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Fat Chance!

Vibrating Belt PT Gym Blog

The more things change the more they stay the same. I recently watched a documentary about fitness made in 1960 (coincidently the year I was born, if I must confess).  I found particularly interesting the concern about high technology (remember this was 50 years ago) and the effect and problems it had on our lazy, non-exercising, over-eating society. Even though fads have come and gone, and our knowledge and advancement of exercise and definitely technology has increased by a hundred fold, we still seem to fall for the same old scams and myths.

As I’m watching this 1960 documentary on my laptop, I’m also watching a 2010 infomercial on my TV about some Ab Lounging, Rolling, Circling, Vibrating Gizmo, Gadget of the week. It reminds me of the story I read as a child “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” If you don’t know the story, ask someone else born in the 60s. Just as in 1960 there still exist literally thousands of scams, useless diets, supplement pills, potions, cellulite creams, colon cleansing, wallet shrinking products we spend multi billions of dollars on every year. But for now I will briefly describe a few of the common infomercial themes and weight loss, muscle toning, ab gadgets and why they just don’t work. Most of the people who impulsively buy into these products intuitively know they don’t make scientific sense. But the desire for a quick fix is too much to resist for many of us.

Why don’t the ab gadgets work. The answer is they are all based on the false assumption that you can spot reduce body fat. Our body will preferentially store fat more in areas where most of us have more fat cells. Typically, the abdominal area and also the hips and thigh areas for a lot of women. You need to work all those areas to build and maintain your healthy lean muscle, but only through caloric expenditure do you burn fat. Fifty crunches will burn something like 9 calories. There’s 3500 calories in a pound of fat. You do the math. By the way, if you could spot reduce would someone that chews gum all the time not have a skinny face? And since we get fat by consuming more calories than we expend, every obese person would also have a skinny face from all the chewing!

In the 1950’s, people thought that they could use a vibrating belt and rollers to lose fat. This doesn’t work, but some weight loss scams just won’t die. They are reborn in today’s version. From whole body vibration to individual vibrating gizmos, people are falling for hocus pocus fitness. In the early 8o’s toning tables were a big hit and why not. You simply lie down and have the machine move you. Not any better, are the electro-stimulus belts and sauna suits.

People want a quick fix, and that hasn’t changed in the last 50 years. The infomercials misguide the uninformed and fail to explain the laws of exercise physiology, thermodynamics and just plain old common sense.  We have six abdominal machines at PT Gym that cost between $1500-$5000 per machine. Not a one of them will spot reduce your waist line. Only a combination of whole body strength training, appropriate cardio/aerobic activity and most importantly proper nutrition will give you a flat stomach and if you’re so inclined, the ripped 6 pack abs of an infomercial star!