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Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Impression Review Of Gold's Gym Door Gym

A door gym is a bar that installs in doorways and allows you to do a variety of exercises like pull-ups, chin-ups, rowing, etc. My daughters used to go to a park near our home to use the bars there for hanging from, and my wife wanted me to get a door gym so that in the winter, they could do it indoors in the comfort of our home instead of trying to do it in a park in sub-zero temperatures.

There are several door gym models available on the market. They all look approximately the same, and are put up in doorways in about the same way also. Some of them come with bells and whistles like extender bars, loops, slings and other contraptions that the makers claim make their product better than the competition.

The prices for these products range all the way from about $15 to over $100 depending on the brand, and the bells and whistles the product comes with. I started doing some research on these products, and found a lot of negative reviews on them in various places. Many of these products seem to be hard to assemble, or poorly made and prone to breakage. So, I wanted to buy something locally rather than online so that if it breaks or malfunctions in any way, I can just pack it up and return it rather than dealing with the hassles of shipping it back where it came from.

I found that Walmart stocks and sells the Gold's Gym door gym in my local store, so I decided to give that a try. The door gym comes in a pretty small box that contains everything you need to put the thing together. The total cost was $20 plus taxes. If you want to save yourself the taxes, you can get it from (though it comes packaged with an umbrella for some reason. Don't ask me what exercise equipment has to do with an umbrella, but I am sure some MBA in marketing got paid a lot of money for thinking up this combination!). Even though the description on Walmart's website mentions the product coming with a DVD, the box does not say anything of that sort, and in fact, there is no DVD in the box.

What the box does contain is 5 distinct pieces that need to be put together with the provided screws, nuts, bolts and washers. Until I bought this product, I wasn't sure at all how these things were installed. I assumed that the bar would contain some sort of spring that would allow it to be installed in a door frame and held up just by the pushing of the ends of the bars against the door frame.

Gold's Gym door gymIt turns out I was completely wrong (at least as far as this product is concerned). The thing actually consists of a long bar that goes on the outside of the doorway, attached to a couple of curved handles linked up with a cross bar. The crossbar hooks over the top of the door frame on the inside of the doorway. The weight of the entire contraption makes sure that the crossbar stays hooked over the doorframe, and adding an exerciser's weight makes it even more secure (assuming that the doorframe is strong enough). That way, the whole contraption, once it is assembled, can be hung up on any door and removed from it in a couple of seconds.

The box also contains a very detailed instruction sheet and a sheet of exercises you can do using the door gym. The first step in putting the door gym together is to create the long bar (the actual bar from which the exerciser hangs) from two separate pieces using a couple of screws in the middle. Then you attach the curved handles to this long bar using two bolts. Lastly, you attach the crossbar to the curved handles using two more bolts. The gym comes with a multi-tool that is a screwdriver in one end, and a wrench at the other end. Assembly of the gym was a snap and took less than 15 minutes.

The instruction sheet also contains illustrations and instructions on how to install the gym in a doorway after it is put together. A couple of measurements are important to note in this respect. Basically, the long bar has to rest securely against the outside of the doorframe for the thing to work. And the doorway should not be so thick that the crossbar can not reach across the doorway and grab the top of the doorframe securely.

So, here are the measurements to keep in mind. From end to end, the long bar measures 36 inches. So, if you are careful about not moving the bar from side to side, and allowing for a 2 inch overlap at each end of the long bar with the outside of the doorframe, the door opening itself can be no more than 32 inches wide. Most standard doors are 30 inches wide, so this should not cause much of a problem. But, make sure there is at least 36 inches of space (including the door opening) for the long bar, and at least 2 or 3 inches on the outside of the doorway on each side without walls and other obstructions.

The handles from the long bar are about 16 inches apart, so the door can not be narrower than 18 inches (otherwise, the handles can not be passed through the door opening for the crossbar to grip the top of the doorframe on the inside. The instruction manual says the door frame has to be between 27.5 and 30 inches wide (which seems a lot more restrictive than my measurements would suggest). The manual also says the gym can not be used unless the depth of the doorway is 4.5 to 6 inches. This again should not be a problem unless you live in an old house with thick stone walls that are more than 6 inches thick. The long bar ends up about 6 inches below the top of the doorway if your doorframe extends about 2 to 3 inches above the doorway, like mine does.

