With Christmas now past and 2017 already here, a few things are going to happen. The parking lot of your local gym will triple its volume of cars (for a few weeks), goals to get fit will be in full motion, and someone somewhere will try to cash in on those goals. This time of year is prime for fitness scammers who want nothing more than to help your wallet lose weight.
The scam artists target on the fact that maybe you ate too much in November and December, and maybe you want next year to be the year you get fit.
Scammers will use this time of year to make a buck off of you and others. Weight loss and health are touchy subjects, and often common sense and trust can waiver with them. With things such as weight issues and health, people tend to be more flexible. If that weren’t true than the late night or Sunday morning infomercials wouldn’t be selling a billion dollar’s worth of sci-fi fantasy fitness contraptions.
Fitness scams also pray on the psychological aspect of things like health, fitness, finances and more to catch you off guard and sway your better judgement.
These scams are so prevalent that the Federal Trade Commission actually has an entire section of its website devoted to fitness scams!
*NOTE: This article is meant to inform of the pros and cons and not to denote the benefits of these products in any way. We encourage people to strive for a healthier body, and better way of life.
Your goals are important so here are some tips to avoid being victim of a fitness scam.
THE QUICK FIX– Lose pounds a day in only 10 minutes. Nice idea but it just doesn’t always work that way. This is one of the oldest fitness scams that refuses to die. Several minutes of whatever it is they purpose is not going to work. Ten minutes is barely enough time to get your heart rate up to start burning fat or to warm up to lift weights. The idea behind this scam is convenience. We are rapidly becoming a society with no time to do anything, including working out.
The real truth is for real results you need to put in a real effort. When you see these quick fix fitness scams consider that any goal worth your time will indeed require a certain degree of that time to achieve.
These scams also rely heavily on the DIET portion of the program. Restricting calories in combination with the 10 minutes a day could actually give you results. However, in the long run not many people will stay on the diet long enough to drop the portion of weight they had intended.
CONSIDER THE SOURCE– This season everyone from your radio DJ, to the news anchor, to the trendy lifestyle magazine will have fitness advice. Just the other day I saw a segment on my local news where the reporter was discussing tips to get and stay fit. The problem is (besides the fact her education is in journalism, not fitness) a lot of what she said was common knowledge from over ten years ago, and was so vague that it couldn’t really produce results. This is sort of like telling you how to build a house but giving you no tools, materials, or practical knowledge on construction. Basically, the advice amounted to eat less and exercise.
On the same token lifestyle/fashion magazines are not your best source for fitness advice. This is especially true because their focus is largely on the aesthetics of fitness or aspiring to have the body of a certain celebrity.
The University of Connecticut Rudd Center has launched an initiative to stop the stigma of weight bias. Its deputy director Dr. Rebecca Puhl, PhD concluded that people who feel a stigma or shame about their body image are less likely to engage in physical activity.
The real truth is you need to go to valid resources. These include certified fitness trainers, or publications that specialize in fitness like Muscle & Fitness (M&F Hers), Men’s Fitness, and Fitness RX for Women. Another great resource is the site you’re reading right now.
FIT TECH– There is an app for everything these days, or course that includes fitness. An article published in 2015 by Medscape noted that there are more than 165,000 health apps for Apple and Android devices. The number of health and fitness apps in the ITunes store doubled from 2013 to 2015.
Fitness devices like Fitbit were among the most popular Christmas gifts of 2016. The use of fitness trackers and apps means you have a basic desire to progress which is good. The issue is people will rely on them as if they were stone tablets from the heavens. However, the majority of these devices focus on calories burned or steps taken. Psychologically achieving your desired number of steps or calories a day can be rewarding. What these devices and apps can fail to do is look at the big picture. Real results come from eating the right number macronutrients and expending enough calories through physical activity. Make sure to take all of these into account if you are using fitness tracking devices.
Furthermore with 165,000 fitness apps there is a large arena for fitness scams. Studies done by The University of Toronto found as much as a 30% inaccuracy rate in different fitness apps. University of Pennsylvania researchers found fitness apps to measure 6.7% less than actual steps and 6.2% more than actual steps. The study found fitness wristbands to underestimate number of steps by as much as 22.7%
Fitness apps and devices can be a crutch. They are similar to the scale in that they can show variations of results. Much like the scale though the variables can affect motivation levels and give false indicators of progress. Also, consider that among more than 165,000 apps there is probably a large majority of those just profiting off of a $1.99 download fee to do little more than guess at how much you move. In relation that $200 fitness wearable device is predicated upon you actually eating right and working out. We survived hundreds of years without these devices making progress. fitness icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack LaLanne never relied on an electronic device to tell them they were on the right track.
Fitness scams are one of the most prevalent. In fact, I could write for days about the different scams. The key is to approach all fitness programs or possible scams using these rules
- Can I achieve results totally without it?
- Does it put all of its focus on ease to achieve amazing results?
- Does it use bold percentages to boast results “a 200% more calorie burn”
- Does it feature exotic ingredients from exotic faraway places like The Amazon rainforest?
- Is there a celebrity involved? Unless the celebrity is known for fitness (Arnold) be leery.