“As Seen on TV.” Some people turn the television off when infomercials hit their airwaves. I used to do that myself. But one night while fighting a migraine that made certain I wouldn’t be sleeping, I watched one and became intrigued.
I can’t even remember the name of the product now; it was so many years ago. However, it was a hair styling brush that used steam to lock in curl and smooth out unruly hair. Since I have problem hair, I decided to give it a try. I loved that brush which I used for years. I cried when mine finally broke. I couldn’t find a new one because it was no longer on the market. Nothing has ever tamed my wild hair the way that wonderful steam brush did.
After that positive experience, I paid closer attention to those television infomercials. I found many products that worked well and, of course, a few that did not. Therefore, I decided to do a series of articles entitled “Does It Work?” Through each article, I’ll share background information on the product as well as my personal experiences with an aim toward helping you spend your “as seen on TV” dollars well.
With each article I’ll try to include a good cross section of different types of products. But if you have something that you specifically want reviewed, drop me a line and I will do the research and post the results right here.
For the first article in the series, I’ve chosen a few exercise items, which are popular this time of the year; some of those notorious kitchen gadgets that we all love; and a few other miscellaneous “fun” items. So here we go:
Suzanne Somer’s Torso Track and/or Ultra Track. I have owned both of these machines. The original Torso Track, which sold for around $99 on Home Shopping Network and considerably more elsewhere, was far superior to its successor the Ultra Track. I suspect the reason for the drastic difference was the change in the overall design from the original piece of equipment.
The original Torso Track was designed specifically to help build up the core abdominal region. The power bands allowed the user to adjust the ease of the rowing motion as his or her core strengthened. The basic design of the machine was a push out and pull back motion aimed at a kind of reverse sit-up that ultimately accomplished the same kind of abdominal strengthening.
I can attest to the fact that the original Torso Track worked. It helped me lose 75 pounds and firm a middle section that had been badly weakened by multiple childbirths and surgeries. I was no spring chicken at the time, nearly 50 in fact. Still, it worked beautifully.
The product came basically fully assembled and was not difficult to use. It only took a few minutes a day and was, in fact, fun to do. I did it religiously two to three times a day for about two years.
My mistake, however, was purchasing the Ultra Track and giving my original machine away. The Ultra Track, which originally retailed for about $149, was supposed to be a redesign that would supposedly do the same kind of exercise as the Torso Track. However, it was also supposed to perform a kind of skiing motion for the purpose of strengthening the legs. Unfortunately, it did not work.
The retooling of the original design of the Torso Track made it much more difficult to use overall. For me, more difficult translated to less often and eventually to no use at all. Additionally, I found the ski mechanism of the machine to be basically worthless.
If you can get your hands on an Torso Track, I say go for it. A few still sell on Ebay for very reasonable prices. However, I urge you to forgo the Ultra Track unless someone gives it to you for free. It simply isn’t worth the money.
Michael Thurmond’s Body Makeover. I purchased his system for $159. It supposedly came complete with the original body blueprint, the six-day body makeover, the exercise bands, and free on-line counseling and support. It did not!
The concept behind the system seems solid. It basically claims that each person needs to know what body type they are. This determines how fast how slow their metabolism runs and how their body reacts to food. It also allows them to know which specific muscles need to change shape in order to give them the body they want.
This knowledge, in turn, is supposed to allow them to make a specific plan for changing their body. The idea being that, if you have a Blueprint, you’re guaranteed to get what you want, and changing the shape of your body becomes simple.
I thought this sounded scientifically sound which is the reason I purchased the system. However, I found it very difficult to narrow my specific body type down from one of two possibilities, which coincidentally had very different food choices to choose from for my meals.
Also, because I was working at the time, taking care of a mother with Alzheimer’s and dealing with a myriad of other things, I found it virtually impossible to eat the six small meals a day required to keep the system in motion. I didn’t have the time to spend on extra cooking for just myself nor the inclination to drop everything I was doing to try to eat at very specific times.
The six-day body makeover system was ludicrous in the extreme. I barely got through three days before I made myself so weak and sick that I had to back up and start all over again. I tried it three times and failed each time. If anyone can really drink that amount of water and survive, I give them credit. Personally, my stomach couldn’t take it; not to mention my bladder.
