Debunking 5 Fitness Fads

In Lifestyle & Fitness by Robert Irvine

Is it possible to lose weight and stay in shape without ever stepping foot in a gym? Yes. But, to do so still requires a healthy diet and active lifestyle. This is contrary to the many fad-fitness-products on the market claiming you can lose weight and stay in shape with little-to-no-effort. I hate to tell you this but there is no “5 minute quick fix” to loosing weight and most fitness fads will help you lose more money than weight. If you’ve been reading Dr. Schutz’s series on weight management then you know that exerting energy is necessary to burn calories and lose weight. There’s a reason most fitness fads come and go and gyms continue to stay in business; the fads aren’t as effective as a traditional fitness routine and, in some cases, can often do more harm than good. Here are five fitness fads that have been debunked and what you should be doing instead.

Toning shoes

Generally I’ll support any product that encourages people to get out and be active, especially for an exercise as easy as walking. Walking thirty minutes a day or aiming for 10,000 steps are great ways to stay active. Walking while wearing toning shoes to skip going to the gym isn’t something I can get behind. Various shoe companies are selling shoes with “special soles” that require no exercise but simply walking. These shoes claim to tone your legs and buttocks muscles and burn calories. However there is no scientific evidence that proves that these shoes are capable of shaping your body. Unlike normal walking sneakers, which have flat soles and are stable, toning shoes cause your body to work more because of the instability.  A study by the American Council on Exercise states that toning shoes do not cause a significant loss of weight or toned muscles compared to normal shoes, but rather causes a discomfort and balance issues from using unstable rocker sole shoes. Save yourself the money and instead do some lunges, leg kicks and squats during your next walk.

Vibration Plates

These remind me of the vibrating beds from the movies that are often found in seedy hotels. The claim is that exercising on a vibrating plate that shakes your whole body can burn calories, remove toxins and increase bone density. Sounds to good to be true. First, what many don’t realize is that to burn calories you still have to exercise on the plates; for example, doing yoga or Pilates. Second, the studies are mixed on whether or not this machine actually increases bone density, removes  toxins, burns additional calories or any of the other claims.  In fact, the Occupational & Safety Hazard Association, advises that having too much exposure to vibrations can have detrimental long-term effects on the body such as impaired vision, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and various other disorders. Again, there are other, effective routines you can do.  To increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis try incorporating regular weight lifting to strengthen the body and taking Vitamin D and Calcium supplements provided by your physician.  Limit the toxins you put in to your body and you won’t have to worry about removing them and, explore fitness classes to make exercising fun, easy and burn those extra calories.

Shake weight

Everyone has seen the hilarious, almost inappropriate, commercials of people shaking a dumbbell in their hands called the shake weight. The shake weight dumbbell contains spring weights on each end and claims to enhance muscles in the upper-body; however, there isn’t any evidence to support that the design of a Shake Weight is any more effective that lifting a traditional dumbbell. Proper strength training requires resistance. Lifting a traditional dumbbell vs. using a shake weight workout requires a greater range of motion, more resistance and, is more natural. The shake weights range of motion is limited and unnatural, this puts you at risk for injury. Unless you are looking for a good gag gift, save your money and buy a few dumbbells for the home and complement your lifting with exercises that enhance and strengthen the upper body, such as planks, dips and push-ups.

Body Skin Wraps

A new approach to losing weight that sounds more like a trip to the spa has been earning some buzz recently. A Body Wrap is a clay mask for your skin that, by making you sweat and tightening you skin, claims to detox your body and help you lose weight. This sounds great, no energy exertion required, but, sorry to tell you this, the appearance of looking firmer and skinnier is only temporary. Body Wraps can also cause skin irritation for some and, because of the enclosed sweating can put you at risk of dehydration. The best way to look firmer and skinnier is to become firmer and skinnier through a proper diet and exercise routine.

Sauna Suits

For years people have used saunas as an excuse to sit in a burning hot room to sweat toxins to lose weight. This “theory” eventually evolved into the development of sauna suits a fad that helped you sweat more while exercising. There are several things wrong here. First, you sweat water, not fat. At best you’ll loose water weight. Second, and most important, you are literally dehydrating your body and losing fluids in an unhealthy way. This can cause severe health hazards such as heat stroke and kidney failure. If you are in need of a good sweat try a fast paced class like spin or zumba; a high intensity routine in the gym or on the treadmill or a good stretch in a hot, but controlled, environment like hot yoga. 

Some of you may claim that these fads have changed your life and helped you loose an incredible amount of weight. If you fall into this category I congratulate you on your accomplishment and hope that you’ll share your secrets to success with the rest of us. For many, fad fitness products are successful because they serve as a motivational tool for making a lifestyle change. For example, now that you purchased a pair of toning shoes you’ve started walking or, walking more. And, because you’re walking, you’re starting to make healthier choices. The secret to success wasn’t the toning shoes, it was the lifestyle changes you made because of the toning shoes. As I mentioned in the beginning, there isn’t a quick fix. If you want to get in shape then you need to be active, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day, and, you need to eat smart. I hope these tips helped and that you are reading this before having made any of the above purchases; if not, trying passing them along to somebody else during your next garage sale