The 5 Most Shameless Money Grabs By The Fitness Industry
By now, most of us have given up on our annual January attempts to shed some of the excess weight our rampant holiday feasting slapped on us. We've given dieting a shot. We've hit the gym. The most desperate of us may have even dabbled with fucking CrossFit. Yet as the weeks go by, we're slowly adapting to our new, slightly portlier figures and learning to embrace the additional padding.
At least, that's how most of us function. A select few will take one last, sad step and decide to give working out at home a try. You know, because the driving to and from the gym is what really sucks about working out. Not everyone can afford to shell out for their own cardio machine and an array of weights, though, and opt instead to pay still-obscene dollar amounts for useless machines that promise a shortcut to health and fitness. For example ...
Do you like horseback riding, but hate the idea of owning and caring for a giant animal? That ... actually makes sense. Riding's pretty good exercise, but horses are a hassle unless you happen to have a handy stable nearby, which you don't. Also, a horse eats and poops, and keeping up with both costs about as much as a car payment each month.
Way less sad to put a bullet in your car when it breaks down, though.
It's not the ideal setup for the occasional 20-minute workout, is what I'm saying. So why not get a fake horse? I'm not talking about kids' rocking horses, or one of those mechanical bulls western-themed bars are so fond of (although if you have the room and money, holy shit, absolutely buy a mechanical bull). There are devices out there that simulate your body's movement during riding, minus the "hanging on for dear life" part -- which, come to think of it, is roughly 99 percent of the exercise you get from horse riding. Oh well. Still, maybe products such as the iGallop aren't a complete waste of time. Let's see what the ads say it can do:
... um. Ma'm? I'm not sure if you're aware of it, but there's no way you're performing in an advertisement for a fitness product. Maybe that's what you were hired for, but that's either a Jessica Simpson video or the first minutes of a softcore porn flick. There's no way whatever the hell you're sitting on is a machine for "exercise," and even less of a chance said machine doesn't vibrate.
OK, maybe I'm being a little unfair. Maybe that tacky GIF is just an anomaly, and the product's official promo pictures don't make it look like an orgasmatron.
I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad product. Few things that are designed to make your ass slimmer are without at least a little inherent value. Still, I don't care how great a core trainer this thing is -- if you're willing to throw $400 at it, you might as well stick it in a place of honor in your living room and maybe glue a few dildos on it. Because there's no way in hell anyone who sees it is going to believe it's anything but a fancy Sybian.
The Face Trainer
SkyMall is a gift that keeps on giving for enterprising comedy websites. Their sales are comprised of 70 percent panicked gift orders, 30 percent irony, and 100 percent being so bored and/or drunk that ordering wine glass holder necklaces for your entire extended family seems like a hilarious idea. Still, at least the company generally limits its antics to the sort of clever-but-not-quite-useful stuff Billy Mays might have peddled back in the day. It's not like their target audience is too into the fitness marke--
Oh, god dammit.
Yes, that is a workout mask for your face muscles. And yes, it works by applying "proven principals of resistance training to facial muscles" -- which, let's face it, is just a fancy wording for "It's a really fucking tight mask, and now you have to make faces. Give us money." The Face Trainer promises to take years off you, which is a claim I actually fully believe, because there's no way you won't get chased off a cliff by a torch-wielding mob if you go out in public wearing this thing, doing frantic Frankenstein faces to keep it from suffocating you.
Unfortunately, it looks like the product was too stupid for even SkyMall, since it's nowhere to be found on their site today. Or is it? A search with the keyword "trainer" gives me a bunch of Mad Max-themed neon trikes, terrifying elliptical trainers with random cords, a Star Wars "Force trainer" because of fucking course, and ... the "Tribal Style Giraffe Mask."
Look at the Tribal Style Giraffe Mask. Look at it:
Somewhere, the Jigsaw Killer is furiously masturbating.
There's no way that thing won't slim the shit out of your face the second you try it on, likely bear-trap-style. And you will try it on, if only to silence its constant whispering in eldritch tongues.
So you're walking down the park early in the morning, doing something I generously assume is not crime-related, when you suddenly come across a group of creepy fitness types waving huge logs around. (Oh, get your mind out of the gutter.) Like so:
"You won't get away this time, Cobra Commander!"
Hahahahahaha! What the actual fuck is going on? Did you stumble upon a Warriors-style territorial battle between two 1980s-themed CrossFit factions? A no-budget Masters Of The Universe LARP?
Nothing that sane, I'm afraid. You've just witnessed the ViPR in action, and things aren't going to get any better once those people actually start moving.
If you didn't watch that video, two things. One: Please do; you owe it to yourself. Two: That exact same sentence, only much louder.
The ViPR infomercial is a simple piece of work at heart.
Basically, it's several spandex-clad fitness enthusiasts doing the Stormtrooper stun baton spin ...
