Rating: 4.5 Review by Dave
If you've got a bad back and suffer from chronic pain, it is possible that certain forms of exercise like Yoga can help. The problem is that doing exercises like this require a certain amount of back strength in order to be able to hold the poses and positions that the exercises require. For many who suffer from severe back pain, this is simply not possible. In these cases, an inversion table can be a godsend, because they provide you with all the same back benefits that Yoga and related stretching exercises can give you, without requiring you to hold the positions on your own.
I was lucky to be able to test the Ironman LX300 inversion table, and you can find my results below. However, if you're considering similar Paradigm Health and Wellness products (i.e., the Ironman Essex 990 Inversion Table and the Exerpeutic Stretch 300) you can easily apply this review to them as well because they're actually the same construction with a slightly different backrest shape that wouldn't change the outcome of my review.
Is it Sturdy?
Quite unlike most other tables, whose frames are made of tubular steel, the frame of the Ironman LX300 is made of a heavy-duty square steel with a 1.5” cross-section. There are no foldable arms here to limit the opening of the A-Frame. To securely lock the A-Frame, you need to use one ring pin provided. If you need to fold this unit for storage, the expectation is that you'll place this pin back in the frame hole, but based on my own experiences with small, loose pieces like this, I'd advise attaching it to the frame with a piece of string to avoid losing them.
The frame is powder coated, so you won't need to worry much about abrasion or rust. All of the nuts that are included for assembly have a nylon finish to prevent unscrewing once the table is put together.
The frame comes with both pivot pins built-in to save you the effort of securing them in the frame slots like you have to do when assembling other tables.
The Ironman LX300 inversion table has long foam covered handles on each side so they are within easy reach during every stage of the inversion process. This will be helpful in controlling the pace of inversion and getting back from a lock out position.
To sum up, despite this inversion table being relatively light (only 55 lbs.), its sturdy construction allows it to support a user weighing up to 275 lbs. You may find product descriptions stating that the weight capacity is up to 300 lbs., and in truth, 25 pounds isn't that big a deal given the sturdiness of this machine. Many users have reported exceeding the weight limit without any difficulties. Nonetheless, I would recommend being very careful of exceeding the listed 275 lbs. limit. It never pays to conduct such a “test” with your own body. Note: The Exerpeutic Stretch 300 inversion table can indeed support a user of up to 300 lbs., so it is the exception of the three related tables. This, thanks to its better pivot bearings.
Ironman LX300 vs Essex 990 vs Exerpeutic Stretch 300
The only part that differs on the three tables is the shape of their backrests.Despite that tiny difference, all three tables have a similar length, which seems too short, as there are a few complaints that have been lodged by tall users, who report that their head slips off the top edge of the bed during deep inversion.
The 3/4” foam vinyl covered backrest could be a little more padded for greater comfort, but you certainly won't find it uncomfortable. The bed of the Ironman Essex 990 inversion table is the widest of the three, so you will have a lot of space to rest your arms. The only discomfort you might feel on these tables will come from the ankle locking system.
Is the Ankle Locking System Comfortable?
The foot platform is not adjustable at all, so it's likely that you will end up sliding down a few inches when upside down, till your insteps rest against the foam rollers. It shouldn't be a problem unless you're a rather tall person, in which case your head might fall off the backrest, causing you some discomfort.
The back heel cuffs are the same as those used in the Ironman Gravity 4000. They have tough rubber cushions which might dig into your heels, depending on your weight and incline angle.
The front heel holders are fully adjustable, with a simple-to-use system allowing for a snug fit. It's spring-loaded so once you pull the locking pin to release the system, it will snap tightly onto your ankles. The locking pin has a long lever which unfortunately, isn't long enough to prevent you from having to bend over to operate it.
Does It Allow Full Inversion?
As a result of the simplicity of these three tables, adjustability is reduced as compared to other, more sophisticated tables. First of all, you will have no control over the rotation responsiveness, so you will need to pay special attention to proper balancing of the table. As with all other tables, the process might be a bit time consuming, as you will need to jump on and off the table to check your settings. Just don't forget to lock your legs securely each time, in case you flip backwards violently.Everyone's body weight distribution differs, even with people of the same height, so the height marking on the adjustable shaft might not “work for you. In fact, the difference might go as much as +/- 3 inches. The obvious conclusion here is that the maximum user height should be decreased by those three inches, which you need to leave for proper balancing.
