The Mini Twist Stepper with Resistance tubing, readily available to consumers at stores such as Target, is designed to provide a portable exercise option for those looking to step up their fitness program. While the small, portable nature of the machine does make it conducive to at-home exercise, the machine itself leaves much to be desired.
We found the simultaneous use of the stepper and resistance tubing to be somewhat awkward to coordinate. The positioning of the tubing cannot be adjusted; therefore, it is difficult to perform many of the exercises as it does not allow for an adequate amount of tension. For example, when performing a biceps curl, the elbows were already bent beyond a 90 degree angle before any tension was felt with the resistance tubing.
The instructional booklet included with the machine was very limited in terms of content and only provided instructions for four upper body exercises using the resistance tubing, including an upright row which is a controversial exercise, as this movement can compress muscle tendons in the shoulder area thereby impinging the shoulder joint.
The stepper alone is a viable option for individuals looking for an indoor cardio option that requires minimal space. There is a knob on the stepper which adjusts the positioning of the pedals, raising the pedal height and making the pedals stepper and a bit more challenging, which is helpful in accommodating individuals of varying fitness levels. However, one of the main selling points of this machine is the fact that not only does the stepper move up and down simulating stair climbing, but it also swings out to the left and right. This movement is what the manufacturer claims, “works your muscle groups faster and harder than a traditional stepper.” While the twisting/side to side movement of the stepper does provide more engagement of the hip abductors, the fact that the side to side movement is accompanied with a downward tilt actually can lead to weakening of the outer hip muscles, as many individuals will load into the hip, similar to if you were standing in line or holding a baby and you shifted all your weight to one side. This weakening, in time, may lead to potential knee issues.
What we liked:
- Small and portable cardio option
- Options given to vary resistance level of the stepper to make it more challenging
What we didn't like:
- Limited amount of resistance exercises provided in the instructional information, including one that is contraindicated.
- Difficult to properly perform exercises with resistance tubing, given the fact that the positioning of the resistance tubing is not adjustable nor is the height of the machine itself.
- The downward tilt of the stepper can cause weakening in the outer hip muscles, and in turn may lead to knee problems.
July 12, 2010