It's funny, but elsewhere on the net, this same aerobic exercise equipment is being advertised as the "Body Slender". There are plenty of mini-steppers around, but I suppose this one is the one commonly referred to as a Balance Stepper.
Anyway, I feel that after using it for a couple of years, on-and-off (mostly off), it's high time I gave my own review for this fitness equipment.
- Compact and Portable
The balance stepper fits under our living room wooden chairs and sofa. That's how small it is. It's size lends to its portability.
It doesn't need to have a fixed spot anywhere unlike the other big cardio exercise equipments out there. I grip one pedal, lift the stepper and store it away after exercising.
This balance stepper cost PHP 2385 (or around USD 50)when I bought it. That amount is a fraction of the cost of other cardio fitness equipment out there like treadmills, elliptical trainers and stair climbers.
- Simple Design
As an exercise equipment, it's as simple as it gets. There are no pistons that could overheat like in other steppers. There are no motors and no electrical moving parts you'd find in treadmills.
I'm especially wary with motorized equipment like treadmills. I overhead someone at a sports shop who figured in a serious treadmill accident due to defective equipment.
Actually, youtube has dozens of treadmill accidents and some of them are hilarious. Here's the funniest treadmill accident I've seen so far.
The balance stepper does have a built-in electronic gadget with an LCD screen that shows repetitions, time, steps per minute and calories expended. I used to look at this LCD screen before, but now, I no longer bother.
- Good Cardio and Core Workout
Even after 2 years I still feel getting a good workout with this fitness machine. Ten minutes on the balance stepper and I'm working out a sweat.
At 30 minutes and beyond, I find myself catching my breath. The stepper also works out your legs and core muscles.
- Built Solid
The frame of the balance stepper is built of heavy duty metal. The documentation says it's rated up to 300 lbs. Maybe it is. For over two years, I've not seen any warping or bending on any part of this exercise device thus far.
- Moves about when used
By far, this is the most common complaint. Although others describe the balance stepper to move forwards or sideways in the course of using it, mine simply rotates on its place.
My theory is unequal pressure being continuously applied on foot pedals. That, plus the imperfection in the shape of the balance stepper's base. If I need to face a certain direction, then I step down to re-position the stepper.
- Unusable Mat
This exercise apparatus comes with a mat where you place the balance stepper (see thumbnail), presumably to protect the floor. The mat, unfortunately, is too small.
With the balance stepper moving, it easily gets off the mat. So what I did was to buy a thin rubberized yoga exercise mat that's a bit bigger. The old stepper mat became a door mat.
- Squeaky Noise
After a while, the balance stepper develops a squeaky noise. What's difficult though is pinpointing exactly where that noise is.
What I do is to put a few drops of machine oil on all the parts. Unfortunately, the oil sometimes tends to drip towards the yoga mat.
Generally, I'm not bothered by the squeaky noise because I always turn on the stereo to play my custom exercise music selection. The music's loud enough to mask the noise.
How Popular are Balance Steppers
After 2 years, did balance steppers catch on? There have been plenty of knockoffs, so if that's any indication, maybe it did. But then the demand for exercise machines is a big multi-million dollar industry, so who knows.
I did notice though that the second generation versions of the balance steppers are of lesser dimensions, sizewise. They're not as big as the first ones that came out.
I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing the manufacturers are catering to the Asian size. Or maybe they're just cutting costs on material. The unit is, after all, made of metal.
Price-wise, I've seen a drop on prices. Maybe it's the cheaper knockoffs that's pulling the prices down. The same exact unit that I bought over two years ago now goes on a sale price at PHP 1,450 (or USD 32).
Do I recommend the Balance Stepper
My answer is probably yes and no. Yes, because for me, it provides a good cardio workout. No, because I wouldn't recommend it for EVERYONE.
It takes good balance and coordination to step on this apparatus and exercise with the sideways rocking motion. I certainly won't recommend it to those who have balance problems (vertigo) or a tendency to become dizzy.
You need to TRY IT OUT for as long as you can before making a purchase. I remember at the store where I bought mine, I had to hold on to the counter because I felt like falling.
The balance stepper is a few inches tall so you may need to hold on to a high chair that's stable enough. Other than that, for the best bang for the buck, it's one of the best exercise equipment that will give you a good aerobic workout.