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Beware of Gimmicks - by Matthew Romans

Most of us are familiar with the phrases "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" and "let the buyer beware." People selling and marketing products in a variety of industries have been stretching the limits of truth since the invention of advertising (e.g.-the cigarette industry). Just because a product says it can do something does not make it so; in some cases, creative language is used to obfuscate the truth and to entice consumers to buy the product. The mainstream fitness and dietary supplement industries are full of gimmicks and products of little to no value. That being said, I am someone who believes in competition in business and the benefits of a free market. Just because I think a product or service is of questionable origin or benefit does not mean I want it forcibly removed from the market. Part of our mission at Total Results is to educate our clients, and to help them separate truth from fiction so that they won't fall prey to scams, gimmicks, or snake-oil salesmen.

If you have ever looked through the pages of most fitness or bodybuilding magazines, two things probably stand out. One, the articles are written on a third grade level, and two, there are more advertisements than there is written content. Many of these advertisements are for a variety of dietary supplements, and a good number of these products make all kinds of outrageous claims. One pill will help you magically burn fat, while another pill will boost your testosterone level. These are dubious claims. The before and after pictures used in these advertisements are also hard to swallow. Rarely is the photography lighting standardized; the subject model in the before picture is usually pale, unshaven, and sticking his belly out to make himself look fat. In the after picture, the person looks lean and ripped, tan, well-groomed, and is often smiling. The problem is that this fills people with false hope and separates them from their hard-earned money. While the FDA is the government body that regulates the supplement industry, it will generally only take a product off the market if is proven to be harmful, not if it is simply ineffective. I had a personal experience with this when I was in my early twenties. I started taking creatine in the hope of increasing my muscle mass and workout performance. This lasted for a few months before I realized that my results were negligible and that I had wasted my money.

Another thing you will notice about fitness magazines is that nearly all of the people in the pictures are beautiful and perfectly proportioned. The magazines lead you to believe that everyone in there looks the way they do because they are doing the workout routine that is featured. They are mistaking cause and effect. Most of the models look the way they do in spite of their workout routine, not because of it. These are genetically gifted individuals who make up a very small portion of the population. The same holds true for the bodybuilding magazines. The magazines give the impression that if you follow their workout routines and take the same supplements, you can look like a professional bodybuilder. It's complete nonsense. The vast majority of bodybuilders are genetic abnormalities who also use performance-enhancing drugs. The way they look is completely unrelated to how they workout, and many of them suffer injuries and other health problems as a result of their lifestyle.

The mainstream fitness industry is full of gimmicks. In my nearly twenty years as an exercise instructor, I have seen many of them come and go; the use of inflatable exercise balls to "target your core", so-called "functional" weight training, and aerobics classes. The term aerobics gave way to "group exercise", while Bosu balls (which are inflatable, but flat on one side) became the next big thing in a misguided effort to improve one's balance. Explosive, or Olympic lifting has ebbed and flowed in popularity since the 1950's; the thinking here is that "in order to be fast, you have to train fast."

There is nothing new under the sun.

All of these things look and sound interesting, but none of them have much in the way of scientific basis to support their claims. Most people in the commercial fitness industry are not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to skill acquisition, principles of motor learning, or safety. All of the practices that I described provide very little benefit and are incredibly dangerous. Trying to perform exercises on an unstable surface or in an unstable position is a recipe for disaster, regardless of your age. Lifting heavy weights (or relatively light weights, for that matter) in an explosive fashion exponentially increases the likelihood of an acute or overuse injury. Further, most commercial gyms tout their supposed "state of the art" weight training equipment. While it may look shiny and impressive, most of the pieces are poorly-engineered copies of Nautilus machines that were made nearly fifty years ago. They typically have friction-laden weight stacks, resistance curves (if they have any at all) engineered around a fast speed of movement, improper restraint system (i.e. seat belts), and do not track muscle and joint function properly. In short, they are long on style and appearance but fail to measure up in the substance department. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of these facts.

The diet and weight loss industries are full of big promises and hyperbole. There are so many different diets and weight loss companies out there, it's hard to keep them all straight: the South Beach diet, raw food diet, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, and whatever Oprah Winfrey is currently touting are just a few of them. NutriSystem sells you pre-packaged meals designed around your caloric specifications and portion sizes. Unfortunately, many people tend to put weight back on once they leave the program (take a look at a current picture of former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw or former ESPN anchor Chris Berman, then compare it with commercials that they once did for the company). In 2011, Weight Watchers did away with their "points" system for counting calories; they finally admitted that counting calories is largely a frustrating waste of time. The implication was that you could eat whatever you wanted as long as you stayed within your points range. Unfortunately, what they didn't take into account was that restricting calories frequently leaves you in a state of hunger (which can cause you to eventually overeat), and that what you eat is as important as the amount of calories you consume. If you are eating a nutritionally-dense diet consisting largely of whole, single ingredient foods, with a minimum of grains and sugars, you will stimulate your body to use fat as its primary fuel source and push your plate away long before you have the desire to overeat.

At Total Results, we utilize no gimmicks and we give no false promises. We educate our clients on how the body works and how it best responds to an exercise stimulus in a way that is easy to understand. We use an exercise protocol based on the classical sciences, using specially engineered equipment in a distraction-free environment. We recommend an ancestrally-appropriate nutritional philosophy to minimize systemic inflammation and ward off the "diseases of modern civilization." Every workout is supervised by an experienced instructor that will help you to maximize benefit in minimum time. Don't fall for gimmicks. Let Total Results show you the way!

Posted April 02, 2019 by Tim Rankin