Obesity and exercise: Debbie Bumgardner drops the yo-yo diet, picks up a Trikke

The frustrated dieter bought the odd vehicle after seeing it on an infomercial. Now she’s speeding down bike paths.

Debbie Bumgardner was an overworked 52-year-old legal secretary and frustrated yo-yo dieter from Tarzana who’d gradually cut back on tennis and biking over the years. By early 2010, she was 100 pounds overweight.

A year later, Bumgardner is still overworked and stressed-out. But she’s 70 pounds lighter, which she attributes almost entirely to Trikking.

A Trikke (pronounced “trike”) is a three-wheeled vehicle with foot platforms and upright handlebars that you propel in a standing position by shifting body weight from side-to-side, as if carving “S” turns while skiing. Priced from $200 to $500, depending on size and wheel type, the device was originally targeted at teenagers and twentysomethings who could use it for aerial acrobatics and extreme downhills when it came out in 2004. But most buyers turned out to be sedentary middle-agers attracted to the flowing, non-impact, all-body movement, according to John Simpson, president of Trikke Tech Inc. in Buellton, Calif.

Bumgardner fits the profile to a T. “I was tired of feeling uncomfortable and sluggish, and was ready to start exercising when I saw it on an infomercial,” she says. The fact that it offered a full-body workout and didn’t require her to bend over, as did a bicycle, prompted her to buy one for her birthday.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into — like how to work it,” she said. “But it didn’t take long, and it is such a blast that it keeps me coming back every night.”

She means that literally. When she returns home from work at 7 or 7:30 p.m., Bumgardner no longer plops on the couch in exhaustion but hops on her Trikke and heads for the well-lighted bike path next to the Orange Line busway. She usually rides an hour, even in the dark of winter.

Debbie Bumgardner

“Little kids see me and say, ‘That’s cool,’ but it’s the older folks who say, ‘That looks like a good workout.'” she said. “And it is a powerful workout — push it, pull it, lift it, lean it, spring it forward, all at once. But you don’t notice your heart rate is through the roof because it’s so much fun.” On Saturdays, she often does a two-hour, 14-mile excursion to the Sepulveda Dam and back.

The Trikke has led to other lifestyle changes. She’s overhauled her diet and reconnected with old passions. “Before the Trikke, my feet and my joints hurt even from walking. But now I’ll go for a brisk walk on rainy days.” She’s also begun strength training at home and dusted off her old tennis racket.

Her social life has revved up too. Bumgardner recently acquired a local Trikking buddy and has joined the South Bay Trikkers for rides on beachfront bike paths. “Everyone has the same story: ‘This is so fun that I want to keep doing it.'”


This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on April 11, 2011. Reprinted with the permission of Roy M. Wallack

This article has 7 Comments

  1. Congratulations yo this Lady. I’m 75 and I estarted about 5 years algo. I’m very please with muy T-12. Good luck and happy triking!!!!

  2. Forest Grove, Oregon I bought My 2007 T-12 Roadster mid April 2015 for My 50th birthday I love riding it down hill in fact that is how I learned to ride it because at first I could not get it to move on flat land with out pushing but now no problem I hope to lose 109 pounds by or before June 2016 I have also joined the year round pool and lastly I drink 2 meal replacement smoothies a day 1-8 ounce glass of water and 2 table spoons of apple cider vinager and a solid healthy dinner oh and almost forgot I drink alot of water through out the day. P.S. if I did not have my T-12 I would not feel as AWSOME !!! as I do now. Thanks TRIKKE YOU ROCK.

  3. hello, I’m from San Antonio Texas and I bought my first trikke 8 years ago. It’s the best workout I’ve ever had. I was 240 pounds and lost my first 40 on the Trikke. The trikke will always be my preferred cardio workout even though I do other things as well. I have lost 80 pounds in a 1 1/2. I want to say congrats to all those who have reached their goals like I have mine. I have been up and down on my weight all my life. Dieting and following diets and eating healthy but then I always found myself losing the weight long enough for people to say I looked good then I would get tiered if dieting and would gain it all back. I’m not trying to change people I just want to tell my story. I wasn’t happy with dieting so I came up with a plan, a plan that some might say, that won’t work. I actually heard that from several people. I know me, and who knows me better than me, but myself. I love to eat and I didnt want to diet but wanted to lose weight and be happy. For me one or the other was not an option. Those who diet and can diet for the rest of their lives good for you, but thats not me. I know I cannot maintain that lifestyle and definitely refused to diet or count calories. So this is the process I took. First I did go to my doctor to get a full physical and told him my plan. I was clear of everything and was told I was good to go. So my plan was to pick 2 times in a day. A time to eat my first meal and a time to stop eating in the day. So I chose 10 am and 6pm. I don’t eat before 10 am and nothing after 6. Then I eat whatever I want BUT I eat half of what I usually eat. I Just literally cut everything in half. For instance, I eat tacos for breakfast or eggs, bacon, whatever I want, I just eat one taco, or one egg, one bacon. hALF! At first I had withdrawals because I was so use to over indulging, but I fought the thought. Between breakfast and next meal I have a snack, never anything heavy, yes even a bag of chips. Then about 4 or 5 I ate my meal in half. Whatever I wanted. The point for me was maintaining a lifestyle that didn’t have me saying, I shouldn’t have eaten that or how many calories did I eat, what am I going to eat next. I didn’t want that lifestyle at all. So for the first month doing this and excercising at least 30 minutes a day I was on a good path and my plan stuck, it actually started working. I have lost a little over 80 pounds and have kept it off, I’m happy, I’m proud of myself and I still have my lifestyle without the guilt, the ups and downs. My husband has even tried what I did and he too is losing weight. People tell me how good I look and what kind of diet I’m on, I feel better when I say I’m not dieting, I eat whatever I want and I feel so great saying that finally. I am really happy. Remember, I’m not trying to say that dieting is not good ,but no one knows you better than you and your lifestyle and if you want to diet and maintain that for the rest of your life that’s great! But be Happy and if your not, and your an adult. It’s time to make your own plan. Oh! and I still trikke and love it. I also ran my first marathon in April, that was something I could never do. I love excercising and it helps a lot. Yes sometimes I get lazy and don’t go, but I learned never to feel guilty about it. i learned that the things that I have done in my life that have made me feel good, I just don’t stop doing them. My lifestyle and excercising make me feel good, therefore I will never stop and that includes being happy. Good luck take care, and no one knows you better than you! God bless

  4. For many people starting to ride the Trikke you will realise that removing the belly fat is not the thing, with frequent use of a Trikke one will build core muscles and sometimes increase height of up to 2″ from attitude/posture alone.

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