Exercise is essential, we all know that. If you don’t exercise your organs melt, your blood turns to goop and your brain will escape through your ears while you’re sleeping, those are just facts, backed up by science and a variety of accredited, peer-reviewed studies.

It’s just that, these days, exercise comes with more bullshit than a new media convention: Gyms are full of men who look like testicles that have sprouted arms and who enjoy nothing more than selfing-off in a big mirror.

Football pitches are infested with men for whom Sunday league football fills an emotional void, usually the unresolved grief they have over their own failure to become a professional football.

It’s no wonder then that people, normal, good people, want to work out at home, only the home gym market is full of cheap get-ripped-quick, shit.

So, by way of a warning, and certainly not by way of a discouraging you from actually taking some exercise, here are the five most hilariously awful exercise machines informercials ever. 

The Gazelle

We’ve not got anything in particular against The Gazelle, it looks, to us, like a fairly inoffensive cross trainer. No, our problem with this next informerical is with the man they’ve chosen to showcase it: Tony Little, who sports a ponytail (occasionally poking out of the loop on his baseball cap) and bears a striking resemblance to Mick Hucknall (if he’d devoted his life to lifting heavy things as opposed to writing classic pop songs), is the type of unreconstructed gym mutant who’ll come up to you while you’re on a treadmill, in a line of empty treadmills, and ask you to get off it because that one is his.

And while we’re sure The Gazelle give your body a good going over, we do find some of his claims a tad outlandish. The notion, for instance, that the machine could exercise your metabolism, is, we think, probably unlikely to stand up to any serious scientific scrutiny.

More worrying than all this though is the low-level sexism that percolates through this next clip, which is a bit of a Diagnosis Murder, in that whilst looking like it was filmed in the 80s, it is in fact from 2003.

Little, it’s worth knowing, spends more time on American TV in a typical year than he spends off it: a staggering 6000 hours, during which time he has helped to generate over £4billion of sales.

The FaceTrainer

It’s a question many of us have seldom asked ourselves: how much training does my face need?

Well, the answer, according to the makers of this next product, is more than you’re currently doing. To that ends they created the face trainer, essentially a piece of thick lyrca designed to provide resistance while you do face muscle building exercises.

Almost as torturous as the concept of the product itself is the length required to put thing on your noggin, as detailed in the above video.

For those looking for a free alternative to the FaceTrainer you could try: having emotions, pulling faces at your co-workers behind their backs, impersonating the facial expressions of famous people.

Shake Weight

No list of ludicrous work out tools would be complete without the Shake Weight.

It’s hard to belief that the people who worked developing the Shake Weight didn’t think while they were working on it, that it looked, well, monumentally suggestive. We’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation:

“Do you, erm… do you not think people using the shake weight look a bit… weird?”
“Weird? Weird like how?”
“You know, like, the motion of it, people might think, some people, that it’s a bit suggestive.”
“No, what? Suggestive of what?”
“Erm, like, the male masterbatory process.”
“…You have a sick mind Barry.”

The Slimfaster (see what they did there?)

This Aussie ad from 1984, is probably our favourite in this list. We’re not sure whether it’s Trevor’s short shorts, the ungainliness of his appearance on The Slimfaster, or the unbelievable troubles Joe encounters trying to get to a gym. It might, however, have been an idea to actually show the actor playing Trevor how to use the Slimfaster before he got on it.

Like all the most amazingly cringeworthy exercise machine adverts there is an undercurrent of sexual exploitation in this advert. While Trevor gets all the narrative attention it is his suspiciously young wife who does the majority of the demonstrating.

Whilst sporting an ingenious monkiker, The Slimfaster, looks exactly like the kind of thing you mum had visions of you losing an eye on when you were young.

The Hawaii Chair

The advert for the Hawaii Chair at least has the good sense to limit its claims about the machine to admirably vague fitness platitudes, “it’ll work you out,” “You can get fit while you sit.” Unfortunately it also fails to explain in any meaningful way how it works.

The great thing, the advert claims is that you can use the Hawaii chair while you work. Yeah, I can just imagine someone scoffing a Boot’s meal deal and some monster munch while filling in some Excel spreadsheets with their arse flaying around underneath them.