Twisting for Health
In the coming weeks, as we barrel nonstop toward elections in
November, there will be no shortage of folks asking for your vote.
There is one local person, however, who needs your vote now.
Donna Nicastro, a local restaurateur who co-owns the Boone Bagelry with her husband, Tony, has invented an exercise machine called the Ab Twist, and she is trying to get it on the shelves of Walmart through its program to promote American-made products, called “Get on the Shelf.”
“There were 15,000 entries, and they narrowed it down to 300-something, and I’m in that group,” Nicastro said. “In order to go forward, they’re doing an online voting thing to see if people like your product, then you can go on to the next round.”
Nicastro and her Ab Twist video for the “Get on the Shelf” competition can be seen at https://getontheshelf.walmart.com/product/1804/Ab-Twist. You can also vote for her invention on that page. The voting ends Sept. 1.
From Nicastro’s first vision of the Ab Twist to her being on the verge of seeing it on the shelves of the world’s largest retailer is a story of inventiveness and persistence.
“I’ve been working on it for six years,” Nicastro said. “I’m very proud of it. It is totally made in America. I use five local businesses to manufacture it. If I could get my product in Walmart, it would help out all of these local businesses.”
An avid tennis player, golfer and horseback rider, Nicastro first thought of building the Ab Twist after being dissatisfied with other home workout equipment she had purchased.
Nicastro tried to come up with her own piece of exercise equipment, one that would concentrate on the “core” muscles of the abdomen and hips, without putting undue stress on the back.
“It took me a year to come up with a prototype,” she said. “I used it for a year, and I realized that it really worked.”
The key to the Ab Twist is that the person exercising stands up straight, holding their arms out at a 90-degree angle. While standing on a swivel tray, similar to a lazy Susan, the workout is created by swiveling back and forth as if the exerciser were dancing the twist.
After using it for a while, Nicastro discovered that her back pain had disappeared, along with her love handles.
“I took it to my chiropractor, and he told me that after you turn 20, the lubrication in your (spinal) discs diminishes,” she said. “But when you twist, you lubricate your discs. It also takes away love handles, which we all hate.”
Six years after developing the idea for the Ab Twist, Nicastro is now producing her sixth prototype. It weighs about 25 pounds and can be folded for efficient storage.
“Triplett and Coffey Welding helped me from the very beginning,” Nicastro said. “Now, it’s totally where it should be. I’ve been using the same machine for two years, and I use it every day. Just 10 minutes a day has really improved my health.”
Prior to submitting the Ab Twist to Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition, Nicastro auditioned it for the investors-meet-inventors reality TV show, “The Shark Tank.”
“I drove up to Chicago by myself when I heard they had open auditions,” Nicastro said. “It was intense. They really liked it, and I was there for quite some time. They liked my product, but the bottom line wasn’t good enough for them. They said, ‘We have a manufacturer in China that can make it more inexpensively.’ And I said I’m not interested in that.”
Part of Nicastro’s insistence on making her product in America was for quality reasons, and part of it was due to her belief that our country’s manufacturing industry is on the decline.
“I want to make money,” she said. “I am a business person, but that’s not really what it’s all about for me. I truly believe that we need to have things made here.”
She also believes that a lot of retailers demand too much profit for their products, compared to people like her who utilize a small profit margin to offer a quality product at affordable prices.
“Why does everyone have to make so much money?” she said. “Why do you have to make 300 percent or 400 percent profit? I’d be willing to make very little, like 5 percent,” she said.
To date, Nicastro has sold more than 100 Ab Twists, which now go for $189 per unit. Local companies Triplett and Coffey and Charleston Forge are subcontracted by Nicastro for the welding, powder coating and assembly, while Omega Screen Printing handles the Ab Twist logo on the locally made wooden foot stand.
“Every part on it is American,” Nicastro said. “It took me a year to find all the parts. Right now, I sell it for $189, and I don’t make much. But it’s a quality piece of product. I could take it to Asia, and then I could probably sell it for $129, but if it’s made with cheaper materials, it’s not going to last. I wish people would realize that. You might spend $60 more, but it’s going to last. I feel that if you buy this, you won’t have to replace it.”
For more information on Donna Nicastro’s invention, the Ab Twist, visit http://www.twistforhealth.com.