The American Council on Exercise, the San Diego-based folks who certify the instructors who make us sweat, thinks it's really neat-o that we're exercising more, but, oh, what we spend to stay in shape . . . or decorate our bedrooms with that lovely treadmill-turned-clothes-rack.

ACE recently asked its members to come up with the best and worst fitness products for less than $20.

And the winners are:

* Resistance tubing and bands

* Jump ropes

* Dumbbells

* Water bottles

* Thorlo brand socks

And the not-so-great:

* Abdominal devices and other equipment that emphasize spot reduction rather than an overall workout

* Thighmasters

* Protein powders and supplements

* Fat-burning/weight-loss pills

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