Beware of Fitness Trends that Sound Too Good to Be True

Machines that burn calories for you; body wraps that melt away inches. Too good to be true?

Credit: Flickr/Andrew Kuchling

Beware of fancy gadgets and fitness trends that promise amazing results with no effort on your part

Fitness trends really piss me off sometimes

Every so often some ridiculous new fad comes along that promises astonishing results with virtually no effort. People are misled and eventually disappointed when they don’t achieve the results promised. This sheds a bad light on the rest of us who are honestly trying to help people get healthier and fitter.

What’s worse, slick marketing campaigns even fool well-meaning but uniformed fitness workers who don’t understand shoddy science and jump on the latest bandwagon.

Vibration Plate Machines: Do They Work?

A recent example of a misleading fitness trend are the vibration plate machines that are popping up in fitness centres and gyms all over the place. You’ve probably seen one. They have a flat platform that vibrates and is supposed to give you a workout as you stand on it.

Manufacturers and providers make some pretty impressive claims such as:

  • 10 minutes on these machines equals one hour of strength training
  • the machine will burn the calories for you
  • the technology was developed by NASA
  • it’s been used by professional sports teams so it must improve athletic performance

It’s true that NASA developed the technology and sports teams do use it but so what? That doesn’t prove they work.

NASA made the machines to help astronauts minimize bone density loss in a gravity-free environment. Last time I checked gravity was still working fine here on Earth.

And sports teams are often given free equipment by manufacturers so they can make the statement that professional athletes use them. Pro athletes also have elite strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionists working with them to maximize their performance. Maybe that has something to do with their outstanding fitness levels?

In reality, these vibration plate machines remind me of those vibrating belt machines popular in the ’60s and ’70s. A lot of hype but little proof they actually do what they promise.

If you look at the scientific evidence, vibration plate machines do have a use in therapeutic and rehabilitation settings. But I’m sorry to burst your bubble, they will NOT replace strength training and aerobic exercise along with good nutrition.

Your Body Was Made to Move

Another new technique I’ve seen promising the ability to shed inches instantly are body wraps. This procedure may make you smaller temporarily by compressing your soft tissue. But do you actually believe your body fat has magically melted away? If you do, please call me as I’d like to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.

Nothing and no one can burn calories for you. If this was true every trainer I know would be a billionaire.

Your body was designed to move and burn its own calories. You can verify this by looking through the scientific literature and by trying it out yourself. The only way to lose weight is by creating a caloric deficit through exercise and nutrition.

We are learning more about the human body. There are current exercise techniques and ways of eating to speed up weight loss and increase your fitness level that are based on the latest science. But they involve sweat and eating wholesome food. There’s just no way around it.

There will never be a magic pill to do this. Even if they invent one, I’m sure the list of side effects will be so long and dangerous that it won’t be worth the risk of taking it.

Follow my simple guidelines. Move your body, eat good food and occasionally drink some good tequila.