I have been asked dozens of times on Twitter if those “toning” shoes really helped to firm your butt. I laugh and always reply, “Only if you walk in them more than you were before.” Turns out the Federal Trade Commission agreed with my assessment and has settled with Reebok for $25 million for making false claims to the public.
The shoes don’t appear to do anything more than an ordinary sneaker, yet consumers were duped, and not just by some fly-by-night, late night infomercial company, but by a big “they-should-know-better” company like Reebok. None of the other de-stablizing shoes on the market do much of anything either.
So as a consumer, if Reebok is pulling the wool over our eyes, how can we trust any fitness claim out there?
That’s a tough one, but here are some guidelines …
1. Results will always vary. My favorite are the fitness DVD covers with the big red star on the front: “Lose 5 pounds in one week.” Apparently 5 pounds is the magic number in consumer studies because it’s always there. Know what? You will almost never lose 5 pounds, and if you actually did, you’d be losing weight too fast anyway and likely regain much of the weight as soon as you reached your goal.
2. The models never got that way with the product they’re hawking. Whatever celebrity, trainer, or just a pretty face that is pushing the product du jour looks great not because of the product being sold but through the usual route: sweat, hard work, strength training, cardio, and good nutrition. They did not use whatever gizmo they’re trying to get you to buy. Even Suzanne Somers did cardio and crunches just like the rest of us, not from her ThighMaster .
3. You really don’t need anything. Honestly, a good pair of sneakers will serve you well, but for the most part, you really don’t need anything. Cardio can be done by bopping around your house to some tunes, or by power walking through your neighborhood. Weight training can be done using just your body weight and some calisthenics. You should look at fitness gear as an add-on that makes the workout more enjoyable and varied, but is never a necessity.
4. Buying a fitness contraption won’t make you more motivated. From a simple resistance band for training to an extravagant home gym, fitness gear does not magically turn you into a workout fiend. The most important piece of “gear” is your motivation which has to come from within. You need to stay committed to your goals and motivation will always win out over the “guilt” of having spent $39.99 plus shipping.
5. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Those silver bullets look so tempting; the results are so appealing; maybe this gadget will be the one. It never is, just another dust magnet to throw into your closet.
It’s easy to get caught up in magical thinking when trying to get in shape. I’ve been in the fitness industry for years and I still get lured in from time to time. But we have to remember that our health comes from what we feed ourselves and how often we move and not from that shiny new gadget on TV or the store shelf.
What do you think? Have you bought a fitness contraption that you regretted? Has a piece of fitness gear ever sparked your motivation to move more? I’d love to hear about it.