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Is The Total Gym XLS The “Total” Package? [A Review]

total gym xls review

The XLS is one of Total Gym’s most popular models and with the ability to perform over 80 exercises, this gym offers folks a means of getting a heck of a full body workout while taking it easy on the joints.

It also has the advantage of requiring very little assembly and the ability to grow with time with the addition of attachments.

Long-story-short: the XLS has a lot to offer, but with the addition of some of the newer Total Gyms, I’m not sure it’s as relevant as it used to be.

But I have a feeling you’re probably interested in the longer story, so keep reading.

In this review, I’ll go over every thing this Total Gym has to offer; and I’ll also compare it to some of the newer models to see how it stacks up.

After reading, you’ll know whether or not this is the right gym for your home gym.

Let’s have a little fun first though, with a few words on the man himself, Mr. Chuck Norris.

A Word On Chuck Norris

-Once a cobra bit Chuck Norris’ leg…after 5 days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.

Ah, I love Chuck Norris jokes. I have zero idea where that all started, but it’s pretty awesome.

As is Chuck Norris.

We all know him as the badass from all the martial arts movies, or as Walker, that do-good Texas Marshal that always showed up at the right time to take out the trash.

Regardless of your favorite Norris character, one thing that can all agree on is that Chuck Norris is the man.

Well, The Total Gym company was wise enough to get him in on selling their Total Gym products. But when you see celebrities selling products, you never know what is real.

We know that they are being paid to say they like said product. But do they actually use what they are selling? Do they actually stand behind the product?

Who knows, but according to Chuck and Total Gym, he does use it and has been for the last 30 years.

As a martial artist, it would make sense for him to use a piece of equipment like the Total Gym – what with the large range of motions available and whatnot.

We will get more into this in a minute, but one of the great benefits of these products, is the fluidity of the movement.

You are using your full range of motion (ROM) as you exercise.

Not only does this increase strength, but it maintains flexibility and promotes that smooth, fluid like movement the martial artists need.

Christie Brinkley has also appeared in the infomercials for the Total Gym products and still looks as great as ever.

If using the Total Gym will get me in Chuck Norris or Christie Brinkley shape, I’m in.

Just to make sure though, we should probably discuss the actual product first.

-Chuck Norris plays Russian roulette with a loaded revolver…and wins.

The Total Gym XLS

Total Gym XLS Home Gym

I was first introduced to the Total Gym through work.

When I came out of PT school, I started working at an outpatient clinic.

We saw patients with varying diagnoses, lot of knee pains, back pains, joint replacements. We had a Total Gym in our clinic and it got used daily.

And I quickly learned why.

The great thing about the Total Gym is that it’s super low impact. Very little stress through the joints, which makes it ideal for folks going through therapy or who have arthritis.

The idea behind the machine is that all of the resistance is produced by the user’s body weight. This resistance is increased or decreased based on the angle the back is set on.

By adjusting the height (or resistance), you are increasing or decreasing the amount of gravity you are fighting against. If I lower the back (closer to the floor), I’m decreasing gravity’s effect, and the exercise becomes easier.

If I adjust the back higher, I am increasing gravity’s effect, and the exercise becomes harder.

Think about doing a push up on your knees, vs standard on your feet, vs elevating your feet on a bench…same idea. More gravity = more body weight = more difficulty.

In the clinic, we used it all the time for squats, single leg squats. Some rows for our shoulder patients.

Simple system, but genius.

Perfect for rehab, but also great for providing healthy individuals a world class workout in their homes.

The Total Gym XLS is the mid-range model in the Total Gym series. When you look at all the different models, they all kinda look the same.

Seriously.

When you look at the stats though, you do see some fairly big differences. The biggest differences are:

  • Max user weight capacity
  • Levels of resistance
  • Exercises available (attachments included)


Basically, the more expensive the model, the higher the max user weight is and the more exercises that can be performed.

That said, the Total Gym XLS offers over 80 exercises… I can’t imagine the need to do more than 80 exercises, but the Total Gym GTS (the most expensive model) boasts over 200 possible exercises…

Pros

  • Provides full body workout with over 80 exercises possible
  • No assembly required
  • 400lb weight capacity
  • Folds for storage
  • Low impact on joints
  • Easily, quickly transition from one exercise to another
  • Adjustable for any fitness level
  • Comes with several attachments
  • Compatible with many attachments
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Cons

  • Only 6 resistance levels
  • Not great for bulking up, better for getting lean and tone

Available Exercises

The XLS boasts that you can do 80+ different exercises on this gym, which is a ton when compared to other, more classic stack gyms.

All of this variety comes from the use of the pulleys and different attachments, as well as counting single and double leg exercises as different moves.

Regardless, the fact that you can perform pretty much any exercise you can think of on this gym remains the same.

What’s nice too though, is that you can switch between a lot of exercise rapidly without even having to get off the slide board.

Think about Chuck Norris on those infomercials where he transitions from overhead pulls to tricep extensions to flys without having to stop.

You don’t have to do this of course, but if you choose to, you can get a great cardio workout while strengthening.

The amount of available exercises is one factor that differentiates the different Total Gym models and at 80+, the XLS is near the top of their list.

The more expensive FIT and GTS offer more, but most of the more affordable models offer a few less (although the Apex G5 also offers 80+).

Resistance Levels

The available exercises and included attachments vary a little from Total Gym to Total Gym, but it’s the amount of resistance levels they come with that really matter.

I say that because having more resistance levels gives you a lot more control over your workouts.

