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The Abdominizer (often spelled Abdomenizer) was an abdominal exerciser invented in 1984 by Canadian chiropractor Dennis Colonello and marketed through infomercials by the Fitness Quest corporation of Canton, Ohio, selling around six million.
It was an almost flat, saddle-like piece of thermoformed plastic, about 2 by 3 feet, with handles and a depression for the tailbone. The product was designed to protect the lower back during sit-ups. Colonello said in an interview in 2014 that the aim was to help people such as farmers consulting his practice in Ontario to do some exercise to develop core strength. He made one prototype and tested the product in his clinical practice before being approached to market the product.
Six million were sold in 57 countries, mainly through direct response television advertising. The Abdominizer is no longer sold after Fitness Quest acquired the rights and then stopped production when sales dropped.
Expert opinion on the usefulness of the Abdominizer was mixed. The LA Times noted that "they won't make the exercise any easier and they won't magically "firm both upper and lower abdominals," as the box claims." The Telegraph suggest that using an Abdominizer might lead to overly fast movements, causing injury. A physical therapist interviewed by Men's Health suggested that the device would not protect the back, but would reduce effort and so lower the effectiveness of exercise. Wired described it as "A symbol for TV shopping channels everywhere, a cheaply made, overpriced widget that is destined to be unpacked, tried exactly once, and consigned to the basement".
Retail sales of the product were not initially successful. The Abomenizer was then advertised in television infomercials, first broadcast in October 1988. They were developed by direct marketer Collette Liantonio and featured actress Charlene Tilton and the New Zealand voice actor John Sweetman. The adverts promised that you would "rock, rock, rock your way to a firmer stomach". By 1992, 1.5 million had been sold at $19.95 directly from TV advertising, and 2 million more had been sold in stores, This was described by Jay Conrad Levinson and Seth Godin as "a classic example of the way that informercials can drive the retail market". Tilton cameoed in the Married... with Children episode "Tis Time to Smell the Roses" as herself, selling the Abdomenizer door-to-door. Colonello described the infomercial as "silly" in 2014.
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- "Infomercial Makes Leap To Big Screen: Bruce Willis To Star In Paramount Pictures' The Abdomenizer". The Onion. 12 August 1998. Archived from the original on 28 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23. - satirical news story