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Dosho Shifferaw is always thinking about different ways to workout. As the inventor of, among other things, the Bowflex, he does come up with creative pieces of gear — some of which are marketed by celebrity fitness gurus on TV or infomercials, some simply via his own website and promotions.
The Jam Gym is a simple device — about a 10-foot length of one-inch-wide non-stretch webbing, doubled in half with a plastic belt buckle on the folded end and a hand grip on each of the other two ends.
Promo material on the website says: “The Jam Gym is revolutionary in its simplicity. You provide the weight and gravity does the rest.”
The training concept is amazingly simple, allowing you to use your body weight against gravity and indeed tone or strengthen muscles. Basically, you suspend your weight by leaning away from the door jam at different angles and holding onto the webbing’s handles to keep you from falling over — of course only once the “buckle” end is secured in a door jam with the door closed tightly (thus JAM gym).
We had several testers — experienced exercisers and not — go through the instruction booklet, and we found that no matter what level of experience, many of the exercises felt really good and left testers feeling as if the muscles described were targeted, while a few of the exercises felt weird, left you feeling really insecure, or made the webbing seem unnecessary. Two frankly could be dangerous if someone wasn’t already relatively strong.
On the positive side, the biceps curl, triceps curl, wrist curl, low and high rows, squat and chest press could all be done supremely well — with a more experienced exerciser creating more of an angle with the floor for more resistance and less experienced ones standing straighter. Said one tester about the biceps curl: “Ooo, I like this one. It’s fun.” Another described the overhead triceps curl as “cool.” For another stronger tester, the rows felt really powerful and targeted. Big thumbs up all-around here.
The lunge, calf raises, and ab curls were — gosh, we hate to say this — kinda goofy. The webbing was basically superfluous. OK, it didn’t hurt you to use it, but why? The only unsafe bone to pick was with the chest flye and shoulder press — both required a user to put his or her back to the door and lean away from it, using only the webbing for support — a scary and insecure position that two testers declined to do after one effort. And the chest flye asked a user to open the arms wide like wings to the side while holding the webbing, but if he or she wasn’t strong enough in the muscles supporting the shoulder joint, the user could lose control and pull something. These two should have warnings as only for the advanced or experienced.
All in all, for the price, it’s pretty nifty — as long as a user stays within his or her limits. It is super lightweight, can go anywhere for quick workouts, and it won’t take up more space than a pair of gloves.
SNEWS Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $19.95