Also, every attempt I made to access the “free” online support system was blocked. Not once did I get a question answered or assistance to help me make certain that I was properly using the system.
I did like some of the exercises and the body bands; however, I saw absolutely no changes in my body from using them over a period of about two months. Perhaps I should have given it more time, but I was afraid of spinning my wheels on something that would never pay off so I moved on to something else instead.
Sorry, guys, I do not think this system works. It was a waste of good money!
The Ab Doer. Before I purchased my Torso Track, I bought the Ab Doer. Big mistake! This piece of equipment, which retailed for about $150, was absolutely worthless. Additionally, the system is not very well made, and it is very difficult to put and keep together.
If you are unfamiliar with the Ab Doer, it is a kind of chair with a rotating back that is supposed to be designed to allow the user to move the torso from right to left, back to front, and around in a circular motion. The intent is to strengthen the abdominal area.
This machine does not work. It does give you whiplash. It does make you dizzy. But it doesn’t do anything for the core, making it not worth the large chunk of change.
Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies. All right, I admit the man can be annoying. He is just a little too perky to suit my taste. I don’t do perky, as a rule. However, no one can deny Simmons’ dedication to helping people get better control over their weight. His intentions are totally honorable and his heart is in the right place.
I own several of Richard’s tapes and find most of them easy to use, even now that I am 56. They are not too time consuming and, for the most part, they are a lot of fun.
I encourage the investment in a Richard Simmons tape. You can get them on Ebay for as little as $.99. I think the most they cost is about $9.99. They are well worth the money to strengthen your heart and get a little “fun” exercise.
The Pasta Perfect. I bought this handy little kitchen gadget for my husband for Christmas. He just loves kitchen gadgets, which are the same as toys for him. I got a real bargain on his Pasta Perfect. I got it for a mere $5 at a local department store, although they usually retail for up to $19.99.
I will admit that, I was skeptical regarding this product. I just didn’t see how pasta could cook without heat on a stove. Also, after seeing it reduced in cost, I was pretty certain that this thing probably wouldn’t work. Still, it was worth the $5 to see my husband’s eyes light up on Christmas Day. So imagine how surprised and happy I was to find out that the darn thing actually does work.
For our first time out, we tried a relatively difficult pasta: bow tie pasta. Overcook bow ties and they taste like mush, but undercook them and they are horrendous. The Pasta Perfect, however, cooked them perfectly in almost no time at all.
The Pasta Perfect is simple to use. You just fill it with your pasta (up to one pound, any kind), pour in boiling water to completely cover the food, pop on the strainer and heat lids. Within minutes you pour out perfectly cooked pasta. No mess, no fuss
I certainly think this piece is worth the $5 I spent for it. I would have even paid up to $20 for the ease and no-mess-cooking option.
The Quick & Easy Onion Blossom Maker is a major misnomer. There is nothing quick and easy about this system. It is a mess from beginning to end and the final product has no similarity to those wonderful onion blossoms that so many restaurants serve.
First, we found it nearly impossible to get a large enough onion for the onion blossom. In this instance, size does matter. It the onion is too small, it doesn’t spread well when cut.
Second, it is equally impossible to cut the onion with the preciseness required to get it to “blossom.” Unfortunately, in this instance the cut also means everything. That makes two strikes against this system.
Finally, if the onion isn’t probably chilled, it won’t hold the batter and will not cook properly to come out in the blossom format. Strike three and you’re out.
This system, which retails for about $20, is a piece of junk. Don’t bother.
The Quick Chop. This is another kitchen gadget I purchased for my husband. I got this one for $9.99. It is not a bad little system as long as you are not trying to chop anything too hard or too soft. It does not chop hard-boiled eggs, for instance, without reducing them into egg crumbles that stick more to the chopper than anywhere else.
It also will bend and break if you attempt to chop anything with a hard outer skin. I broke mine on squash. Yes, I realize I could have peeled the squash and probably have gotten along fine. However, I happen to like the skin for its texture and vitamin value. Therefore, a chopper that won’t allow me to chop through it is basically worthless to me.
This may be worth its price to those of you who wish to use it for limited items. However, I don’t recommend it for wide use.