No need to click that link. It looked exactly like this in the movie.
... mimicking everyday activities such as shoveling ...
... and even clumsily engaging in some of that bullshit Klingon pretend fighting in which they slap each others' bat'leths and expect people to be impressed.
Only they don't have stun batons, or shovels, or unwieldable blade things. They're doing it all with a fucking log. Called ViPR. I mean, I think the log is called ViPR, but maybe I misread something and it's actually the true name of the entity that possesses all these people and forces them to do stupid shit for our amusement.
Again, I'm not saying this stupidly-named fucking thing is necessarily a bad product at heart. It has a number of holes that it claims makes it fully compatible with a number of other incomprehensibly-named gadgets the more impressionable gym might sport, so I guess you can at least join all those bullshit things into a giant Voltron of uselessness when you inevitably get bored with it. It's just that if you're trying to get in shape, I'd wager there are better ways to go about it than an exercise tool that makes you look like the Star Wars Kid grew up and joined a fraternity.
The Sauna Suit
I'm a huge proponent of dieting fads, in the sense that I keep up to date with the scene for shits and giggles while personally steering as clear of it as physically possible. I used to run the world's worst dieting blog (don't follow that shit; I haven't updated in years and in fact have forgotten the password), and my very first Cracked article a good five years ago was about stupid diet bullshit. It is with this extremely limited yet present authority that I state the following: Never use a sauna suit.
Why? I'm glad that you asked, because I have video:
Witness the glory of people honest-to-Cthulhu telling you they can lose a ton of weight ...
It's this easy!
... while watching television in fucking aluminum foil pajamas, because Christmas noodles, father, why must you feed the hamster shit-bananas yet again?
Every decade has its own Shake Weight, and the 1980s somehow managed to answer the call in the most 1970s manner possible: with a weight loss Ziggy Stardust uniform. Still, as much of a sanity slippage in product form the Slim Suit was, the fact that someone sold it at all, let alone featured it in an ad campaign, leaves me curious. Someone must have this thing in their official Skeleton Closet, along with all the other products they guiltily ordered five minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve.
One size fits all! So you can share it with people!
Were you alive in the '80s? Did you ever wear the Slim Suit? Do you know someone who did? Would you have wanted to? Are you right now staring at your screen and screaming, "Holy shit, that's awesome! I'mma construct seven of those and print the days of the week on them right now"? Please let everyone know in the comments, so we can direct you to the applicable watchlists. Thanks!
The Hawaii Chair
And then there is the Hawaii Chair.
There are moments when a comedy writer finds himself staring at the screen in impotent frustration. Not because his subject matter is particularly unfunny, but because it's already making all the best jokes about itself simply by existing.
Look, let's just get this out of the way. Here, have an fucking office chair that spins your ass to oblivion:
Whupwhupwhup go the slices on your bologna sandwich.
The lucrativeness of the "getting fit while dicking around on a computer" niche is potentially without bounds. It's just that it's borderline impossible to bring a fitness element to the daily professional grind of an office rat, unless you count the strange correlation between his mysteriously improving arm strength and the intervals at which he deletes his browsing history.
There's no way this isn't sexual harassment.
Those wacky belts that promise to electroshock your abs to six-pack greatness are only good for people with the very specific fetish of acquiring all their BDSM gear via infomercials. Hell, even the much-lauded standing desk is a wonderful way to mess yourself up if you get just the tiniest thing wrong.
And here we have a chair that essentially functions by wringing the ass end of your spine to and fro like you owed it money. Even if someone whose life aspiration isn't to win a Darwin Award bought it and paid attention to how it's used, it'd still be useless. How the fuck would you type?
This is chaos.
Oh right, you don't have to. Because your keyboard, along with the very pelvic area you're attempting to train, is now swimming in scalding-hot coffee, because you just absentmindedly picked up a mug, because that's what you do when you're working on a computer.
Do you think I'm exaggerating the dysfunctionality factor? Here's an actual spokeswoman for the product desperately hanging on to the desk as she attempts to pitch the chair to the viewer through an expertly-yet-barely-concealed terror rictus that would make the Terminator's flesh-stripped endoskeleton grin seem like a warm welcome:
Or you can just watch Ellen DeGeneres thoroughly fail at sitting on one of these things.
So yeah. As much as I made fun of the iGallop, at least it didn't try to be anything more than a goofy-ass joke trainer. They say it was named the Hawaii Chair because it forces your core area into a constant gyration not unlike the Hula dance. But I think we all know the real reason: If you try to use this shit at work, your coworkers will immediately throw you into the nearest volcano.
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There always seems to be a guy working out, wearing shorts so tight it's like he's trying to merge his testicles with his body. Take a look at other gym weirdoes in The 7 Jerks You Meet in Every Gym and try not to work yourself out too much. See why running hard can make you poop yourself in The 5 Most Terrifying Side Effects of Exercise.
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