We’ve all seen them — the infomercial products that promise weight loss, serious muscle gain, and an overall improvement in your appearance and health within a short timeframe. These items may sound amazing, but are they really worth the hype? While many of us have even picked up the phone, dialed the 1-800 number, and purchased these products, it’s tough to know if you’re picking the perfect product for you when you’re bombarded with so many options each and every day.
Though some of the fitness regimens advertised can produce results with hard work and dedication, some products, especially those that are solely designed to target one muscle group at a time, are definitely not worth your time or monthly payments. Here are five fitness products that you’re better off never owning, and the effective lifestyle changes you can make to better your mind, body, and wallet instead.
1. Flex Belt
Products like The Flex Belt have been coming out for years now, but the Flex Belt is the only ab-toning product to actually be approved by the FDA for its intended purpose. Though this brings appeal to the product, it’s important for consumers to know the truth about abdominal strengthening belts, how they work, and why they ultimately will not aid in weight loss or extremely defined muscles.
It’s intended to firm, tone, and strengthen the abdominals while also defining them for a sleek physique, and because it’s an easy way to work the muscles without straining the neck with crunches and other floor workouts, it became popular quickly.
Though the belt does target all areas of the abs, it fails to aid in weight loss around the midsection. Virtual Venues talks about how the Flex Belt may strengthen the muscles, but you will not be able to see the six-pack you’re working so hard to achieve if you do not first eliminate the layer of fat over the muscles. This is where products like The Flex Belt falter — for those who are already in peak physical shape, they may be able to see the results from the belt, but for those who are just starting an ab routine and are hoping to see definition in the muscles, the Flex Belt will not help them, as they need to first take steps to work off any excess fat.
So, what can you do to help define your abdominals without the Flex Belt? Eating a better diet is the best way to burn belly fat. Authority Nutrition states that added sugars in foods can lead to accumulation of fat in the abdominal area, so cutting out the excess sugar is key. Also, adding protein to your diet through fish, lean meats, and dairy is great for burning belly fat — studies show that those who eat a lot of protein typically have much less belly fat than those who do not eat a high-protein diet.
2. The Hawaii Chair
Just from the description, the Hawaii Chair sounds like the real deal. With the promises of better blood flow, stronger abdominals, and an overall complete fat-burning aerobic workout, it seems like this simple chair could really give some great benefits. However, it appears that this device promises a whole lot more than it actually delivers, as most reviews are overwhelmingly negative.
Consumer Search describes the Hawaii Chair as an easy exercise option for those who would not find themselves going to a gym or exercising elsewhere. The device itself is presented as a chair, and the seat rotates so that the person sitting on the chair can work their ab and back muscles and also slim down the waistline. It is even suggested that those using the Hawaii Chair should take it to their office job, as the movement is so simple that it will not interfere with typing and other office work.
According to those who have purchased the product, the seat itself does not offer a smooth exercising experience for your abs and waist — instead, the rotation of the chair is actually quite jerky and difficult to perform, making the chair uncomfortable and not good for a consistent workout to the core muscles. It seems that the target audience for the Hawaii Chair is for those who spend the majority of their day in an office chair or for those who have circulation issues. Though the chair may have some benefits in terms of circulation, this product does not measure up to other, simpler exercises you can do to whittle the waist.
3. The Shake Weight
The Shake Weight has become notorious over the years for its distinct look and spring feature, but its design is not ideal for building muscles. The device itself looks like a dumbbell, but on either end there are weights that are attached by springs. There are two types of Shake Weights, one for men and one for women, the men’s being 10 pounds and the women’s being five.
Web MD discusses the way the Shake Weight’s advertisement, as it claims it effectively strengthens the arms using “dynamic inertia.” When you shake the dumbbell up and down, the weights on the ends that are held by the spring bounce on and off, amplifying the weightlifting experience and working muscles in the arms, back, chest, and shoulders. There are multiple ways to grip the Shake Weight so that you can work these different muscle groups, and the device even comes with a DVD demonstrating the various ways the Shake Weight can be used for muscle strengthening.
If you’re looking to increase muscle mass fast, lose the Shake Weight and go for floor exercises with traditional dumbbells. This way, you can control the amount of weight and increase as needed, and you can get a full range of motion to work multiple muscles instead of just a few. Men’s Fitness explains one of the best floor exercises is the dumbbell pushup with row — to do this exercise, get into a pushup position and have a dumbbell ready in each hand. Perform the pushup, and while you’re in the up position, shift your weight to the right side, and row out with your left arm and dumbbell. Repeat the exercise and alternate between rowing the right and left arms.
4. Toning Shoes
Though Sketchers may have started the trend with their Shape-Up shoes, toning sneakers can be found anywhere that traditional sneakers are also sold. The idea behind these shoes may be the simplest of all — you walk in them as you would any other type of footwear, and the curvature of the shoe itself helps to shape your backside, your thighs, and your calves. They come in both men’s and women’s designs, with the men’s aiming more toward absorbing shock while exercising and offering more support in the legs than other types of athletic sneakers.
The Huffington Post discusses the toning shoe trend, and they write about how Sketcher’s explains this footwear phenomenon. According to Sketcher’s, the curved sole of the shoe is designed to throw the body off balance, requiring more energy and muscle engagement from the person wearing the shoes. Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, explains why these types of toning shoes will not help your body build muscle. Bryant does confirm that the design throws the body off balance, but because our bodies are incredibly adaptable, our muscles are impacted very little by this difference, making the Shape-Up shoes no different for our bodies than traditional running shoes.