Bryant: These have been marketed to people with back problems and for exercise. When the body is inverted, or turned over, the spine supposedly gets some relief from stress of gravity. People perform abdominal exercises and others from the inverted position. His concern: "The blood pressure in your eyes and blood vessels in the head and neck area are increased, which could be dangerous for individuals with heart disease, stroke, or glaucoma risk factors."
Fichera: "I was advised never to exercise in the inverted position. Inversion puts a lot of pressure on the lower back. Men especially have this problem because they hold a huge portion of their weight in the upper body region. When they are inverted, the pressure shifts to the lower body, which can put pressure on the spine. For a certain percentage of the population, this could be very hazardous. There are other ways to strengthen the spinal muscles."
Bryant: "These aren't shoes, they're devices you wear on your feet. The intent is to lessen impact associated with weight-bearing exercise. Some preliminary research conducted at a couple of universities has shown they may be right. But one concern might be that it alters a person's gait, which could cause other orthopedic problems."
Fichera: "It looks like these are good for softening high impact, but it would not generate results an athlete is training for. It also looks like it would throw your posture off and potentially create an injury. When you land, it's not guaranteed you will land properly. I'm not sure it's safe for older or heavier people."
The Total Gym
Bryant: "This has been around for quite some time. It allows you to perform functional exercise movements like pull-ups. People can get a reasonable dose of resistance exercise. It's not for people who have trained at a high level in a gym. But for a home device, it does give a minimal dose of exercise."
Fichera: "I've only seen this in a video, but it looks like a good piece of apparatus, particularly for beginners. My question is, does it provide enough resistance? There's a time when the body reaches adaptation, and you have to increase resistance to get benefit. It doesn't look like you can get much more with this system. Also, I'm concerned that some of the exercise motions could put too much stress on ankles, knees, and the lower back."