The hand and wrist exerciser market should certainly be considered “niche”, and trying to break it into sub-categories is an exercise in futility. In turn, that makes reviewing it difficult because if you’re already considering a gyroscopic hand exerciser this may not be particularly informative. Really, then, this is more of an educational walk-through of a product you’ve maybe never heard of, with enough background information to hopefully pique your interest.
Gyroscopic wrist exercisers have been around for a long time. I know I first picked one up in high school nearly 15 years ago, and they were around long before that as well. But most people probably have no actual use for the product, or, because it’s such a small market, didn’t know such a product existed to begin with. So stay with me here, because it’s actually a pretty cool device.
Basically a “spinner” is a little plastic ball (about the size of a baseball) that contains a weighted rotor inside. With a little finessing, you can get the internal rotor spinning on two axes using the motion of your wrist and arm, build RPMs, and eventually produce quite a lot of force that will help build grip, wrist, and arm strength. It’s also just fun to play with. They come in quite a variety ranging from your very basic no-frills models to models that light up (brighter lights the faster you spin), models with digital counters (keeps track of speed and rotation), and models made of metal (heavier or faster), as well as combinations and a few other variations. The prices range anywhere from about $20 all the way up to $120 or so for the most expensive metal version.
There are two primary companies that produce them. The first one is NSD, which is a Taiwan-based company that builds the units which are then sold by various distributors throughout the world under a few different names (like NSD Spinner, NSD Power, NSD Powerball, etc.). Essentially, any of the products that have “NSD” somewhere in the name are the same thing. The other company, Dynaflex, has done a little better job making a name for themselves — especially in the US where you can sometimes find their products in brick-and-mortar sporting goods stores (sometimes under “DFX” branding).
I’ve steered clear of Dynaflex due to some possibly sketchy promotional tactics as well as questionable service, lower product quality, and the fact that they sell “therapeutic magnetic bracelets” for $35 on their website. [see update at bottom]
The NSD distributors, on the other hand, seem to provide overall much better service and stand behind their products. I ended up ordering mine from Amazon, which is from the primary US distributor of NSD products, NSDPowerUS.com. Note that they sell products labeled “NSD Power Spinner” as well as “NSD Spinner”. You can also order similar products, called “NSD Powerball” from a more well-known European distributor, with free shipping, at www.powerballs.com. It gets even more convoluted because in the US, “Powerball” is used for some of Dynaflex’s products while outside of the US, “Powerball” is the name for the NSD product. Confused yet? I know, I was as well. Apparently there is quite a competitive landscape not only between companies, but also between distributors of the same product! The bottom line is that I went with the NSD version (NSD Power “Winners” model for around $33) because I believe that while all gyroscopic spinners are fairly close in quality, NSD products have lifetime warranties and less sketchy companies standing behind those warranties.
So how do I use this thing? Well, most commonly I’m doing speed runs, which means I’m trying to get the rotor spinning as fast as possible. This is a great way to break up a day in front of a computer screen (and using a mouse and keyboard!). Lately I’ve also been enjoying the 30 second interval mode (there’re also 60 and 90 second modes on the digital counter) where the goal is to get the highest total number of rotations within 30 seconds. Sounds easy, right? WRONG! Trying to keep this thing spinning at max speed for 30 seconds will put a hurtin’ on your arm — in a good way. You can also use the resistance this provides to do a mini arm workout, for example slowly doing a curling motion with your arm while maintaining RPMs with the spinner. Check this out for some examples.
One of the cool things about buying it from the US distributor is that the company hosts a contest on their Facebook page to see who can spin the fastest. Luckily the number of contestants has been relative low; it allowed me to win the contest on numerous occasions and bring home nearly $200 in Amazon gift certificates. Best investment of all time? Possibly!
So if you’ve never heard of a spinner and are curious to try one, go with the NSD! And if you’re already interested in purchasing a spinner but weren’t sure which brand to get, STILL get an NSD! It’s a fun little device and one that’s actually healthy to play with.
Update 1/30/13: I posted a link to this review on the NSD Spinner Facebook page and received a response from someone at DynaFlex (see comment below for the first part of the exchange). After a long back-and-forth discussion and many insulting and completely incoherent points from his side, I can now confidently say: ABSOLUTELY AVOID DYNAFLEX/DFX AT ALL COSTS. It appears to be a terrible, terrible company not interested in their image or their relationship with new/existing customers. Their only interest in this case was defending their magnetic bracelets’ health benefits, putting down their competitors, and discrediting this review, rather than trying to prove they actually care about their customers and they’re not a completely shady business.
If you found my review helpful and wish to purchase one of these spinners from Amazon, click here to check out what they’re offering. I get a small percentage from each sale I refer. And yes, I really do love Amazon. I do as much of my online shopping as possible from there. You can also pick them up directly from NSDPowerUS.com or Powerballs.com at slightly higher prices (and the latter is based in Europe).
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