December 14, 2002

Is There Really Anything New in the 21st Century?

By Phil Kaplan

Years ago I did a radio show I called The Experts' Round Table and it's become a classic. I interviewed three of the most respected bodybuilding & nutrition specialists in the world and while we all stand firm on the foundational stuff . . . the Synergy between Nutrition and Exercise . . . they managed to disagree on some of the specifics. We discussed everything from protein need to controversial supplements, from MCT oil to steroids. I still receive orders for the tape and it's now been almost 7 years since the show was originally broadcast. If there was a lesson to be learned, it was simply this:

Science is a best guess, and with all of the misleading information put out by supplement sellers, we're led to believe that physical improvement science is soaring. In reality, what worked 25 years ago "works" today!

The experts were biochemist Anthony Almada, Bodybuilding Guru John Parrillo, and Renowned Sports Nutritionist, Dr. Michael Colgan. Anthony visited with me on the show back in October at the conference I held in Manhattan Beach, California, and that show was posted at my "Radio Show Menu" audio page. At the beginning I referred to the Experts Round Table and since then I've received hundreds of requests for the old tape. I decided . . . it's been 7 years now . . . rather than continuing to sell it, let me make it available in Real Player format over the internet . . . and that's precisely what I've done. After reading this month's Update, go to the Radio Show Menu audio page and listen in on "The Experts Round Table." You'll find that it holds up today and the same questions that were apparently being considered by scientists in 1996 remain prevalent today. So, the question again comes up . . . Is Anything Really New?

If you read the ads or listen to the commercials, you'd believe something "new" is released every week. From cellulite busters to miracle skin tighteners, from penis enlarging pills to breast enhancing formulas. In most cases, the only thing that you can expect to stretch are the boundaries of morality with even more misleading ads and fraudulent claims, and the only thing that you can expect to shrink is your bank balance. Still, the ads just keep rolling!

So what is in fact new? Is there anything that's been released after 1980 that really does have value? I'd have to say . . . yes! It's just that the legitimate products are usually expensive to manufacturer and difficult to promote. After all, how can the ad campaign that says "you have to work at this" compete with the boundless "works like magic."

I'd like to share what I believe some of the new innovations to be and what are yet the latest and greatest marketing ploys selling products at your expense. Let's start with something I mentioned already . . . the Breast Enlarging pills as I now receive hundreds of e-mails each week asking if these work.

Big Breasts Naturally??!?!

Have you seen the ads? "Forget surgery, grow your breasts naturally!" The ads include soap opera stars and beautiful well shaped women making the promise that taking this product will just go right to your breasts and make them grow.

Some of the primary ingredients in these "herbal formulas," include Saw Palmetto, Fennel Seed, Don Quai, Black Cohosh. These are herbs. Herbs are substances from which we can extract alkaloids of drugs . . . thus, "herbal" doesn't necessarily translate to "safe." Some of these ingredients, i.e. Saw Palmetto and Black Cohosh, do have a propensity to interfere with estrogen and progesterone levels. These compounds bind to either androgen receptors or estrogen receptors. That means if you use these compounds with any regularity, you are increasing your risk of estrogen related issues. Increases in estrogen can lead to further accumulation of fat, primarily below the waist. Some of the other herbal ingredients, i.e. fennel seed, contain phytoestrogens, which can also interrupt regular endocrine function making the risks even more apparent. Increasing fat storage due to hormonal manipulation may increase breast size, but will not likely have a gratifying effect on your figure.

It's also important to note that until a product achieves widespread use . . . the FDA has little control as they haven't any budget for monitoring products . . . at least until there are enough injuries or deaths to warrant further investigation. There's a law firm in Tampa bringing forth a class action suit against the manufacturers and marketers of some of these breast enhancing products. There are far too many reports of a correlation between the use of the product and fibrocycstic tumors. A research study showed a further correlation between the herb black cohosh and liver disease.

Penis Enlarging Pills

C'mon now. Next they'll be promising a pill you turn you into Fabio while you sleep! Again, product marketers have tapped into an emotional desire and capitalized with bogus product claims. I don't have to answer whether or not Penis Enlarging Pills work. The Arizona Attorney General's office took care of that already. They shut down CP Direct, a company that sold massive numbers of these pills. How massive was the windfall? The state of Arizona seized $80,000 in cash, more than $30 million in luxury real estate and a fleet of high end cars, Mercedes, Roll Royces, and a Lambourghini.

So What Does Have Value?

