Stair Climber-Stepper and BodyBugg & BodyMedia Armband: My Cardio Equipment

I’ve received questions about the equipment I’m using for the #workoutshowdown comparison of doing a single cardio session in a day vs. doing two shorter sessions.

I LOVE this stair climber, the Stamina Spacemate Folding Stepper. Get it from Amazon for $98 with free shipping. I’ve found it to be amazingly sturdy for daily use. Setup consisted of putting the plastic caps on the base and getting the rubber-like grips on the handlebars. It includes a display that shows the number of steps, time, and steps per minute. The first display I got did not work so I called the manufacturer and got a new one in the mail within a few days. It’s the type of display I’m seeing on lots of equipment nowadays. They’re probably all the same devices made in China.

The stepper folds and it’s pretty easy to do. Unscrew a large knob (see it at the far right), pull out a pin, and it folds right down and locks.


It would fit a lot of places. It’s 38″ long and 17″ wide. From the floor, it needs about 9½” clearance if you want to slide it under a bed. It has a little wheel so you can actually move it around like a wheelbarrow. It will also stand for storage.


When I use the stepper, I fold an old towel and place it under the pedals to soften the step. The pedals do have bumpers underneath but I think they hit bottom a little hard.

The BodyBugg I have is a few years old. Now that there’s plenty of competition from other sensewear devices, these units are a LOT cheaper than they used to be! The device was created by BodyMedia but for a long time, the product was sold under license with the “BodyBugg” brand name. The BodyBugg and BodyMedia armband have always been the same device. You can now get the BodyMedia Armband for $79 from Amazon.


This package is sold with a three-month trial subscription to the online service you need to get the stats. This is where the device gets expensive. If you buy the Bluetooth-enabled model, you will have to pay for that subscription every month forever. Don’t do it!! If you get the regular model, there are hacked apps available out there to be able to download your stats and clear the device’s memory. Thanks to an app called “FreetheBugg” I’ve been able to pull out my armband anytime I want and be able to use it without having to sign up and pay for a monthly subscription package again.

The one helpful accessory is the Digital Display.


I have one and you can use it to see your stats in real-time. It’s great to check your progress during the day or see how many steps you’ve walked. It also has a handy “trip” function to see stats for a particular time period, like if you want to see your calorie burn when you set out for a walk. At just $29, it’s a lot cheaper than that monthly subscription and super handy! You will still need to use one of the hack apps to clear the device memory and get the full stats. Drop me a note if you want a link to the app I use.

There are a lot of other devices available now, primarily the FitBit. When I wrote my book, I got a FitBit and wore it with the BodyBugg. I found that the FitBit and BodyBugg came out with the same stats for activities but by the end of the day, the FitBit was almost always about 100 to 200 calories lower for the 24-hour period. The devices that are not skin-contact use the kind of technology in gaming devices. They see your movements in space and apply calculations based on the body parameters you enter. I believe this makes them less reliable for when you’re not engaged in physical activity. The BodyMedia device has sensors that are worn against the skin. Your skin is constantly emitting heat, moisture, and gases. In a lab setting, calorie burn is measured by skin sensors and breathalyzers. I believe the BodyMedia device using skin contact is more accurate overall but I do think the FitBit and similar devices are good for getting stats on particular activities since they are more geared toward monitoring movement. The BodyMedia armband is now cheaper than the FitBit! I do not find wearing the armband to be intrusive. In fact, I can’t even feel it right now. I handwash the strap.

I’ve used a Polar Heart Rate Monitor for years. In fact, the one I have is probably 15 years old and still works great. I got this basic Polar model for my mom:


Get the Polar FT1 model for just $43 from Amazon. I urge you NOT to get a strapless model as you have to stop and hold your finger on a watchband. A model that uses a strap will give you a constant real-time display while you’re working out.

Let me know if you have any questions!



    • Marion on May 2, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I bought a Bodymedia Link and after paying for the subscription for six months, it ended up in a drawer somewhere. I think about it and want to use it sometimes but I know I’d have to pay again. I almost want to buy a new one and use the app, maybe cheaper in the long run!

    • Shena Deokoro on May 12, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    What is the app that you use?

    1. I suppose if they BodyMedia police are going to hunt anybody down it will be the guy who made the app and not me! It’s called FreetheBugg and there’s also an app called BuggZapper. You can use them to clear the memory and get the device re-synced. FreetheBugg will download the stats and includes a simple chart. You can also use it to set all the body parameters and other settings. It’s not fancy but for many people, it’s the reason they’ll start using the device again. It’s a PAIN to have to keep paying for that service. The memory in the device will fill up after about two weeks and if you can’t clear it, you simply can’t use the thing even if you have the digital display.

      The critical information: FreetheBugg works only with the “Core” models. It does NOT work with the SP models–anything Bluetooth-enabled, works with your phone. The app only works with the models that you’d use with the Digital Display.

      Get all download instructions and ask questions here:

Comments have been disabled.