In March last year, we asked for volunteers to try out some of the special gadgets on the market which claim to trim excess flab off the stomach.
We were inundated with volunteers and picked three women, unhappy with their midriffs, to try out the very latest home equipment requiring varying degrees of effort.
All manufacturers claim if used properly, results can be seen within weeks, but did the devices really live up to the hype? Here's how our volunteers got on with putting their tums through the mill.
SLENDERTONE FLEX ABDOMINAL TRAINER
DEBBIE Ridley is a police officer from Prudhoe with two children Megan, four, and Aaron, three.
The 28-year-old, who is married to Steve, 38, also a police officer, is 5ft 6in and weighed about 10 stones. She was working out at a p90x3
gym in Prudhoe three times a week.
Her arms and legs were fairly toned but since having her babies she found it hard to get her formerly flat stomach back.
She felt the Slendertone device would help to tone up her midriff and is pleased with the results.
She said: "It was good. I used it before I went on holiday to Majorca last summer and I could feel the difference.
"I was using it most nights for about 20 minutes at a go. I have stayed pretty much the same shape but my stomach feels much firmer.
"It's very easy to use. It's just a case of putting it on, adjusting it to the right place and pressing the start button. It feels as if your muscles are working.
"Once it is on, you can forget about it and get on with other things like washing dishes or watching telly.
"The only downside is that it is quite expensive to buy. But if people are willing to spend money on something like this, it is good."
Slendertone doesn't require any exercise. It works by simply strapping it to the stomach.
Manufacturers claim it works by stimulating nerves which control and contract the muscles fibres.
Slendertone costs pounds 156, which can be paid in three instalments. Go to www.slendertone.co.uk
Debbie's verdict: 8/10.
WEIDER ABDOMINAL CRUNCH TRAINER
GILLIAN Spedding is a full-time mum of twins Jack and Luke, three, and Brian, six. She tried out John Lewis's Weider Abdominal Cruncher to get a flatter stomach.
The 33-year-old, of Raby Way, Walker, Newcastle, who is married to Brian, 54, has never been the same since she had her twins.
Gillian is 5ft 4in and was always eight and a half stones until getting pregnant. She was hoping to shift the extra pounds around her bum and belly since having the babies.
Unfortunately she has not had much time to try out the exerciser. She and her husband are trying to start a new business and have less spare time on their hands.
She said: "In the beginning I used it quite regularly. I exercised about once a day for half an hour. It's great for the stomach muscles.
"But at the moment I am running back and forwards to toddler groups and schools and doing chores.
"Even with having the exerciser in the house, I still found it difficult to find the time. My youngsters get up at 5.30am so I'm absolutely shattered by 9pm.
"If I had the time, it could have been really good. I enjoyed doing it."
The Weider abdominal crunch shaper is said to tone and sculpt the abdominal muscles.
It also folds up and can be easily stored or transported. It comes with a mat and training video.
More than 12 exercises can be done with the equipment and the blurb claims its ergonomic design protects the neck from injury.
It costs pounds 29.95. Go to www.johnlewis.com
Gillian's verdict: 8/10.
REEBOK GYM BALL
LYNDA Gatoff weight loss
runs Fenham's camera shop in Newcastle with her husband Peter, 56. She has two children Jamie, 28, and Carly, 26.
She took up the challenge to tone up her tum in time for her daughter's wedding last August and she says she saw a big difference.
She is 5ft 7in and weighed about eight and a half stones but admits she has put on a little bit of weight since then.
She goes to the get ripped
gym three or four times a week for aerobics and managed to continue using the gym ball until Christmas.
The ball came with an exercise manual. She used it several times a week for 10 to 15 minutes a day.
She said: "I wanted to try out the ball because I wanted to flatten my tummy. It was very good and easy to use.
"It did work for me and I was in shape for my daughter's wedding.
"Now I will be taking it up again to tone up for my niece's wedding.
"But I think you could not get a flat tummy by using the ball alone, without extra exercise and looking after your diet.
"There was no video with it so I had to ask my gym instructor about what exercises to do.
"It's a nuisance to store because it is a great big ball. But I would definitely recommend it to others."
Gym balls are especially recommended for toning the stomach because the legs can be
placed on them while doing sit-ups. The extra elevation is said to work the muscles harder.
The Reebok ball comes with an exercise chart and just needs to be inflated.
It costs pounds 9.95 and is available at Argos.
Lynda's verdict: 8/10 if used regularly.
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