Fitness Gimmicks: 15 Unforgettable (& Ridiculous) Exercise Products

By: Olivia Saccameno | olivia.saccameno@activecities.com

Why bother going to the gym or watching what you eat when you can achieve your dream body for only a few minutes a day and a small payment of only $99.99 (plus shipping and handling)? People are always looking to find the easy road to a hard, fit body. Unfortunately, there are limits to the creative appeal of many fitness innovations. Whether they provide some form of physical benefit or not, all fitness gimmicks promise to achieve the same thing; greater results with less time and effort. Here is a list of the 15 most ridiculous fitness products to ever hit the infomercial market, and in many cases our home gym.


1. SHAKE WEIGHT

Shake Weight, a modified dumbbell, may be one of the most suggestive products that has ever made its way into the fitness market. Shake Weight was initially advertised for women, although the company later released a male version as well. The product boasted it’s scientifically proven ability to increase upper body muscle activity by more than 300%, compared to traditional free weights. Needless to say, the Shake Weight may have produced as many parody videos as it did sales.


2. SAUNA SUIT

Resembling something between a giant trash bag and a spacesuit, The Sauna Suit is your wear-anywhere-anytime effortless weight loss tool. This full body suit was specifically designed to make it’s user sweat profusely. Infomercials show men and women lounging and watching TV, doing household chores, and casually running errands in their metallic body suits. Although the product did induce some form of weight loss through sweat, the water weight will soon return – the fat unfortunately remains.


3. SKECHERS SHAPE UPS

Skechers Shape Ups were another effortless weight loss campaign. These chunky tennis shoes claim to do an array of wonders for your body including increasing lower leg muscle activation, increasing caloric burn, improving posture, and reducing moderate back pain. However, a side note on Skechers’ website also states “decreases in weight or body fat and increases in muscle strength have not been clinically shown.” So unless you’re into the wedged tennis shoe look, save the $80 and stick to your normal shoes.


4. AB LOUNGE

The Ab Lounge was the “ultimate abdominal machine.” Claiming to provide a full mid-section workout, Ab Lounge operates by having its users crunch in an exaggerated motion in what is resemblant of a La-Z-Boy recliner. Although the infomercial contains several impressive and unrealistic results, we have yet to witness such transformations in real life.


5. THIGHMASTER

Looking for an easy, portable piece of equipment to tone those hard to reach muscles for sexy hips and thighs? The Thighmaster was advertised as a fast and inexpensive way to get in shape, there are some reviews here theguidr.com. Users simply squeeze their legs together against a two-pronged resistance machine, and boom! Rockin body. As popular as it became, I don’t think any of us ended up looking like Thighmaster’s spokeswoman, Suzanne Somers.


6. VIBRO-BELT

Warning: Not recommended for anyone ticklish. The Vibro-Belt was an abdominal stimulation device that relies on heat and vibration to stimulate muscle contraction. Consumers use the product by strapping it to their midsection, turning it on and letting the vibrations do the work for them. Studies say that Vibro-Belt may provide some toning properties, but most people will need traditional exercise and proper diet to see any effective results.


7. AB CIRCLE PRO

For only three easy minutes a day, you can go from flabby tummy to washboard abs! So promised the Ab Circle Pro. This quirky piece of equipment, which looks like something you would find on a playground, featured a disc that you kneel on and hoist yourself in a semicircle around a track with the support of handlebars. Unfortunately, the makers of the Ab Circle Pro were sued in 2012 for entirely false claims. The Federal Trade Commission sent out a total of $9.3 million in refunds to Ab Circle Pro owners.


8. GAZELLE GLIDER

The Gazelle Glider offers not one…not even two…but ten exercises in a single machine! For only $199.99 you can burn calories, tone your muscles, and improve your cardiovascular endurance. The Gazelle Glider, if you’re willing to eat right and spend at least 30 minutes a day on this funky machine, is actually one piece of infomercial workout equipment that does what it promises, but not without a cost. Many unhappy customers complained about the loud squeaking noise the Gazelle makes while it operates. Reviews read that the noise is so bothersome that most customers end up giving it away.


9. SIX SECOND ABS

It may only take six seconds, but this product promised some serious results. Get a perfect stomach and lose a dress or pants size in only seven days. Six Second Abs operates by placing the machine on your lap and holding onto the handlebars. You then crunch down, wait for the click, and retract back up. Customer reviews say that not only does it not work, but it breaks in record timing. Save the $29.99 and hit the floor for some crunches.


10. THIGH ROCKER

In 2001, Body by Jake Bun introduced the Thigh Rocker. It is essentially a modified squat – modified to be fun, easy and comfortable. Jake Bun’s infomercial shows fitness models with incredibly ripped bodies using the machine, a quality Thigh Rocker consumers quickly realized they would never achieve. Let’s face it, squats are not meant to be fun or comfortable in any way if you’re looking for true results.


11. HAWAII CHAIR

If you can sit, you can get fit! That was the Hawaii Chair’s motto. The machine features a chair with a rotating seat which results in a hula-dance motion when you sit on it. The infomercial shows users at work answering phones, working on the computer, and filing paperwork while continuously moving around on this wacky chair. The results? You only end up looking ridiculous in the same body you started with.


12. LEG MAGIC

Originally marketed to elderly consumers experiencing weak leg bones and trouble walking or climbing stairs, Leg Magic was the solution to remaining fit and active well into your golden years. Promising a low impact, hip friendly experience, this piece of equipment works by placing your feet on gliding plates, holding onto a set of handlebars, and moving your legs in a continuous in-and-out motion. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes a day! Customer reviews from Leg Magic’s elderly target market note that they would much rather stick to their walks in the park than try and operate this silly piece of equipment.


13. CIRCLE GLIDE

The creators of Leg Magic couldn’t just stop there. Introducing the next generation of Leg Magic for all ages: the Circle Glide. Said to tone, sculpt, tighten, and increase flexibility in all of your trouble areas. While the makers of Circle Glide advertised the machine to be fast, easy, and fun, users have actually found it to be quite dangerous and difficult to use. The hard to control moving foot panels combined with the machine’s spinning motion feels more like trying to keep your balance on slippery ice rather than getting a workout.


14. BODY BLADE

The Body Blade is another piece of fitness equipment that relies on vibrations to yield results. The product is advertised to be highly dynamic, targeting specific muscle groups by varying the positions of the body or direction of the flexing blade. Body Blade also promotes its rehabilitation properties. Customer reviews, however, widely note that the product is over hyped.


15. HORSE RIDING FITNESS ACE POWER

This wacky piece of Japanese fitness equipment is essentially a bicycle seat on rocking legs that simulates the motion of riding a horse. The entire infomercial is in Japanese, so unless you’re fluent in the language, we’re really not sure what the expected benefits are supposed to be (although images in the commercial show electric currents running through users thighs and buttocks). Now you might be thinking this fitness gimmick was definitely a flop, but on the positive, we can be pretty sure this provided some inspiration for the Gangnam Style dance!