Pete McCall by Pete McCall

The Total Gym incline bodyweight trainer is a fun, effective piece of equipment that challenges proprioception and core stabilizers by incorporating three-dimensional movement and full range of motion in nearly every exercise. We recently caught up with Total Gym founder Tom Campanero to learn about the benefits of his unique product.

Q: Why was the Total Gym developed and how long have you been in business?

Tom: Back in my youth when I was a bodybuilder, I wanted a way that I could train at home and do many of my favorite exercises without a lot of costly equipment. While the concept of training on an incline plane has been around for years, I developed the early version of the Total Gym and started the company in the early 1970s. The Total Gym allows the user to change the angle of the board against gravity, which can quickly increase or decrease the amount of bodyweight resistance used for a particular exercise.

Q: How many people use the Total Gym?

Tom: Over the course of the past 40 years that we’ve been in business we have sold more than 5 million units to home-based consumers. Our market research indicates that more than 70 percent of our customers use the product on a regular basis, even after 10 years of ownership. But what really gets me excited is how the Total Gym is used in more than 14,000 physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics. The unique features of our slant board allow therapists to use closed-chain exercises with clients in an environment that reduces the effect of gravity and allows users to exercise with a only a percentage of their bodyweight.

Q: What is one of the most unique features of the Total Gym?

Tom: One of the things that we’re most proud of is how easy it is to transition from exercise to exercise. We have worked very hard to design our equipment to make it intuitive to use and easy to transition from one movement to the next.

Q: How are you working with the American Council on Exercise?

Tom: We are offering continuing education programs on the Total Gym, along with an exercise library of Total Gym exercises, both of which are available on the ACE website. Our hope is that we can empower ACE Certified Fitness Professionals to be more comfortable on our equipment so they can incorporate it into the programs they develop for their clients.

Q: What’s next for Total Gym?

Tom: We are in the process of launching a franchise model of training studios based on using our products. We will help a prospective studio owner with all phases of development, from selecting a location and developing an effective marketing strategy, to offering coaching and support once the doors are opened.

Q: I have to ask, how did you become involved with Chuck Norris?

Tom: Well, it turns out he really liked our product and would ask us to ship to him on various film sets around the world, so over the years we developed a good relationship. He is more than happy to tell others how he benefits from strength training on the Total Gym.

To be completely honest I was a little skeptical about the Total Gym, especially because of the use of television infomercials to market and sell the product, but after going through a workout I realized the Total Gym can be a really effective training tool. If a consumer invests their money in a Total Gym for home use it means they are interested in getting results from an exercise program. ACE Certified Fitness Professionals would be smart to learn how to use the Total Gym so they can start tapping into this motivated, at-home market. 

Click here to learn more about our educational partnership with Total Gym.