If you ever find yourself awake in the wee hours of the morning flipping through TV channels, you're probably aware of the plethora of junky products hawked on late-night infomercials. Watch these extended ads long enough and you may even be tempted to break out the credit card to sign up for a few "easy" payments.
But like most things on television, infomercials provide more entertainment than fact. This list represents some of the worst fitness offenders of the year, all of which promise weight-loss or muscle-toning benefits but which are either dangerous or unlikely to produce any real results.
Brought to you by the makers of No!No! Plus Hair Removal System, the poorly rated home hair-removal gadget, comes the FaceTrainer. The $299 device is purported to "tone our most prominent and yet ignored muscles, the muscles of our face."
The manufacturer claims this device, which wraps around your head like a wrestling mask, reverses signs of aging without the need for injections. The truth, however, is that you can't "train" your face to fight signs of aging. Skin loses elasticity as you grow older, and working your facial muscles won't prevent this. Besides, doesn't Botox paralyze your muscles, not strengthen them?
Sadly, 2013 marks the return of the vibration plate. This doozy has come in and out of fashion since the days of black-and-white movies, and it still doesn't work. The contraptions have a vibrating base that you stand on while holding on to handles for balance. Your body shakes thoroughly, with no effort on your part.
As wonderful as it would be to simply stand on a vibrating machine that melts away body fat, the truth is that real exercise takes work. Need proof? A study published in the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" found that women who used vibrating machines for nearly six months did not shed any fat.
Juice Fasting Plans
It sounds simple enough. You buy a pricey set of bottles or mixes, each of which amazingly contains all of the nutrients you need for a whole meal--and collectively, all of the nutrients you need for entire day, week or more.
Not so fast. While the juicing trend may seem new, it's really just a rehash of the old "cleanse" that doctors have been warning us about for decades now. Your body cleanses itself perfectly well without the help of trendy beverages, and you only lose weight due to the drop in calories. Plus, juice diets deprive you of essential nutrients like fat, and can contribute to eating disorders among susceptible people. Stick with a balanced, low-calorie meal plan instead.
Crossfit, P-90X, Insanity and Other "Extreme" Workouts
While some super-intense exercise styles may be suitable for those who are already in great shape, 2013 has seen people of all fitness levels performing moves that only experts should attempt. That's why chiropractors are seeing more fitness-related injuries than ever before.
The bottom line? Skip extreme fitness routines unless you're in top condition and have your doctor's OK.
The Worst Diet and Fitness Products of 2012
Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.