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Winsor Pilates Set, Acupressure Yoga Mat, Gravity Workout Bar: Any Good?

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…

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Winsor 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 maneuverthe 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!

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AcuMat: 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 Sting and Pink are reportedly using the system to get fit and have you seen them lately? R-I-P-P-E-D. 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, andthe 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


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