Once you're on the table with locked ankles and hands across your chest, the inversion table, properly balanced, should barely move at all, only lifting you a few inches. If you find that you're not moving at all, or if the backrest keeps rotating, it means you'll need to jump off the table and pull the spring loaded pin with one hand to make additional adjustments and run another test.
To adjust the maximum desired angle, you need to use a tether strap. The strap goes taut as you achieve the angle of inversion you previously set up. There are no marking on the strap, so it's a matter of trial and error to find the right length. In case you wish to tilt to full inversion, you will need to release the carabin hook. Unfortunately, the table most likely won't lock in full inversion, so performing some inverted exercises won't be possible – the table will want to go back, reacting to any changes of the center of gravity of your body. This is because again, you don't have any control over the pivot settings.
How Difficult Is It to Assemble?
Again, thanks to the simplicity of these tables, assembly is easy and you should be able to complete it within an hour. You might need an extra pair of hands when mounting the backrest to the frame though. The inversion table comes with all required tools, but they are of poor quality (more of a joke than proper tools), so they won't be things you'll want to hold onto after the assembly is completed. They have sharp edges, so wrap them with something or wear gloves if you are forced to use them. Best of all though, if you have tools, use your own.
The instructions are fairly well written and the images are clear and easy to understand. The owner's manual covers the basic information you'll need to know in order to start using your inversion table.
Can the Essex 990 be Stored Under the Bed?
Once you remove the ring pins from the frame, you can fold the table down by pushing its legs together. In that position, it is about 75” high. The table won't stand on its own, so needs to be propped up against the wall. It is awkward to move around despite the fact that it isn't terribly heavy (weighing only 55 pounds). As the table is fitted with long side handles, they will stick out from a pretty flat construction. You might want to slide it under your bed, provided that your bed has at least 19 inches of clearance. You could remove the ankle holding system with the height adjusting bar to make the device flatter, requiring somewhat less clearance.
What Are the Dimensions Set Up and Folded?
All three models come in the same size box (54”x30”x7”), with a total weight of 64 pounds before assembly. Ready to use, the equipment is 57” high and 27” wide. Its length is 45” and is considered as the farthest points when looking from the table side. The height, when inverted at maximum height settings, is about 7' – pretty useful information if you wish to use it in a low ceiling room, like say, a basement. When it comes to the maximum user weight, it's good to clear the confusion once and for all. Of the three tables, only the Exerpeutic inversion table supports up to 300 lbs, thanks to its better pivot bearings. The other two (the Ironman LX300 and the Ironman Essex 990) both support users up to 275lbs. All three tables support users between 4'1” and 6'6” in height.
Pros & Cons
The simplicity of these tables always means at least some degree of compromise. Thus, some features can be considered as an advantage and a drawback at the same time. The manufacturer's goal though, was to simplify, and in doing so, be able to meet the needs of the biggest possible group of customers. You must decide whether or not you are in the group targeted by these tables. In other words, would you be willing to accept:
The lack of control over your pivot settings?
The impossibility of locking out in full inversion?
The possibility of sliding your head off the backrest if you're very tall?
Bending down to operate the ankle locking system?
Could you live with those tradeoffs in exchange for:
Light weight and relative ease of storage?
Long handrails facilitating control of the inversion process?
Great price for a well-known brand?
Essex 990, LX330 and Exerpeutic Stretch 990 Consumer Rating
People are mostly happy with the purchase of any of the three inversion tables reviewed here. Almost 90% of customers give them 4 to 5 stars.
The few 1 or 2 star ratings typically complain about the poor quality of the bolts provided by the company's Chinese manufacturer. A few customers found the assembly instructions difficult to follow.
Here's a sample of the most typical review:
I purchased this table because I have lower back problems and since not knowing if it your fix my problem I didn't want to spend a lot on the table. This table was very easy to set up…(Read more)
All of these tables are manufactured and sold by Paradigm Health & Wellness. Two of them – the Ironman LX300 and the Ironman Essex 990 inversion table are identical except for the backrest shape and color, but that's obviously a good enough reason to sell them at different prices. The third table, the Exerpeutic Stretch 300 inversion table has the biggest weight capacity but is the cheapest of the lot, so if you don't mind the narrow, slim shape and the brownish color of the backrest, I'd advise to get that one.