Remember what I said earlier. The legitimate products, due to high production expenses, quality control costs, and the limitations of ethical marketing overshadowed by those willing to stretch the truth, rarely receive anywhere near as much publicity as the low-cost bogus products. There have been some definite innovations.

Orbiter - This isn't exactly a "new" product, as it's been in existence since 1989 when the first one was purchased by the Miami Dolphins Training Camp. It has found its way into physical therapy facilities, but is not yet found in health clubs, personal training studios, or people's homes. The Orbiter is marketed as a "treadmoline," a combination of a treadmill and a trampoline. There isn't any deck to cause impact strain when pounded by treadmill walkers. You walk on a very pliant Kevlar belt and while your heart and lungs are stimulated to improve, your hips, knees and ankles are well preserved. No, this is not going to be the same price as the treadmill you find in the Sears catalog, but a product purchase, especially a piece of electronic exercise equipment, shouldn't be judged by price as much as the quality and value. If you buy a $1200 treadmill, expect the belt to wear quickly, the bed to become worn, the impact force to be significant, and in some cases those inexpensive treadmills have risk hazards not usually seen by the fitness wanting consumer. Orbiter runs at the high end of the commercial treadmill pricing, but think about it, if you spend $8,000 on an Orbiter treadmoline and use it four times a week for the next 20 years, you're looking at roughly 2 cents per exercise session. Use a $1200 treadmill four times then use it to store clothing and you've bought yourself a $300 per use clothing rack! If you decide you'd like to contact the company, tell 'em Phil Kaplan sent ya. Those magic words may result in a welcomed price break. You can find info on the Treadmoline at the company's site . . .

Abnatomy - Remember the situps you had to do in gym class? Those are a thing of the past. Exercise physiologists have been testing specific muscle stimulation in the abdominal region in an attempt to sort through the various training methodologies and identify the best options. For years people have been fixated on "crunching" while lying prone on a bench or on the floor. David Sloniegura has taken the latest research and turned it into a very effective ab workout, focusing not only on the rectus abdominus, but on the core muscles as well, and if you've been listening to me for any length of time, you know the value I place on "core" or "functional" training. Get a glimpse at Abnatomy at

Vortex - For those of you who have been to my office, you saw the future of Personal Training studios! If you are a personal trainer, you should know that Joe and Bob Piane of Vortex have developed a truly innovative piece of resistance exercise equipment ideally suited for the space efficient personal training studio. Where normally an entire circuit of machines can run upwards of $35,000, and the entire circuit is necessary to adequately work every muscle group, Vortex does all the work of an entire circuit for 1/3 the price . . . and it only takes up a corner of your studio leaving plenty of room for functional training equipment and aerobic pieces. It also allows for limitless variations of exercise movements incorporating core training principles. It's far more versatile than the big name equipment company's knock offs, and has some really unique advantages. The ingenious cable and pulley system allows the trainer to perform "forced reps" without touching the client. It's also wheelchair accessible which may open up a whole new market for you. I've been using the Vortex unit with my clients and it has proven to be a very worthwhile investment. Find more info on Vortex at

Power Blocks - for home, office, or in any small quarters where exercise equipment might be limited, the Power Blocks put the equivalent of an entire rack of dumbbells in a space about the size of a standard dishwasher. Back in 1998 I moved from my Sunrise office to new digs in Miramar, Florida. In Sunrise I had a studio with about 1,000 pounds of Olympic free weights, squat racks, benches, and a rack of dumbbells with weights from 2 lbs. to 95 lbs. Today my studio is far more versatile, far more efficient, and I don't have any conventional weights at all! For the "machine" exercises I use Vortex and for free weight movements . . . the Power Blocks! While Vortex is more for studio owners than consumers, Power Blocks are for anyone. I've recommended them to college students with limited dorm space, to the U.S. Navy to put in tight quarters, and to hundreds of people who trained with them at my facility. Find info under Exercise Accessories at the online superstore.

I'd have to also include Bowflex and Total Gym as innovations in home exercise equipment. While I still feel their ads are a little over the top, you can definitely use these "machines" to safely and effectively target muscle.

Returning to the Realm of Supplements

While I began by talking about the new supplements that fall short on their promises, there are a few tried and tested compounds that have proven efficacy.

