I like that the makers of the Ironman Atis 4000 inversion table are branching out and broadening their market in response to consumer demand. For them, they get the obvious benefits that come with expanding their market by combining standard inversion therapy with something related, like heat therapy. The Ironman division of Paradigm Health & Wellness is the only manufacturer that has introduced inversion tables with a Far Infrared Rays pads build into the backrests of some models (specifically the Ironman IFT 1000 and IFT 4000).
Strong abdominal and core muscles can help enormously with the task of keeping your spine in good shape. Many inversion tables have the ability to lock out in full inversion; giving their users an excellent opportunity to perform upside down exercises. As that position isolates the abs, it greatly increases the effectiveness of exercises that work them. Unfortunately, not everyone is fit enough to do abs training in full inversion. The response? The Ironman ATIS series that can be locked in virtually any angle thanks to its “Smart Gear” device. I had the opportunity to test the most sophisticated table of the Ironman Atis series: The Atis 4000 – here is my review:
The robust construction of this table assures the user of top-end stability that easily outmatches anything the best folding inversion tables can provide. The stand frame is made of heavy-duty 2” tubular steel that translates to a final product weight of just over 110 lbs. All that to support 325lbs. No…320lbs. Well, actually 300lbs. Forgive me the humor, but all three figures come from product descriptions found on the internet. Even the manufacturer's own website says it can support 320lbs, whereas the product's owner's manual clearly states “Maximum weight capacity is 300lbs” which is later confirmed by the sticker placed on the height adjusting shaft.
As I review more and more inversion tables, I'm getting suspicious that all these descriptions are copied and pasted with tiny changes regarding the name mainly. I agree that a measly 25lb discrepancy in such sturdy equipment is not significant, but at the same time can imagine the customer confusion and their diminishing trust of the brand name when the company itself can't seem to decide what its own maximum weight allowance is. Very sloppy, and by the way, this is yet another reason to check my reviews for clear and concise information on topics like these. I would rather do some extra digging and get in touch with the manufacturer's representatives if needs be to clear up any doubts than to repeat unverified rubbish. Okay, off my soapbox now, let's get back to the review of the Ironman Atis 4000 inversion table!
The bottom part of the frame goes into the upper part, and then it is mounted with four bolts so there's no chance of any rattle. The underside of the frame is fitted with four small and two front round rubber stabilizers securing the table from any movement, even on hard floors. The whole stand is powder-coated in order to avoid unintentional scratches. However, this table won't be exposed to any abrasion like a foldable model would.
Is It Comfortable?
The backrest is padded with 1” memory foam covered with nylon. With its extension for the head rest, it's actually quite a long table, so there's no danger of your head slipping off, even if you are at the upper height limit, which is 6'6”.
This device is fitted with two contoured side handrails, padded with soft foam. As this table has no tether strap to stop tilting at a desired angle, having the “Smart Gear” instead, the user is supposed to use the handrails a lot. You will need to use them to control the entire inversion process and return to the upright position. Interesting and very useful additions are stretch handles fitted at the base of the table. They are foam padded too, providing a safe grip and offering maximum stretch during inversion.
If you lucky, you should get your item with the removable lumbar support pillow included. It's a great addition to be used to stretch your lumbar arch even more, but needs to be removed if you intend to perform some upside down exercises. Removing the pillow is easy, as it is attached to the backrest with a Velcro strap. The only problem with the pillow is that it might not be in the box! I can't figure why this happens. There's no discernible pattern here. In any case, if it happens that you're missing your pillow, one call to customer service and they'll have one shipped to you right away. They are generally quite helpful.
When talking about the comfort of this table, I cannot leave out the so-called “Super Side Holder.” It actually looks like a plastic bottle holder – someone in the Ironman obviously asked: “Why would anyone need to drink during inversion?” and now its purpose is to store phones, eye glasses, and the like.
Does the Locking System Hurt Ankles?
The ankle holders are one of the best of those offered by Ironman. They include front and rear cuffs padded with molded ankle cushions, which are made of tough rubber. I wish they were made of high density foam! Those molding line cushions will cut into your instep sooner or later, depending on the intensity of your activity while inverted, your angle of inversion, and your weight and ankle shape. In most cases, people need to use some additional cushioning after a few minutes of inversion, so you'll definitely need to wear shoes to avoid or at least diminish the discomfort. When it comes to ankle holders, there's unfortunately no solution that provides comfort for everyone all the time. That's understandable I guess, considering that the whole weight of your body is focused on your ankles, or more precisely, on your insteps.
The ankle holding system is fitted with a “Ratchet Gear” to securely lock the front cuffs firmly on your legs at plenty of positions to adjust to nearly any leg shape. I say “nearly” because there's one feature worth pointing out. As front and rear cuffs are placed at the same height, they will collide if the user's legs are really thin, so they might be too lose in that instance. If that's the case, and you don't want to see the back of your machine, you can try some additional cushioning – combined with wearing shoes, that should sort out the problem. The ratchet operating lever is pretty long, but it's still well below the knee, so you will need to bend over to operate it.