The number of levels on these gyms varies anywhere from 6 to 12, well, 22 technically, if we count the commercial grade GTS.

Anyway, having 6 resistance levels is a disadvantage compared to 12, because you have to make bigger jumps in intensity between levels.

Which might make it harder to progress initially.

The XLS only comes with 6 levels and I think this is its biggest flaw, especially for a Total Gym that costs north of $1k.

Especially considering their newer Apex G5, which costs about half as much as the XLS, comes with 10 resistance levels.

If you don’t plan on changing resistance that much, this might not be a huge deal, but I like the idea of having the levels in case I want to use ’em.

Attachments

The Total Gym XLS comes with the following included attachments:

Ribbed squat stand- the ribbed stand is a little larger and heavier-duty than the standard squat stand, making for a more comfortable workout.

Wing attachment- this attachment allows you to perform a variety of pull up and other upper body strengthening moves.

Leg pull accessory- this attachment includes 2 ankle straps and a pulley, allowing you to do a wide range of lower body strengthening exercises.

Training deck- this allows you to connect exercise cards to the XLS for easy reference during workouts.

Wall chart- this poster displays 35 of the most popular exercises, for those times you need a little inspiration during workouts.

If you purchase through Total Gym Direct, you also get access to Total Gym TV, their streaming platform.

You get access to their basic plan for free, which includes all the classic workouts that used to be included via DVD format. If you pay the streaming fee, you can access the premium material, which includes newly updated workouts.

Warranty

Total Gym backs the XLS with the following home warranty:

  • Lifetime frame
  • 6 month parts

A lifetime guarantee on the frame is great, can’t beat that.

But 6 months on parts is a bit short, especially for a gym in this price range.

I’d like to see at least a year on parts here, but most of the parts on this gym are pulleys and cables anyway – which is stuff that shouldn’t really break down as long as you play nice.

The parts warranty would also include your attachments too though.

Other Stuff

Before I wrap this review up, I want to mention that the XLS comes with a weight limit of 400 lb.

Not only is this impressive for a folding home gym, but it allows folks of all sizes to use this gym.

Speaking of folding, I also want to mention that this gym doesn’t require any assembly – all you have to do is unfold it and insert a few pins.

No tools necessary.

The folding/unfolding might take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to put up or take down the XLS in minutes.

Final Thoughts

Ok, that about does it for the XLS.

Like all Total Gyms, I like that the XLS offers a ton of workout variety and that it offers a gentle, low impact way to get a full-body workout in.

I also like that the XLS is a heavier-duty gym with a high weight capacity and is easy to set up/fold down for storage.

But when compared to some of the other Total Gyms, it’s a little disappointing that the XLS only comes with 6 resistance levels.

I realize Total Gym is pretty calculated in the levels and features they include with their different models, ensuring that they’ve got gyms for every price range.

But still, this gym costs over $1k… I’d like to see at least 8 resistance levels.

I think that parts warranty could also be a little longer for this price range, but at least the frame is backed for life.

All things considered, if you’re looking for a mid-range Total Gym the XLS isn’t a bad buy, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the “total package”.

What I would do though, is encourage you to check out the Total Gym Apex G5.

The G5 costs about half as much as the XLS and comes with 10 resistance levels and includes the popular dip handles… just sayin’.


 

Let’s finish with a couple more Chuck Norris jokes, why not?

-There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

-When Chuck Norris was born, he drove his mom to the hospital.

-Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then the grenade exploded.


 

 

 

 

 

Will

8 Comments

  1. Chuck Norris is amazing. It’s hard to believe he’s almost eighty.

    What I like about the Total Gym XLS is the concept of using your body weight for resistance. I don’t own this machine, but I have owned machines like this one. I have also tried working with weights at the gym and I found this machine is much easier to use. With weights you need a spotter for safety reasons. You will not need the spotter with the Total Gym. Plus you can move through your workout more quickly – no wait time. This is a sharp looking machine!

    Don

    • Yea, that’s a good point on the spotter. I agree this is a very safe machine to use, easy on the joints. Thanks Don.

  2. Great post!
    I am currently in a physical rehab program at my local hospital fitness room, and I am loving some of the machines that they have, so I can really see the attraction to the Total Gym, and this xls model. The ability to do all my exercises at home would sure be a plus!
    I know that there were some issues with older models of total gym, such as people hurting themselves while setting it up. Do you think the problems of the past have been fixed with this newest model?

    • Hi, thanks. Yea, the XLS is a piece of cake to set up. There is no assembly required, you basically unfold it and set your height to whatever level you want. No tools necessary. Total Gym has done a nice job with designing this system to make it ready to use right out of the box. Good luck with the rehab!

  3. How easy is it for an 80+ year old woman to raise and lower the slant board?

    • I think that depends a lot on the fitness level of the 80 year old. The entire gym weighs about 90 lb and the slide board itself weighs about 20 lb. The board is easy to adjust, but to be safe, a senior should probably be capable of lifting at least 10-12 lb in each hand to efficiently adjust the board without too much hassle. Hope that helps.

  4. I’ve have had a hip replacement and am very weak. Will this strengthen my lower ody?

    • It can certainly help. Total Gyms work well for rehab purposes because they provide such a low impact form of exercise. The XLS works great with doing low impact squats, which are an awesome way of rebuilding hip and lower body strength. We used to have a Total Gym in the outpatient PT clinic I used to work at years ago…Anyway, yes, the XLS offers a great way to help strengthen muscles after hip replacements (just make sure you always listen to your doctor’s precautions).

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