L-Glutamine and Creatine supplement formulas, especially those with complete proteins and a host of vitamins, and minerals, have stood the test of time and indisputably have their place in a fitness or bodybuilding lifestyle. L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue. It's also heavily involved in digestive function and immune function. If muscle preservation is a goal, you don't want the other systems of your body competing for glutamine supply with muscle. Supplemental L-Glutamine does appear to have muscle preserving properties. I was so impressed by the research, I added additional L-Glutamine to my EAT! formula . . . and my GROW! formula has both, L-Glutamine and Creatine. Creatine monohydrate has been clearly demonstrated to increase storage of Phosphocreatine (PC) in muscle tissue. PC is sort of a back up energy source for muscle contraction, thus, increasing PC supply leads to better muscle performance. In addition, creatine appears to attract more water into every muscle cell. Since muscle tissue is predominantly water, the end result is larger muscles! There are many "new" formulas promising "enhanced creatine delivery," or "innovative creatine uptake systems," but in reality, if you have some protein, complex carbs, essential fats, and some plan old L-Glutamine and Creatine, you should see a positive result. Many of the "special formulas" are actually charging a small fortune . . . for sugar!!!

The final supplements I'll mention as recently proven to be valuable are Glucosamine and Chondroitin. While they were initially met with skepticism from the medical community, these compounds have proven to alleviate joint pain and perhaps aid connective tissue healing, at least as effectively as the long prescribed NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs). They appear to work for arthritis as well as for athletes who may have some wear and tear on the shoulders, knees, and elbows. There are many good formulas on the market and you don't have to spend a fortune. They're available in every health food store! The only catch is . . . it takes time to notice a result. It isn't actually like an aspiring promising instant pain relief . . . but it's an aid in healing. You have to allow some time for connective tissue repair. For those of you who want to explore the research, you can start by accessing these four studies:

Reginster JY, Gillot V, Bruyere O, Henrotin Y. Evidence of nutriceutical effectiveness in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Curr Rheumatol Rep 2000; 2: 472-77.

Constantz RB. Hyaluronan, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate: roles for therapy in arthritis? In: Kelley WN, Harris ED, Ruddy S, Sledge CB, eds. Textbook of rheumatology. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1998.

Deal CL, Moskowitz RW. Nutraceuticals as therapeutic agents in osteoarthritis: the role of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and collagen hydrolysate. Rheum Dis Clin North Am 1999; 25: 379-95.

McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Gulin JP, Felson DT. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA 2000; 283: 1469-75.

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Additional Options

If you want to consider the 17-week program that helped me empower of 35,000 people to change their bodies and lives . . . look into my TRANSFORM! program. If you're a bit apprehensive, you can start with the 17-Day ANSWER program. Whatever program you choose, I can promise you'll master this "losing" battle.

Also be sure to check out the classic "The Experts Round Table."

Previous Updates:

Update 11/20/02 - How Do I Lose This?

Update 8/27/02 - The Promise and the Real Story Behind the Infomercials
Update 8/01/02 - Clearing up Four Prevalent Myths
Update 6/20/02 - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Update 5/11/02 - Miracle GH, What "Works"
Update 3/25/02 - Women on Steroids and More on Core Training

Update 2/15/02 - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fitness
Update 1/14/02 - Counting Calories
Update 12/28 - 'Twas the Night Before New Years
Update 12/8 - The New Electronic Ab Offerings
Update 12/12 - The "Magic" is Within You
Update 11/20 - Holiday eating!

Update 11/3 - Weight Loss Bread and other Nonsense!
Update 10/29 - Supplement Values
Update 10/3 - Getting Back to Doing What We Do
Update 9/19 - Tragedy and Love, RE: Sept 11
Update 8/15 - Myths, Fallacies, False Beliefs
Update 8/1 - The Internet, Leptin, Steroids, and more
Update 7/9 - The New Supplements
Update 6/14 - Seminar offerings and clarity on "Brownies"
Update 5/29 - Lose Weight, Eat Brownies?!?!?
Update 5/1/01
- Pizza, Beer, and Fitness
Update 4/7/01 - "Phil-osophies" and Rip-Off Realities!
Update 4/1/01 - Gourmet Recipes!
Update 3/15/01 - Research Has Proven?
Update 3/1/01 - Preparing for The New Infomercial
Update 2/1/01 - Time, Space, Matter, and Energy
Update 1/15/01 - Atkins hits the UK
Update 10/7/00 - Supplements, Additional Clarity
Update 7/27/00 - The Experts Round Table, Almada, Colgan, Parillo
Update 7/3/00 - Core Training & Metabolism Boosters

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