Abdominizer

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Abdomenizer

The Abdominizer (often spelled Abdomenizer) was an abdominal exerciser invented in 1984 by Canadian chiropractor Dennis Colonello[1][2][3] and marketed through infomercials[4] by the Fitness Quest corporation of Canton, Ohio, selling around six million.

Product[edit]

Abdomenizer Closeup

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.[5]

Many people used them as snow sleds,[6] and a warning label was affixed advising against this use.[5]

Reception[edit]

Six million were sold in 57 countries, mainly through direct response television advertising.[5] The Abdominizer is no longer sold after Fitness Quest acquired the rights and then stopped production when sales dropped.[5]

Expert opinion on the usefulness of the Abdominizer was mixed.[7] 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."[8] The Telegraph suggest that using an Abdominizer might lead to overly fast movements, causing injury.[9] 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.[5] 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".[10]

Advertising[edit]

Retail sales of the product were not initially successful.[11] The Abomenizer was then advertised in television infomercials, first broadcast in October 1988.[12] They were developed by direct marketer Collette Liantonio[13] and featured actress Charlene Tilton[14] and the New Zealand voice actor John Sweetman.[15] The adverts promised that you would "rock, rock, rock your way to a firmer stomach".[16] By 1992, 1.5 million had been sold at $19.95 directly from TV advertising, and 2 million more had been sold in stores,[12] This was described by Jay Conrad Levinson and Seth Godin as "a classic example of the way that informercials can drive the retail market".[11] Tilton cameoed in the Married... with Children episode "Tis Time to Smell the Roses" as herself, selling the Abdomenizer door-to-door.[17] Colonello described the infomercial as "silly" in 2014.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ US 4752067, Colonello, Dennis, "Apparatus for use in exercising the abdominal muscles", issued 21 June 1988 
  2. ^ "Abdomenizer advert". Weekly World News. 17 October 1989. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  3. ^ "Green garbage bags, zippers and ginger ale, Canada's contributions many". Grand Forks Herald. 1 July 2001. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  4. ^ What's what: Design expert Oliver Bennett selects objects that he finds inspirational - and those that are simply a waste of space, The Guardian, 2005
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wisdom, Guy (October 17, 2014). "Even the Abdominizer's Inventor Thought Those Infomercials Were Awful". Men's Health. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ O'Brien, Kathleen (13 January 1993). "Tough Sledding". The Record (New Jersey). Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  7. ^ "The Abdomenizer". Orlando Sentinel. January 16, 1990. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ Iknoian, Therese (6 October 1991). "Putting it to the test - how good is the exercise equipment hawked on late-night TV? Are the devices truly effective, safe and easy to use?". LA Times. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  9. ^ "50 ways to get fit for summer: 11 - Let a machine take the strain - but which one?". Daily Telegraph. 10 June 2007. Archived from the original on 23 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  10. ^ Sorrel, Charlies (16 July 2008). "Four Fitness Gadgets You Probably Already Own". Wired. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  11. ^ a b Levinson, Jay Conrad; Godin, Seth. The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "From 'as seen on TV' to as seen at the store - exercise equipment marketing". Discount Store News. 6 January 1992. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  13. ^ La Gorce, Tammy (August 8, 2013). "Collette Liantonio: The Infomercial Queen". New Jersey Monthly. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  14. ^ O'Sullivan, Kevin (12 April 1996). "Meanwhile folks, back at the ranch ...as the Ewing family reunites, we look at what's been happening to the stars of 'Dallas'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  15. ^ Rowe, Don (September 25, 2015). "But Wait, There's More – In the Booth with Voice Artist John Sweetman". The Spinoff. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Fitness Quest after fiscal fitness: Canton company may double 1990 sales figures". Akron Beacon Journal. 14 September 1991. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  17. ^ Lynch, Donal (January 13, 2008). "You can take the girls out of 'Dallas'...". Irish Independent. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]