I don’t know if I’m dating myself here, but I happen to remember a lot of bizarre 3:00 AM infomercials in the late 80’s and early 90’s that appealed to the weird side of fitness.
I’m talking about seriously questionable cardio machines that they couldn’t sell during the day.
Over the last few decades, a few types of cardio machines have prevailed, mostly because they’re proven to work.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some cardio machines that either didn’t work, or just never took to public appeal.
I’ve made a list of the most unusual cardio machines.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the unusual cardio machines, we got you covered:
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- 1 1. Rope Trainer
- 2 2. Non-Motorized Treadmill
- 3 3. Krankcycle
- 4 4. Versaclimber
- 5 5. Fan Rider
- 6 6. RealRyder Bike
- 7 7. Jacob’s Ladder
- 8 8. Ocean Treadmill
- 9 Everyone Has Different Cardio Machine Preferences
1. Rope Trainer
Rope is used in CrossFit a lot, where they flip rope coils around tires and crazy stuff like that.
It’s not the most effective way to use it, but if you had a rope trainer, you could get the same cardio workout as climbing rope without having to take your feet off the ground.
Rope trainers have a large bench, much like a weightlifting bench, but they have a rope hanging from a pulley system at one end.
This comes with a few different weights you can attach to the bottom of the rope for increased difficulty.
But the really unconventional part of this is that you can change the angle of the rope so that it pulls a different way.
This forces different regions of your arm muscles to engage, which can completely trip up your workout.
You’re not going to get the traditional bicep bump from lifting dumbbells, but you will get an all-around beefier set of arm muscles while working cardio at the same time.
2. Non-Motorized Treadmill
Picture this: you get on a treadmill, you go to turn it on, but there’s no screen. Actually, there are no buttons, either.
It seems archaic, but a non-motorized treadmill requires you to be the force that spins those treads.
With your feet planted firmly on the tread, you engage your calf muscles to pull the tread backwards.
It’s off to a slow start, but after you build up a bit of momentum, you can keep it going with continued force.
It’s like incentivizing you to keep moving or you’ll have to go through the process of whirring it up again.
So what’s the point of these?
There are some runners that put the treadmill at a maximum speed at the gym (usually 10 MPH), and they are bored. They can’t focus on it because it’s not pushing them far enough.
These are elite runners, and incorporating a self-moving tread makes it more difficult, and also doesn’t put a cap on the speed limit.
Can you imagine what it would be like if you just couldn’t do cardio anymore?
It would be devastating, and a serious health concern.
Unfortunately, this happened to a man named Johnny G, but he didn’t let that keep him down. He invented the Krankcycle, which you operate with your arms.
There’s no leg motion whatsoever, but it still gets the heart pumping and blood flowing. These mimic spin bike designs, except you stand up to use them.
Many people think that it just looks simple because you don’t have to use your legs, but I would argue that since it works out your muscle in a series of unconventional dynamic movements, it’s actually more difficult than using a bike.
Ever wanted a ladder that you couldn’t climb?
That’s basically what the Versaclimber is. It’s a serious full-body workout that gets your blood pumping insanely fast.
It’s a very high intensity workout, and not for the faint of heart.
These machines rest up against a wall, fixed into a position, and have sliding foot pedals and hand holds on either side.
You step on the pedals and push down, like a pogo stick, except only one side goes down at a time.
While during this, you have to move your hands to pull on and rotate the top handle.
It sounds crazy, because it is. Versaclimbers take a lot to be able to set up, so while they’re not usually pieces of home gym equipment, they’re most certainly unusual.
5. Fan Rider
There have been some crazily designed workout bikes in the past, but the fan rider has to be one of the wackiest.
Some of the cardio machines I’ve listed here actually have some use, like the Versaclimber for example. I could see myself using that.
But the fan rider is a bicycle where the seat it pushed back, and the handles go straight down to the flywheel, so you’re pushing and pulling the handles back and forth while trying to stay seated to get a workout.
You also have to pedal at the same time. While this isn’t a design nightmare, it’s really only good if you’re already in shape.
This has some design flaws, and most of them come down to lower lumbar pain the second you step off of it.
It’s definitely unusual, and you have to appreciate the attempt at reinventing the wheels, but the fan rider isn’t exactly a piece of cardio machinery I would ever want to use.
6. RealRyder Bike
Cycling and using a spin bike are just different.
You have to balance one, but you know the other isn’t going anywhere. The RealRyder bike is a little invention that emulates real cycling while being in a fixed position.
The bike actually moves left and right as you use it, forcing you to maintain a proper balance.
In short, if you don’t keep your balance, you can tip to the side and lose all momentum.
The RealRyder isn’t going to fling you off like a mechanical bull or anything. It has a wide, stable stand that keeps everything in place, though you might feel a bit of rattling.
A lot of people find cardio workouts to be very mundane, and I believe that RealRyder has done something unique to change that.
The handles are also designed like a racing bicycle to give you that authentic feel.
7. Jacob’s Ladder
Remember that non-motorized treadmill we just talked about?
This is the ladder-climbing equivalent of that.
Jacob’s ladder machines are self-moving, so you only get out of it what you put into it, which can be a great visual indicator of just how hard you’re working out.
These tall machines are wooden ladder rungs that are affixed to a series of axles.
You climb on these, pushing down the bottom rungs, and feeding it through the bottom of the machine. Then those same rungs come back out of the top as you climb.
The faster you go, the faster the machine moves.
This moves both of your legs and both arms at the same time, and if you ever get the chance to use one, you’re going to feel the burn thirty seconds in. It’s a wild ride.
8. Ocean Treadmill
You’re not actually in the ocean, don’t you worry.
Ocean treadmills, or underwater treadmills as they’re more commonly known, are waterproof treadmills that sit at the bottom of a pool or designated water tank.
You stand in these, generally up to hip level, and you start running on the treadmill.
Not only is this self-moving, requiring you to do just about all of the work until you build up momentum, but the resistance from the water takes this up a notch.
You’ll feel the water push against your legs as you try to move, and by the time you’re done, it’ll feel like running on a standard motorized treadmill is child’s play.
Underwater treadmills are actually an excellent way to lose weight, because while it’s high resistance, it’s also low to zero impact, so if you’re trying to lose a lot of weight and want to do it without sustaining joint damage, this would be a great way to do it.
Everyone Has Different Cardio Machine Preferences
It takes all kinds, and depending on the way you like to work out, some of these might actually be more of a viable option than your run-of-the-mill cardio machines that they have on Amazon.
Either way, it’s just important to get started with cardio, no matter how you want to approach it.
Cardiovascular exercise is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and a slim waistline.
It might be time to try out a new machine to get the results you want.