Last Christmas I bought “Tower 200 – Body By Jake” for my son. Personally, I did not think it would be much useful for myself, but should be good enough to get a 9 year old to get interested in some fitness and staying in shape. The idea was to get his upper body to be more proportional to his legs. To be honest, there was nothing wrong with his upper body, it was just normal for a kid his age, but his legs were nicely muscled from using a trampoline from a very young age and I thought that it would be good if he builds up the top a little bit.
Well, in order to get him to do some training, I had to use it with him – you know, do as you preach kind of thing. Anyway, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. In no way can it replace a full featured gym, but it is a little better than I thought. I want to make it clear, that I am not affiliated with this company, nor I am making any commission from endorsing this product, but when I see something useful, I want to share the word.
First of all, it is not overly expensive. You can get it as a 30 day trial for under 15 bucks, or buy it outright for not much over a hundred (have to say that I’ve seen it much cheaper on ebay). This is a fraction of the cost of a proper home gym, and much less than a full gym membership.
Second, it is very compact. Compared to a full home gym, it does not take up any space at all. It comes fully assembled and all you need is a door. One word of caution, make sure there is enough gap between the the door and the floor and same on top – between the door and the frame. Also, as the Tower 200 is made to fit a wide range of doors, it may be too loose. You may want to fit some material, like thick foam or rubber, over the door where the frame of the gym goes. Otherwise, you may end up with scratches on the door and will have to repaint later.
Third, it comes with and instruction booklet (obviously), wall poster and a workout dvd. This is not only great for beginners, but also gives tips how to use this to the maximum for people who are more used to free weights. Don’t get me wrong, this will not replace free weight with only 200 lbs of resistance, but is good enough for beginners and an occasional substitute for a workout in a gym.
Next, the way the resistance of the rubber straps works is different than of free weights. With free weights you have to overcome the gravity. But with certain exercises, for example bicep curls, the maximum resistance is when the weight is parallel to the ground, when you move past that point upwards, the resistance gets a little bit easier. Stretching the rubber has the opposite effect. The more you stretch it, the harder it gets. This gives that extra burn at the end. It is also good to vary the type of exercise you do so the muscles don’t get used to it, and alternating your workouts between free weights and Tower 200 helps with that.
The way you add extra resistance on the Tower 200, is you attach another band. But if half way through the set you find that it is too easy or too hard, you can step forward to tense the band more, or step back a bit to make it easier. You can’t do that with free weights – you have to put them down and reduce or increase the weight. This feature is very convenient, and if you like that extra muscle burn, you can do a set a couple of steps from the door, and then move back closer and do another few reps.
Overall, the quality of the product is good. The ease of attaching to the door is also good. But what I like the most is the range of exercises that you can do. You can hit the deltoids (shoulders) from all angles. You can do chest press as well as flies. Both of these can be done inclined or declined. Lats and back also get a good workout as you can do horizontal rowing, upright, declined, inclined, pull downs etc. Pull downs (where you pull the handles down in a kind of chin-up movement) were great for my son to develop enough strength to actuall do a real chin-up. Handles and ankle straps for leg exercises are included and it is not too much pain to change them around. If you get inventive, you can come up with more exercises than suggested in the instructions. It is especially great for abs and lower back.
I found the Tower 200 to be a very good value for money and having the option of not driving to the gym every time is great.