Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper Review

Yes the long awaited stair stepper review!  Before we get rolling, let me give the disclaimer that I'm writing this review because I want to, I'm not a paid schill for Sunny Health & Fitness, all opinions are my own, I'm an honest, wonderful person, blah blah.

So once my half marathon was over and I determined I needed to take a break from running, plus we're having horrible weather that prevents me from getting out and doing as many walks as I'd like, I decided to look into getting some type of equipment that I can use indoors that is compatible with my house.  We live in a very small home with limited space, so sadly I don't have the space for an elliptical, treadmill or anything like that.  I COULD go to the gym, in fact I actually have a free membership through my work, but it is completely inconvenient, and I also hate gyms.  Those two things together are instant poison for any type of gym success, and I really did want something I could use at home.  I first read about these portable stair steppers on the Runs For Cookies blog, so I thought it sounded like a good option, so after some comparing on Amazon, I decided on the Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper.  It had really good reviews, it was under $60, I decided it was worth the shot even if it ended up sucking.

So here is the "aerial view" of the stepper.  The foot pedals are more than accommodating for my almost size 10 feet.  The stepper also comes with resistance bands that you can clip on or off the machine.  You can't see it in this picture, but there is a knob on the front that adjusts the resistance.  

It has a readout showing you how many minutes you've been stepping and how many steps you take, which is great.  Less useful is that it shows you calories burned, which obviously is a complicated metric to calculate and is an individual thing, so the number would not be accurate.

Yeah just in case you guys were wondering how long I've been intending to write this review.  Christmas....that's how long.  Anyway, I made my beloved take a full body shot of me on the stepper so that you can see the size and scale of it.  It's a tiny thing compared to most exercise equipment!

As you know one of my goals for January is to use my stepper for at least 15 minutes a day.  I'm happy to report that my streak is pretty good and I've missed only 2 days out of the month so far!  Here are my thoughts so far:

The Pros

  • The stepper gives me a MUCH better workout than I anticipated.  The first time I used it I was in full on sweats after just a couple of minutes, especially if I use the resistance bands.  Learning to balance yourself also gives you a bit of a core workout too, which is unexpected and cool.  I have noticed a huge difference in my legs and a lot more muscle definition.
  • The size of it is perfect, plus it's light but sturdy.  I can easily move it around, and sometimes I even move it into the kitchen if I want to use it while I'm waiting for something in the oven but need to be close to watch over whatever I'm cooking.
  • While I get a good workout using the stepper, it's not so intense that I dread using it.  It's fairly gentle and low maintenance, and I fully confess to having hopped on it with socks and no shoes, without wearing a bra, and I've also used it while wearing jeans and while wearing a dress (hey I was going somewhere right after and wanted to make sure I got my steps in!).  You don't need to get in full on workout regalia to use the stepper, which is nice.  It makes it all the more likely that I will actually use it since there's not a big "to do" involved.
  • I love that this is something that I can jump on and off of until I get however many minutes I'm going for that day.  It's not a workout video where you're doing something for an hour straight, or a gym situation where you want to commit a certain chunk of time.  When I first started using it, it was so challenging that I would just use it for 5 minutes at a time at random points of the day until I got my 15 minutes.  Now my new routine is to come home from work, throw on a TV show and get my 15-20 minutes in before I have to start dinner.  You could divide chunks of time up however you want honestly, which is great if you're busy and only have snippets of time here and there.

