Remember that fun ab gadget from the late 80s and early 90s?
It turns out that fad, marketed as “the intelligent alternative to sit-ups” can provide you with a way to do sit-ups that’s much easier on your back, shoulder, and neck. Or at least the theory behind it can, because it is no longer being sold.
A core-training tool, the idea behind the Abdomenizer was to stabilize and control the abdomino-lumbo-pelvic regions so you can better isolate the core without straining-or cheating by using-the back, shoulders, and neck.
The Abdomizzer was a nearly flat armor-like piece of formed plastic with a bucket depression for the glutes, measuring roughly 3 feet by 2 feet.
First invented Canadian Chiropractor Dennis Colonello is 1984, the Abdominator’s retail product sales were not initially successful.
As we all know, the mid-80s and early 90s saw a spike in prevalence ad profitability of the late-night infomercial, and the Abdomenizer struck while the iron was hot. Developed by direct marketer Collete Liantonio, the Abdomenizer infomercial featured actress Charlene Tilton and voice actor John Sweetman, both of whom would go on to live in late-night infomercial history.
Offering the Abdomenizer for just $19.95, the clever program promised the product would “Rock, rock, rock your way to a firmer stomach” and serves as a campy video time-capsule full of the era-specific nostalgia. The company ultimately sold more than 6 million units throughout 57 countries.
Many people began using the apparatus as a snow sled, leading to a specific warning being affixed to the product and ultimately perpetuating the idea and increasing its appeal.
Ultimately, production was stopped after Fitness Quest bought the rights and sales plummeted.
How to Use the Abdomenizer
The procedure for using the abdominizer is simple. Just lay the abdominizer down beneath where your back will lie, and then perform a sit-up:
Step 1: Lye on your back, forming the Abdomenzer to your body, with your knees bent.
Step 2: Bend your elbows out, placing your fingertips at the back of your ears.
Step 3: Engage your abdominals and core as you inhale, lifting your torso up toward your thighs.
Step 4: Breathe out, lowering your torso back to the floor in a slow and controlled motion.
Step 5: Repeat the process for the desired number of reps.
- Isolates the abs and core
- Protects the back, neck, and shoulders from strain and injury
- Produces an automatic pelvic tilt ideal for ab work
- Eliminates the possibility of “cheating” by using your back
- Stabilizes the abdomino-lumbo-pelvic regions
- Forces a neutral spine for proper form
There are other machines and gadgets that help accomplish the work of the Abdomenizer, such as:
- Abdomen Isolator: The ab machine at the gym where you hang upside down helps stabilize your spine and isolate your core.
- Crunch Roller: This rocker brace helps you maintain proper form.
- Folding Ab Roller Coaster: This gym apparatus is rarely found but a fun ab alternative.
- Weider Abs Crunch Trainer: This mat with handles is the most similar to the Abdominatoe of all the gadgets on the market.
Support Your Spine as You Work Your Core
With the rise in streaming services as well as channels providing all-night entertainment, the Abdominator has fallen out of fashion with the drop in infomercial popularity.
For all its cheesy 90s sales talk, the product itself was developed by a chiropractor and does indeed provide the kind of support and stability that will keep your back, neck, and shoulders in good health. The gadget forces you to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement while isolating your core as the classic situp intended.
Nobody seems to do good old fashioned sit-ups anymore due to all the problems they create-the very ones that this product corrected. However, it remains a challenging and worthwhile exercise when done correctly.
For what it’s worth, we hope the Abdomenizer makes a comeback. For one easy payment of $19.95, that thing is a steal.