with a very thin cloth, which wasn’t all that bad. I haven’t been daring enough to try it on bare skin, but I’m contemplating it. Would I go so far to say that it works? Hard to say. I think it does something, and who knows with regular use. I do know this though, if it forces you to slow down and relax for 10 minutes a day, it’s probably a very good thing.

Gravity Bar

After loudly singing the praises of the TRX, we really had no choice but to try this body-suspension competitor, GoFit’s Gravity Bar. Plus, superstars like Amy Adams and Mark Wahlberg are reportedly using the system to get fit and have you seen them lately? F-I-T. The system comes with all you need to get it set up in a door frame at home, and it includes a DVD with a 45-minute workout.

If you are familiar with the TRX, this is pretty similar. AND a lot of the exercises you can do with the Gravity Bar are the same—push-ups, planks, hamstring curls, bicep curls, lunges, etc. So how is it different and/or better? Well, it comes with different handles and straps than the TRX, which is great for making different moves more comfortable. And—here’s the big one—you can actually shorten the straps enough that you can do full pull-ups and leg raises to target the abs. Um, yeah, very cool. The only downside to this is that it’s larger and less portable than the TRX, and the bar can leave permanent indentations in the wood door frame. It is much cheaper than the TRX (depending on the package you buy) though, so depending on your needs, it could be a better, ahem, fit.

Would you try any of these products? Why or why not? —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. gabbyw says:

    I love your product reviews and they always seem to focus on things I haven’t seen before.
    I have tried Pilates a few times and always liked it – just never got into it on a regular basis. So I would definitely try the Pilates set. As for the Eco mat that looks a little scary to me. Maybe I would get my hubby to try it first! 🙂 I love the gravity bar system and would love to give something like that a try as I’ve been eyeing the trx for a long time (too pricey though). So basically 2/3.
    PS. What do you think of reviewing Bob’s new Inside Out DVD’s?

  2. nellie says:

    Nice reviews! I used to do Pilates a lot, so the set intrigues me (actually just the Accelerator!). I’d really like to try the AcuMat though…I’m always looking for ways to loosen up my tight muscles at home, since I can’t really afford massages 😉 And I like that the Gravity Bar hooks up to an OPEN door. I have a TRX (which I LOVE), but I don’t have a convenient place in my apartment to hook it up, and with the doors closed, you can’t move as far underneath it.

  3. Cheryl Knott says:

    The thing that intrigues me the most is the Gravity Bar. Love to have a closer look at it, and perhaps try it out. The other thing I would like to try is the AcuMat. Now to find these things.

  4. Debbie says:

    Yes, great product reviews. I have a TRX and love the portability, so the Gravity Bar would not work for me, especially if it leaves marks on my apt door. I also have a pilates gadget from Spri (several years old since it came with a VHS tape!) that has handles and velcro leg attachments, simple and effective, and still in use! But the AcuMat, now that I will hunt down and try. I believe in accupressure and practice it daily. Similar to trigger point therapy, it’s time consuming and takes getting used to, but oh so effective. I have lots of pokey gadgets (therapy cane is fav) so thanks for the info.

  5. Debbie says:

    Wow, checked the price on the mats and really out of my range. Maybe when I have some spare change someday, but must wish-list it for now!

  6. Angela says:

    i’m not really a “toys” person as i find the novelty wears off pretty quick (as anyone with a thigh-master can attest to.) i’m much rather strap on my Reeboks and go for a run. although, the acumat looked interesting. anything to spark endorphins, i say bring it!

  7. About the Acupressure Mat – they are running Father’s Day special offer (acupressure mat using ORGANIC cotton) http://www.stylewellness.com (Dr Bob claled them Health Alternative). And look what some of they users has said: http://www.stylewellness.com/press-swedish-spike-mat

  8. Erin says:

    I’d give the AcuMat a go though I have to wonder if part of the reason your body feels happy and relaxed following a spike session is simply that said spike session is over. Kind of like how it feels SO GOOD to take off a pair of heels or ‘snug’ jeans you’ve worn for too long, but the overall effect on your body would have been better if you’d never put them on in the first place….

  9. Sue says:

    I just got into working out again, trying to drop baby weight and ordered the Winsor pilates program with the bar. I love it, I really do, the bar is great, especially when attached to the door, a bit scary at first but you get used to it. I’ve lost 5 1/2 lbs already doing this plus hip hop abs because yeah, the cardio part, it was lacking a bit so I had to supplement. I really enjoy it.

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