3 Major Alternatives to Total Gym

Total Gym type exercise machines

Total Gym type exercise machines

In the realm of the Total Gym (TG) home exercise equipment there are 3 major competitors… Vigorfit, Weider, and Bayou Fitness. These are the most popular alternatives to Total Gym. Upon evaluating these exercise machines, it became clear to me that all of them have a design aspect not found in Total Gym. These designs all include resistance bands that can connect the glide board to the base of the frame to increase exercise resistance. All of these machines are popular and highly rated.

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are part of the Pilates Reformer design that carried over to these exercise machines. If this is an important element to you, than you should be investigating these types of exercise machines. These home exercise machines may be a more affordable option that is right for you.

Vigorfit machine

This model is in a comparable class to the Total Gym 1900 family which has the same weight limit and cost range. Instead of comparing their model to the TG models in this same middle range of cost, they compare with the high-end models. They do this to say that there appears to be a huge difference in the cost of the equipment.The Home Gym and the 3000XL are essentially the same.

Comparison of Vigorfit with the Total Gym – CONSTRUCTION

The padding on the glide board is slightly thicker than a TG at 2”. There are foam padded U-shaped handles at the top of the machine called the Sit up station. This is a versatile design that can be used like the variations of the multi-function attachments for the TG.

Both machines are made to fold and store. The Vigorfit framework construction is comparable to the middle range of machines and slightly lighter than the high end TG machines. It has the same 2 pulley systems as the TG, except they use for this machine what looks like parachute cord instead of insulated metal cables. The leg pulley (Dual leg rope system) has Velcro straps for the ankles.

Comparison of Vigorfit with Total Gym – DESIGN

This machine has foam padded handles that insert into the center of the glide board that are called shoulder (foam) pads. These can be used as rests for your shoulders while doing squats. They are a Pilates Reformer accessory. The TG has the dip bars in the same location, but attached to the frame instead. There is a toe bar/push-up bar that is shaped kind of like the pi symbol. It has the comparable use as the TG Pilates toe bar, except shorter.

They have an attachment available that is comparable to TG scrunch board, called the Abs & Buns Trainer (ABT). The only way I have ever seen the ABT attached is at the top of the machine, whereas the Scrunch can attach to the top and bottom on the TG. The TG also has AbCrunch attachments that can be used in the same way.

Vigorfit Home Gym/3000XL

Dimensions: 64” L X 22” W X 58” H
Folded dimensions: 51” X 21” X 8”
Accommodates up to 6’ 5” tall people
15 incline levels
Handles up to 350 lbs
Slightly lighter framework
Adjustable rope system – Pulley cords are parachute cord material (Total Gym has metal cord)
Slightly thicker padding (2”)
No head pad
Shoulder foam pads – attach into holes in the glide board & heavily padded
Resistance band system – Tension cord from the glide board that can attach to a swivel connection on the frame for more resistance…able to add 5 bands that can add up to 188 lbs of resistance.
Bar comes out of the sides of the glide board to hold weights
This one is slightly more cumbersome to fold up and pack away – lots of pins to remove in structure
Glide board has 4 locking pins and does not roll as smoothly as the TG and slightly longer and wider than the XL model
Some assembly required (Total Gym is usually pre-assembled)
Comes with exercise guide, user guide, and exercise dvd
Sit up station – Handle grips at the top that are U shaped on the sides which makes them a versatile design
Heavy duty weight bar that passes through the glide board – can add up to 100 lbs
Dual leg rope system – ropes end in Velcro straps for the ankles
Pulley system with end loops that form a triangle with the padded handles
Toe bar/push-up bar – very short Pi shaped foot attachment
Abs & Buns Trainer (ABT) – Platform attachment
Squat stand is long

Weider machine

There are 2 models of this exercise machine. They are essentially the same… differing by the colors and the padding in the glide board. Their specifications are the same. The Ultimate Body Works is the newer model, and the other is called the Total Body Works 5000.

The Weider model is most comparable to the Total Gym 1400 and the Total Gym 1600. They handle the same weight as this model. The TG 1400 and 1600 are both 22″ longer, and are narrower and lower to the floor. The Weider model is significantly less expensive than these Total Gym models. The TG 1400 & 1600 models both are pretty much the same price.

