December 12, 2001
have an idea. I think I'm going to go into the kite business.
I know there's going to be a much
enhanced interest in fitness programs in January, so I want
to have something unique, something with great appeal to the
overweight masses. Yeah, I think I'll create the Ben Franklin
weight loss kite. Here's how it works. You fly it in a thunderstorm
with the cord attached to whatever body parts you want to
reduce. Lightning hits and ZZZZZAP, you're lean! Ridiculous?
OF COURSE IT'S RIDICULOUS!!!! If
you know, however, that my kite idea is absurd, why are you
so ready to believe those infomercials when they promise you
great abs in minutes with electric currents running through
you? If the goal is to shoot lightning from your fingertips,
maybe there's some merit in hooking yourself up to a light
socket, but if the goal involves "abs," use the
electricity for the CD player and the light while you eat
healthy meals, work all the muscles of the body with functional
exercise, and do something aerobic.
AB things are taking over! I defy anyone to flip through 30
channels of TV before 8 AM on Saturday and escape seeing at
least 8 or 9 promises for miraculous results by strapping
something onto your waist. The claims get crazier and crazier.
"A few minutes with the ab zapper is equal to 800 situps!"
I don't think a weight loss kite is any more far fetched.
ridding you of the gullibility-inducing belief that an infomercial
is designed to deliver honest information, the first thing
I should address is that "situps" have long been
the greatest mistake of men with pot bellies looking to reduce
their waistlines. I've often told the story of "Watermelon
Man," the man I knew who looked like he ate a whole watermelon
and it lodged itself in his belly. Watermelon man would do
500 situps a day, and in 3 years, he never lost a single inch!
Why? Well, he was working those abs, hitting 'em hard every
day, and while he probably had the greatest looking abdominal
muscles in the world, nobody could see them! He wasn't doing
anything to get rid of the fat that kept those abs buried.
As a matter of fact, he probably stimulated muscle growth
expanding the girth of his waist! That should illustrate that
even if these new infomercial ab devices did create a fitness-promoting
muscle response, they wouldn't do anything to reduce the waist!
In case that illustration wasn't enough to convince you, let's
step into the world of research.
John Porcari, a researcher at University
of Wisconsin, La Crosse was sanctioned by the American Council
on Exercise to test the effectiveness of these Electronic
Muscle Stimulators (EMS). Twenty nine college aged healthy
males were recruited for the study. 17 of them followed the
recommended protocol. The remaining 12 were not hooked up
to any actual electric current. The end result? Well, the
end result was . . . there was no result! No loss of bodyfat,
no increase in muscle, no significant change in any area.
So do they work? Well, they do work to contract muscle, but
they do so without involving the neural network that controls
muscle contraction in response to exercise, thus, they can't
possibly replace "800 situps" or any other type
of physical exercise. EMS units have found their place in
rehab and in preventing limbs from atrophying after severe
injury or paralysis, but they certainly do not work to reduce
I know it's tempting. I know the
infomercials make them look incredible. I know it would be
nice if they really worked. Unfortunately, the only thing
they really do is make a whole lot of money for the people
simply the newest infomercial product wave. We went through
the elliptical gliders, we've seen enough hair removal products
(which by the way don't work anywhere near as well as Nair
which you can get in any drug store) to provide us a hairless
lifetime, and we've seen the fat blocking pills work their
magic in a glass of oil. After the shows are out there long
enough, the market becomes saturated, people become desensitized
to the same old stale program, and it's time for the infomercial
companies to unleash their next wave.
for your own sake, have your guard up when viewing these shows.
Don't buy a product unless you know someone who has been satisfied
with its use, and don't believe the "limited time, call
now" offers. Believe me, if the products are selling,
they'll manufacture more. These companies do not turn away
business. I'd also suggest you try the product out before
you invest in it. If the company quotes "research"
in their show, call and ask them to fax or e-mail you abstracts
on the research studies referenced. If they don't follow through,
there's a reason!
I've worked with infomercial companies,
and each one assured me they weren't like "the others."
They are, however, stuck in a paradigm that generates huge
returns when they have a "home run." That baseball
analogy has nothing to do with actual product value, but is
awarded to those shows that generate hundreds of millions
of dollars, and all of those shows seem to incorporate a fair
amount of deception. I have my own beliefs, one of them being,
you don't have to mislead to move products, provided, of course,
those products have value. Any time I tried to share that
belief with infomercial producers, my words fell flat and
the paradigm prevailed. If you are tempted to believe that
an infomercial exists to help you find fitness, just approach
that temptation with careful apprehension and a promise to
better understand the offering before trusting the information
delivered in the show. Remember the old story of the frog
and the scorpion.
frog was about to cross a stream, and a scorpion called out,
"hey, Frog, can I have a ride across? I have to get to
the other side." The frog, being good natured but well
acquainted with the hazards of scorpions felt compelled to
refuse. "I'd like to help, but I know who you are. You're
a scorpion, and if I let you on my back you'll bite me and
The scorpion pleaded with the frog,
using a mix of logic and emotion. "I really have to get
across, and if I were to bite you, we'd both drown. You have
nothing to fear and you'd be doing a good deed.
The frog gave in and the scorpion
climbed upon his slimy green back. The frog leaped into the
water and just about halfway across the stream the scorpion
raised his tail and stung the frog. As they were both going
down into the waters that would take their lives the frog
asked a simple question, "why?" The scorpion replied,
"because I'm a scorpion, and that's what scorpions do."
producers are expert at getting people to go to the phone,
but they're far from expert in helping people getting results.
I'm in the business of getting people the results they've
always wanted. Can the two businesses merge? I'm not sure.
With cautious optimism, I'll say time will tell, but I'll
remember the words, "we're infomercial producers, and
that's what infomercial producers do," just to avoid
any false hope or sense of disappointment.
best news is you don't NEED any products. There are some that
do have some value, but rarely if ever does the value match
the promotional hype. You can get results . . . any results
. . . with nothing more than a pair of dumbbells, a good pair
of walking or running shoes, and a commitment to supportive
eating! If you need more info on precisely how to do that,
look into my Programs
or visit the Site Menu.
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