When I was first approached to do a review of the Freestyler Fitness Functional Dynamics system, I wasn't expecting a whole lot. I mean, you see cheesy workout equipment every year on infomercials - from the Shake Weight to the Tony Little Gazelle, there are endless infomercial workout products available to consumers, especially around the new year. And it's not that they're all bad - it's just that they promise a lot and don't always deliver. So when I accepted the opportunity to do a review of the Freestyler, I was expecting to have a list of precautionary words of advice before suggesting a purchase. After testing the product, I can honestly say there's a lot to like about it!
Check out our quick video review >>
What you receive and putting it together
The Freestyler's list price is $299 but is currently listed for $150. A complete set comes with the following;
- A sturdy plastic base
- A tri-fold mat (really comfortable - I now use it as my primary mat for floor activities)
- 2 handles and 2 ankle cuffs
- 1 set of easy-resistance bands and 1 set of medium-resistance bands
- 1 replacement easy-resistance band and 1 replacement medium-resistance band
- 1 cinch pack to carry your bands, handles and ankle cuffs in
You can also purchase:
- A carrying case for the base (highly suggested if you want to take the base with you to the gym or other locations)
- Strong-resistance bands (currently included with the complete set)
- Sport-resistance bands (currently included with the complete set)
- Pilates straps
- DVDs (available soon)
My Freestyler came with the strong and sport resistance bands as part of my reviewers package, but it didn't come with instructions for putting it together. I'm not sure if all Freestylers come without instructions or if that was just because I was a reviewer. Luckily, putting it together is pretty straight forward, and you can see how it's done in our review video. All you have to do is place the base on the ground and thread one of the resistance bands through the rotating pulley bar on each side of the base, then clip the ankle cuffs to the interior side of the band and the handles to the exterior side of the band. You do want to make sure you're using the same resistance on both sides, so check for the words "easy", "medium", "strong" and "sport" on the ends of each band.
Once the Freestyler is put together, place it on the mat for added stability, stand on the board, strap your ankles in the ankle cuffs and grab the handles. Just like that, you're ready to go!
Whenever an exercise product touts results like, "Scientifically proven up to 86% increase in workout efficiency!", I tend to approach the results with skepticism. I've taken enough research and statistics classes to know that statistics can be easily manipulated to say what you want them to say. So, I went ahead and read the entire research paper published on the Freestyler. I have to say, it's pretty well done and the results are pretty cut-and-dry. In a nutshell: when you do the prescribed exercises without resistance, then you do the same exercises with the easy, medium, strong and sport resistance bands, the workout becomes increasingly more difficult, and the corresponding calorie burn and workload also increase. What this tells you is that as you use greater resistance to perform an exercise, the exercise becomes more difficult. What this doesn't tell you is whether this is a better workout than any other resistance training workout on the market. So it's important that you recognize that fact when considering your purchase. The bottom line is that using the Freestyler with resistance will be an effective full-body workout, but only if you're more likely to use it than any other resistance workout! That's the bottom line of any piece of fitness equipment: it will only work if you like it and use it. Period.
What I like
Using the Freestyler is kind of like being in a swimming pool, but on land. One of the greatest benefits of swimming is that no matter what direction you move in, you're moving against the resistance of the water. Similarly, when you're using the Freestyler, no matter what direction you move in, you're moving against the resistance of the bands - you experience the pull and the counter-pull of the handles and ankle straps throughout every exercise. I particularly like using the Freestyler for higher-intensity exercises like jogging in place, punching exercises and cross-country skiing movements. I found the equipment easy to use and fairly intuitive, and I didn't feel as constricted in movement as I thought I would feel. There are also tons of instructional videos on the Freestyler website that walk you through everything from sport-specific exercises to Pilates movements.
Check out their YouTube video gallery for lots of free workouts >>
Words of caution
I can't stress enough that workout equipment is only as good as the person who puts it to work. In other words, you have to be committed to use the equipment to receive a benefit from it. Before buying any piece of fitness equipment, I think it's really important that you consider what type of exerciser you are, and what you're hoping to gain from the equipment you're purchasing. If you like doing guided online workouts or you're looking for a piece of equipment to supplement your home gym, the Freestyler might be perfect for you. If, however, you struggle to do home workouts and you need more social engagement to stick with exercise, you may be better served by getting a gym membership or joining a walking group. Personally, I like home workouts, but I'm unlikely to rely on a single piece of equipment for all my home-exercise needs - I have way too much "exercise ADD" for that to work. That said, I'm really enjoying adding incremental bursts of Freestyler exercise into my home workouts.
Otherwise, my only other word of caution is that once you're strapped into the board, be careful about taking both your feet off the board at once! Since your feet are strapped in, if both feet move off the board, the board will move. I caught a toe under the board the first time I tried it out. No major harm done, but it was a good reminder to workout with shoes on.