ShowTime Rotisserie Oven. This is one of my favorite kitchen purchases of all time. I consider it a steal for the cost of roughly $150.
No chicken in the world tastes better than that made on this rotisserie system. It makes the most plump, juicy, tender, succulent chicken you will ever put in your mouth. It is also not bad for pork roasts or London broil. I also used it for shish-k-bobs, ribs, fish, pork chops; basically anything you might want to bake or grill.
I also like the fact that this oven comes with a heating tray for the top that allows you to cook your vegetables while you make the rest of your meal. And it is fairly compact so you can fit it on a countertop or put in the cabinet when it isn’t being used.
Set it and forget it until it is done. You can’t get simpler, or more delicious, that this wonderful product. It is well worth the price tag.
Andrew Lesko’s “Free Money” Books. When I was working at the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, we absolutely hated it when Andrew Lesko was on television talking about all the “free grant money” that the government offers to start new businesses. He always made it sound so simple. All you have to do is apply. Right? No, wrong!
Yes, it is true that the government gives out grant money for small business development; however, not everyone is eligible for that money. You generally must fit into very specific categories and be willing to open particular kinds of businesses in order to get “free” money, which even then isn’t always free.
Most government grants for business development actually come in the form of “loan guarantees” that the Small Business Administration will put behind the grants on your behalf. That money is not free. It must be repaid
This is a case when truth in advertising is really being abused. This man – – Andrew Lesko – – comes within a hair’s breath of lying, but just not quite. Consequently, he sells hundreds of thousands of dollars in books every year. Please, don’t fall into his trap. It is a waste of money.
There is no such thing as totally free money so don’t give yours away on the hopes that there is.
Wrap, Snap, & Go Curling System. As I mentioned before, I have problem hair. It is wiry and dry and thin and fine. I hate my hair. Consequently, I’m always on the look out for something that might actually help it. When I saw the Wrap, Snap, & Go Curling System I thought I might have finally found what I needed.
This system consists of a set of 12 thin cloth like rollers about 4 ½” in length around which you wrap your hair. Then you bend and twist the roller to snap it shut. Since it is cloth, it is relatively comfortable and you are supposed to be able to sleep on it with ease.
All of that part of the equation is true. Now here is the rest of the story.
First, I know few women, even those of us with fine hair, which can wrap their entire head of hair on 12 rollers. I found I would need at least 24 for me. At $19.99 per kit, that is nearly $40 for cloth rollers.
Second, It is difficult to secure the ends of the hair around the rollers so that they will not poke out and end up becoming bent or damaged in the process.
Third, unless you bend and twist and twist and bend every which way, just snapping the roller closed doesn’t afford much security or potential curl.
Fourth, half the rollers fell out of my hair before the night was over.
Fifth, I woke up in the morning with little to no curl in my hair at all. What was there was uneven and extremely unattractive.
Let me just say, go to the dollar store and buy two packages of pink sponge rollers for $2. You’ll get more curl. They are just as easy to sleep in, and you ends won’t look fried.
Bowdabra. I love to do crafts so I am always looking for something new to add to my repertoire. When I first saw the add for the Bowdabra I thought, “Why bother?” I learned how to make bows at the floral shop where I grew up by the time I was 10 years old, so what could I need this machine for? Still, I took the chance and I purchased it.
Surprise. This also works. It allows you to make all kinds of different bows and add different little goodies to your bows as well as use different types of things to make bows. I’ve used paper, fabric, and of course ribbon. I’ve added flowers and greenery, plastic and paper knick-knacks, and even jewels and jewelry to bows to customize them specifically for a person.
The limitation of this machine is basically the imagination. I don’t know about you, but mine is pretty big so I figure I’ll be finding new uses for Bowdabra for years to come. For less than $10, I call that a bargain.
So there you have it. Here are the items that DO work:
Suzanne Somer’s Torso Track
Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies
ShowTime Rotisserie Oven
Here are the items that DO NOT work:
Suzanne Somer’s Ultra Track
Michael Thurmond’s Body Makeover
The Quick & Easy Onion Blossom Maker
Andrew Lesko’s “Free Money” Books
Wrap, Snap, & Go Curling System
The verdict is out on the:
If you have experiences with any of these items, I welcome your comments. Just leave them below along with suggestions for future reviews.