The Gadget: The GZ PC-Sport Power Stepper from Gamercize claims to give desktop and laptop users a workout by hijacking their keyboard or mouse when they slack off on their workouts.
The Price: $US199 for the GZ PC-Sport + Power Stepper / around $US140 for the GZ PC-Sport alone.
The Verdict: As a personal trainer myself, I welcome any device that will motivate people to work out on their own—especially when outside of the gym. However, far too many of the gadgets that exist for this purpose are gimmicky and serve only to clutter up a garage after a few weeks of use. Unfortunately, I have to group the Gamercize GZ PC-Sport Power Stepper into this category.
Just to be clear, let me start off by saying that the device does what it is supposed to do. If you exercise, you can use the peripheral device hooked up to the machine. If you slack off, it will hijack the device until you get back on track. That having been said, I was a bit miffed about the machine's reliance on batteries. Both the power stepper display and the controller require them (one AA and three AAAs respectively). If the batteries die, it will probably be a while before they are replaced — and that could be the perfect window for unmotivated users to stop their workouts.
Another problem is that steppers of this type don't exactly provide an intense full-body workout (users can choose to hook the device up to an existing stepper with a 3.5mm jack connector). Sure, there are five different intensity levels to choose from and it will burn some calories, but the bottom line is this: If you are going to town on this thing at the office, your co-workers are going to plot against you inside five minutes. As you can hear in the video, the sounds of the power stepper would eventually drive anyone around you into a murderous rage. Even if you only used the device in private, trying to type on a keyboard or use a mouse while stepping can get annoying real fast. It's like trying to thrash on a drum kit and sing at the same time. It's just plain unnatural.
Finally, you are going to need a big desk and some short legs if you want to use the GZ PC-Sport Power Stepper correctly. I'm tall and my legs were up in my chest during the workouts — and adjusting the height of the steps on the machine only serves to reduce your range of motion which, in turn, reduces the effectiveness of the machine. Again, just about any type of workout is better than nothing, but you could get more out of your $US200 by getting a gym membership and using your lunch hour for a quick 30-minute workout. [Gamercize]