Consumers Bilked by Fitness Pitch Half-Truths

20 07 2017

Updated:  20 July 2017

Do you recall infomercials and advertisements where exercise gadgets and weight loss supplements, etc., promised great weight loss or muscle building results?

Remember the abs flex, thigh buster and trampoline equipment and plethora of herbal supplement and dietary programs that guaranteed fat would melt away like butter.   Or the latest DVD or fitness class promoting High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT], or dance, boot camp, spinning class, or circuit-like exercise promised to be your ticket to Atlas or body beautiful status.

If your familiar with these things, you’ve also noticed a celebrity, athlete or other recognized talent, or regular Joe in magazine photo or infomercial to sell the product or program.  They also appear to be the picture of perfect health.  Or their before and after shots were impressive and had your attention.

They proclaim these products and services worked for them, so they’ll work for you… right?  But are all of them being truthful on how they really lost 30lbs of weight, or gained 10lbs of muscle in 4 weeks.  How about the photos that woo you into buying their goods.  Did you know most body shots are taken at opportune times – some after severe diet restriction and/or exercise regiment using high risk substance application.  Many of these pics are also doctored up through air brushing…

Have you noticed the before and after shots of the models who appear in those infomercials, magazines and Internet adds?  Most of them appear to be between 18-35 years of age.  It is true, human metabolism before the age of 35 is pretty responsive to significant diet and exercise change.  Especially if the body has been sedentary and unconditioned for some time.  When this is the case young metabolisms respond fairly well to daily exercise and/or calorie intake reduction.  Often resulting in significant appearance change in a short period of time.  But these quick results are short lived… especially when old habits resume.

“The kettlebell or girya (Russian: ги́ря) is a cast-iron or cast steel weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) used to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.” [Wikipedia]

If you’ve invested money and time into an exercise or diet fad or product gimmick and it didn’t work for you, you’ve likely been consumer bilked by a fitness pitch half-truth.

To understand this concept and meaning simply inventory how many unused exercise items, supplements, DVD videos and diet books and mag’s you have lying dormant in your home.

After you’ve done the inventory I have two questions for you.  Why do they lay dormant?  And if they didn’t work, why didn’t you at least use the satisfaction guarantee to get your money back?

If you didn’t receive the results as expected, was it because you didn’t apply enough effort or follow the exact instruction as required?  Regardless of instruction, effort or results did the program or product meet your expectations?  If it didn’t… again why does it lay dormant in your home?  In any case, you didn’t return the product.  In-part, I understand why the consumer continues to be bilked by these industries and acquire an ever growing collection of fitness antiques and conversation pieces.

I’ve worked within and studied the marketplace, business models, human behavior, fitness, health and nutrition industries for years.  I know many of those self-proclaimed fitness guru’s, celebrity stars, athletes and body building experts have been telling false and half-truth narratives for a long time.  While taking advantage of those desperate to turn the hands of time back, lose weight, get fit and even increase athletic and sexual performance.

The reason the diet, supplements and exercise gimmicks and fads continue to rake in big bucks… “most consumers are not educated in the science of exercise, health, nutrition, marketing, sports psychology and behavioral profiling.”  Yes, Exercise Science [or Physiology] and sports psychology are real undergraduate degrees offered at many universities that incorporate various disciplines of study relative to exercise training, sports performance, healthy lifestyle and fitness goals.”

Walk or bike to work and burn more body fat

The marketers and celebrities are street smart.  They know how to slant a sales pitch and hook consumers into buying the latest fitness fad, craze and product hype.  Then Re-brand, advertise and promote the same program under a different name than originally designed.

This practice is similar to marketing pharmaceutical drugs.  That is, “re-labeling” a drug [like-fitness product or service]” and using it to treat a different illness or disease than originally approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Admin).

Marketers are very familiar with this relabeling and rebranding tactic using a revamped marketing plan for a chosen demographic – making old fads new and relative again for the next generation.

Walk or bike more to destination places. Get low-impact aerobic exercise and enjoy outdoor marketplaces.

Regardless of age, if you don’t enjoy the lifestyle change experience for whatever reason, then the new exercise routine or diet-change is not compatible for you.  If it’s not compatible with your lifestyle for whatever reason, then the odds of sticking with it is not good.

For instance, if your sold on High Intensity Interval Training [HIIT] classes and DVD home workouts, do you have the will power to train intensely and consistently for the next 4-6 weeks?  What about breaking through the sore muscle, or hungry stomach barrier?  Have you acquired the right type of instruction, information, education, motivation and will power to continue the course and avoid overeating after exercise?  After all it is scientifically proven intense exercise will make you hungrier.

Do you have the will power and desire to work through healthy habit changes that will initially cause discomfort from your daily routine?  Hunger and soreness are deal breakers for many looking to lose weight and improve physical appearance.

The fitness marketer or celebrity expert is not going to tell you these things.  Like an Ab Crunch contraption “cannot spot reduce” fat away in one area.  Instead tones the muscles.  It doesn’t bust belly fat.  Or without a combination of lifestyle habit and behavioral changes the weight loss and muscle building results may or may not occur, let alone last long term.