Weider model is comparable to the Total Gym 1400 & 1600 models

The pulley systems of both machines are very comparable. Basic accessories are also very comparable. It is important to point out that the Weider design has the resistance bands (4) to attach the glide board with the base of the machine, which the TG models do not. These resistance bands are very much like the old familiar Bungie cords, with specialized connections for the machine.

The support/incline design

Weider has an extremely unique support system that is made to work with the double pulley system to adjust the incline and height of the machine. This is a design that I have never seen elsewhere. It is something that you need to examine closely and is an important consideration before you buy this exercise equipment.

Weider Ultimate Body Works/Total Body Works 5000

Dimensions: 71” X 26.5” X 49.5”
Handles up to 250 lbs
Folds for easy storage
Top attached pulley system that is a metal cable design
Multi-function handles (wing attachment)
Squat stand
The incline is changed by means of an angled support bar and pulleys on both sides
Resistance bands (4) in the design and they are like Bungee cables and add up to 50 lbs of additional resistance
Almost fully assembled, only a few fasteners to add.

Bayou Fitness (BF) machines

This line of exercise machines includes 4 different designs. The 4 machines are the Total Trainer 4000XL, the Total Trainer DLX-III, the Power Pro, and the Pilates Pro Reformer.

Bayou Fitness model differences

The Pilates Pro Reformer model has the Pilates aspects of shoulder pads and toe bar. All these models list the Pilates toe bar accessory though. The weight load limit is a good way to judge the ruggedness of construction and the cost. The Bayou Fitness Power Pro has the lowest profile when folded (14″). The Power Pro has the highest resistance level setting at 72%. The Bayou Fitness 4000XL & DLX-III goes to resistance level 69%.

The BF Total Trainer 4000XL holds the smallest weight limit at 385 lbs, which is extremely good. The BF Total Trainer DLX-III and the BF Pilates Pro Reformer both have a 400 lb weight limit. The top model is the BF Power Pro (5000XL), which can handle 500 lbs. The Total Gym XL has a 350 lb weight limit. The weight limit for the Total Gym XLS is 400 lbs. The Total Gym Fit has a 450 lb weigh limit.

Bayou Fitness compared with Total Gym

The models of Total Gym that are in the proper range for the weight that these exercise machines handle are the XL, XLS, and Fit. The XLS and Fit are more expensive than the Bayou Fitness models. The XL and even the XLS can often be found at a great price though. I often track XL models online that are much cheaper than these. So if these TG machines have the qualities that you are looking for, don’t count them out, do the research.

Bayou Fitness Pro Reformer machine compared to the Pilates Reformer

The Reformer machine incorporates the shoulder pads (padded posts) and resistance band attachments that are very much a part of the Pilates Reformer machine design. Bands in the actual Pilates machines are much longer than this one. The toe bar at the base is a very important accessory, and the Bayou Fitness one is nice and tall just like it needs to be.

Reformer model

The Pilates Reformer machines come in many model designs with a wide range of prices. The Bayou Fitness machine has an adjustable incline, where some Pilates Reformers can incline and some wont. Pilates machines can be really expensive, and this Reformer design is a competitive price.

If you are serious about finding a Pilates machine, I have to recommend the Pilates Reformer/Rebounder machine at the end of this page. It is the most fantastic design I have ever seen for this Reformer exercise and far cheaper. A big reason for the price difference is that the at the end of the page has a weight limit of 300 lbs. The BF Reformer machine handles 400 lbs.

Bayou Fitness Total Trainer 4000XL

Dimensions: 94”L X 48”W X 20”H
Folded dimensions: >50” L X <20” W X >14” H folded
Glide board dimensions: 14” X 46”
11 resistance levels
Handles 385 lbs
The unique thing to the design here is the use of Super Tuff rollers for the glide board travel
Squat stand
Multi-function handles/Pull-up Press bar
Pilates (Pi shaped) toe bar
Pulley system
Power bar/weight bar/bench bar
Twin handle (other long bar)
Foot pulley system
Instructional manual
1 year “no hassle” parts warranty

Bayou Fitness Total Trainer DLX-III

Dimensions: 94” L X 20” W X 48” H
Folded dimensions: 50” L X 20” W X 14” H
Glide board dimensions: 14” X 46”
11 resistance levels
Handles users up to 6’7”
Handles up to 400 lbs
This design uses roller bearing rollers for the glide board travel
Squat stand
Multi-function handles/Pull-up Press bar
Bicep power flex/pulley system with foam coated handles
Bench bar/weight bar
Twin handles (other bar)
Pro Ab crunch strap/Ab Velcro strap
Pilates toe bar/tall pi toe bar
foot pulley system
Ab harness (styrup straps)
Instructional manual
1 year “no hassle” parts warranty

