Who doesn’t want to be in shape and look like a Greek God? Fitness fever has gripped people like an epidemic for at least three decades. Every wants washboard abs, grenade-sized biceps, delectable derrieres and a torso that looks like a tree trunk. To look like Arnold Schwarzenegger takes many years of sweating it out in the gym.
But, people want quick results. And that’s exactly what the fitness industry cashed in on and flooded the market with various devices that claim to effortlessly sculpt your body. Here are some strangely popular devices and techniques manufacturers have marketed to the unsuspecting common man (and women, of course).
1. Toning Shoes
Leading shoe manufacturers market their product by claiming that their shoes can target certain areas of the body and improve their appearance. Some even promise that just by walking with these shoes one could shape up everything waist down. Many shoe companies used celebrities like Brooke Burke and Kim Kardashian in their ads to promote their toning shoes as a good way to stay fit.
Though they cost close to a $100, these shoes were no different from the regular ones and definitely didn’t do anything special to get you in shape. A study conducted by researchers at the American Council on Exercise concluded that these shoes were only a marketing gimmick and regular shoes were just as effective.1
2. Thigh Master
This product’s advertisement had people, especially men, drooling not on the product, but over Suzanne Somers who was the face of this ad. The blond beauty who acted in “Three’s Company” and “Candid Camera” was hosting the 80s show called “As Seen on TV” fitness. However, the product required exerting too much pressure for it to even cause a minor improvement and soon, it was gathering dust in people’s attics. In fact, simple squats could get you in a better shape.
3. Hawaii Chair
If possible, most people would take the easiest route to toning the body and would want to get into shape just by sitting. Some even believed that just by sliding, rocking, and twisting in the chair could melt away the pounds from their waistline.
The product that cashed in on this rage the most is the Hawaii Chair. Its swiveling base was supposed to tighten the abs while you sit. Unfortunately, sitting is the anti-thesis of exercise. And because many people just fell for this marketing strategy, the makers of these chairs are millionaires now.
4. Power Bracelets
Remember the silly bracelets with the hologram dot in the center that became a rage? The manufacturers claimed that they used holographic technology to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body, to increase athletic performance, flexibility, balance, and strength.
Though these claims were hard to believe and were not backed by the scientific community, people bought them and wore them expecting wonders to happen. Soon, the truth was exposed and people realized that the bracelets did nothing special as claimed by the manufacturers.
In December 2010, the makers of the bracelets were ordered to issue an apology for misleading consumers with their unscientific claims. In 2011, the company was sued for fraud, settled out of court, and then promptly filed for bankruptcy.
5. Electric Ab Belts
The thought of using shock technology to acquire washboard abs may sound shocking. But, that’s exactly what some electric abdominal belt manufacturers came up with. These belts shoot electrical impulses into your abs, causing the stomach muscles to contract instantly.
Though the efficiency of these contraptions is somewhat skeptical, many people still buy these products in the hope of getting the coveted six-packs. These devices can cost around $200, which can be better used to get a year-long membership in a sophisticated gym. People believe that by simply wearing these belts and relaxing could help them shed the pounds. How naive! The belts don’t really burn the belly fat and can even be dangerous.
6. Pole Dancing
Pole dancing, once limited to erotic clubs, became a fad and many women believed that it could tone their body and help them look fabulous. This new exercise trend became a rage among young women who wanted to look sexy while getting into shape. Many homes had these poles installed with disastrous consequences.
Ever watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, where women fell head first because of sweaty hands or because the poles came loose? They did more damage than any good. The truth is that you must first be in shape to pole dance rather than trying to lose weight dancing around a pole. While pole dancing can add some spice to exercise, it’s best left to highly-trained professionals.
7. Weight Loss Pills And Powders
Weight loss pills and powders – now, that’s a good one. Many people fell for it and they still are. Get real. Can drinking a glass of juice while lazing around really help you shed weight? Very unlikely. These pills and powders with miraculous powers that supposedly increase metabolism contain hydroxycitric acid, chromium picolinate, or ephedra, which either have absolutely no nutritional value or can cause adverse side-effects, especially on the heart.
Instead of wasting your money on these products, you may invest it on healthier food, or even green tea, which is a scientifically proven method to combat obesity and protect your body against disease.2
8. Sauna Suits
Sauna suits are rarely considered even by professional boxers or wrestlers, who try to maintain a certain weight to be eligible for that category. It is definitely not for people who involve in a regular fitness routine. These suits make you sweat like a dog when worn and are notorious for causing heatstroke, cramping, and dehydration.
Moreover, they don’t offer any long-term benefits. They are designed to simply make you sweat by generating heat within the suit. And if you do manage to sweat it out using one, the moment you drink a glass of water, all that water weight you lost will instantly return.
Since this suit gained popularity in the pre-Internet era, people didn’t have a platform to share its uselessness and ill effects. Today, this is more of a joke than a way to lose weight.
9. Boot Camps
The 1990s saw numerous weight-loss products hit the market that convinced the consumers to part with their money. Boot camps were one of them. They assured us that in 4-6 weeks, you would be fit as a fiddle and come out looking like a navy seal.
The concept was based loosely on military aspects of training, which involved ex-military instructors barking out orders at you while you performed various exercises with very little rest in between. Participants had to work as a team and complete insane tasks.
Popularity dropped in the 2000s, but Boot Camps made a comeback in recent years as a method to lose weight. The exercises are fun and effective, but the dramatic over-reactions designed for TV reality shows took the fun out of it.
10. Ab Roller
Gone are the good old days when people used to do sit-ups and crunches to strengthen their abdominal muscles and burn fat. As far as we can remember, it did not require anything except your own body weight and a flat surface to lie on. They seemed to work just fine for at least a couple of hundred years.
Then, along came the Ab Roller. It was nothing but a cumbersome machine that helped you do the same crunches you were already doing. The manufacturers claimed that it was more effective and it became a huge hit. Living rooms of many houses were decorated with these devices, which eventually gathered dust.
The fad soon faded in recent years and most of the Ab Rollers are either kept aside for garage sales or disassembled in the basement. So, we’re back to the good old crunches and sit-ups.
|↑1||Porcari John. Greany John. Tepper Stephanie. Edmonson Brian. Foster Carl. Will Toning Shoes Really Give You A Better Body? American Council Of Exercise.|
|↑2||Diepvens, Kristel, Klaas R. Westerterp, and Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga. “Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea.” American journal of physiology-Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology 292, no. 1 (2007): R77-R85.|