What do marketers and opportunists know about consumer needs and wants most people don’t think about?

They know how to target and lure an audience based on past shopping habits and behavior.  Also how to embellish a sales pitch and sell in-factual information.  Many of the claims made are not based in scientific fact, truth, or FDA approved research and findings.  In order for these claims to hold any water they must be scientifically proven through credible lab research and performed by a renowned organization or institution.

This is not to say, “all innovative exercise gadgets and weight loss fads don’t work.”

Pilates and balance balls and weighted tire exercises are used to improve balance, posture, strength and tone.

In fact we know many do when individuals set realistic diet, exercise, sports training and relative lifestyle change goals.

Exercise science proves daily exercise and reasonable-balanced diet can provide the fitness results you seek including sustainable weight loss.  And can also lower health risk factors for many types of disease including: cardiovascular, diabetes and cancer.

Experts in exercise physiology prove balanced diet and exercise sustains body tone and improves strength, flexibility and muscular and cardiovascular-endurance for any age.  Including healthy longevity, increased energy levels and libido.

I assure you marketers understand a number of prospects will be unknowledgeable of such things, meaning an endless supply of consumers who will buy the hype and not return products for a number of reasons including, “hope the product will eventually work.”  By the time most figure out it won’t work for them the warranty runs out.  The interesting aspect if of it all, many consumers fall for a similar fitness fad or gimmick the next time around.  The cycle continues…

Walking is a great low-Impact aerobic exercise and fat buster.

Customers have been conditioned to believe exercise or diet is necessary to lose weight.  And these things are mostly true.  But if daily exercise, diet and habit change is not programmed relative to individual lifestyle and fitness goal it will be short lived.

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University, a prominent exercise researcher.  Although exercise does burn calories, it also makes us hungrier.

“Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.”  A famous Time’s Magazine article “Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin,” by John Cloud also performed a controlled study that coined “compensation effect.” 

Basically the more you exercise the more you want to eat.  For a significant portion of a population – the wrong type of exercise causes weight gain.  This provides opportunity for the same marketers to plan and sell the next weight loss hype.  See how this works…  They make money on both ends of the exercise and diet industries.

The major reason consumers continue to purchase weight loss fads, exercise and fitness gimmicks is because reputable organizations like the “American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association guidelines in 2007 state “to lose weight…60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. That recommendation covers most days of the week.”  I know this statement is mostly true.

But the marketers distort these statements and other facts to sell more products and services not relative to individual needs.  In other words, the goods are not programmed to work relative to all lifestyles, demographic-genetic factors; fitness and health goals, or compatible with medical profile.

Again the marketplace won’t voluntarily tell you these things because they’d likely lose repeat sales purchases.   Why would they change their behavior to change yours if they knew it would reduce their profits?

This is how the diet, fitness and anti-aging industries continue to bilk the consumer and enrich themselves.  Often at the expense of consumer health and wellbeing.

My recommendation:  Before you buy into the next fitness or weight loss product or program hype it would do your body and pocketbook good to do your own due diligence.  Here at MirrorAthlete we expose the lies, half-truths and truths – we don’t sugar coat anything.

If you want to know more about consumer safety, customized fitness and healthy lifestyle programming, ill-health prevention – we offer at no charge everything you need and want to live life to the fullest.

Good Health to You and Your Family.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2017 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Corp @ www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.





Exercising for Weight Loss a Myth?

22 09 2009

Do you recall seeing commercials or reading magazine advertisements where exercise gadgets and specialized exercise programs promise great weight loss results?  Well if you haven’t, let me tell you weight loss exercise products are big business for ex-celebrities in the entertainment and sports industries.  Remember the thigh and abs flex products that promoted inches will melt away around these areas while leading you to believe this would be the result of the entire body!  After all, the models used in the sales pitch appear to be perfectly lean specimens.

 Look around your house and count how many unused exercise gadgets, exercise equipment and books you have lying dormant in your home.  Why do these products lay around the home collecting dust?  And if these products did not work for you why did you not return the product?  Most of these exercise weight loss products guarantee great results by your favorite celebrity.  You were lead to believe if you follow the typical 4-12 week exercise product program you would see great results, well did you?  It is also interesting to note most guarantees have a 30-90 (4-12 weeks) day satisfaction return policy, no questions asked.  If the product didn’t produce the results was it because they actually didn’t work, or that you didn’t give an honest effort, or would it have mattered whether you used the product or not?  Regardless, the product is sitting in your home now dormant.

 Could it be you blame your lack of motivation to use the product that ran out the warranty?  Maybe you used the product as instructed without great, or no results, but in fact gained more weight.  Possibly the relatively small dollar amount of the purchase didn’t seem worth the effort to send it back.  In each example, you disregarded the warranty.

 In any case, most of us have been conditioned to believe exercise is the key to great weight loss success.    Product sales pitches that use the science of exercise as a weight loss product concept have been misleading consumers desperate to lose weight for years.  Yet those that are desperate want to believe the hype because they believe this premise is based on hard scientific fact!  Marketers and your favorite celebs take full advantage of desperate and emotional overweight people that are not educated in exercise science!

