How to Spot a Fitness Fraud

by Deborah L. Mullen, CSCS

"Turn your body into a super fat-burning furnace!"
"Washboard abs in just 5 minutes a day!"
"Exciting new development!"
"Research proven!"

If It Sounds To Good Too Be True, It Probably Is.
How many times have you heard this? Yet, ads and infomercials can be so seductive, you really want to believe the wild claims they promise, so you may be tempted to suspend good judgement and buy into the fantasy. Substandard and fraudulent products hurt more than just your wallet. When a product doesn’t do what it claims to do, you’ll feel let down. This can lower your self-confidence and can even lead you to believe that your fitness goals will never be achieved. This article will help you to identify fitness frauds and give you tips and resourses on so you’ll be able to make better decisions when buying fitness products.

Buyers Beware Checklist
Quackery is not easily detected. Use this checklist before purchasing a product advertised in a mail-order catalog or on TV.

bulletIs the product supported entirely by testimonials?
bulletIs there any controlled, randomized scientific evidence supporting the sales claims?
bulletDo the experts associated with the program have the proper credentials?
bulletIs the person selling the product believable?
bulletDoes the promotion use any pseudomedical jargon?
bulletDoes the promotion boast a secret formula or answer?
bulletDo the claims seem miraculous or far-fetched?
bulletIs the product appealing to your vanity?
bulletDoes the suggested use of the product seem out of keeping with the desired outcome (e.g., "just three minutes a day toward slimmer thighs")?
bulletDoes the fine print contain any disclaimers?
bulletDoes the offer include additional free prizes?

(Buyers Beware Checklist from "Consumerism and Quackery", IDEA Magazine, May 1998 by Len Kravitz, PhD.)

Online Buying Tips
You need to have confidence in the company and product you’re buying online. Does the company have your best interests at heart? If in doubt, search for clues as to their reliability. Do they have a phone number? You may want to call to check them out further. Ask a question by e-mail and see how long they take to respond. Ask the company for independent research that substantiates their claims and promises. You can check out the company on the Better Business Bureau’s Business Report page. Their page states "The Better Business Bureau collects and reports information to help prospective buyers make informed decisions in dealing with business and charitable organizations."

If In Doubt, Ask An Expert
The media is quick to announce the latest health/fitness discovery, regardless of the source. Unfortunately, this new claim may later be retracted when proper studies are made. But quacks will use (and misuse) questionable data to convince you to buy their product. What should you believe? If you don’t have the time to sort through information dispensed from reputable sources, you should ask an expert. A certified fitness instructor should be able to separate fact from fiction. 

Your Tax Dollars At Work
The Federal Trade Commission says that "consumers waste billions of dollars on unproven, fraudulently marketed, and sometimes useless health care products and treatments." They advise all workout "wannabes" to exercise good judgment when evaluating advertising claims for fitness products.

Avoid the lure of fitness-product charlatans and increase your skills at making educated buying decisions. Try not to buy the hype and stick to "if it sounds to good too be true, it probably is."

Find exercise bands, exercise balls, videos, manuals, sport-specific equipment & body therapy products at Simple Fitness Solutions.

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