The Cons

  • The step range is small, it's not like using a stair machine at the gym.  That being said, depending on your fitness level you're going to get plenty of "burn" despite not having a huge range.
  • There is a weight limit of 250 pounds, which obviously sucks if you're just getting started and need a little something like this to get you going.
  • According to the manual you're only supposed to use it for 15 minutes at a time, which is kind of lame if you're in the zone.  I have mostly respected this, though I have used the stepper for 20 minutes straight before and then I give it a 10-20 minute break.  Some people in the reviews say they have used it up to an hour without issue, some people say they definitely notice that the machine seems hot after 15-20 minutes.  Use your best judgement I guess.
  • I have personally noticed that after 10 minutes the stepper makes a swooshing sound and can also squeak.  It's not so bad that I can't hear the TV over it or anything, but I think it would drive me nuts if I didn't have the TV or music on when I was using it.  It's not the biggest deal really, I don't expect a $50 piece of equipment to be silent, but just know that it does swoosh and squeak.  I think if I sprayed some WD40 on it it might help.
  • While the stepper seems sturdy now and is totally great, I can't foresee it lasting for years and years, but that may just be my Negative Nancy ways!
  • This isn't a con, just a suggestion.  Make sure you put this near a wall or something you can grab on for balance the first few times you  use it.  It definitely takes some practice to get your balance and being the graceful flower I am, I almost tumbled off of it the first couple of times I used it, and would have been screwed had I not been near a wall to steady myself.  Now I'm fine on it, but it definitely took some practice!
  • Some users reported that the pedals lost all resistance and rendered the stepper unusable.  This has not happened to me personally, in fact the stepper seems as solid as the day I got it, but I did want to mention it as a potential con.

Final Verdict

I definitely love my stair stepper and have fully integrated it into part of my fitness routine.  It's pretty much exactly what I wanted, a piece of equipment to use to be active while watching TV or listening to music that was also small and light.  I've already noticed positive changes in my legs and overall tone, and have noticed that even my thighs are smaller!  I mean I don't think I'm going to get the ripped body of my dreams using this, but it definitely provides a solid activity outlet for me now that the weather is crappy.

If you are interested in doing your own comparison, or if you're so jazzed about the stepper based on my review you want to go ahead and purchase it, I got mine from Amazon for a great price.  (I don't get any kind of benefit from you clicking on that Amazon link, it's just the normal old link!)  If any of you buy it, please feel free to let me know what your experiences are with it!   


  1. I am so ashamed to admit that I picked up a stair stepper at a yard sale (in fairness...it was before my friends yard sale and she gave it to me!)...used it once or twice and it's been sitting there collecting dust. The last week or so I've been thinking that it would be a fantastic low impact thing to use since I have a bum ankle right now. Thank you for your post....it has pushed me to get moving on the stair stepper!

    1. Girl don't even feel ashamed. I had this thing for like a month before I even used it lol. I do like it now and like how gentle it is on my knees and feet. I was kind of traumatized by my leg injuries with my half marathon stuff, so it's nice to go into a stepper session knowing it's not going to cripple me afterwards!

  2. Great review! I would have to agree with you on all of these points. Something I noticed is I haven't been able to run much more than once a week because of crap weather but have managed to stair step at least four times a week. When I do get to run I don't notice the familiar ugh I haven't run in ages my legs feel like dog poop feeling. It helps running muscles!

    1. Yeah I am eager to see what it does for my running. I'm going to go for my first one on Sunday in many months, so that should be interesting!

  3. First Cooking Light...now the stair stepper...you have to find a way to cash in :) I think I am going to talk to my husband about one for our house. When I was doing my walking streak I noticed that the marching was bothering my feet. I am guessing this would be less impact and hopefully easier on my feet.

    1. This should definitely help and be more gentle. If anything it will help strengthen your feet since your body is using a lot of little muscles in your feet, legs and core to help balance you.

  4. I have that exact same stepper! I never read the instructions... so I've apparently been using it wrong, I will step for an entire 2-hour movie. It does squack pretty badly after a while, so I just turn up the volume. I'll try some WD40 next. The longer you use it at a time, the looser the resistance gets so by the end of the movie, the stepping feels easier. - Jaye

    1. I definitely notice the looseness by the end of a stepping session as well, so if I'm doing a longer deal I'll just give in a break for a few minutes. I'm scared it will croak if I use it for that long!

  5. Hi! I just took mine out of the box, and...maybe I'm just doing something wrong, but the pedals don't move at all. If I lift one into the air and try to get it started...nothing. They literally are just like weighted to the unit. I mean, I can lift them, but if I stand on them, there is no movement. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hey there! There should be a knob on the front that adjusts the tension of the pedals, so you may want to try either tightening or loosening the knob to see if it's a resistance issue. If that doesn't work, I'd call their customer service! There are also some pretty good Youtube videos showing assembly/reviews. Good luck!