For the most part, it’s a good thing to be informed about new trends in the fitness world. Opportunities to try different types of exercise are great, and anytime you can find a new form of physical activity that you enjoy, you’re likely to benefit from it. However, there are some that are more about the hype than how they really benefit your physical health. You don’t want to throw away money on a fitness fad that may not be as beneficial as its supporters claim it to be.
Fitness fad #1: Urban sweat lodges
Places like L.A.’s Shape House are trying to sell what they call an “urban sweat lodge,” with claims that it can burn hundreds of calories or more, that it will detox your body, that you’ll have great skin and deep sleep. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Not exactly. Why? Because you’re not really, well, moving your body. You’re wrapped in a 160-degree blanket, complete with infrared light, so you sweat without having to do anything. But sweat doesn’t equal calories burned. You may look like you’ve just finished a challenging workout, but if you’re not really exercising, you’re not going to see results.
Fitness fad #2: Toning shoes
You know those sneakers that claim to tone your glutes and legs? Merchants like Skechers and others suggest that you can get a nicely toned rear and calves just by walking around in these kicks. And that you can bump it up even more by working out in them. They all have unstable soles, meaning you struggle a bit to find your balance as you walk in them. So it feels like you’re working your muscles more. But is it true? Not so much. According to the American Council on Exercise, “There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shows will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn calories, or improve muscle strength and tone.” And they’re expensive to boot, usually around $100 to $200. So save your money and stick to your ordinary sneakers.
But is it true? Not so much. According to the American Council on Exercise, “There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn calories, or improve muscle strength and tone.” And they’re expensive to boot, usually around $100 to $200 a pair. So save your money and stick to your ordinary sneakers.
Fitness fad #3: Waist trainers
While these aren’t about exercise per se, they are about sculpting your body. Waist trainers claim that they can give you a tiny waist, and make you look thinner without having to hit the gym. You’ve probably heard about celebrities using them — and who wouldn’t love to look like their favorite celeb? But the truth is, not only are waist trainers ineffective, they’re also dangerous. We all bristle at the thought of the corsets that women used to wear, but waist trainers are basically the same thing. And doctors have said that compressing the abdomen can actually cause real harm to your organs. These are truly scary devices.
Fitness fad #4: Protein shakes and bars
To be clear, we’re not talking about smoothies made with real fruit and/or greens. Those have a range of real health benefits (as long as they don’t contain other ingredients high in sugar). But many fitness enthusiasts consume protein shakes and bars in order to help build muscle or recover after a workout. The problem is, most of these products include a cocktail of artificial ingredients that come with a number of risks. Instead, it’s better to get your protein from natural sources. In general, a diet of real food tends to be the healthiest.
Fitness fad #5: Specifically toned areas
Whether it’s thigh gaps for women or v-cuts for men, there seems to an ever increasing trend to obsess over certain areas of the body. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a fitness gimmick or starting a particular fitness routine due to promises that it will give you that specific characteristic. But the fact is, shelling out money for a class or gimmick in order to get the perfect thigh gap or v-cut is probably a waste for many of us. Whether we will ever have a body that looks that way depends on our unique physiology, and a class that perfectly tones your co-worker’s thighs may do nothing for you. And that’s okay! Instead, it’s more important to focus on being healthy and loving your body.
Although there are many beneficial health trends out there, there are also some unscrupulous people who will take your money without concern for whether you’re truly benefitting. So how do you avoid the bogus trends? First, anything that claims to be “the best solution” is likely ineffective. When it comes to health and fitness, we all have unique bodies, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Anything that promises unrealistic claims — giving you toned muscles with minimal or no exercise, helping you lose large amounts of weight in a very short period of time — is probably fake. So often we want to believe those claims, so we ignore the voice in our head telling us it’s too good to be true. But much of the time, a simple reality check will let you know that such claims are unsubstantiated.
— Sarah Cooke