Bayou Fitness Power Pro/Total Trainer 5000XL

Dimensions: 95” L X 24”W X 50” H’
Folded dimensions: 52” L X 24”W X 14” H
Glide board: 14” X 18” with 2” of padding
Uses roller bearing rollers
12 incline levels with higher incline levels than the others
Accommodates up to 6’ 8”
Handles 500 lbs
Large castors for easy move
Handles up to 500 lbs
The unique feature here is the 4 pulley system that has quick release
Leg Press Board/Squat stand
Multi-function handles/Pull-up Press bar
Bicep power flex/pulley system with foam coated handles
Bench bar/weight bar
Ab harness (stirrup looking thing)
[Pi-shaped] Pilates toe bar
Sit up foot trays/(Ab crunch accessory?)
leg pulley system with leg cuffs
Pro Ab crunch strap/Ab Velcro strap
Deluxe chrome handles
Bicep curl press bar
Strength training DVD
1 year “no hassle” parts warranty

Bayou Fitness Pilates Pro Reformer

Dimensions: 94” L X 20”W X 48” H
Folded dimensions: 46” L X 20”W X 14” H
Glide board dimensions: 46″ X 14″
Handles users up to 6’7”
Uses ball bearing rollers
21 resistance levels
Handles 400 lbs
Pull-up press bar/Multifunction handles
Leg Press Board/Squat stand
Pilates shoulder pads – Foam handles for the glideboard holes
Pilates leg bar/Pi shaped toe bar
pulley system
Power bar/weight bar/bench bar
Ab harness (stirrup looking thing)
Bicep curl press bar – like twin handles (other bar)
Leg pulley system with leg cuff
Pilates rope extension
VHS Pilates video
1 year “no hassle” parts warranty
Pilates cords/Resistance bands (4)

Pilates Reformer/Rebounder machines

Both of these machines have the Reformer/Rebounder combination. Rebounders are exercise trampolines. This machine design has a trampoline design foot platform for the Rebounder aspect. It does not replace a trampoline, but adds a lot and makes the Pilates machine so much more fun.

Pilates machines are popular in physical therapy and also with athletes. They both are able to handle up to 300 lbs. One inclines like the previous home gyms discussed. The other stays level but raise in level by 10″ with the inclusion of it’s stand.

Pilates Power Gym ‘Pro’ 3-Elevation Mini Reformer Exercise System

This is an awesome design that covers both the reformer aspect of the Pilates machine exerciser as well as the Rebounder foot platform.

This machine has the 4 resistance band design. It has the shoulder pads (padded posts) that incorporate the pulley system as well. The construction of the base is very sturdy and strong. It has an angled support for changing the incline. This model is right at the boundary of the low cost and middle cost Total Gym machines. It is much, much cheaper than the Bayou Fitness Reformer model.

55.75″ L x 17.75″ W x 12.75″ H
3 incline levels
4 resistance bands
Compact and portable with built-in wheels for easy mobility
Handles up to 300 lbs.
3 DVDs (Pilates for Beginners, Tone & Lengthen & Cardio Blast)
Comes fully assembled

Pilates Power Gym ‘Pro’ 3-Elevation Mini Reformer Exercise System with 3 Pilates Workout DVDs and the Power Flex Cardio Rebounder

Stamina AeroPilates 700 Premier Reformer

This is another Reformer/Rebounder machine that is a great choice. It is one of most popular as well as highly rated. This is the more traditional early style that stays level. The foot bar is wider and the Rebounder is 2″ taller than the standard Pilates Rebounder platform.

Stamina AeroPilates 700 Premier Reformer with Stand, Cardio Rebounder
Dimensions: 85″ L x 23″ W x 27″ H
4 Heavy duty resistance bands
Handles weight up to 300 lbs
Works well for those up to 6’4″
Includes a removable stand that changes the height by 10″
Two workout DVDs: AeroPilates Level 1 Workout & AeroPilates Cardio Workout featuring Pilates expert Marjolein Brugman
Warranty: 3 years on frame, 90 days on parts

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