Since humanity first gazed down to their doughy ‘mead bellies’ and thought about ingenious ways to get rid of them, we’ve been witnesses to all kinds of weight loss gadgets and inventions. Some were quite popular for a time, but can now be found as expensive coat-racks or archeological items of a bygone era in grandma’s attic; others didn’t work as advertised, and some worked WAY better than one would initially believe!
Join us in this exploration of some of the most iconic weight loss and fitness inventions ever created!
Sweating your way to success…!
Classic, yet hardly classy, Sauna Suits are a staple of the health-conscious grandpa. But do they really help you lose weight? Yes…! And No!
You see, these garments, made from waterproof fabric, are designed to make you sweat A LOT. So, in effect, you are losing weight. Water weight. Basically, you’re dehydrating yourself. That’s why they’re used by wrestlers and boxers who want to qualify for a specific weight class.
But for anyone outside a ring, these suits can actually be dangerous. The illusion of a ‘good workout’ comes from the increased body temperature and profuse sweating from wearing it, but according to experts, there’s little proof they ‘increase the metabolic rate’, so weight loss benefits are null, because a couple of glasses of water and you’ve gained all that weight back.
Our advice: save it for Halloween!
Shake it shake it shake it! Celebrity-endorsed exercise videos
Before the internet, a sure-fire way to become an international celebrity was through movies, TV, sports or fitness tapes. It sure helped if you were already a celebrity before becoming an exercise idol, *cough Jane Fonda cough* but hey, Billy Blanks and Richard Simmons are legends and didn’t need an illustrious Hollywood career to accomplish international renown.
Now, let’s face it: it’s easy to make fun of Sweatin’ to the Oldies or Tae-Bo, especially in this modern, sarcasm-laden pop-culture landscape of ours. But the truth is, these (sometimes over-the-top) exercise routines WORKED. They usually contained solid body workouts and helpful advice. Barring 8-Minute Abs (Pro-Tip: you will never lose weight or have rock-hard abs with 8 minutes of exercise a day), these aerobic tutorials helped lots of people lose unwanted weigh in a fun (or dorky) way, and made millions of dollars for their creators.
Jiggle your way into a better body!
Although it’s likely you’ve seen an iteration of the ‘weight loss through vibration’ fad throughout your life, many people believe this fad started in the 60’s. In reality, these contraptions are much, much older: they were invented by Dr. Jonas Gustav Zander, a Swedish physician, who developed the first belt exercise machines as part of a passive exercise routine to help rehabilitate the sick through massage.
Over time, the narrative of ‘health-through-vibration’ slowly morphed into ‘fitness’ or ‘losing weight’ through the motorized, massaging motion of these machines.
Needless to say, despite their huge popularity in the 30’s and 60’s (and their continued existence, in some way or another, in each decade since), research shows the vibration craze does little to help in actual weight loss or fitness endeavors. Sigh!
Lightning in a bottle!
The effects of zapping your muscles with electricity have long been documented by doctors and researchers, especially for rehabilitation procedures in cases of nerve damage, since it can restore muscle mass (or prevent It from getting worse!)
But making the leap from physical therapy to claims that electrode-vests and apparel help you burn fat and build muscle as you work out? Or in substitution of actual exercise?
Doctors seem to think that’s not such a great idea. Besides little evidence it boosts the effects of a normal workout, there’s the risk of having these electrical devices causing more harm than good, such as possible muscle breakdown. Youch!
And regarding those wearable devices that shock your belly fat into submission while you watch TV or sleep…no evidence of those doing anything either.
Ab Machines Ad Nauseum
ROCK HARD ABS…IN 4 EASY INSTALLMENTS! Yeah, right.
But somehow, for a while there, we were all in love with the ab machines. They were omnipresent in the infomercial wasteland of late-night TV binges. And they made those perfect abs seem so easy to achieve! If you ever gave in to temptation and got one of those, chances are it’s sitting in a closet or storage space in your house. And your abs probably never became Greek-pantheon level hard.
Why, though? Well, research data from thousands of these products has shown that if anything, they’re just as effective (very rarely, more, and sometimes, less!) than your average, humble sit-up. No need to reinvent a true classic!
Let’s face it: losing weight can be a chore. The physical demands aside compete with your schedule and even budget. But if we’re being real, then here’s another truth-bomb: exercise is a necessary part of a successful weight loss regimen! Just as important as discipline and a balanced diet!
These products gave us the illusion of ‘better, easier, cheaper!’ workouts or results, but we know the only way to lose weight for good is to dedicate ourselves to our task.
Not all of the weight loss gadgets or fads out there were a bust; some legitimately worked, or were highly effective! But they faded away when the Next Big Thing came along, as it tends to happen in the age of instant gratification.
Did we miss a crazy fad or gadget you remember? What were your experiences with them? Share by commenting below! And don’t forget to check out our list of promising new weight loss gadgets too!