 Yes, exercise science is a real undergraduate degree program offered in many universities, also known as exercise physiology.  I have a B.S. degree in this discipline, so this is true if you’d never heard of it before.  These marketers are smart.  They know how to slant the rhetoric leading you to believe they actually care about you.  Remember, many of your celebs are banking on this pitch to make them more money as well!  Weight loss through exercise alone could not be further from the truth!

 What do the marketers know about sales, physiology and psychology that most of us do not think about?  They know how to target an audience and that the younger demographic will have a weight loss result that can be further promoted to increase future sales.  They know this is so because if a younger demographic with fast metabolisms actually works any type of exercise product program a good majority of these people will have some kind of result.  I know, you’re thinking I said, “Exercise for weight loss is a myth.”  You’ll soon have the full story, patience.

 Haven’t you noticed the before and after shots on the infomercials?  Most of these people appear to be between the ages of 18-35 years of age.  And as science has proven in many controlled studies, the human metabolisms before the age of 35 are pretty responsive to increased activity.  However, weight loss results within “any age” demographic seem to have more to do with the psychology of weight loss desire then does the use of any singular, or combination of exercise product(s). Desire to lose weight within any age range is mostly to do about motivating psychological desires:  The dating scene, interview for job, want youthful look back, vanity, health, you name it there are many reasons to motivate a person to lose weight through behavior and lifestyle activity changes. 

 In other words, if you have motivation and desire to lose weight, you may be more prone to reduce weight through a combination of lifestyle changes including the use of exercise equipment and/or products.  For example, nutritional diet changes, smoking, alcohol cessation, shift to healthier environmental-social influences-activities, exercise aerobic-anaerobic activity changes (type, frequency, duration, intensity).  The sum of the total changes typically has a greater calorie burn response leading to weight loss.

 On the flip side, science has proven exercise makes people hungrier.  And because of this compensation effect, what leaves the body must eventually be replaced to maintain body comfort equilibrium.  For most of us over 35, this is our will power weakness defeating our motivation to lose weight, or making weight loss goals more challenging as we age.  This is because the sacrifice of feeling hunger to achieve weight loss results becomes much more difficult on the psyches will power with age.

 For those that maintain great results for a life time after being overweight, or experienced a period(s) of obesity may have sacrificed some part of the overall health for the result.  What do I mean by this statement?  Whenever the body is stressed beyond an equilibrium comfort level to achieve long-term results; it’s not the maintenance of maintaining the weight loss results so much that stresses the body’s metabolism.  It’s the initial stress on mind-body that can create internal metabolic (bodies homeostatic system) harm while achieving quick weight loss results.  Yet there are others that never have had a weight problem and never exercised in their lives.  This may only be attributed to great genetics and/or simply living a moderate active lifestyle while minimizing risky behavior, or combinations of both.

 With continued stress the body may lose weight in an unhealthy manner that can and does lead to illness and disease.  I know all of you have heard of yo-yo dieting and the ill-effects of practicing such weight loss practices.  The goal here is not to discuss poor dieting practices, but instead attempt to help the consumer understand; exercise alone, regardless of exercise equipment, product or technique does not have a significant impact on your weight loss goals because of the “compensation effect” (calories burnt demand to be replaced).  Even if you are an aerobic junky, you must look at your entire lifestyle picture.  The picture of your lean weight loss results is more to do with your age, race, sex, genetics, lifestyle habits and behaviors. 

 This is not to state that exercise products don’t promote any positive health benefits.  In fact, we know that exercise lower risks for many types of diseases, especially within the cardiovascular system, prevention of diabetes and cancer.  Exercise is also excellent for body toning, strength, and muscular endurance, postural alignment which contributes to overall good health and pain alleviation.  Whatever your experience with exercise weight loss products the reason you accumulate these things, most likely you believe they will either work again, or when you’re ready to use them the weight loss results will be achieved. 

 The marketers understand there will be a small percentage of you that will try the program and turn the product back within the guarantee time.  However, this means nothing to them.  The discipline of sending back a product before the warranty expires is very small regardless of customer dissatisfaction.  After all, most of you have been conditioned to believe exercise is necessary to lose weight.  They also know you don’t blame your favorite celebrity because you admire them and they look fantastic.  The pitch people continue to mislead the exercise science weight loss rhetoric slanted in their favor sometimes using professionally paid sponsored credentials.  So your weight problem must be solely due to your inability to exercise exactly as your favorite celebrity or intended use as specified within the instructions.  Wrong!

 To add insult to injury, those selling the exercise products are banking on most of you never understanding the calorie compensation effect on weight control and will power.  This way you’ll continue to purchase the latest hype exercise products from your favorite celebrity in hopes that something may work for you down the road.  One thing is for sure, you will keep them fat and happy rolling in dough.  The cycle continues on.  Amazing!

 Does exercise to reduce body weight on its own work, or is this line of thinking a myth?  You decide after reading my next article. “Science Proves Exercise Alone May Promote Weight Gain.”

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2009 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.