Categorized | seriously dumb

The world’s most demented exercise machine

In today’s I-want-whatever-drugs-they’re-taking department, we proudly give you the Treadmobile, enthusiastically hailed as “The World’s Worst Invention” by YouTube:


I’d pay real money to see someone run down a steep hill with this thing. I mean steepily, steependously steep, like someplace in San Francisco.

Actually, the Treadmobile isn’t the world’s worst product invention. Believe it or not, the Treadmobile takes the world’s worst product idea and makes it worse! Which I guess makes it the world’s worst product invention. More after the break.

You see, the thing about dumb is that you can never discover its height or breadth or depth. Just when you think you’ve discovered the very outermost boundary of dumb, the edge of the map of dumbland, the beyond-here-lie-monsters, where you say, “No. Nothing can get dumber than this,” you look up and there’s a happy crowd way out at the horizon waving and smiling at you.

You’d think an idea like the Treadmobile would be a total original, but, fancy that, no. Its originality, in fact, lies in taking a bad product idea and making it bigger and heavier and clumsier. For long before the Treadmobile (well, 2 years before, at least), there was the Treadmill Bike, which, curiously, still hasn’t made it to market:


Okay, okay. I know exactly what you’re thinking. C’mon, let me hear you say it . . .


You’re probably thinking that the only thing you need to run down the street are shoes, socks, and enough clothing to cover your shameful bits. What’s next? A moving stationary bike?


Because this is a serious business blog, chew on this thought a bit: how many exercise products simply do what is easier, cheaper, and more effective to do without the machine?

Try chewing this one, too (and don’t talk with your brain full): why does product innovation in the exercise industry look like this constant race to the bottom of the idea barrel? How do people make money off of this stuff?

I’ve actually got an answer. Because this is a serious business blog. Really.

It’s because exercise, fitness, and weight loss are simple. Move (run, walk, swim, bike), lift, eat sensibly. That’s it. No PhDs or Suzanne Sommers required. Pennies a day.

But people can’t do simple, so they buy fancy, which allows them to run, walk, swim, move, and lift more expensively and clumsily.

But since they can’t do simple, they can’t do fancy, either. So they buy next year’s fancy, which allows them to run, walk, swim, move, and lift more expensively and clumsily.

Failure is the formula for success in the exercise and diet market. Not just failure, but product failure.

Because people fail at running and walking, entrepreneurs can sell them treadmills.

Because people fail at treadmills, some entrepreneurs think they can sell them moving treadmills.

(That’s why moving stationary bikes probably ain’t such a bad idea, after all.)

The problem with the moving treadmills is, well, they’re too obviously built on this principle of failure. Like Kierkegaard’s virtuoso ice skater, exercise and diet products are always skirting the very outermost edge of the thinnest ice, always coming close to saying, “if you really had what it took to be (fit, thin, take your pick), you wouldn’t be buying this machine.” Always just on this side of a practical joke.

So, the moving treadmills aren’t a bad idea for quite the reason you believe. They’re bad because they take a standard principle of exercise product development (“sell fancy to the folks who can’t do simple”) and make it too obvious.

If your product looks like a headline in the Onion, well, that’s where it belongs.

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4 Responses to “The world’s most demented exercise machine”

  1. rickhenry says:

    this is the funniest business blog i’ve ever read

  2. Jo-Ann Fair says:

    This is hilarious!

  3. Bobbert says:

    I love how people are laughing constantly in the treadmill bike ad. Is it just a class project, because something this stupid can’t be serious.


  1. [...] exercise machines Many moons ago, when this blog was still new and fresh, I wrote a post about the world’s most demented exercise machine, a startlingly stupid mobile treadmill that allowed you to treadmill your way around the [...]

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