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the fitness skeptic is a blog that takes a critical look at the health and fitness industry.

in it I'll examine the claims, products, practises and commonly held beliefs and SCRUTINISE the evidence.

My aim is to separate what is true from what is not and encourage fitness consumers and fitness professionals to become skeptics. 

I’ll take no prisoners when it comes to criticising the scam artist or highlightling the bogus but I’ll also give credit where credit is due.

Welcome to the fitness skeptic

Stupid is as Stupid Does.

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The one thing you can be sure of in health and fitness is that you wont have to wait long or look hard to find the next bizarre product or idiotic idea. Just recently I came across a couple of gems so I thought I share them with you.

To kick us off lets have a look at E-Fit-Electro Fitness.

Flogging a dead donkey?

While chatting with a colleague a week or so ago, we began talking about the latest and greatest (I use this term loosely) fitness ideas. During our discussion he told me that one of his clients had mentioned a new type of training she had come across. As he described what she'd told him, I immediately recognised it as a form of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). Now I've already talked about EMS in some depth previously (see Lies, Dammed Lies, and Fitness Products) so I wont go into any detail here. However to summarize; EMS uses electrical impulses to elicit muscle contractions . These impulses are generated by a device and are delivered through electrodes on the skins surface adjacent or near to the target muscle. 

What differentiates this EMS system from the one I previously talked about is that the company involved is not just selling a device but a whole concept with EMS at the forefront. At the centre of this is an EMS device that hooks up to an outfit you wear whilst you train! I kid you not! It's looks like a straight jacket, minus the arm restriction, with a spaghetti of wires hanging out of the back.  The wires are attached to the machine and while you do your exercise, the trainer zaps you with electricity. Do this for 20 minutes and apparently you've had a workout equivilant to 3 hours worth?! (according to their website that is)

Interesting as it would be, I don't want to spend time breaking down this bollocks but rather look at their shit show of a website which is snake oil salesmanship at its best. 

Webshite

It's quite a good looking website I'll give it that but slick as it may be it's the content that's worth examining. 

Let's start with the front page;

It tells us that E-Fit is apparently the future of EMS and uses world class technology. That's good to know! 

Scroll a bit further down and you find out the amazing results you can get by being zapped with electricity whilst training. Apparently it's good for fitness, cardio, bodybuilding and competitive sports and all you need to do is to train for 20 minutes twice a week. 

Click onto another page and we're told why E-Fit is so great. 

  • E-fit can be used by 80% of the population? What? As opposed to non E-Fit exercise which can be done by less? Umm?

This is a good one;

  • it is 150% more intense than traditional training. Really?

and

  • it uses 90% of your bodies muscles? Right.....?

Surely somewhere on the website there's an explanation to all this? Let's have a look......Click on the about page.......

Ah yes,

Learn about E-Fit and EMS. Let's see what this has to say:

EMS technology has a long history of research and development carried out to reach perfection.

Not a good start!

The history of the electrical stimulation of muscles dates back to 1791, hence to Luigi Galvani’s experiment. Since then, countless research studies and sports results have confirmed its effectiveness.

Ah...research studies, care to point me in the direction of them? .........No :-(

Further down the page (to remind you this is the about page) you'll read;

Want to be healthy, sporty, fit, athletic and tight? (Yes please but what about toned, lean and ripped ;-)

Further down the page still, we learn about IMPULSE SHIFT TECHNOLOGY, which;

is safer, more comfortable and more efficient to use compared to other EMS devices.

and

has the advantage that the cross-impulses between the channel-pairs can be prevented and the energy need of the device and the level of the output signal can be lowered to a small fraction of the original need.

I've no idea what this means. Your guess is as good as mine?

Snake Oil Salesmanship 101

I could go on but I think you get the idea. All we have here are lots of assertions about what the product can do, buzzwords, personal testimonies from people who've used it (sportsman, models and actresses), scientific sounding jargon (impulse shift technology?) and not one reference to any sources of evidence what so ever. 

E-Fit franchises

Part of the E-fit mission is to help people become distributors (another red flag I think) or to set up there own studios and extraordinary as it may seem there are E-Fit studios around the world. A quick google search revealed one in London (which is where I live) and they have their own website.

Here you'll be told that a 20 minute workout burns 700 calories, with of course no evidence to support it.

You'll also find out how much an E-Fit session costs. To anyone who knows how much personal training can cost the prices at first glance seem quite reasonable at about £50 per session. This is especially so considering the studio is in Kensington, a very wealthy area of London where personal training can cost upwards of £80 per hour. However each session only lasts 25 minutes and having read their description of a typical session you probably spend another 25 minutes talking and putting on the special undergarments you have to wear (insert Mormon joke here ;-) as well as the special shorts and vest with all the electrodes on! All in all not good value for money which ever way you look at it. I'd say it'd probably be better to invest the money in conventional personal training and get an hour long workout during which the trainer isn't worried about whether he's going to electrocute you or not;-) and you don't have to worry about tripping over the wires dangling from your ludicrous costume!

You cannot be serious!

While we're on the subject of ludicrous, let's look at another piece of fitness comedy gold that I recently came across;

Jawzrsize- Fitness for your face.

Question: what muscles do everyone use on a daily basis regardless of whether they do any other exercise? 

Answer: the muscles of your face. Assuming everyone eats and chews their food that is.

With a few exceptions, namely those who are in the grip of famine, those with eating disorders and those with jaw issues, the vast majority of the worlds population exercise their face muscles daily. In fact in the western world you could argue that a large portion of the population over exercise their face muscles with the amount of food they're stuffing down their gullets every day. Of course I'm joking but you get the point. All joking aside however someone still thought that it would be a good idea to sell a piece of rubber you stick in your mouth to bite down on repeatedly and low a behold we have Jawzrsize.  

If you look on the website (and it's worth a look if just to see the hilarious before and after pictures and gimp impressions everyone's doing) the 'inventor' says he was a mix martial artist who needed to strengthen his jaw (presumably because he kept getting smacked in the face quite a lot!). After an accident lead to his jaw being wired shut he came up with Jawrsize to help him rehabilitate. Fair enough but I'm not sure why everyone else would benefit. 

Let's see what the website says;

Well apparently it'll make you look younger and healthier, give you the ultimate jawline (whatever that means), help with the symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (a poorly understood syndrome that can cause jaw pain among other things) and balance your hormones. Ok, ignoring the first two, if you're going to assert chewing on a rubber ball does anything other than making you look like an idiot you better have some evidence.

Oh there isn't any, now there's a surprise.

One of the videos about the product even intimates that using it could help male pattern baldness! As I said, comedy gold.

Money down the drain

It goes without saying that spending money on either E-Fit personal training or the Jawzrcise gag ball would not be money well spent but what both of these products highlight is the credulity of the general public. You simply wouldn't be able to sell this sort of shit if people had a tendency to be skeptical and more's to the pity. Unfortunately people always have and will likely continue to believe and invest in crap. This is why the snake oil salesmen still flourishes and conversely why the skeptical movement continues to grow which is a good thing. It shows that not everyone is bonkers and perhaps one day the skeptical position will be the one the majority take. The sooner the better I'd say but in the mean time at least it gives me plenty to write about.

References

http://e-fit.com/index.php

https://jawzrsize.com/

 

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