Ah, springtime, when our thoughts turn to lust—and, by extension, we get a wee bit self-conscious 'bout how our physiques are more Dom DeLuise than Ben Wallace. Unfortunately, spending countless hours transfixed by LCDs and the data contained thereon has a demonstrably deleterious effect on one's physiology (i.e. being a geek ain't necessarily good for your health).
But the twin stereotypes of geekdom—Comic Book Guy and the proverbial 97-pound weakling—needn't be your unavoidable fate, no matter how reluctant you are to part with your hard-earned dollars. There are plenty of low-end gadgets that'll help you deez up and slim down for the warm-weather months ahead. Why pay a king's random for a gym membership when you can skip away the pounds with all manner of electro-dreck? Let's start with the gem pictured to the upper right, shall we?
Calorie Counter Jump Rope
Price $9.95 from GadgetBrains.com
The Skinny I've been a fan of jumping rope since witnessing Mr. T's dexterous workout in Rocky III. It winds you pretty quickly, and is a lot less wussy than, say, Jazzercise. The beauty of this particular model, of course, is the calorie-counter feature; you can note the precise moment when you've finally worked off the morning's Boston Cream. Alas, that takes a lot longer than you might think—no, two quick sets of two minutes each ain't gonna cut it.
Odds It'll Help 3-to-1; once you get past the initial discouragement of realizing how long you have to jump in order to tone, the routine can actually become enjoyable—as long as you learn to do a crossover.
Price $9.95 from (once again) GadgetBrains.com
The Skinny I personally like running on a treadmill—I like the feeling of slowly morphing into a leg-pumping robot. But I'm also two shades pastier than Casper the Friendly Ghost, a condition that could be solved by taking my running outdoors. The Talking Pedometer is an essential accessory to such a workout routine; as the name implies, it blurts out your mileage with all the warmth of a Nixon-era Vocoder. This model offers particularly nice bang-for-the-buck, in that it also plays seven ringtone-style melodies that ostensibly sync with your pace. Why invest in an iPod nano when you've got the chirp of the Talking Pedometer to accompany you?
Odds It'll Help 10-to-1; you've still got to motivate to engage in a very painful form of exercise, but everytime you look at this heart-shaped device, you'll be reminded of the damage that your Little Debbie habit has wrought on your aorta.
Price $79.95 from Life Solutions Plus
The Skinny Don't be skeeved out by the apparent fact that this device has been designed for the old and infirm. If you're committed to spending 12 hours a day glued to your work terminal, why not get a little exercise while you're at it? It's certainly a lot cheaper than paying a gym month in, month out to use their stationary bikes. You can also wow your co-workers by pointing out the impressive number of calories you've burnt while coding, databasing, or just watching the immortal Keith Closs beatdown video. (If $79.95 sounds steep, you can check out this model for a mere $9.99. But without the LCD screen, it's a drab piece of equipment, indeed.
Odds It'll Help 2-to-1; at the very least, it'll compensate for that post-lunch grape soda you can no longer live without.
Talking Digital Hand Exerciser
Price $8.99 from Carol Wright Gifts
The Skinny Okay, yet another workout gadget meant for those who are in much worse shape than you and I. But come on, who doesn't want to improve their grip? No way you're gonna make it in the NFL with those weak hands, nerd. Slowly work up your grip force, and groove to the disembodied voice congratulating you on pressure well applied.
Odds It'll Help 50-to-1; won't affect your waistline or thicken your delts, but no one will ever again describe your handshake as a dead fish.
Sabre Jogger Unit
Price $18.41 from Underbid.com
The Skinny Taking up jogging requires courage, especially for those of you with not-so-fond memories of being lampooned for your non-athleticism in junior high. Unfortunately, some meaner members of our society still see fit to make fun of people whose flesh jiggles as they run, or whose jogging gaits are akin to those of wounded donkeys. Don't let these naysayers stop you from bettering your health! Instead, build your confidence by spraying their eyes, nose, and mouth areas with the Sabre Jogger Unit, which emits a liquid whose heat measures a scorching 2 million Scoville units. ("4 times hotter than average!" as the hype sheet so eloquently puts it.) Every geek, no matter how awkward, deserves to run free of bullying.
Odds It'll Help 999-to-1; please keep in mind that Low End Theory is not responsible for court costs associated with your use of this gadget. Oh, and enjoy your workout.