The OYO Nova Gym is a portable gym that provides total body strength training across over 100 exercises in a folding device weighing only 1.12kg. As the most funded fitness product in Kickstarter history, amassing over $4m, and generating a further $6m on Indiegogo, does it live up to its claims?
I backed this campaign back in June 2020, just as the UK was coming out of Lockdown 1.0. Delivery was estimated as October 2020, however I’ve backed enough crowdfunding projects to know that this was optimistic at best. The unit arrived mid-December, so by Kickstarter standards this was not too bad. There were a lot of people screaming for updates on the Kickstarter project forums, as updates from the project managers were sporadic at best, but I received my shipment notification and the unit arrived next day.
Both the outer brown packaging and white inner ‘retail’ box are branded as Kickstarter editions. Opening the box shows the Nova Gym in all its glory, with one of the discs attached and the three discs above it. You attach the discs by simply aligning up the orange triangle and pushing them on, and the unit is ready to use.
In addition to the unit itself the box includes a number of accessories. An A2 wall chart lists a series of different exercises that you can perform - more on this later. A series of exercise cards allows you to shuffle, pick a few and create a random workout every time. A multi-function strap allows the unit to be attached to either a door or between your feet. A small OYO-branded gym towel was also included – a nice touch, as this was not mentioned on the Kickstarter campaign. A mesh bag completes the package, allowing you to pack up the Nova Gym, discs and towel for travel. A downloadable app gives you access to a nutrition guide, 100 exercise videos, 50 workout videos and an 18-week online workout program.
As mentioned earlier, the Nova Gym already has one disc attached, and adding more is straightforward. Removing them proved a little trickier. You should just be able to grab and twist to the right to remove, but the few times I’ve tried it I could sometimes only get one or two of the discs, off – not all four. In order for the unit to fold for travel all four discs must be removed. Maybe over time they will come off easier, but for now I’m simply using the unit ‘as is’.
The unit itself requires no real training, but without the wall chart I’d certainly struggle to come up with 100 unique exercises, but this is where you can see that real thought has gone into the use of the Nova Gym.
The aforementioned wall chart shows a small image of each exercise and a brief description of how to perform it. To the right of each one is a QR code, which links to a video demonstrating the exercise.
Operating the unit is smooth and quiet. When pulling outwards you can hear the movement of the wires over the plastic guide circles, but it’s not loud enough to be any sort of distraction. When bending the unit inwards you can position your hands either forward or to the sides, and helpful arrows on the outer sides of the handles highlight the slight offset position of them in relation to the unit’s main body. I don’t have the longest of arms, but can expand the unit to its full stretch, so I think those with longer arm spans may be left slightly wanting. Perhaps OYO might consider making an XL unit?
The pin on the underside of the handles slides into a plastic ‘cuff’ or sleeve when you retract, and it’s this area that gives me most cause for concern, as they receive the most stress. I currently have three of the four discs attached, and I fear that with all four attached and going ‘full tilt’ on the unit it could cause the plastic to break. I could imagine also that working out at speed it would be easy to start the inward motion without returning the handle fully within the cuff, perhaps causing the handle to snap. If these pieces were made out of metal that would certainly remove that concern, but would of course add weight.
When I initially saw the door strap I was a little disappointed – I assumed that it would be a plastic u-shaped device that would clip over the door frame. Instead, It’s two straps sewn together at strategic points, with a rubber disc at one end. Aside from mounting on a door you can also slip your feet into two of the slits, with the OYO’s handle in the centre one for upwards exercises. In actual fact, this design works very well. I did wonder whether the unit would stay secure, and had visions of it pinging towards my face at great speed, but once in place it stays put.
I’ve been using the unit for a couple of weeks now and it makes a good addition to my workout regime. Although I’ve not got into any of the video workout routines yet I have followed many of the exercises on the chart – you do feel that all main muscle sets have been worked out at the end of it.
The inclusion of items such as the wall chart with QR codes, cards and videos demonstrate a mature product – this is their second version of the product, the original of which was also crowd-funded.
You can download the free OYO app for iOS and Android, which then gives you access to the workout videos. It can also keep track of your workouts, although I've not used this feature yet so I'm not sure if it just records how long the video plays for, rather than something a little more accurate. (I use a Fitbit Versa to record workouts, so have a lot of details anyway).
When you start a workout it will show the overall remaining workout time, the resistance (number of discs) and remaining time for the movement you are doing at the time. There's a pause/play toggle, but no timeline so you can't fast-forward or rewind. I guess that's required if the app needs to track the time spent in order to log workouts.
It's refreshing that all of this is part of the overall package, rather than them trying to compete with the likes of Apple Fitness+ and making it a subscription service.
All in all, the OYO is an innovative product that does live up to its claims of providing a complete body workout in a portable format – if it lasts! Concerns over long-term build quality leave a cloud over what is otherwise an extremely well thought out product.
I could certainly see me packing this away on business or leisure trips to keep up my fitness levels. After only a couple of weeks of use I feel a difference in areas that were not affected by simple dumbell weight routines alone.
It's also one of those unusual gadgets that has the rare ability to really surprise people. Everyone that I've shown it to has been suitably impressed with its range of exercises, smooth operating motion and lightweight (literally) approach to providing resistance. A friend had recommended TRX resistance bands, but I think the OYO Nova Gym provides a better, more flexible alternative.
Including import taxes and delivery the unit cost around £155. This is expensive if you compare it to a set of weights or lower-end resistance bands, but if you are serious about your fitness regime then the OYO Nova Gym does add another dimension to your workouts.
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