Total Gym XLS

An Overview of the New Total Gym XLS

The Total Gym XLS is, as the name implies, a training machine that is meant to provide an all-inclusive workout, toning and sculpting all major muscle groups in the body. The XLS is an upgraded model of the prior Total Gym, which had been available in earlier models such as the Total Gym 1000, 2000 and 3000. The Total Gym system is based on a pulley system, which, in union with a sliding “glide board”, utilizes your own body weight as resistance.

Features of the Total Gym XLS include the pulley-and-cable system and a glide board which features a pillow-like head support to make exercising more comfortable and easier on the neck; a squat stand for building up those glutes, and a wealth of extras, such as a Pilates kit (no need to invest in an insanely expensive Reformer when you can build your core muscles on the same machine that will let you work on your arms and legs as well!), nylon strap handles, leg pull accessory, and a wing attachment, which will enable the user to perform pull-ups and “handstand” push-ups among other arm and back exercises.

Along with these extra attachments, the trainer also includes a lot of goodies to get you started. First of all, there are five different workout DVDs, as follows: Start It Up: An introductory Total Gym XLS workout; 6-8 Minute Workout: 12 work-along workouts for men and women pressed for time; Smart Training Workout: An efficient workout employing slow, precise movements to target specific muscles; Pilates for Total Gym: Enjoy the incredible benefits of a Pilates workout without leaving home; and Body Makeover for Total Gym: High-energy, high-powered workout. I love the way these DVDs range from absolute beginner to raging maniac; it’s comforting to know that I wouldn’t set the thing up and then just stand there wondering what the heck to do first. Who needs to hire a personal trainer when you can just pop a DVD in and bop along to a workout that is already designed with you in mind? And how can you claim you don’t have time for a 6-8-minute workout on a machine that’s sitting right in your house? You won’t be able to help getting in shape!

In addition to the set of DVDs, the Total Gym XLS also comes with an exercise wall chart featuring 35 exercises at a glance; training deck, which is a deck of illustrated cards featuring over 80 exercises to be performed with the Total Gym that can be used in 30 different pre-designed programs or mixed-and-matched; and a nutritional program and meal planning guide created by fitness expert Dan Isaacson.

One of the upgrades that the XLS features over prior Total Gym models is that it will now support up to 400 pounds, making it possible for very heavy individuals to start exercising on a machine, which is not commonly an option for heavier people outside of a very specialized bariatric facility. The padding on the glide board has been upgraded as well. This is a very considerate improvement for heavier people who are trying to increase their fitness levels and who might be uncomfortable working in a fitness club setting. Since it was originally designed for physical rehabilitation, the smooth gliding motion would not be too stressful for the beginning user who may not be used to a lot of physical exertion or who may need to be more careful because of size or limited flexibility.

Of course, people who are trying to gain weight by putting on muscle will benefit as well as people who are trying to lose weight. Because of the way the Total Gym XLS is designed to employ the user’s own body weight as resistance, as a person puts on muscle the workout stays challenging because his body weight goes up, as well. A heavy person who is losing weight can simply increase the incline of the board to amp up the resistance. The system will let you use up to 44% of your body weight as resistance, and on the happy day that you have burned enough fat and built enough muscle that you need more of a challenge, there is an available weight bar attachment available to add the extra oomph you need, not to mention an ab crunch attachment to bring that six-pack out of hiding (these attachments are sold separately; work up to them!)

The Total Gym XLS is selling on amazon.com for around $700, as opposed to the retail price of nearly $2,000. For a machine that may well be the only piece of workout equipment your home gym will need (or have room for, considering it measures 90 inches—that’s over seven feet! Fortunately it folds for storage), such a price compares favorably to investing in several pieces of equipment or n ia gym membership. And who has time to go to the gym just to wait on sweat-covered machines while being scrutinized by muscleheads and hardbodies? It’s much nicer to take charge of your own workout on your own time. I’m a fan of cross-training machines like the Total Gym XLS since I have limited space in my home.

Although the Total Gym system has long been endorsed by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley, two very likable and certainly very fit people, I wanted to wander among my fellow unknowns and get their opinions, so I checked out the three highest-rated reviews about the Total Gym XLS on amazon.com. Omineca writes, “The real strengths of the Total Gym lie in its use of real weight (your body weight) rather than bands or rods for resistance. The feel is excellent and the exercises are perhaps more fun because you’re moving (my primal brain loves the motion)” and recommends the machine highly while cautioning the potential buyer to make sure to get a good deal, since shelling out two grand is certainly not necessary.

The second-highest-rated review on amazon.com is by CRT from Virginia, who reported a problem with the wheel wearing out somewhat prematurely (after eight months) but was overall very satisfied with the trainer. The third review was by Anthony G. Wedgeworth, who raved, “My wife and I were very happy when we received this product with minimal setup (10 minutes) and we were following the DVD moments afterward. What a great workout!” Mr. Wedgeworth’s review was not as comprehensive as those of the other two, but he clearly made up for his brevity with enthusiasm. He also compared the Total Gym XLS favorably to his Bowflex, which interested me, because I have a Bowflex machine and find the resistance bands somewhat tiresome to deal with.

Considering the comprehensive aspect of the Total Gym XLS, the convenience of having one machine that does it all in the comfort of home, the good reviews from satisfied users and the “fun quotient” (the glide board does sound like a nice ride), not to mention all the DVDs and extra goodies to get you started and keep you going, if you are going to select a useful piece of equipment for the home gym, I would recommend this one. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go break the bad news to my Bowflex.


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