It's worth mentioning the big and comfortable foot platform. As my job is to point out drawbacks of any feature in the interest of my readers, I have to abide by that here. The downside then, is that the footrest isn't adjustable at all. Only a few users have feet big enough to perfectly match the distance between the front cuffs and their insteps. The remaining users aren't so lucky, so during deep inversion, their body will slide down a few inches until the cuff cushions meet the top of your feet. Consider that when placing the lumbar pillow, as your lumbar arch might change its initial position.
Does the "Smart Gear" work?
Given that this inversion table is fitted with an angle locking mechanism, there was no point to fit it with the tether strap present in most of the models. However, many users mentioned using the table with the locking gear disengaged so as to swing free. I'm convinced that the tether strap would be quite helpful in those cases. Anyway, there's no tether strap (sometimes called a Safety Strap) to be had, so the idea is that you tilt to the desired angle and stop, controlling the process with both hands on the handrails. Then you'll need to engage the gear with a plastic lever with your right hand. That's' it! Now you can enjoy the inversion itself, or perform some exercises. When disengaging the gear lock, you'll need to hold your hand on the handrail again to avoid any violent swings. To be absolutely secure during that process, the proper balancing of the table is an absolute necessity.
For some reason, the owner's manual is very sketchy about balancing the table, although it's not difficult at all. Choose your height and set it on the height adjusting boom. Now hope on the table and lock your legs with ankle restraints. Lie back on the backrest with hands crossed. If the table is not moving at all, or starts, then continues to rotate, it's a clear sign that you will need to readjust the height adjusting boom (which might take two or three inches up or down). The goal is to find a setting such that when you lie on the table, you'll be barely lifted with your hands crossed on your chest. I believe that the only way the table can be used enjoyably is if you find the right balance settings. Once you finish doing so, use the plastic knob at the back of the height adjusting boom housing to secure the boom in place. This will eliminate any wobbling of the boom.
Now your table will gently react to your hands' movements, tilting to the desired angle. The “Smart Gear” offers a total of ten angles, where the first is nearly horizontal and from then on, every other position is approximately ten degrees different until full inversion at 180 degrees. The full inversion can also be achieved in a free swing when the gear is put in neutral.
The inversion table with a locking angle mechanism like the reviewed one is an advanced technology compared to many other inversion tables. That might account for numerous cases when users complain about a faulty “Smart Gear.” It gets stuck and breaks down and there is a slight chance you will be the one who gets the faulty device. The “Smart Gear” device comes assembled from China. As far as I know, the Ironman customer service is very helpful and would gladly replace the faulty part. My only suggestion here would be to have some assistance around during the initial usage of the table. Just in case.
Ironman ATIS 4000 Inversion Table Assembly
The unit comes in a hefty 120lb carton, so you'll want to either arrange for an extra pair of hands, or bring it to the assembly area piece at a time. The table comes partially assembled. The ankle holding system and the “Smart Gear” mechanism are ready to install, so your job will be to put together the frame and the backrest. It should take between 1-2 hours if you follow the (fairly clear) instructions in the Owner's Manual. Missing nuts and washing happen from time to time, but not regularly. I would recommend that you plan to complete the assembly before your local hardware store closes, just in case. The manufacturer provides all the tools necessary to complete the assembly, but of course, if you have the proper tools, by all means use your own.
How Does It Fold for Storage?
This is a big, sturdy unit that is not designed to be folded, so you'll need a lot of spare space to put it in and leave it there. Even dragging it out of the way, closer to the wall might not work as you will almost certainly damage the floor or hurt your back. I'd recommend that if you really can't leave it standing, your best option would be to go for a foldable, lighter model like the Ironman Atis 1000.
What Are the Dimensions?
The courier will be struggling with the nearly 120lb package of 52.2”L x 32”Wx13”H to bring it to your door. Once you manage to haul it in and put it together, the table will be pretty wide at 35” and 62” high. The length of the table often referred to as its depth, will be 58”. The overall weight of the unit is 111lbs. Its weight capacity is 300lbs (no matter what others might say). The height capacity is 4'9” to 6'6” but you need to consider the necessary 2-3 inches for balancing. Also, make sure that the room you have dedicated to the table is high enough, as the table needs 75” of clearance when inverting at its maximum height settings.
Is It Worth the Investment?
Extremely solid and sturdy piece of equipment
Not perfect, but one of the best ankle holder systems with ratchet locking. I wish its lever was a bit longer – at least to the height of the knee
The innovative ankle locking device called “Smart Gear”
The presence of the lumbar pillow seems to be a little gamble here. In my opinion, there's a 50% chance you will find it in the box.
Non-adjustable foot platform
1 year warranty – it must be considered as a drawback since a competing company covers their product with a 5 year warranty.
84% of customers are happy with the unit, rating it four or five stars. That result could be better but for the faulty “Smart Gear” that happens relatively often.
… and Finaly the Price
The Atis 4000 is the only non-foldable manual inversion table fitted with the angle locking device, so it's actually hard to find a comparable product. Some retailers still have a few peices of a very similar table in stock, with the only difference being a different ankle holder—the same one that is fitted on the Gravity 4000. The Atis 3500 is priced about $50 less than the 4000, and in my view, the ankle locking system of the 3500 is no worse than that of the 4000.