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The Air Climber - Walking on a Cushion of Hot Air

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 Posted by Travis Saunders


Yesterday afternoon I came across a device known as the Air Climber. Developed by former American Aerobics Champion (yes, that is an actual title) Brenda Dygraf, the Air Climber is a stepping machine that is small enough for home use. However, this isn't your grandmother's stepping machine - this stepping machine is powered by "Air Technology"! The promotional video (available on our blog) says it all:


"...one of the biggest breakthroughs in workout technology! Instead of boring workouts, now you can have fun - on a cushion of air! With one of the most effective weight loss and body shaping programs ever [emphasis added]."

That's right, one of the most effective programs ever. How effective is it? Well the video goes on to show a graph from a "University Report" claiming that people burn an average of 493 calories an hour using the Air Climber. Now it's unclear who this average includes - is it lean individuals, endurance athletes, overweight and obese individuals? In all likelihood, it's probably male college students, because these are the typical subjects who get roped into "University Reports". I feel it is important to point out that in a recent study in our lab, overweight and obese men were typically able to burn that same number of calories by walking for one hour on a treadmill at half of their maximum capacity. This means that one of the most effective weight loss programs ever is roughly as effective (in relatively healthy, overweight men) as walking at a very leisurely pace. Wow!

There is a similar video available here, which fails to mention how many calories were burned by the average person in the "University Report" and instead claims that "a University Study proves that the Air Climber burns over 900 calories an hour!", which is apparently the greatest number of calories burned by anyone in their study. Unfortunately they once again fail to mention the population used in the study, as well as the intensity of the exercise. Like most steppers, the resistance level of the Air Climber can be adjusted, and one would assume that individuals can perform each resistance level at a variety of speeds. So the claims of the Air Climber are a bit like me saying that a treadmill can be used to burn over 1000 calories an hour - it's certainly true that some people can burn that many calories in an hour on the treadmill, but most people won't. And even among people who can do it, they probably won't want to go that hard every single day.

The final claim of the Air Climber is that it can result in weight loss of up to 10lbs in 10days. Now you need to burn roughly 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat. That means that the "average" person in their "University Report" would have to exercise for 7 hours a day to lose 10lbs in 10 days! Of course the small print explains that everyone who has seen these types of results has followed a low calorie eating plan, which you would expect to be the reason for most of the weight loss. And I should point out that most health professionals would never advocate losing that much weight that quickly.

Now all this is not to say that the Air Climber could not be useful. Anything that gets people moving is, in my opinion, a good thing. However, I don't think many people are going to enjoy this over the long term (how many people have old fashioned non air-powered steppers gathering dust in the basement?), and I don't see why you should spend $119.97 plus shipping and handling for something that is roughly as effective as walking.

If you are interested in purchasing the Air Climber yourself, please click here.

Travis


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3 Response to "The Air Climber - Walking on a Cushion of Hot Air"

  1. Susan Said,

    I purchased one of these for the $119.00 and wished I'd spent my hard earned dollars on a good pair of walking shoes instead. In order to use the air climber one needs the DVD to help get you started but when it doesn't work and no one in their customer service department will follow through with sending another DVD as 2 reps have promised to do, then the air climber just sits. As was the case with me. I ended up sending it back and after weeks and weeks I am still waiting for that credit. I called today and finally got through only to be told that they would not give me my money back unless I provided them with a tracking number from the post office. Unfortunately my husband just mailed it back to the return address they provided. Oh and they never stated in their return policy to include a tracking number before credit would be given. My advice to you your site is not to endorse this product. Too many of us have been burned by their devious marketing tactics and poor customer service. Would that I could burn some calories with all the energy I've put into trying to get my money back!!

    Posted on January 4, 2010 at 8:25 PM

     
  2. Travis Saunders Said,

    Thanks for your terrific comment, Susan. Hopefully others will heed your advice!

    Travis

    Posted on January 5, 2010 at 10:06 AM

     
  3. Anonymous Said,

    I purchased the air climber for myself as a birthday present to try to shed some weight. I have seen the infomercial a thousand times and thought that it looked like fun.

    I received the Airclimber with the training computer already attached to it. Packed in the box was a dvd, instruction book, and the bodycord. I am using it and I must say I LOVE it. The unit itself is made very well. It is lightweight but sturdy. The footstep width on the Airclimber is wide enough so you feel as if you have good balance and control. The dvd is great with 3 workouts on it. But what I like the most is that I can warm up quickly, put my Ipod on and jam out to my workout tunes and get a great workout no matter how long I want to workout. The instruction book has all exercises that are in the dvd.

    I have read that some people have trouble with the bellows on the unit. PLEASE NOTE that when you get your airclimber to your home it needs to SIT and get ROOM TEMP. because of the bellows. ALSO, before using it you need to inflate the bellows and after using it you need to deflate the bellows. This is not a pain and it only takes 2 seconds to do it.

    As far as purchasing mine I did so on EBAY for $89.00 which included shipping. If you do decide to purchase it from EBAY please make sure whoever you are purchasing it from has a RETURN policy. I feel bad for Susan's problems she has had with the company and I would be just as honked off too but the Airclimber itself is a good product and a fun workout that you just might actually stick with.

    Posted on January 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM

     

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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