Between Shape-Ups, sauna suits, and the infamous Shake Weight, it seems there’s no gizmo, gadget, or get-skinny-quick gimmick we won’t try. In fact, Americans spend upwards of $30 billion a year on weight loss products (clearly those late-night infomercials are doing something right). But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read on to see how Greatist ranks the biggest fitness flops, fails, and what the f*#!s?! of the last few decades— and how to avoid getting duped.
Do Not Try This at Home — The Flops
1. The Shake Weight Spoofed by Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and South Park, the wildly suggestive Shake Weight needs no introduction. And while the benefits of spring-loaded 2.5-pound dumbbell remain questionable, more than 2 million units sold in its first year on the market, and sales have more than doubled since (making our gag gift theory a bit of a stretch).
2. The Free Flexor
If the Shake Weight is rated R, the Free Flexor gets a big neon XXX. With its patent-pending Circular Strength Technology, the world’s first (undeniably phallic) flexing dumbbell is said to set the forearms ablaze and “make your muscles cry.” Not exactly our idea of a happy workout. (NSFW: Best spoof ever.)
3. Vibrating Platforms Can couch potatoes really shake themselves stronger, healthier, and slimmer? Yeah, we didn’t think so. And while some athletes might show improved performance after stepping off shaky ground, the jury’s still out on whether shelling out thousands for platforms like the Power Platewill bring better results than other conditioning methods.
4. Sauna Suits No, that’s not a trash bag. We’re just happy to smother you. These rubbery waterproof suits are designed to make people sweat out several pounds per session. Problem is: There’s nothing safe about that (think: heat stroke, muscle cramps, and fainting). What’s more, those lbs are typically gained back immediately after eating or drinking.
6. Exercise in a Bottle Yup, that’ll be the day. And the Federal Trade Commission was just as disappointed as we were. In 2000, Enforma, the company behind Exercise in a Bottle and other weight loss “miracle drugs,” was forced to hand over$10 million as consumer redress. Do not pass go, do not get America’s hopes up.
7. Toning Shoes Tried wobbling around town with the best of them? Turns out these unstable, curved soles are little more than a fashion faux pas (honestly, no real woman looks like this in Reebok Easy Tones). Recent studies reveal that “toning shoes,” including these and the original Sketcher Shape-Ups,don’t help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or improvemuscle strength and tone.
9. Ab Rocket Five minutes a day to “sizzling rock hard” abs? After a $14.95 30-day trial,some users beg to differ. And while the Ab Rocket might do something for that midsection, the neck and back supports aren’t exactly cushy, and the whole “workout-plus-massage” part? Talk about failure to launch.
10. Big Wheel Skates Whoever said bigger is better wasn’t referring to the in-line skates on Venice Beach. Still, monster-wheeled Chariot Skates and LandRollers went big, making those trips, slips, and falls 900 percent more embarrassing (and likely more painful).