“Great legs…” a man’s voice says as the camera slowly pans up Suzanne Somers’ “shapely” bottom half. Later, the as seen on TV ad shows Somers awkwardly sitting on her couch in a bright blue leotard, full makeup, sneakers, and socks just casually “squeeze, squeezing” her way to “shapely hips and thighs” (as one does, obviously). Lastly, a beefy man and a toned woman gaze at one another while shaping their arms and chest. The early '90s certainly were a wild time. Definitely re-watch this gem of a commercial below—it’s cringy but totally worth it.
Thighmaster was marketed to the good people of the nineties by Suzanne Somers and can still be found on the shelves at your local Walmart. It was invented by a Swedish woman, Dr. Anne Marie Bennstrom, as a physical therapy tool (the v-bar) using resistance to isolate and increase muscle mass. Later it was sold to Josh Reynolds and ingeniously marketed by everyone’s favorite TV stepmom, Somers.
Somers had previously worked on Three’s Company as Crissy Snow, but our demographic likely remembers her from the early ‘90s show Step by Step. Somers was fired from Three’s Company for reportedly attempting to renegotiate her salary, and be paid (gasp!) the same salary as men at the time. She appeared in Playboy twice in the ‘80s and became a Las Vegas performer. She then became the comeback kid of the ‘90s. She wrote books, hosted talk shows, starred on Broadway, and did seven seasons of Step by Step—all while making a passive income from Thighmaster. The actress, author, and singer has reportedly amassed a fortune of 100 million dollars.
In 2014, Somers starred in another infomercial touting the newest master of thighs, the Thighmaster Vibrato. Anecdotal evidence was given like, “it gives great results!” Again, no real data to back up the claims was provided. Somers states to just, “Put it between your knees and squeeze.” As in previous commercials, women were “exercising” while watching TV, but now they could also work on their laptop, and have a shaky experience! Instead of “shapely” hips and thighs, we were now promised “sexy” legs.
In the first commercial in 1991, Somers states that she “used to do aerobics until she dropped,” but then she found Thighmaster. Thighmaster commercials don’t really claim to help you become healthier, however, they do focus on some women’s insecurities. Words like flabby, jiggly, and problem area are used throughout the commercials. While we don’t know the true intention, one can assume that those words put together with Somers athletic-type body triggered millions of people to buy the Thighmaster. Back in the early ‘90s, six million Thighmasters were sold in the first 18 months.
Most experts claim that “spot reduction” is not likely to have any effect on weight loss. Increasing fitness levels overall by doing cardio, a variety of exercises, and strength training is a more effective approach. Thighmaster could likely be used in addition to other exercise programs to get full-body results. At OOLA we believe that everybody is different; that’s what makes the world a more diverse and beautiful place. Plus #ThickThighsSaveLives according to Lizzo.
Fads come and go, but the Thighmaster apparently has some staying power. In February 2020, Somers appeared on the Good Morning America show and stated that “we stopped counting after we sold 10 million” in regards to the Thighmaster. We luckily don’t have to watch too many infomercials these days as targeted ads have taken over on that front. However, the Thighmaster has a special place in our late-night TV watching memories. Love it or hate it, some people bought into the Thighmaster claims. Thighmaster is definitely still a thing.