The ThighMaster was a piece of exercise equipment marketed primarily on TV infomercials during the 1980s and 1990s. It was marketed by celebrity fitness guru Suzanne Somers in a commercial that became either a cultural touchstone or a tired joke, depending on your perspective. In it, Somers placed the ThighMaster between her legs and demonstrated how to use it for audiences at home. It was marketed as a tool for toning women's thighs, not stomachs.
ThighMaster was launched by tobacco heir and professional huckster Joshua Reynolds, who was also behind the mood ring fad of the 1970s. The instrument consists of two pieces of metal that look something like plumbing supply line shaped to form the letter "v," connected by a hinge. The idea was that you could put it between your thighs, press and then release, and get resistance training in while taking in your favorite daytime TV show.
What ThighMaster Actually Did
The ThighMaster did not market itself as a stomach-toning tool. This is probably for the best, as the ThighMaster had no real stomach-toning function. And though there are still fans who swear by the little exercise tool, at least as a thigh-toner, the whole thing may have been a scam. Chiropractors and rehabilitation specialists at Advanced Physical Medicine now say the secret was that it gave the appearance of toning in the thighs, without any of the strength-conditioning benefits of real strength training.
Where to Get Your Very Own
The ThighMaster isn't sold by sporting goods stores. It's now available where other has-been cultural touchstones go to die -- television shopping channels. You can also find the product on online auction sites, or buy a brand new one from Suzannesomers.com.
Other Fitness Fads
The ThighMaster was so successful in its heyday that it spawned a rash of other dubious exercise equipment. Suzanne Somers marketed one item, called the ButtMaster, which promised to tone your glutes. The TummyCizer promised that you could just lounge around all day and tone your stomach by affixing the instrument to your abdomen and drawing deep breaths. Products like Ab Lounge and Six Second Abs followed, but none reached the cultural saturation point of Somers' once-ubiquitous ThighMaster infomercial.
- Advanced Physical Medicine: Debunking Four Popular Exercise Fads
- The Los Angeles Times: Working Out Old School - Is It Time to Pull Out the ThighMaster?
- The New York Times: Time for a Fitness Pyramid? After Thigh Master, a Stream of Fitness Gadgets
- Askthetrainer.com: Top Five Worst Fitness Gimmicks
- Esquire Magazine: The Five Best Infomercials on YouTube
- Suzannesomers.com: ThighMaster
Christina Lee began writing in 2004. Her co-authored essay is included in the edited volume, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Affairs." Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and politics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in global affairs from American University and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Penn State University.