Since the crossbar rests on top of the doorframe, make sure the top of the doorframe is horizontal and deep enough (about a quarter inch depth should be sufficient). But if you have crown-molding or other decorations that make the top of the doorframe non-horizontal either from side to side or front to back, you are going to have trouble getting this door gym installed securely in such a doorframe. It certainly will not be usable in arched doorways, for instance. Also, if you have something above the doorframe blocking access to the top of it (such as ceiling tiles, for instance), or if you have no doorframe on the inside at all, this gym will not be usable in such a doorway. Moreover, since part of the gym is inside the doorway and part of it is on the outside, you can not close the door fully when the gym is installed in the doorway.

Because the gym basically hangs by the crossbar, it is very easy to move from doorway to doorway. You just have to lift it slightly to disengage the crossbar from the top of the doorframe and take it off. In the new doorway, just secure the crossbar over the doorframe, make sure the long bar rests securely on the outside of the doorway, and you are ready to use it.

The instruction manual, in fact, also shows some exercises that you can do by putting the door gym horizontally on a flat surface, away from a door. You can do dips and push-ups that way. You can also secure the door gym to the bottom of a doorway instead of near the top, and hook your legs under it to do sit-ups. To do this, the crossbar needs some kind of threshold at floor level to hook onto, so if your doorways are like mine, and don't have raised thresholds, then the gym can not be used at the bottom of the doorway.

The door gym is designed for people weighing up to 25o lbs. Everyone in my family is under 150 lbs, and it stood up well under a few chin-ups by me without any problems. But I am not entirely sure it will be able to put up with all the stresses that a 250 lb person can create when doing chin-ups, especially if he/she bounces up and down. I have no doubt the bar is capable of supporting a deadweight of 250 lbs, but that is not the same as supporting a 250 lb person trying to do vigorous exercise.

The long bar has two sets of foam-rubber grips. The narrow set is on the inside of the handles, and is about 10 inches apart from center to center. The wide set is on the outside of the handles, and is about 22 inches apart from center to center. In addition, the handles protrude beyond the long bar to the outside to provide another set of handholds that are 16 inches apart from center to center.

All the handholds have foam-rubber grips that are stuck to the underlying steel structure so that they don't move or rotate. The crossbar has a rubber backing strip so that it rests against the wall above the inside of the door frame without causing marks. The ends of the long bar, which rest against the outside of the doorframe also have rubber coverings. I have not seen any marks or damage to any of the doorways where this door gym was installed in my home.

What do I like about the door gym? It seems to be well put-together and reasonably sturdy. It is trivial to assemble and put up in a doorway (provided you have a door that meets all the requirements). The foam-rubber handholds make the exercising more comfortable by protecting your hands from blisters, and also making sure they don't have that distinctive iron or steel smell after an exercise session. And the rubber pads on the parts of the gym that come in contact with the door frame, walls, etc. also protect those parts of your home from scratches. You can move it from doorway to doorway without any effort, and you can also use the gym on the floor to do other types of exercises.

What don't I like about it? Well, I would have preferred if the gym came fully assembled and welded together rather than having to put it together from pieces. I think it will be stronger that way, though of course, the package would be a lot bigger, and you would not be able to break it down and pack it into a backpack (which you can do now if you wanted). I am not completely sure about the durability of the foam rubber handholds either, but they seem reasonably sturdy. And last but not least, I strongly doubt the ability of the door gym to actually bear the loads associated with a 250-lb person doing chin-ups using it. I think the gym is likely to last for a long time if not used by anyone over 200 lbs.

I must warn you that the product has several negative reviews on the Walmart website, but so far, I have not encountered any problems that would make me consider giving this product at least a 4-star, if not 5-star, rating. The reviews at reflect my experiences with this product much better.

Overall, it is hard not to like the product, at least initially. My kids love it. For the price paid, it is hard to beat. It is well-designed, and looks sturdy and strong. Assembly is a snap, and moving it around is trivial. It does not have all the bells and whistles some more expensive models come with, but if you are going to use it for basic stuff like pull-ups, you don't need the extra contraptions. You can always buy some of these contraptions separately if you need them later on also. The bottomline is that, as of now, I would recommend the Gold's Gym door gym without reservations if you are looking for such a product.


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alex amarxon said...

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